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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    We are ready to start an affiliate program, selling pet supplies. We have our own shopping cart software to accommodate the program, which will be online in about a week.
    The company will offer over 40,000 products, the largest such offering in this channel.

    Would it make any difference to an affiliate if we were under this program or simply our own.
    The main difference we see is a high cost on our part of signing up with this company $3200.
    Thereafter paying them a commission in addition to the commission to the affiliate.
    Since we sell at deep discount we could only offer a commission of 10%.
    If we have to pay a company such as this 3% we would only be able to offer the affiliate 7%.

    What are your thoughts, do we need them or not?

  2. #2
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    Use your own software. Take the money and open up a forum here. Communicate with the affiliates here - they are among the best on the web.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    The main benefit of CJ is the combined commission payments, which eliminates the requirement to sell a certain dollar amount per advertiser per pay period, in order to receive a commission. Their reports used to be pretty good as well, but after recent changes they've eliminated important click through information that would help publishers decide which products to feature, and be more effective in their targeting.

    Other than that, I agree with Witness. Open a forum here, communicate with ABW affiliates, pay a decent commission, make sure you pay on time, and don't pull any funny business.

    You'll have a successful program. Best of luck to you.

    Andy

    AFFILIATE MARKETING STANDARD: The site upon which the initial action to buy occurs is the site the commission is paid to. Period.

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    If we were to pay monthly what would the suggested minimum pay check level be say $25, or accumulate until it was reached?

    As far as funny business, the company has been in biz since 1974, your success is our success.

    Do most affiliates like to target individual products or just link to the website generally?

    What size banners are most popular?

  5. #5
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    The consolidated checks are the biggest benefit to affiliates and the reason some prefer to work with CJ merchants.

    quote:
    make sure you pay on time, and don't pull any funny business.


    That's the other point. At CJ, that deposit WILL go out on time! And, it's fairly easy to detect funny business. I also encounter less funny business in general, with CJ merchants (although there's a few duds).

    Indies, on the other hand, send me running for the stomach acid reducer with all the concerns of "will I get a check" and "Are they crooks, or do they just suck???" The one who pays on time can't convert. The one who can convert I have to dun sometimes (but sometimes the same place pays way early).

    If you go as an indy you can be sure I'll wait until I hear TONS of good reports about you before I give you the time of day. Especially about your payment record! But if you go to CJ and have a datafeed I know of a site you could get on quite quick, provided your own site looks like it can convert.

    Speaking of a datafeed, do have a datafeed available no matter what solution you pick. Those are golden!

    [added--saw post above]

    Personally I link to merchants both ways. IF you have a datafeed I'll use it for individual products. If there's NO datafeed, then it's a general link. There's waaayyy too much work to manually putting up a decent array of product links!

    As for banner sizes, personally I prefer 468*60s and cubes about 125*125. Cubes can vary a bit in size. I don't run many half-banners (about 230*60) because they don't fit any of my site designs but I can see in the CJ stats that some people must run 'em! So you should have those, too. Those micro-buttons (81*something) are way too small in most cases and not worth the bother in my opinion (too invisible!), but some sites may still like 'em.


    -Early in life, I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change. ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

    [This message was edited by Leader on March 20, 2003 at 10:38 AM.]

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador
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    It's not going to make a whole lot of difference to most affiliates whether you're through CJ or run your own... if you offer like a $10 minimum payout and send out checks monthly. So there would be costs to you in doing this as well.

    Gaining the numbers of affiliates on your own to make it worthwhile...this is where you ask whether this makes any difference to you. You'll hear complaints from merchants here that they have hundreds of affiliates and hardly anyone puts up links. You need big numbers.

    You also need your products to sell exceptionally well if a 7% commission is going to be offered on low price items. I've only kept one merchant on board where the average commission was less than $2.00...a merchant that has alot of stuff no one else has.

    Hopefully you'll get some responses from some of the CJ merchants that frequent the forum, who can tell you why they decided to go CJ.

  7. #7
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    I second the datafeed comments. I would be foaming at the mouth for a 40,000 product datafeed.

  8. #8
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    You may want to check out ShareASale.com as a more economical option for starting your affiliate program.

    Whatever you decide... KEEP YOUR PROGRAM FREE OF THE PARASITE COMPANIES.

