View Poll Results: 800#s

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    8 33.33%
  • 10%

    4 16.67%
  • 15%

    0 0%
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  1. #1
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    What percentage of sales do you think (and what proof do you have) are lost to 800#s plastered on merchant sites?

    <font size="2" face="Verdana">Haiko


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  2. #2
    pph Expert! Gordon's Avatar
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    I think it is impossible to give an acurate or even an attempted answer to this question there are many variables to take into account.
    For eg. a site with a ginormous multicolored 0800# in the middle of the page would atract far more clicks than a small discreet 0800# at the top or bottom of the page.

    I could not even guess at the amount I have lost to these tactics but I am certain I must have lost some.

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    Gordon
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  3. #3
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    I tend not to even partner with merchant who do this, especially when they tie the 800# to each items buy button. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] I try to find an alternative merchant when possible. I'm still trying to find some specific products to carry, but all the merchant so far I've found who use this method seem to use this tactic.

    As we've seen from recent events, it's very difficult for an affiliate to "prove" a lost sale. We have no way of "tracking" what a visitor has done once they leave our site.

    Until the networks provide us with more meaningful metrics on merchants, it will continue to difficult for affiliates to nail down the different factors which are influencing conversion ratios. For example with CJ, reporting network wide stats that we see for our individual affiliate accounts for each merchant (CTR, etc) that can then be looked at along with the EPC. Even just having the network wide average ticket sale or sale commission amount would make the EPC much more meaningful.

    Keep Your Hands Off My Cookies

  4. #4
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Well I know for certain that Bonsai Boys of NY with increaded traffic from my specific pages to them are converting at least 60% less of my shoppers due to prominent 800#'s on all pages. They alos divert with an outside gift registry company who ciphons off sales as an affiliate. For most of this year their 800# banner (top & bottom) had this message in BOLD print..."To order this product CALL 800-***-****" They were my top CJ merchant for 2 years before the 800# went up. I also found no sales coming from Import Parts Bin ( automotive supplier at CJ) as 70% of all their database drive items lead to a OOS page with no image or descriptive text ..just call our 24 hr operator to order this item.

    I sent them a scathing e-mail and took down their links before getting a reply the next day they were dropping me from their program. Whoopy doo .. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_mad.gif[/img]

    WebMaster Mike

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    I was doing very well with a certain CJ merchant, until they added a 1-800 number during a site redesign.

    Immediately, sales virtually stopped. The number wasn't large, nor was it in a large font. But it was placed cleverly so that it did stand out.

    I sent them the same clicks, but got no sales. Coincidence? Perhaps...

    I didn't sell anything for the next few months, yet continued to send them highly targeted and qualified traffic.

    Now they've done another redesign, the 800 number is larger, and is placed at the bottom of the page instead of the top. I'm getting a few sales now, but not anything close to what I did before they added the 800 number to every page.

    It does hurt the affiliate, no doubt about it. And there's nothing you can say or do on your pages before sending them to the merchant's site that works to "encourage" them to shop online and not call the 800 number.

    I've tried everything, including some good advice from Leader. But nothing has increased my sales. And -- of course -- the 800 number is necessary for good customer service. Right. I think they should place the 800 number on a customer service page, separate from sales pages.

    I've heard the argument that the 800 number makes consumers more confident ...yadda yadda yadda... but I believe it's just one more way to not pay commissions under the pretense of providing good customer service.

    Andy

    1-800 numbers are a bad thing for affiliates. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]

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

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador
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    I do work for a CJ merchant to drive them traffic.

    When I asked them that question they told me 30% of sales come through their 800#

  7. #7
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    I think it really varies by merchant and their strategy. Call centers, like 1-800-Contacts were designed for people to call in and make orders. They added the web to get leads.

    The worst offender of this sort was Sprint PCS. I ran their ad for several hundred clicks, then one day I decided to try a test purchase. Guess what? there wasn't even a way to place the order on the Internet!!!! When you got to the run credit card transaction and pushed the button, you were given a note to call customer service.

