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  1. #1
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    Back when I started this, I used to bust my head up against the wall trying to "force" this system to work. Most of the time it was "Why isn't that traffic converting?! :mad: :mad: :mad:" I'd spend so much energy, just beating a dead horse..

    So at some point, I think it was jan 2000, I said "enough" and I quit trying to "make" this or that traffic convert, and then concentrated on what was converting... (yes, I know, seems obvious.. but some of us are thick headed. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img] )

    What this boils down to is this: Some merchants just "get it" and some don't. It's really that simple. Some of these people I enjoy working with, and some I just dread. So, my advice is, if you find yourself "fighting" to make a sale, just dump the merchant and try someone else. And once you find one that does "get it" promote them for all you are worth. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    So, how do you find those that "get it?" Well that "instant approval" idea of mine would be a good start. Yes, I'm sure there are valid reasons for someone to "review" our site, but really, it just shows me the merchant doesn't "get it."

    The only other way I know of is to just try them and see. Does anyone else feel the same way I do? If so, are there any "clues" you can share to help identify those who "get it" vs. those who don't? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Without targetted traffic no merchant is going to convert - so I guess this is one requirement.

    One way to try to ensure that you make money is to find products that there is high / consistent demand for. The guy that cuts my hair doesn't make a massive margin, but he knows that I'll go back time after time, and so will a few hundred other folk.

    One sign that sends me screaming for the hills are 800 numbers at the top of a merchant site and unrelated popups to - as seen at http://www.magazinecity.net

    Another is where the merchant is obviously doing their very best to open a direct channel to the customer to circumvent you earning your crust, as seen at http://www.netmagazines.com/

    I think this type of merchant is one to avoid. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    [ 08-20-2002: Message edited by: microdot ]

  3. #3
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Rather than look so much as to whether they "get it," I look for those that don't BLOW it!

    There's a big difference. Those that don't blow it may not be doing anything particulary special, but their guns aren't aimed at their feet, either!

    Personally I look for things which would indicate a CROOK before other items. Like:

    How many networks has this merchant been at, anyway?!? Two's chancy, and three's a disaster.

    30% and up, chargeback. Yah, RIGHT, sure I believe that's legit, uh-huuuhhhh... :rolleyes:

    EPC under $1, but what they're selling has a $50 commission! Pbbbbtttt...

    Industry reputation. Crooks gravitate to certain kinds of businesses. Only go as far as your willingness to take risks, in these industries (like, casinos, payday loans, bad credit credit cards, etc.)

    TERRIBLE industry reputation, like "free cellphone with signup" places. If there's a good one of those, I haven't seen it mentioned (when the person doesn't post back in about 6 months with a correction saying they're crooks after all).

    Then there's the question of DOES THE STUFF HAVE A CHANCE OF SELLING???

    Some of the stuff merchants want promoted is just plain unsaleable over the net, at least in any decent quantity. Into this bucket you can pitch colostrum (now deactivated), various newspapers that are heavily advertised by physical means, most food, pet supplies, 1/2 the diet stuff, software downloads with free trials, stuff that says it's free but is really not even a deal, and anything advertised on TV at half the price your merchant is trying to sell it for.

    And fairly high on the list is plain old Intuition. If I smell a rotten fish, there is one...whether I can put my finger on it or not.


    But since you asked about "with it" merchants:
    Things that show they *may* blow it include: Manual approval, outdated merchant detail, dead site(!), affiliate program signup link too big on their site (desperate for affiliates??), multiple networks running at once.

    Things that show that their gun is aimed straight at their own foot with a laser sight are:

    Commissions in Detail description are substantially higher than actual commission--and they're new, so it's not "outdated". Manual approval with delay of more than 2 days (yes, the timespan is the same on weekends. "With it" merchants are addicted to stats and check all the time just like us!). Banners are the same ones they had when they started. And they started 3 years ago. Any "put your links up" email, when their links ARE up! An affiliate manager who says he "cares"...in a FORM email, that has n/a in the place the affiliate's name is supposed to go!! Any place that says that they pay a "substantial" 5% commission. Deduct another 100 points if there are places selling the same exact stuff and paying 15% commission.