    If you don't know what that means, their are many discussions on this board that will prove enlightening.

    Unless I am mistaken, I don't think CJ ever fully gave a detailed explanation on what "enforcement actions" they have taken concerning their COC and parasites whithin their network.

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador Nova's Avatar
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    IMO it's better to do it on your own without the Network and if you run an honest business,
    You will get alot of support!


    Especially you are promoting pet products I will be the first one to promote you, because most of the pet merchants we have right now are seem to be a crook!

    Like Leader said "DATAFEED" is a plus to have!

    Let me know when ever you have set up your affiliate program and I will be ready to join you and
    I be promoting your products with or without CJ.

    GoodLuck.

    Love Life to the fullest. we only get ONE chance! :-)

  10. #10
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    It is just that with CJ you will have 20 times the affiliates you would have with your own program...

    Also will save you time and give you quality issues.

    Fer

  11. #11
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    The big advantages of CJ are consolidated payments and the fact that CJ reports EPC. If you actually intend to pay affiliates, the EPC report is great. It will get you more affiliates.

    If you really don't want to pay affiliates anything, but have an affiliate program...I would go with BeFree or possible Linkshare. These are better programs for running bait and switch operations.

    CJ will probably get you a lot of affiliates quickly. I imagine that you will get two waves of affiliates. There will be many that join new programs from the get go, and others that wait the 3 months to see your reported EPC.

    If you go it alone, your biggest challenge is getting your name out to the community, and convincing people you are for real. If you go it alone, you might consider just publishing your EPC, conversion rate, etc., so affiliates would know what to expect.

    To be quite frank, all the major players have a history of letting down their affiliates. None of them have stellar reps as trusted third parties.

    boom!

  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input.
    You folks have us on a fast learning curve.

    Question, can someone explain the datafeed, we have our own in house server farm so I think our IT guys can do pretty much anything.

    But what is required?

  13. #13
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    quote:
    It is just that with CJ you will have 20 times the affiliates you would have with your own program...

    True, but it's the top handful of affiliates that bring in the bucks. If a CJ merchant wants to really succeed, it still has to go out and manually find and communicate with top affiliates. It doesn't matter whether you're with CJ or an independent, most of your affiliates are not earning you anything. You have to find those top performers. The "thousands of affiliates" argument doesn't wear any more.

    In fact, you'll see that CJ itself doesn't even use that as a main argument on their sales pages anymore.

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    We have spoken to Haiko and will be setting up a forum for the affiliate program, and make a formal announcement when the time comes.

    The purpose of this post is to gather your thoughts on several issues.

    Are you using any affiliate programs selling pet supplies?

    If so which ones are successful?

    what are the conversion ratios?

    What cookie durations (besides forever) would be fair?

    What attributes would you like to see included in the program?

    Our initial plan is to setup a data feed
    Cookie duration is still being considered
    We will offer 43,000 items, more than anyone else in this channel.
    (More than Petsmart, Petco, Dr. Foster & Smith, Petfooddirect, Ferret store …….)
    The commission would be 10%
    The program will be managed in house, we see no benefit with CJ, linkshare etc.
    There will be a logon to see the number of links, sales etc. Payments would be monthly via check or PayPal.
    Our web servers are dedicated and managed by our own IT staff.

    A few items of interest relating to the pet industry.
    60% of the US population owns a pet or aquarium.
    The pet industry is a 26 billion market
    The company was started in 1974

    Your constructive comments would be appreciated.

    Thanks
    Henry

    PetsWarehouse.com

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Henry,

    Will you have your datafeed set up so we can just pull dog items? I have a site just for dog owners and really don't want other pet items, but am ready for a datafeed for this site.

    Ron - 7 Days A Week Marketing
    Every day is a chance to learn something new and an opportunity to teach others.

  16. #16
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    If you can provide something like shopper ID (SID) as in CJ or signature as in Linkshare that will be great. The affiliates will pass a number/string as an URL parameter like SID and the sales reports will include that number/string. This allows affiliates to track their visior/members better.

  17. #17
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    7-days-Ron, you would be able to do that by first level of category.

    Henry

  18. #18
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    KCEdit,
    The sales report has the following but can be modified in the future
    Affiliate # 1
    First Name Test
    Last Name test

    Orders 2
    Amount $ 100.00
    Commission $ 10.00

    Links 6
    Last Date 3/16/2003

    You would be able to see the individual orders but not consumer info, which would be hidden.