    Sites whose primary goal is to sell through the web would only want to use the 800 number to support sales. What you pay for customer service agents is generally substantially higher than the commission they steal from an affiliate. A few smart companies even know that stealing money from affiliates decreases their internet exposure.

    Counter balancing the 1-800 effect, most merchants know that web sites will run their ads based on the ad performance (EPC). This is why I think it is critical for networks to get that information out on the market.

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  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador Sam Bay's Avatar
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    Is it more profitable for a merhcant to process orders through phones than web site? For most of them, I don't think so, especially on the long term.

  9. #9
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> And there's nothing you can say or do on your pages before sending them to the merchant's site that works to "encourage" them to shop online and not call the 800 number.~Andy <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I'm sorry you didn't have better success at defusing the diversions at your merchants, but to say there's "nothing you can say or do" isn't really accurate. That's like saying that since I haven't figured out how to make a rocketship, that space travel isn't possible!

    @ all--Personally, with the exceptions of CROOKS like that SprintPCS program yintercept mentioned (when a place is running an aff program with no way to order online or track sales/leads, it's outright crookery!), I have found that places that use 800#s--and no other anti-CR tactics--aren't all that hard to get sales from.

    For instance, I do okay with Bonsai Boy despite their VERY high-key 800# and their *very conspicuous(!!!)* spin that's designed to get phone orders.

    It's only when there are *multiple* anti-commissionary tactics in place that I see this tremendous conversion-drop. For instance, hardcore diverters often have some combination (or all) of these: Miniscule (1 day) cookies, 800 order-line numbers, OOS bait-and-switch, Ridiculous Reversal Rate Syndrome, Extension Mania, followup emails, snail mail ads, leak-links, and on-site verbiage designed to convince people to buy in a noncommissionary way! There may be a few more dirty tricks that I'm forgetting, too.

    In my opinion, it'll take more than removing just one or two of these anticommissionary elements to cause a significant improvement. True hardcore diverters have tricks strewn through their sites like rot. A vegetable with 4 kinds of mold throughout it instead of 5 is still plenty rotten!

    I will say that a true diverter isn't necessarily partnered with any parasiteware. They'd have to *gasp* PAY a parasite...and a hardcore diverter does NOT want to have to PAY anyone!


    As for the answer to the poll, I'd say that 800#s *alone* affect me less than 5%. Of course, there's no proof of that...my guess is based on the CRs that I recall from the last time this was an issue (many months or more ago). At that time, I compared the CR difference between numbered and un-numbered merchants and in most cases, there was a negligible difference. I know the data's a bit old but I don't want to go through all my current merchants to answer a poll! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    There is no knowledge that is not power.~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  10. #10
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SamBay:
    Is it more profitable for a merhcant to process orders through phones than web site? For most of them, I don't think so, especially on the long term.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I agree, the long term economics is in our favor.

    Of course, whenever a store has more than one channel (be it stores or a call center) the politics is against the affiliate. The call center manager who farts in the same elevator with the boss has a big impact on policy (even when that impact is detrimental to the company.)

    Protophoto - Short Stories

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador Joey's Avatar
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    As things stand now, I don't think I 'm losing much considering that I steer clear of any merchants who plaster 800#s onto their sites.

    But we don't have to be losing ANY money to 800#s. If more AMs would get off their butts and work towards systems like this one, we'd actually get credit for those sales.

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador Jane's Avatar
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    When you are shopping would you finish your order on the web or stop to call the 800 number? I am not going to waste my time making the call unless I need more info on the product. However some merchants encourage people to make the call. We can't post our lowest sale prices.. call for info.

  13. #13
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    I have some data:

    We sell domains and webhosting, and 15% of all sales come via phone or fax and our phone numbers are buried in the website. These are very "web friendly" products, so to have 15% come via phone/fax is higher than I expected.