    Their affiliate manager takes the term "manager" too d*mn literally and starts trying to play bossman. (This causes increased...link removals! Buh bye, buh bye, buh bye!)

    They restrict promotion in any way, other than prohibiting fraudulant statements! Or they try to make affiliates de-optimize their sites!

    On the other hand, WITH IT MERCHANTS:

    Don't pester you like a little kid with incessant emailings about performance or anything else, but are there when you want to communicate with them.

    Don't expect anyone to rot waiting for approvals.

    Don't act like a Category Monopoly means something (they realize you can always promote something totally different).

    They don't try to give orders as to how to promote them.

    They realize they aren't the "boss" of any affiliate and it shows in their attitude.

    They pick the right category for their products, and as close as they can get for their program.

    Their merchant detail isn't allowed to get too out of date. And the figures match.

    You don't have to explain the basics of the Google algo to a merchant that's With It...

    That's it for now, I'm falling asleep at the keyboard again. What I'm doing up at this hour I don't know!

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador BareNecessities's Avatar
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    quote:
    Originally posted by microdot:
    One way to try to ensure that you make money is to find products that there is high / consistent demand for.


    ...like Underwear???? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    I would bet that almost every visitor to every site is a wearer of our products.

    While not everyone is out there shopping for their undies on the net...it is the perfect product for internet sales.

    People know their brands. They know their sizes. And with the exception of bras, they don't try the product on in stores.

    Plus, the banners and links are real eye catchers...and that helps initiate a click-through by the consumer...which leads to a higher chance of making a sale. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    That's my sales pitch for the morning. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

  5. #5
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    Leader,

    your 'shooting in foot' lists apply to almost every merhacnt I've come across!

    I've really only met one or two that I feel very comfortable with and I'm going out of my way to capitalize on the affiliate mgrs willingness to help...

    What do you guys have to say on Networks and private schemes relating to this general topic?

    Nick

  6. #6
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    Personally, I really don't worry so much about whether they "get it" as whether I can sell their products and get paid for doing so. I have many completely clueless merchants who send me a check every month.

    The biggest factors for me (after I've determined the appropriate product) are: commission rate, payment plan (minimums, pay schedule, etc.) and the ability to direct product link.

  7. #7
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    Signs of crooks definitely include high monthly payout requirements and infrequent payout frequencies (certainly not a problem with CJ merchants)!

    One sign that a merchant is about to jump ship and not pay outstanding commissions are large inflows of emails touting themselves, providing way too many coupons, etc etc, and then not getting back to you when you ask where the commission check from 2 months ago + are. Now that I know what to look for, I've been better at pulling links before the losses on these scam artists get too big, so I can send business to the honest people and get paid in return.

  8. #8
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    We can safely remove pet food and pet supplies from Leader's bad merchandise list [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    - BluesX

  9. #9
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    quote:
    Originally posted by BluesX:
    We can safely remove pet food and pet supplies from Leader's bad merchandise list [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    - BluesX



    I'm sure there are also a few things that are just sitting on your site that *I'm* selling like mad, too (unless you yanked all the nonperformers already)...

  10. #10
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    GREAT! Thanks everyone. This was one the best, most useful posts to me, and I hope others too. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    You are right leader... those that are "in" the program are usually the better performing. And yes, those that show different rates between the top and bottom of their page just irk me. Not writing their own welcome msg puts me in the daze too. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    Thanks to all who posted, I really got something from everyone's post.

  11. #11
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    Hi AffJus...

    I am confused concerning one thing you said in your original post on this topic. Perhaps you can help.

    You said that (paraphrasing, because I didn't copy exact text) merchants who do not automatically approve "don't get it". While we discuss sales vs branding exercises here quite often, and it appears that the majority are totally against the branding side, why would you object to a merchant wanting to look at your site prior to approval if garnering sales is the objective and they want to see if your site fits the product/service?

