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  1. #1
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Hi all,

    Wanted to ask your feedback about Datafeeds VS Search Boxes.

    I have done a lot of datafeed research and have written some articles that have been published. There is huge interest in datafeeds, but I continuously get e-mails from partners, who are not technically savvy enough to implement them. The solution???

    Partner Search Boxes -
    See a sample of the eHobbies search box here: http://www.ehobbies.com (See the "customize your search" box) They offer this search box to their CJ affiliates as an interactive link.

    Other partner search box examples:
    http://www.origins.net/affiliate-examples.html
    http://www.abebooks.com/docs/Affilia...rchboxes.shtml
    I have talked to the manager for Abes and he says the search boxes really help sales.

    This is great for partners that don't have the programming skills to do a datafeed. All they have to do is cut and paste, just like a banner. Then instantly their visitors can shop the entire merchants database and go directly to products they are looking for. Quick, easy for partners - no programming and takes up very little space on their site!

    I have been researching search boxes like this then read this Internet Retailer Article.

    "eHobbies.com president Seth Greenberg attributes growth to a number of initiatives, including an innovative site-search box that eHobbies places on affiliate partners’ sites. The search box on affiliate sites allows visitors to search eHobbies’ database for products. A customer either navigates the search function through a series of drop-down menus or inputs a search term. When the customer clicks Go, the browser either launches a new window displaying eHobbies.com or sends the user directly to eHobbies.com. Those searches are now responsible for as much as 10% of eHobbies’ sales, Greenberg says, and he expects that portion to continue to grow. “We’re just scratching the surface,”

    -------------------------------------

    What do you guys think of the search box idea? Not to replace datafeeds!!! Just to give affiliates in easier option for helping surfers get directly to individual products or categories, thereby increasing conversion rates?

    I am trying to get Irvs Luggage to approve the programming, but wanted to get your feedback 1st.

    Linda Buquet ~ Affiliate Management Consultant ~ Catalyst eMarketing.com
    Representing www.5StarAffiliatePrograms.com: DentalPlans|Irv's Luggage|Executive Essentials|IntellicontactPro|zZounds|Roadloans

    [This message was edited by AMconsulting on August 04, 2003 at 11:41 AM.]

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador phillyburbs's Avatar
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    Linda:
    I'm an admitted novice, so take this for what it's worth ... the advantage of a datafeed would be that the user stays on our site until they are ready to purchase. If they use a search box, they would, I assume, but sent to the search results page on the vendor's site. If they don't make a purchase there, we've lost a user who may have found something else on our site [not to mention that, for us, straight page views are valuable].
    Just my two shiny pennies worth.

    Karl Smith
    phillyBurbs - Your Internet Starts Here

  3. #3
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Karl,

    I didn't even think of that. Very good point!!! Again, not considering this in PLACE of a datafeed, just as an extra option for those that want it.

    Just realized your comment was probaably due to my subject line. I should not have said "BETTER than Datafeeds" nothing is better than datafeeds IMHO.

    But for affiliates who don't want to use a datafeed - a search box that would get sufers directly to the product - intead of a banner that just goes to the homepage, would increase conversions don't you think?

    (Your 2 cents is always valuable to me - thanks Karl!)

    Linda Buquet ~ Affiliate Management Consultant ~ Catalyst eMarketing.com
    Representing www.5StarAffiliatePrograms.com: DentalPlans|Irv's Luggage|Executive Essentials|IntellicontactPro|zZounds|Roadloans

  4. #4
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    A search box on the side of a datafeed product page could be good - if the user landed on a datafeed product page but it wasn't exactly the product they wanted, the search box would be an option instead of them hitting the back key to return to the search engine results.. and off to another site.

    [This message was edited by midnightcoder on August 04, 2003 at 01:37 PM.]

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador phillyburbs's Avatar
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    Linda:
    If the choice were between a banner and a search box, I'd vote for the search box. It would vary by situation, but even if someone handbuilt a lot of inventory, they would likely benefit from a search box in case they missed the item(s) the user is seeking.

    Karl Smith
    phillyBurbs - Your Internet Starts Here

  6. #6
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Linda the eHobbies search box addresses the main problem faced by any merchants newbee shopper without a clue to brand names and specific search terms. Category and Brand pulldowns.