    Also, I have read many customers will call in an order because they are afraid of using a CC online due to the media coverage of "stolen" card numbers and "identity theft" on the net. The number I've see quoted is 50% They feel more compfortable speaking their credit card number over a phone than inputting it on a secure server.. it's just perception, but it's one that's real in their minds.

    Also, we could commission this ourselves or pay some of the online research places for the info. The fact is, only the merchant really has this info, and they are not talking.

    So paying $100-500 or so for the information might be worth it.

    http://SearchToSale.com - Turns your search box into money.

  14. #14
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by jane:
    When you are shopping would you finish your order on the web or stop to call the 800 number? I am not going to waste my time making the call unless I need more info on the product. However some merchants encourage people to make the call. We can't post our lowest sale prices.. call for info.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    The problem is, people like us, we are too close to the industry. We are not like ordinary people. We are compfortable with the technology. Most people are not. But they are very compfortable with the telephone. Ask yourself this: if the 800 number was not important, than why do site have is all over their pages? Look at every catalog you get in the mail. On the best ones, you'll see the 800 number on every page, not just the order form or the front and back covers. They have learned over the past 70 years, having that number everywhere means more sales.

    http://SearchToSale.com - Turns your search box into money.

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    This is a very interesting topic for me, as I've been trying to find the miracle cure for merchant pages with 800 numbers on them. On my sites, they don't convert very well. Perhaps to say that there's absolutely nothing you can do is inaccurate, but I've yet to find anything that will work, and I've been trying lots of things this year.

    I've also been doing a survey on my site over the last 3 months or so, asking customers if they prefer placing an order through an 800 number, or through a secure connection when shopping online.

    Here's what I've got to date:

    Out of a total of 594 responses:

    336 said they prefer 800 numbers;
    258 said they prefer to order online.

    I gave everyone the chance to make a comment before submitting, and most didn't--but a few did. Comments like:

    "...it's faster to order on the phone since so many of the sites have different carts and forms and screens to go through, and its just too confusing."

    "I've had fraudulent transactions take place after using my card over the internet, I've learned my lesson. Never again."

    "...ordering on the web is too impersonal. I like to speak to another person about the item I'm ordering."

    "Online is the best. I love it."

    This really proves nothing, and I realize you can consider demographics, income, time of day, etc., but it shows me that the majority of my visitors prefer to gab on the phone, which cuts me out of the deal in most cases.

    At one point, I had a blurb about how convenient ordering online is, and that you don't have to go offline to order, blah, blah, blah. One person responded they were on cable, and didn't have to go offline to order anyway, but they could look for other things on different sites while they were ordering on the phone! So much for that!

    Still, I'm going to keep trying things until I come across something that works.

    Andy

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

  16. #16
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Nicely done Andy. The part that scews the stats are the merchants selling high end goods. They are less likey to pick up the phone on order under 100.00. Now try and get them on a 2000.00 notebook ..4200.00 DVD-LCD TV or a $49,999 diamond ring appraised at $150,000 and you have a phone call customer.

    Merchants selling the highend stuff sure could use some way of identifying the referral site. I just use it as curiosity eye candy hoping the cheap skates will find something more in their price range.

    Webmaster Mike

    "Anyone can make a dollar, it is when you make sense that it starts to add up."...does your eBiz plan make sense?

  17. #17
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    Hey all...from the merchant's perspective, you have all already nailed it in posts above..MANY customers are still uncomfortable with the website and not all merchants are trying to divert sales away from affiliates by smearing our 800# all over the site! If that customer was uncomfortable with placing it on the web and could not find our phone number easily enough to call us...they would sure surf over to a competitor whose site has an 800 number on the home page..they call them..we BOTH lose the sale.

    We sell gift baskets..we don't sell computers...so the chance of alot of phone conversion is alot smaller. We LOVE our customers to stay on the net and order..when they call in with technical or product questions...we try and push them back on the net..we will offer to take an order by phone if we feel resistance, impatience or if the customer is just stuck and cannot place the order by phone.