    Obstinatedon

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador erninator's Avatar
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    I might just mention here that the "Duper Affiliates" like WhenU/SaveNow really enjoyed the auto approvals. Many merchants I contacted about parasites didn't even realize who they had approved.

  13. #13
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    I agree as well that instant approval is the best way for a merchant to go. (Screen out the parasites after the fact or state no parasitic affiliates in your description/affiliate agreement somehow).

    I like to build sites around an affiliate program/theme so often I have no site for a merchant to review at the beginning. How do merchants know if an affiliate will end up producing for them or not - a crystal ball? Merchants who reject affiliates are constantly rejecting potential top affiliates that will likely "never" do business with that merchant because of their actions. Example - I will never do business with NBAF magazines because they rejected me yet I sell a bunch of magazines which NBAF now earns nothing on. NBAF has their head you know where. Actually I was approved with them and then they rejected me.

    Rejecting affiliates also creates bad publicity for a merchant. For example - I will publically say on an affiliate forum with 5000+ members that NBAF magazines is a crappy merchant and I suggest not getting involved with them. They don't get it. They also don't have the best prices for your customers either. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] (Ahhh - that felt good!) Maybe if they reinstate all affiliates they rejected they can get back on my good side - maybe not.

    When you "try" merchants make sure that you give them ample time to see if they produce for you. Just because you had 30 clicks to a merchant and didn't get a sale doesn't mean you should drop them. The customer may be at that 31st click. How many clicks before you should drop a merchant? I think that depends on the product but would be interested in what others put that magical # at.

    I agree that once you find out what converts - focus more on promoting it. Throw more advertising $$$ to that site or product. I've been doing some fine-tuning on pay per click advertising to get a higher ROI with the limited advertising $$$ I have to work with. I've paused some ad campaigns that were actually producing for me because I wanted to throw more $$$ at ad campaigns that were producing even better.

    Larry Wentz
    www.AffiliateNetwork.org www.MultipleDomainHosting.net

  14. #14
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    I think manual approval is a good thing. There are a lot of big nasty things out there that a good affiliate manager would want to avoid...like the parasite ware companies, incentive sites, porn sites, affiliates with a high charge back rate and spammers.

    Loud obnoxious sites tend to have loud obnoxious stats.

    The only big problem I see is that companies doing manual approvals tend to toss out any small site...simply because it is not worth the review the time, and the small sites are often evolve into the best long term performers....or stay benign, and cost nothing.

  15. #15
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    quote:
    Originally posted by Obstinatedon:
    Hi AffJus...

    I am confused concerning one thing you said in your original post on this topic. Perhaps you can help.

    You said that (paraphrasing, because I didn't copy exact text) merchants who do not automatically approve "don't get it". While we discuss sales vs branding exercises here quite often, and it appears that the majority are totally against the branding side, why would you object to a merchant wanting to look at your site prior to approval if garnering sales is the objective and they want to see if your site fits the product/service?

    Obstinatedon


    Back when there was cpc & cpm, I understood why a merchant wanted to review the site. Where those visitor clicks going to turn into customers. So a bit of "pre qualifying" was in order.

    But now, we are only paid on sale or legit. leads. So it makes no sense for our site to pass their opinion of what a "good site" is. Who cares if we have an ugly site, or that our site is about rat tennis? If I can make a page about all coverings and get the traffic to the site to get them to the merchants site, what does that matter? In fact, our main site is a huge portal. Virtually anything under the sun is "on topic" but still, we have people go to the site, "oh, another yahoo wannnabee" and dismiss us. We spend good money to bring people to that site and then redirect them to the merchants site. If they make a sale, we get paid. If they don't, then it cost the merchant zip.

    So, the reason I said what I did above, is this: A merchant who "gets it" doesn't care where the traffic comes from, as long as a legit. sale is the result. So for a merchant to require some sort of "inspection" shows me they are more interested in nonsensical ideas, than results.