    Category pull downs are very effective creatives. Plain search boxes are at the mercy of wether the affiliate networks "keyword results" are in-sync with the search function of the actual merchant's web site. TigerDirect has mixed results on search boxes as the BeFree individual product links and keywords vary substancially from the real sites results.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  7. #7
    Outsourced Program Manager Bryan Rhodes's Avatar
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    Linda,

    We have two search boxes available in addition to the datafeed. There is no comparison between the datafeed and search box in terms of sales numbers, but it is a great alternative for less technical affiliates. The search boxes do convert better than regular banners.

    The way advanced links are set up through CJ you shouldn't have any of the keyword problems Mike talked about. Our search boxes go directly to our site for accurate results.

    The only problem is keeping on top of any coding changes. We had a problem last September when the new site launched. Search boxes are typically a hard coded link so they have to be manually updated by the affiliate. People who didn't update were still going to the old site, which produced zero results.

    Bryan Rhodes
    Affiliate Marketing Manager
    BackcountryStore.com
    Phone: (435) 657 2468 ex. 116

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador Spencer's Avatar
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    I for one like search boxes. It gives the customer another option to finding exactly what they are looking for. You don't have to worry about losing someone off your site, per se, if you set it to open up another browser with the search results right there.

  9. #9
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    quote:
    If they use a search box, they would, I assume, but sent to the search results page on the vendor's site. If they don't make a purchase there, we've lost a user who may have found something else on our site [not to mention that, for us, straight page views are valuable].


    I disagree with the above statement at multiple levels.

    1) Get them to the merchant site and get the cookie. I don't use datafeeds or design the data to keep them on my site! Get them to the merchant site where they want to go is what's important. I always open a merchants site in a new window so if they don't like the merchants data and want to keep perusing my site - they can and I haven't lost a thing.

    2) Page views are totaly worthless (unless you value something like an alexa ranking which means squat in my opinion). I see no value in trying to introduce a navigation system for the sole purpose of getting page views. As a matter of fact, I try and cut my navigation to a minimum - each additional navigational level you go down, you lose PR on those sub pages - definately not a good thing! If you're overbuilding navigation for "page views", you're only shooting yourself in the foot!

    Search boxes are very user friendly and should be a primary addition to the creatives and other marketing presented to a sites users - with or without the use of datafeed content.

    They downside to a search box is that there is absolutely no "spider food" associated with them! Search boxes can only be effective if other marketing data "drop downs with department listings, product listings, etc" in conjunction with other marketing text used gets a user to the page!

  10. #10
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Thanks Mike, Charlie, Bryan, Spencer and Poon for all the great feedback.

    I just got approval for the search boxes for Irvs so will have the programmer start working. Then we'll do Executive Essentials.

    Poon if I was an Irvs affiliate using the new search box (when it's done) I would add a spider food paragraph or sentence above the box which would also help conversions. In fact I will write one for the next newlsetter when I announce the box.

    Travel in Style with the top brand name luggage, back packs, business cases and other travel accessories at up to 70-% off from Irvs Luggage. Search below to save now! (Or something like that.)

    Linda Buquet ~ Affiliate Management Consultant ~ Catalyst eMarketing.com
    Representing www.5StarAffiliatePrograms.com: DentalPlans|Irv's Luggage|Executive Essentials|IntellicontactPro|zZounds|Roadloans

  11. #11
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    Datafeeds and search boxes is like apples and oranges. I don't use datafeeds for the same reason I would choose to use a search box.

  12. #12
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    Well, everything helps, of course. However, I've never ever been a big fan of search boxes on sites. The problem is that the on-site search engines of most e-commerce sites are irredemably awful and don't generate accurate results. This often means that people think that a site doesn't have a particular product or style of product when it does. Plus a lot of e-commerce sites use some basic kind of algorithmic search engine when they should be creating a search that promotes exactly the products they want in the exact order they wish to display them.

    It's one of the things that most irritates me about ecommerce sites. They spend $1000s creating an excellent site and then plug-in some godawful algorithmic search engine that was written in about ten minutes and displays a big ol' list of barely relevant pages. If you are a merchant and are reading this, try out your on-site search engine and look for a phrase that you know appears on every page of your site. If you see a list of every page of your site in the search results, weep at all those lost sales, shake your head sadly and design a proper site search. Then I might just use your search box. Here endeth the lesson.

    Search Engine Positioning - 1 Design 4 Life

  13. #13
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Good point MarkyMark,

    I should rephase what I have in mind for Irvs.
    It won't be a search box where you enter a keyword - too much room for error.

