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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Affiliate Marketing Is Hard!
    You know, sometimes I get tired of the whole "one step forward", "two steps back" thing with affiliate marketing. My organic traffic is up 50% YOY, but my earnings are way down. I'm getting hit by lower commissions from merchants and an uptick in reversals.

    Is it just me, or are there just more reversals now-a-days? Big ticket items seem to be especially vulnerable. I suspect a few of my reversal issues are related to merchants shaving commissions, but the vast majority just seem to be legit reversals from reputable merchants.

    I'm getting hit with so many reversals each day that my YOY growth is going negative! So disappointing... eBay is the biggest culprit. Man, that program really sucks now-a-days. I like to be diversified, but at what cost?

    Anyway, I guess I'm just feeling bummed. How can I have 50% more traffic and less money? Because Affiliate Marketing is Hard?!!!
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!


  2. #2
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    I'm sorry, but when I hear the word traffic I always wanna ask how you measure it. Unless you check prectically by hand and count only the real ones, you can't be sure of anything. Bots confuse even AdSense's counter, and there's a lot of them out there.

    Another thing is your position in SERPs. It's better to have 10 clicks from the 5th page than 100 clicks from the 10th page for the same keywords. Because those who buy don't click that deep, and the deeper you are, the less %-age of buyers will be among those "clickers", plus the chance of your cookies being overwritten is getting higher.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by login View Post
    I'm sorry, but when I hear the word traffic I always wanna ask how you measure it. Unless you check prectically by hand and count only the real ones, you can't be sure of anything. Bots confuse even AdSense's counter, and there's a lot of them out there.
    It is all real traffic. I've written my own analytics package that tracks user behavior on my site, taking into consideration various idiosyncrasies that allow me to differentiate between humans and bots. I've been battling a huge number of scrapers for a couple of years and in my accelerating war on them, I just kept piling on analytics functionality which is useful for reporting as well banning.


    One of the annoying reversal trends that I see is say, September was a really good month, but then October is trending much lower. Well, September reversals are going to be bigger due to bigger sales volume. So, on a low sales day in October, the reversals from September sales tend to wipe out a lot of your earnings for the day.

    eBay decided a year or so ago that paid marketing was a waste, so they started to cut back on spend. They went to a 24 hour cookie and they went to a 30 day reversal window. They brought the program management in house, and unfortunately for me, my new EPN rep eliminated some other incentives I previously had. So let's take yesterday for instance. My EPC is 55% lower than the same day last year on roughly the same amount of traffic.

    So eBay is generally sucking and then I get a few big reversals each day from other merchants and suddenly things aren't trending like they should be. Its not a matter of traffic quality, its a matter of business relationships changing I think.

    Another example... Amazon keeps knocking commission rates back. Its an ongoing trend. Computers capped at $25. Office supplies paid at 4%, Video Game consoles at 1%, appliances at 4%, now DVD's reduced to 4%. Back in the day, a lot of this stuff was 8.5%.

    I don't like the idea that you have to drastically increase your traffic each year just to stay even.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

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  5. #4
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    I'm constantly running "tail -f *access_log | grep -v ... | grep -v ... | etc", that way I catch IPs that will be 302'ed to their localhost.
    What you said about eBay applies to all major online retailers that we all helped to grow. Like Zappos. At 15% I could double my investment in AdWords, at 10% I could break even but have some profit from a few special orders, but at 8% it's a lost cause. Margins are getting thinner all around, and they'll continue to melt until it's all in balance. Unless you can find cheaper traffic than AdWords, the percentage will be right below the point of breaking even.
    I've read about one guy making 60K a year by driving around 1 million $ in sales from Amazon. That seems like a realistic number, out of all products to sell, with all the caps and special rates for not capped products, 6% on average is all you can count on, and in case you're getting more, consider yourself lucky. That's how I see it.

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  7. #5
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    This is just tooo depressing.

    I've been saying for years now how reduced commission rates are killing the industry.

    And if that doesn't get ya, the shorter cookie will.
    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]


  8. #6
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    One way around this is to leave the 'big guys' marketplace and look for high-paying CPA offers in niche markets. The up front work may be harder but it pays off in the long run...

  9. #7
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1 View Post
    One way around this is to leave the 'big guys' marketplace and look for high-paying CPA offers in niche markets. The up front work may be harder but it pays off in the long run...
    There are a lot of ways to combat this phenomenon and I usually stay on top of it. I do have to admit that I've had less time and especially less uninterrupted time since May because I'm moving. Its hard to show/sell a house and work. Through 4 weeks of travel into the mix and its hard to keep up. I did write/deploy a mobile optimized version of my site recently, so I have been able to get some work done. Mobile traffic converts poorly though, so not much growth there to offset declines elsewhere.

    You know what would be cool? An affiliate cookie that tied into Facebook logins so that we could track conversions across devices. Maybe then mobile traffic would be more attractive.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  10. #8
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    ISellStuff, I don't have the benefit of your experience, but as a newbie to AM I must agree that it IS hard! So far I'd say, thank God for ABW. It's a place for us to share these, and other, frustrations. I'm sorry I cannot offer you any advice, given my newbie status, but I do suggest you stay structured in how you review process, your method for learning what works and what doesn't. Because that is how you constantly learn what works and doesn't. It seems that what it takes to succeed in the world of AF is changing. All the best to you ISellStuff!

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