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

  16. #16
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    quote:
    Originally posted by yintercept:
    I think manual approval is a good thing. There are a lot of big nasty things out there that a good affiliate manager would want to avoid...like the parasite ware companies, incentive sites, porn sites, affiliates with a high charge back rate and spammers.

    Loud obnoxious sites tend to have loud obnoxious stats.

    The only big problem I see is that companies doing manual approvals tend to toss out any small site...simply because it is not worth the review the time, and the small sites are often evolve into the best long term performers....or stay benign, and cost nothing.



    As for all your "reasons" such as: "affiliates with a high charge back rate and spammers" no merchant could tell those things from the intial inspection anyway. Only after sales/leads have been generated would that information be available. And then the merchant can dump them if they want. That's fine.

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

  17. #17
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    There have only been 4 merchants that ever turned me down. And, I am sure that they all did so because they did not want to appear to support or endorse witchcraft or Paganism.

    The devil made them do it.

    The Wolf Credo: Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack. Play when you can. Hunt when you must. Rest in between. Share your affections. Voice your feelings. Leave your mark.

  18. #18
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    >>So for a merchant to require some sort of "inspection" shows me they are more interested in nonsensical ideas, than results.<<

    Protecting their brand is "nonsensical"? Why not let hard core porn sites or hate sites into the mix then? If merchants shouldn't care as long as it generates sales?

  19. #19
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    quote:
    Originally posted by Cedric:
    >>So for a merchant to require some sort of "inspection" shows me they are more interested in nonsensical ideas, than results.<<

    Protecting their brand is "nonsensical"? Why not let hard core porn sites or hate sites into the mix then? If merchants shouldn't care as long as it generates sales?


    Well if we are in the CJ network, theoretically, there are no hate or porn sites allowed. As the Chez thread shows, CJ does enforce (if a bit heavy handedly) that issue.

    So, with "those" kinds of sites out of the mix by CJ TOS, then what does a merchant have to be protected from? Clearly if we pass the initial test and are qualified to be a CJ publisher, then we should be given the benefit of the doubt and auto approved.

    JMO.

    Thanks.

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

  20. #20
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    quote:
    Well if we are in the CJ network, theoretically, there are no hate or porn sites allowed.


    Theoretically [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    quote:
    So, with "those" kinds of sites out of the mix by CJ TOS, then what does a merchant have to be protected from?


    Protecting the brand doesn't just include avoiding associations with porn and hate sites. If you've worked hard to make your brand, "young, cool, modern and dynamic", you might not want your name associated with a victorian stamp and coin collecting website.

    For many products, brand is - unfortunately - everything. There is no real difference between competitive products, other than in brand and image. So their marketers have to be very careful to ensure that brand and image remain consistent and appear in context.

    If they let any and every site display their products and name, then they can destroy or dilute a brand or image they've spent millions building.

    The resultant loss in potential sales is justified by the benefits of having a clearly-defined brand.

  21. #21
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    I don't have a problem with a merchant reviewing my site, i would do the same thing. Plus lots of times if you get rejected and really want the merchant, if you email them back you might get approved. Sometimes they have more than 1 person looking at sites approving them. But i don't see many reasons why they would disapprove a site. Todays small site can be tomorrows big one with a nice search engine update. It takes time for a site to build a customer base(site visitors) just as it did for the merchant. If the site is presentable i don't see a problem, the merchant might be partnering with a future performer.

    May all your ups and downs be in bed

  22. #22
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    quote:
    Originally posted by johnniebry:
    But i don't see many reasons why they would disapprove a site. Todays small site can be tomorrows big one with a nice search engine update. It takes time for a site to build a customer base(site visitors) just as it did for the merchant. If the site is presentable i don't see a problem, the merchant might be partnering with a future performer.

    May all your ups and downs be in bed


    You are making my arguement Johnnie. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    It seems some merchants don't know what you obviously do. That it takes time and work. So for a merchant to go to a site and just arbitrarily say yes or no, without really knowing, is bogus.

