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  1. #1
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Why Do Merchants Handicap Their Affiliates?
    This can only happen on CJ, as they remain the only major network that does not have a working link generator that can create product links for any product on a merchant's site:

    I spent most of yesterday updating the section for a type of small kitchen appliance on my kitchenware site. Then, late last night, I looked at a CJ "Pending Offer" for a small but interesting merchant site. I had looked at that merchant site in the past and decided that they did not have enough to offer to apply, but in looking again I saw one specific unique product that would fit well in that section I had just worked on.

    In the past, I have joined merchants like this, and then found that there is no way to obtain individual product links for that one product or more that interested me, so I checked first on the CJ "Find Links" section, and of course there was no link to this particular product. I looked further, and found that while the merchant detail brags that they have over 800 available products, the "Find Links" section allows affiliates to link to only a little more than 1/2 of them.

    Why?

    Why handicap your affiliate by not letting them link to every product on your site? I know some merchants say that specific brands or types of products do not allow for affiliate sales or commissions (though I generally think that is a load of crap), but like in this case, there is no discernible difference between this item and very similar products that do have available links.

    If there is a class of products that cannot be promoted by affiliates, then the merchant must make that clear to affiliates and to prospective affiliates, and merchant details absolutely should let affiliates know if there is a datafeed available to them, and if their product feeds are available through Popshops, Sellfire, and Golden Can. This merchant had none of that info listed.

    Their merchant detail does include the following: "Affiliates receive support from our full-time dedicated affiliate team."

    That "support" should include making it possible for your affiliates to promote your products without jumping through hoops or having to abandon promotional ideas.

    < / rant >

    Another related rant for another day: One of my long standing merchants that moved to CJ a few months ago is now presenting the same problem: For some of their products, no links, and not in feed sent to Popshops.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
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  2. #2
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Well if the product was available in the feed, this would be a rant thread anyway, because CJ's new linking interface makes you go through several extra steps - over and over again for each link retrieved - that were not necessary with the old system that worked quite nicely.
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  3. #3
    AM Marshall360training's Avatar
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    Phil, just curious, but once your tracking is in place, why can't you link to any product/URL you please? Our affiliates can link to whatever they want to link to; they still get the referral credit no matter what item they link to.

  4. #4
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    ...but once your tracking is in place...
    Huh?
    Phil needs it to "track" on a click from his site to that particular merchant product. He needs a specific affiliate link - which does not appear to be available.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  5. #5
    AM Marshall360training's Avatar
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    I guess our tracking works differently. Most of our affiliates' links go directly to our home page. It doesn't matter where they go from there or what they buy ... The cookie is set and the site visitor can buy whatever he/she wants and the affiliate gets the commission.

  6. #6
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Also, the LAST thing I need is to create my own links, and make some sales, then have the merchant come back and say they did not have links for those products because they do not want affiliate promoting them and they are thus non-commissionable (There was an CJ merchant that did that a few years ago - I did ask first and was told that).

    There are many merchants at CJ that have an all-purpose text link that you can re-direct to any product page on their site.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

  7. #7
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marshall360training View Post
    I guess our tracking works differently. Most of our affiliates' links go directly to our home page. It doesn't matter where they go from there or what they buy ... The cookie is set and the site visitor can buy whatever he/she wants and the affiliate gets the commission.
    That's not optimal - targeted links go directly to the product page, at the minimum. Some go directly to the merchant cart. If the affiliate promotes a particular product, you don't want them to click through to the merchant and then have to find the product. They've already found what they wanted, on the affiliate site.

    Make it easy...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...


  8. #8
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    That's not optimal - targeted links go directly to the product page, at the minimum. Some go directly to the merchant cart. If the affiliate promotes a particular product, you don't want them to click through to the merchant and then have to find the product. They've already found what they wanted, on the affiliate site.
    Spot on!! As a program manager we do this to not encourage the consumer to shop the site. We wrote the promotion for a specific value proposition and the affiliate dovetails that on their site.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marshall360training View Post
    I guess our tracking works differently. Most of our affiliates' links go directly to our home page. It doesn't matter where they go from there or what they buy ... The cookie is set and the site visitor can buy whatever he/she wants and the affiliate gets the commission.
    This is not good for the affiliate....The affiliate is frequently promoting particular products which you happen to sell.....not your home page. When he/she is diverted to your home page, you will more than likely lose that potential buyer because the potential buyer sees a "run around" since he/she was looking for a particular product (which may not be specific to your home page).....Not a particular merchant.