    It will be a search box that ties to our database with 2 pre-populated drop down menus. Sort of like the eHobbies one. But ours will just have 2 search options: By product category or manufacturer.

    So someone can search by category & pick backbacks, computer cases, Irvs specials or one of the other general products. Or they can search by manufacturer. These will all pull right from our feed and take people to the right page so there will be no room for error.

    Make sense?

    Linda Buquet ~ Affiliate Management Consultant ~ Catalyst eMarketing.com
    Representing www.5StarAffiliatePrograms.com: DentalPlans|Irv's Luggage|Executive Essentials|IntellicontactPro|zZounds|Roadloans

  14. #14
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    So if you look at the Irvs site:
    http://www.irvs.com/

    It would be similar to the search by manufacturer box (only designed better) with the addition of a shop by category drop down menu.

    Basically as I see it, it would let affiliates have our whole menu of options, in a small space that would let them bypass the homepage and extra clicks so customers could get directly to the products they are looking to puchase.

    Linda Buquet ~ Affiliate Management Consultant ~ Catalyst eMarketing.com
    Representing www.5StarAffiliatePrograms.com: DentalPlans|Irv's Luggage|Executive Essentials|IntellicontactPro|zZounds|Roadloans

  15. #15
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    Yeah, that makes perfect sense to me, Linda. And it's a good idea. I just have a big thing about on-site search engines and how bad they often are.

    I can give you a few examples of what I mean using zzounds.com (which actually has a pretty good site search) but I'll be taking the thread way off topic.

    Search Engine Positioning - 1 Design 4 Life

  16. #16
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    quote:
    we've lost a user who may have found something else on our site [not to mention that, for us, straight page views are valuable].~Karl--PhillyBurbs



    quote:
    Page views are totaly worthless (unless you value something like an alexa ranking which means squat in my opinion).~Happypoon


    For us Revenue Site people, true--page views ARE totally worthless!

    But Karl has a c*ntent site where CPA is only part of the income. I would presume that rates for straight advertising are determined by the amount of page views he can promise to advertisers. And if the rates at PhillyBurbs are CPM based, the interest in page views is even more obvious--the more imps he can show, the better!

    So the different models require a different strategy. For a Revenue Site, though, Poon is right--visitors don't make a sales site any money until they beat it! So I try to get people to beat it over to the merchant site as fast as the Terms allow. I even put a pay link high in the spin to catch antsy people who don't like to read!

    It is a beautiful thing, to do nothing, and then rest afterwards.~Spanish Proverb

  17. #17
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    Neither, especially merchant search boxes.

    If a visitor searches in Google for specific products and finds me ...I know where those products can be found ...no further search fields needed.

    Secondly is a thing called endorsement. We often don't give much heed that consumers are seeking endorsement as well as finding a product.

    Merchant ads/sites that endorse themselves are often not readily trusted by many shoppers. I'm like the celebrity on a TV or Radio advertisement - they listen to me and trust I won't steer them wrong. They want to stay on my site until they find what they want, and what I say about it.

    Of all the luggage merchants out there ...If I endorse that Irv's Luggage Warehouse is the best ...there will be no second thoughts ...no searching other luggage sites ...the search has ended here and now. They want to do business with Irv's from then on.

    Future Scenario: As the internet grows, there will be more a need for endorsement as shoppers will have so many more merchants to choose from ...We will have to be super talented/respected to cause them to end their search.

    Merchant search engines? Presently very poor technology. A shopper that is used to searching Google style will often be disappointed ...when the shopper gets poor or no results, (and again no endorsement of those specific products when found), they often will leave.

  18. #18
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Kelly,

    I totally agree with everything you're saying. You are a true pro in this industry, and I wish more people knew the value of endorsements and put the time and energy into credibility and building customer loyalty like you have.

    (BTW are you already an Irvs affiliate? Since I don't know your real name or your site I can't be sure. But if you aren't, you are exactly the type of person I would just love to have on my team – let me know what I can do to win you over!!!)

    However, for the average affiliate or newbies who typically would just put up a banner or a text link, I think the category/manufacturer search box would help them convert more sales.

    Linda Buquet ~ Affiliate Management Consultant ~ Catalyst eMarketing.com
    Representing www.5StarAffiliatePrograms.com: DentalPlans|Irv's Luggage|Executive Essentials|IntellicontactPro|zZounds|Roadloans

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