    Time to get to the point of it: some merchants don't really know what works. They go to our website and say "Oh, that'll never work" and reject us based on their preconcieved ideas of selling, and then complain about sagging sales.

    What I'm saying is that they should auto approve everyone in the CJ network. After all, we had to meet some min. guidelines to get into CJ in the first place (no porn, no warez, no hate, etc.) right?

    So auto approve everyone who asks to join their program.

    Then sit back and observe. If that affiliate starts cranking sales, then visit that site and see what they are doing... "Wow, we never thought of that, what a good idea.." If the affiliate never makes any sales, then go to the site, look it over and maybe offer suggestions to webmaster to help boost the program.

    But for us to be in the CJ program and then require an additional "inspection" is counter productive. Face it, some of these merchants don't have a clue. So why should they limit those of us who do?

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

  23. #23
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    quote:
    Originally posted by MJCB:

    Protecting the brand doesn't just include avoiding associations with porn and hate sites. If you've worked hard to make your brand, "young, cool, modern and dynamic", you might not want your name associated with a victorian stamp and coin collecting website.




    That's a myth. You think only teenagers buy panty liners? You'd think so if you believed their advertising, but what do 30, 40 and 50 year old women buy? Depends? No, we aren't that old! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    quote:


    For many products, brand is - unfortunately - everything. There is no real difference between competitive products, other than in brand and image. So their marketers have to be very careful to ensure that brand and image remain consistent and appear in context.




    And quality is not? Again, you have bought into this 80s thinking about image and marketing rule the world. Sorry, for naive consumers, maybe. But they are not the only people that spend money.

    quote:


    If they let any and every site display their products and name, then they can destroy or dilute a brand or image they've spent millions building.

    The resultant loss in potential sales is justified by the benefits of having a clearly-defined brand.


    Back to mythology. What you are doing is repeating the Madison Avenue marketing/advertising propaganda. That's what they tell big companies to keep their lucrative million dollar accounts. Sorry, it's wrong. Yes, it's the most well seen and quoted lie, but it's still a lie.

    The reason they have gone to this method of selling is that they have dumbed down the schools and the availability of free thinking, imaginative, creative people has dwindled. ie, salesmanship is a thing of the past (for this myth based system). So what they have done is come up with a system that sells based on the "clerk" system. "Image" over function. You only need clerks, not salespeople.

    The "clerk" system is the mcdonalds system. Put the picture of the hamburger on the key. All a clerk does is punch the key and take the money. The "selling" is done via the image. Is it successful? Yes, to a certain segment of the public. However it's not the only way and it's not the best way.

    Go back to salesmanship. Go back to people answering the customers questions, overcoming objections, and demonstrating value, and that's a "sales person."

    Which is what affiliate marketing is all about.

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

  24. #24
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    You're harking after a reality that doesn't exist out there.

    How long do you think Coca-cola or Nike would last if branding or image meant nothing? Do you really think people buy their products because it tastes better or they make better quality t-shirts?

    The affiliate marketing channel for many brands is intrinsically mixed in with everything else they do on the marketing and sales front.

    The fact that the whole brand/image thing exists because of ad men and extremely gullible consumers doesn't change the fact that it does exist. And that's why merchants are careful who they partner with.

    quote:
    And quality is not? Again, you have bought into this 80s thinking about image and marketing rule the world. Sorry, for naive consumers, maybe. But they are not the only people that spend money.


    Of course quality is important. But for many products there is no distinction. A lot of intelligent people like to think they're not influenced by brands or image or advertising. And they'll tell you that. And then they'll walk into the nearest store and choose the brand.

    If image and marketing don't rule the world, how come we're not all using Macs? Or all driving small, fuel efficient cars? And how come we've got politicians with **** for brains?

    I don't like it either, but that's how it is.

  25. #25
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    quote:
    How long do you think Coca-cola or Nike would last if branding or image meant nothing? Do you really think people buy their products because it tastes better or they make better quality t-shirts?

    Yes.

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