    That is not to say that an affiliate does not promote you as a merchant. In some cases it is beneficial to the affiliate to promote your home page.....But not when the marketing emphasis is on a particular product .

    I for one start looking for a replacement merchant when they divert every click to the home page.

    Just my opinion..............
    You must climb this mountain. There is no elevator. ---- Don't stick your finger in the liquid nitrogen.
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  11. #10
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Furthermore:

    If a merchant has multiple categories on their site with multiple products within each category they should have creatives / links to each.

    Creatives: Full set of banners for EACH category/sub-category linking directly to those departments.

    Links: Full set of text links for EACH category/sub-category leading directly to those departments. Including the ability to create custom and deep links.

    AND these creatives and links need to be maintained! Only thing worse than not having the above - is when they don't work...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  13. #11
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    CJ has a history of handicapping their affiliates. Remember LMI? (For a while, CJ required all links and text to be JavaScript code. Only after a huge affiliate uproar, a petition, merchant defections, affiliate boycotts, and an unreasonably long period of time did they reverse course.)
    Michael Coley
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  14. #12
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    CJ was correct that LMI would have yielded affiliates with higher conversion although they would have had less control. It was the force feeding that set off affiliates having it rammed down their throats.

  15. #13
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I respectfully disagree. I have many pages with dozens of affiliate links on them. There's no way those pages would convert better by having dozens of external Javascripts load and execute before the page would display.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

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  17. #14
    Affiliate Network Rep Kim Salvino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marshall360training View Post
    I guess our tracking works differently. Most of our affiliates' links go directly to our home page. It doesn't matter where they go from there or what they buy ... The cookie is set and the site visitor can buy whatever he/she wants and the affiliate gets the commission.
    I've managed many different affiliate programs across a variety of verticals and this rule has always rang true: If an affiliate can't easily deep link to a product/category/cart, it is going to adversely affect their conversion rate - and yours. Just as you would not spend paid search budget to bid on specific product keywords and drive traffic to the home page, affiliates are looking to reduce the amount of 'work' or 'clicks' a consumer has to go through prior to purchase. Hope that helps you understand a bit better where they are coming from and their perspective.

    Affiliates are unique in that they are spending their time/money/effort in advertising up front to drive traffic, but merchants have to ensure that traffic has every optimized opportunity to convert. It's the only way they earn money.

    Hope that helps you!
    Kim
    Kim Salvino, Client Services Director, Performance Horizon Group
    Reach me at kim.salvino(at)performancehorizon.com or on (443) 617-4036

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  19. #15
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Have been working on pinning Top 20 links and continually updating. If the link on the affiliate site is HTML then then link changes but the copy doesn't. After thorough analysis we found many links that were never updated particularly with deals/coupons. Trying to manage it from the program side to improve conversion for all. Its never a perfect solution. Too many affiliates i.e. couponers who can't keep up with changes with current deals. Third party tools like ForMeToCoupon have helped but their not perfect either. Communication with affiliates flesh out issue which we can fix once and replicate 100X.

  20. #16
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Salvino View Post
    I've managed many different affiliate programs across a variety of verticals and this rule has always rang true: If an affiliate can't easily deep link to a product/category/cart, it is going to adversely affect their conversion rate - and yours.
    To that I will add that affiliates will go out of their way to promote merchants who allow deeplinking, and many will simply ignore those who do not. I cannot even count how many merchants I have signed up to promote and then never bothered with because they don't allow deeplinking. And most of those who wind up shutting down their programs after just a few months "because affiliate marketing did not work for them" are the ones who did nothing but slap up a couple of banners, thinking that was just as good as waving a magic wand.
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  21. #17
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    On the flip-side of things - I'm finding what seems to be endless number of merchants who don't even have a generic text link to their home page!

    Then there are those who's home page links EXPIRE by year's end, or even sooner...

    C'mon - make it easy for us to promote you!
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  23. #18
    Affiliate Manager AffiliateWarrior's Avatar
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    Phil, have you played at all with the Deep Link Generator from CJ ? It's a bookmarklet that lets you create deep links with a click or two.
    Wade Tonkin - Affiliate Manager - Fanatics
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    Email wtonkin // at // Fanatics.com

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