    It is sad to see many of you steering clear of merchants with 800 numbers on the site..you really are not losing as many sales as you think with many of the merchants. Seems the big ticket merchants(Dell, Apple, etc) would have more to gain by stealing back their order from you..not all merchants would.

    Patty Altaffer
    Affiliate Manager
    AKA Gourmet(www.akagourmet.com)
    patty@akagourmet.com

  18. #18
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Still, I'm going to keep trying things until I come across something that works.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    From the merchants point of view an 800 number is an absolute necessity to their success. I believe every single merchant we partner with should have it in a HUGE banner across the top of the page. And right under it should be an "aff code" or "coupon code" or "tracking code" (which is really our aff code) and then when the 800 operator takes the call they ask for it. Then I know you will for sure be making more sales, because I believe that other than Credit Card acceptance, an 800 number is the other holy grail to online success, AND we'll get our commission.

    I even have a solution for those sites that put their telephone bank on commission. When the customer calls the 800 a voice mail comes in asking for their "code" (extension, whatever you want to call it) Then if the code is that of an affiliate, it goes to a bank of non-commissioned telephone order takers. I'm so convinced that this will work and result in a larger commission check for me, I'll even tell you to take 5% of my commission to pay those non-commissioned order takers.

    I WANT to see the 800 number on the sites.. But only if my affiliate code is included, because I know you and I will both make way more sales if it is.

    http://SearchToSale.com - Turns your search box into money.

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> I WANT to see the 800 number on the sites.. But only if my affiliate code is included, because I know you and I will both make way more sales if it is. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    That's a good point. I would have no problem promoting how wonderful the option of 1-800 ordering is on a site IF I GOT A COMMISSION FOR IT.

    But if they're going to effectively cut me out of the deal by providing this "service" to their/our customers, there's no need for me to promote them for free.

    I understand a merchant wanting an 800 number option for their customers, but to me the most efficient way of doing it for all parties involved is placing a "Need help ordering? Click here" link discreetly on each page. That could pop up a window explaining how to use the cart, the safety of encryption, etc. On that page, an 800 number could be placed along with a "Didn't find an answer to your question? Call us - we're here to help!" blurb.

    Then the phone operator could answer the question, and place the order or allow the customer to go back to the original page and place the order online.

    Done this way, I have no problem with 800 numbers. But when they're blatantly displayed on the page, and when conversions drop when they are placed on the page, that tells me more people are opting for the phone.

    After all, it's important for merchants to remember that their affiliates deserve good service, too.

    Andy [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

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

  20. #20
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    I know every catalog I get in the mail has a "key code" on it, and I know everytime I call to place an order, the operator asks me to turn to the address box on the catalog and asks "what is the keycode above your name."

    If they can do it there, they can do it on the website.

    http://SearchToSale.com - Turns your search box into money.

  21. #21
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    800 numbers on affiliate sites have always irked the piss out of me. The way I see it, if it's an affiliate landing page there should be no 800 number present without some sort of safeguard to protect the affiliate (like a random code generated on the site that must be inputted to connect). Equal gizmos used to skank are those "No time now? No Problem! Input your email address here." or those "Too busy now? Type in your phone number and a good time to call." features.

    This is nothing short of subtle theft. Overlooked for the most part by the networks. I've seen it used to an extreme to where it clearly states in bold on the site something like: " For the Best and Fastest Service Call 1-800-AFF-BURN".

    This kind of stuff is hard to prove but I do know of before and after situations that I think to have jilted myself around 20% or so. I think it would depend on how prominent the number is displayed ect. Still, I think any amount is too much as we do not go to the lengths we do to give any contact away. I've heard "them" proclaim, "It has to do with our commitment to customer service.". Well the way I see it, if they can't live without a 1-800 number on their affiliate pages, they should get out of marketing in that angle. It's not "their" business until that surfer buys or does something to take care of our angle or decides to skip us alltogether and go thru the front door at whatever.com. We already have too many things in the way of landing the commission,. This is an online arrangement so it should remain online. That 800 number should not appear until the lead and/or sale is secured.

