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  1. #1
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    Hello Everyone,
    Open forum. Please feel free to comment on the Ashford program regarding any feature. We are looking for feedback as we look to improve the program. All comments will be reviewed with an open mind. Some questions to answer/consider:
    -Compare Ashford.com to other high end jewelry sites with programs
    -If you were an affiliate in the past, and are not now (or not as active), what was the reason(s) for leaveing/cutting back on exposure?
    -How does your activity change when incentives change?
    -What incentives matter most: discounts on merchandise, cookie length, revenue share percentage, promotions, etc.?
    -Any other thoughts or feelings, please feel free to share, in any length.
    If anyone moderating believes this post would fit better in a different forum, please feel free to move it and let me know.
    Thanks in advance for the feedback.
    Ashford.com

  2. #2
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    Welcome to ABW, Ashford.com.

    I just recently finished up some due diligence on high-end jewelry stores and Ashford was among them (I did not review Ashford's other product lines).

    Before I get to your specific questions, let me say you have some fabulous jewelry -- I'd even say the most varied and interesting selection that I found... and from past history, I know there are some items I could definitely sell. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    For non-loose-diamond items, I think your tiered payment program is competitive -- most sites that I would put in the same category and target market offer a flat 5%.

    But for loose diamonds (the primary area of my due diligence), the payment plan is NOT competitive. I reviewed five sites with loose diamonds and as far as commission plans, Ashford came in 4th place.

    So I'd consider promoting other areas of Ashford, but not diamonds.

    To your questions:

    -How does your activity change when incentives change?

    If the incentive is right, I may:
    - increase exposure on an existing page
    - build new dedicated pages
    - build a new dedicated site
    - spend some $$$ promoting the new site/page

    -What incentives matter most: discounts on merchandise, cookie length, revenue share percentage, promotions, etc.?

    In order of importance:
    - revenue share percentage
    - revenue share percentage
    - revenue share percentage
    - promotions that increase revenue share percentage
    - cookie length
    - discounts/coupons

    Ashford.com, all-in-all (and only looking from the outside), I think you'd be a very good merchant to promote.

    And now my question -- is Ashford.com your given name? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    [edited because my brain moves faster (or slower)than my typing fingers]

    -------
    Dawn is nature's way of telling you to go to bed.

  3. #3
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    My Ashford account was opened on 1-26/2000 and I showcased your site til 7/20/2001 for housewares and jewelry with 2 sales for a total commission of $67.17. This required 52,000 impressions and 767 clicks. Your commission rate was 5% with $50.00 minimum, with quarterly payouts. My other problem then was it took me 5 months of e-mails to your AM to get paid.

    I discovered you offered zero cookie days and therefore I cut way back on putting up new links to Ashford beyond some seasonal specials after 7/2001. Not one sale since 10/2000, probably because I refuse to generate traffic and pre-sell efforts if sales don't occur. No product links at that time for landing pages, and coupons or specials never rotated within your banner pool.

    When you showed up on the parasite and Gator merchant list in 2001, I cut back Ashford exposure even further. You then placed affiliated links to outside sites where no commissions would be credited to my diverted traffic. You purchased Guild.com ( a good converting merchant) and their sales went to zip.

    Then the killer was to team up with Global Sports who's merchants had the worse conversion ratios in the industry. So I'm getting used to seeing the ZERO YTD sales and have just a few banner links to your program.

    I cannot afford to sent 100 clicks per day to Ashford in the blind. Without your networkwide conversion stats ( #of clicks to produce one sale) and at least 30 day cookies I'd never look at your creatives.

    WebMaster Mike

  4. #4
    15 years and counting
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    Hi Asford.com
    Glad to see you here. I was an Asford affiliate at the opening of your program. I'm still but not active anymore. Why? Conversion. Your had and still have a wonderful, high class web site, great products, great pictures but I was not able to make real money with you. I'm not in business just to please my eyes.
    I had decent traffic, was #1 in Google for a lot of luxury items from Cartier to Rolex.
    I blamed for a while BeFree, but other merchants had good conversion and tracking... It was a few years ago, I didn't have any access on figures like EPC... Asford was looking like a typical dot.com cie using affiliates for branding and not to reward them with commissions. May be I was wrong but it was my experience. I was able to go on and discover more rewarding programs who made me successful. So my traffic was just OK.
    Now, you're part of Global Sports, it means, no cookies, no real AM, doen't turn me on. If you read this board closely, you'll learn what we expect from a merchant and I may reconsider my position. My incentive #1, show me the money. Just be able to communicate with us and show us the figures, conversion, disclose cookie duration, best selling products... everything else is just icing on the cake but not enough to decide me to switch my links.