    Is this what your referring to?

    Henry

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador
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    The parameter I was talking about is not included in the report. Let me explain again.

    An unique number is passed through the URL as a paramter. This number can be used in several different ways. For example, I might pass SKU to track which product is doing good in my site. Someone can pass unique number tied to their web site member login, so that they can provide rebate/incentive etc. to their members. All major networks (Befree, CJ, Linkshare, ShareASale) support this feature.

  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    Do you mean an ASP trailer like this

    NEW FEATURE: st=pet+food is the search term the user typed in which generated the click

    For example, this is what we will your URL look like:
    http://www.xxxxxx.com/?source=aa&st=pet+food

    Or perhaps e-mail me.

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador FFoc's Avatar
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    Basically, any tag which we can assign the value ourselves, so that we can track effectiveness of our links.

    something like:
    ?source=aff_id&sid=foobar

    Where "sid" is a field which shows up in the reports to sort by, but isn't tied to anything specific on your end.

    CJ has the "sid" field, some sites running KB use the "sub_id" field, etc...

    --
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  22. #22
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    It is not in the software at the moment, but I'm sure something like this can be done.

  23. #23
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    The real benefits of CJ are the combined payment mentioned above and instant reputation gain for your site.
    If you are on CJ with all the fees, affiliates know you are serious. Indie programs run in house have a tendency to just shut down or have some technical problem that never gets fixed.
    This is more often the problem than not paying people but that too is a concern for affiliates.

    You could always run an inhouse program at a higher percentage rate and a program through CJ as well for those that prefer it.
    If the setup fees and monthly minimums for CJ will not be a problem I would suggest considering running both an inhouse program and a CJ program.

    While you will reach lots of small time potential affiliates that might never make you anything with CJ. You also will reach the elite affilites too as most use CJ and follow all merchants that sign up there. Also rates are negotiable for CJ I imagine if you can generate a lot of transactions and commissions. They are a business and do negotiate I imagine.
    If you decide to do it inhouse I would suggest having a zero minimum payout, or a $5 or $10 minimum payout, and perhaps offering a higher commission for those that want payment in store credit.

    Some people will set up links when minimum payouts are low as an experiment. If minimum payouts are high they will pass as they figure they will never reach the minimum. The thing is some of the people that thought they would never reach a minimum payout amount may wind up doing very well and earning far above any minium payout level you set in the future.

    Low minimum payouts just encourage experimentation by those who might try promoting a given merchant. Thats the real advantage of this to you. Some of the "experimenters" may become your top performers.

    OnlineSoldier.com

    The webmaster's guide to the war which is the web. Analyze monetization, visitor retention, and promotion.

  24. #24
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    Good points.
    At this stage of starting the program we see a problem justifying the $5300 expense with CJ. When we talked to them about the costs they would not negotiate.
    Our conclusion at this point is to set up a forum here, perhaps adding Shareasale™.
    Analyze the results in 60-90 days and then reconsider adding a CJ or someone else.

    I can go with a $10 min pay, but rather than cutting checks would prefer doing payments through PayPal.

    As to your points on "shutting down or having technical problems that don't get fixed".
    If the affiliates are making money the company is also. Your success is our success; there is no reason to close down.
    We have our own servers and in house tech people, while there may be some bumps in the implementation phase, any bugs will be worked out.

    The company will make and maintain a concerted effort to make this work.

    Another point you raised was bartering fees, that is a good idea we will consider.

    Henry

  25. #25
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    The point is that lots of inhouse programs just shut down for whatever reason.
    I see this happen a lot.
    This is something affiliates are going to be concerned about as no one knows how reliable you are online as far as for affiliates.

    Why would an affiliate use an in house program like yours for pet stuff when lots of programs for the same market are available via the networks that are deemed more "reliable" programs and have been around longer.
    Its easier to fake things with an inhouse program. One can just report a small portion of sales or none at all. These things do occur and affiliates know it. With no track record you have no reputation in this area.

    You will have to pay more or somehow distinguish yourself by having products not available at the other merchants in your niche with affilaite programs or the elite affiliates will not use you.

    OnlineSoldier.com

    The webmaster's guide to the war which is the web. Analyze monetization, visitor retention, and promotion.

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