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador Jane's Avatar
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    The merchants only concern is to make as much money as possible. If they want to plaster 800 numbers all over that is their choice. We have the choice to not promote them which is your best choice if you feel you loose too many commissions this way.
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    Personally I wouldn't make a purchase from someone who advertises like this. I don't want to call and listen to a price list on the phone. Seems like a lame gimmick to get you on the phone so you can listen to a bunch of sales hype. Might be okay for a newspaper ad, but this is the Internet. Information should be posted.

  23. #23
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    okay..I have to jump in on this one again! I truly think you are all losing site of something very important..the customer experience. Someone said"don't put 800 numbers on affiliate landing pages" well that does not make sense to me..effectively what you are saying is that customers who come through affiliate links should not be offered an optional customer service feature because you are afraid they will call it and you lose a sale. A lost and confused customer is a lost and confused customer no matter where they linked through from.

    I think what you have to put in perspective is how YOU would shop a site and place orders..if you were having problems ordering or had questions that were not in FAQ's, pop up help windows, etc..wouldn't you want an easy way to find a contact number? I personally get po'd when I am surfing a site and I just get from one help link to another and they never really answer the question..do you really expect us to send our customers through a maze of popups and faq's in order to keep them on the site. Believe me..most people will stay on the site. Many of our customers surf while at work(naughty, naughty) so they do so in secrecy..to get offline and call us..would bring attention to the fact they are doing personal business while at work.
    The case also goes for people online at 3am who would most likely wade through the site than get offline and call.

    We do not have commissioned order desks at all..so switching callers from one place to the next would not apply to us. Now..as far as asking for keycodes or affiliate codes posted somewhere on the site..where or how would you propose your code to pop up? It could not be embedded on the site anywhere..even if through your link. The only time your affiliate id is visible is when the customer first clicks through the link and it switches over to our site..you see the tracking url for a second and then it switches to our own internal URL..this is how Linkshare works.
    Asking the customer to try and decipher the url to find an affiliate code is asking alot..especially since most of our callers are not so internet savvy(thus why they call in the first place) and many of them still on dialup must go offline to call us..or they closedthe browser.
    I am speaking from my 5 years at my company...we have had a website since late 1997..and I have learned what type of customer gives up and calls..we have enhanced our site since then..trying to keep the customer online. It costs us more money to pay our call center to take orders and to hire customer service staff to answer questions better answered online. The system is not perfect..there will always be people more in tune with phones than internet..there will always be newbies on the net or the particular site.
    Of course our goal is to make as much money as possible..is it not yours or any business's right to do that? Does AKA Gourmet do so by purposefully figuring out ways to screw our affiliates? NO WAY! DO other merchants?? maybe..who knows..but speaking from my own program..you are in no way losing tons of business from web to phone conversion. Not saying it does not happen..but the % is so small..

    And as I stated earlier...if there is a simple solution someone can come up with for tracking phone sales and marrying those numbers with what the network shows for online sales..we would participate as long as the customer experience is not jeopardized in any way. Is that fair?

    To end..like I said before..it is shame that you all avoid merchants who use 800 numbers..I think the more information you do give them on the website..including 800#'s, the more likely they will stay online..more confidence.

    Patty Altaffer
    Affiliate Manager
    AKA Gourmet(www.akagourmet.com)
    patty@akagourmet.com

  24. #24
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    Jane...looking at your vacuum example..I agree..that is blatant..and stupid on their part..why have a website if you just force people to call you for pricing? As a consumer who may be shopping around for vacuums at midnight..I would switch over to another site that COULD give me prices on the website..why take the time to call..

    of course..if I was shopping around for vacuums at midnight..I may just need to get a life!

    Patty Altaffer
    Affiliate Manager
    AKA Gourmet(www.akagourmet.com)
    patty@akagourmet.com

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