    It's not the big that eat the small... it's the fast that eat the slow. Jennings & Haughton

  5. #5
    15 years and counting
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    Mike,
    Look like we have the same experience.

    It's not the big that eat the small... it's the fast that eat the slow. Jennings & Haughton

  6. #6
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    I thought about promoting Ashford but I do not consider a cookie length as short as yours to be a sign of good faith that you truly consider affiliates as partners.

  7. #7
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    With no published performance metrics (EPC) I wouldn't consider jumping into the market. Jewelry and furniture are items that I wouldn't want to buy off the net myself. So, I imagine that you would have poor conversions. With a high minimum payment, I wouldn't bother running tests for Ashford. I've been bitten by too many BeFree merchants that chince on commissions. The combo screams stear clear.

    I really believe in testing merchants to find the right fit. I stop promoting about 75% of the merchants I join after then first six month trial. I am often surprised by which ones do well.

    Missoula - Short Stories

  8. #8
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    >>Then the killer was to team up with Global Sports<<

    THAT, missed getting included in my due diligence.

    Ashford.com, could you explain this "teaming up"? First impression? GlobalSports=NoWay.

    -------
    Dawn is nature's way of telling you to go to bed.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the feedback everyone, please keep it coming.
    To answer the question that referred to GlobalSports, I'll give the background.
    Ashford.com was purchased by GSI Commerce (formerly Global Sports )in March 2002. It is now owned by/is part of GSI. That may help straighten out a few facts for everyone.
    Thanks again and keep it coming.

  10. #10
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    Is there a commitment on the part of GSI to keep an ASHFORD ONLY affiliate manager?

    -------
    Dawn is nature's way of telling you to go to bed.

  11. #11
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Ashford AM;

    I see we are being quite harsh here and do appreciate your coming here to allow us to blow off some steam. Just listen a bit ..read the other merchant forums and you'll see this same group would love to showcase Ashford if it worked with us to make $100-300/month commissions something other than a pipe dream.

    Many of the faults and cures you uncover and bring to GSI would benefit 4 other merchants I promote in that group. We sure would love to take advantage of your fine product lines and those of Fogdog -Sports Authority etc. as long as our pre-sell efforts generate checks. Currently we don't trust the custom reporting tags setup at GSI's combined merchant shopping cart/e-catalog. All their merchants having poor conversion ratios sounds fishy to the informed here.

    WebMaster Mike

  12. #12
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    I've actualy been an affiliate of Ashford since June of 1999. For a long time it was a good partnership but it has really changed. To give you some idea, here are stats for ytd:

    impressions 1,768,339
    click throughs 17,930
    sales 27
    commissions paid 233.32

    All of my click throughs are HIGHLY targeted...almost all are on direct product links.
    All of my traffic comes from free search engines after searching on the exact product on my page.
    I should be getting a much better conversion rate...and was getting one before Global came along.

    I agree with others here that you have a truly fine site...but you can't seem to convert. I am actively looking (though not too successfully) for another merchant offering the specific items I need in the hopes that they convert better.

    I would like to say one thing that has kept me with Ashford however. At some time in 2000, tracking failed and sales weren't being tracked. Ashford discovered this was happening and told their affiliates that they would do something to make good. About two weeks later I received a check from Ashford in the amount of $595.00 as they had computed that this was the average amount of commission I had earned in the previous three months. No other program I am with has ever 1) admitted tracking was off or 2) was so generous in keeping their affiliates treated fairly.

    Unfortunately, that was before Global and we all know what they are like.

    I wish you luck...and I'm really glad to see you here.

    Nick Farrell

  13. #13
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    Again, thanks for the feedback. I don't take any offense to anything being said. Believe me when I say that I have read comments on this forum for months now. I guess to add to what I'm looking for, especially from the folks who were affiliates before the GSI coversion: What behavior have you changed since things seemingly went downhill...ie-have you stopped bidding on traffic and things of the sort? Please, if possible, elaborate, as I am interested to learn the effects of the change on your efforts to promote the site; other than a drop off in sales, which has been established.
    Thanks

  14. #14
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    "What behavior have you changed since things seemingly went downhill"
    People are saying things have been going downhill since the change to Global. If affiliates behavior is the same before and after the switch, then all off a sudden after the switch, conversions are dropping off, thats more on the merchants end than the affiliates.

    May all your ups and downs be in bed

  15. #15
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    I guess that could have been worded a bit better...I guess the question, staying relatively the same: What actions (promotion/traffic generation) have changed since the lower conversion has been realized? Maybe another wording...Since that dropoff in sales/conversions, how has your promotional behavior changed?
    Thanks

  16. #16
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    [clip]Currently we don't trust the custom reporting tags setup at GSI's combined merchant shopping cart/e-catalog. All their merchants having poor conversion ratios sounds fishy to the informed here.[/clip]
    Webmaster Mike, could you please elaborate on this for me. I'm not sure I understand what you are saying.
    Thanks.
    [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif[/img]

  17. #17
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    First let me say that I am not a part of Mike's "we". My concern with GSI is how they run their programs... because of these concerns, I don't have enough sales/no-sales data to question their tracking or conversion rates.

    But if I'm going to sell high-end products, I want a dedicated affiliate manager. So I'll rephrase my question: does GSI currently have a dedicated ASHFORD ONLY affiliate manager and if they do, do they have a commitment to keep that person?

    -------
    Dawn is nature's way of telling you to go to bed.

  18. #18
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    It is easy enough to explain how our behaviour changes. Once we realise you are part of Global Sports, or realise we will not be getting paid (its the same thing) we cease to consider you at all.

    Some people replace you immediately, others take longer. Certainly no-one will spend any further time promoting you no matter what tricks you pull with EPC.

    Global Sports = beginner affiliate. Its like promoting Catalog City - a mistake only the rawest of newbies make and now you want to know how we promote you when we realise we aren't getting paid? Heh. I can't imagine why.

    Let me put it this way. How hard exactly would you work if your boss decided payment was optional and taking the you know what for as long as possible was all they needed for a business strategy?

    Anyway, you don't need affiliates. Whats happened to your scumware buddies? Wanted paying, did they?


    I

  19. #19
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    When do you expect the July commissions to be paid? The vouchers haven't even been put into a pending state yet, and its almost 45 days since the end of that month. Out of roughly 40 BeFree merchants, Ashford is the only one to not even look at my July payment yet.

    ???

  20. #20
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    GSI = No Affiliate

    No Cookie = No Affiliate

    BeFree Merchant = You'll need to walk and talk pretty fast if you want to recruit any affiliates here. Some of us are watching and listening though. Hoping for the best.

    AS SEEN ON SE!!!

  21. #21
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    Ashford-person,

    I can't comment on your program, but I can comment on your approach.

    On the one hand it is commendable to come here and be willing to listen.

    On the other hand, I find it amazing that you don't sign off your posts with your full real name and your position/title.

    Right now, we've got no idea whether you're the kind of person who has ANY clout at all when it comes to actually making changes at Ashford.com. You can listen until your ears drop off, but if you're not empowered to make changes then quite frankly you're just wasting the time of everyone who's posted to this thread.

    Harsh words? Perhaps - I prefer to see it as a splash of cold Reality in the face.

  22. #22
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    There is some stuff on Ashford that I really want to promote.

    But, on the basis of the fact that my polite email to 'someone involved in the affiliate program' was never returned.

    And that the receptionist would not tell me the name of the affiliate mgr or give me the phone number... or job title of anyone involved in the program......Forget it.

    Nick

    Tioka Internet // Web design & SEO

  23. #23
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    Edwin,
    I appreciate your curiosity and agree with you somewhat. My name, at this time, is unimportant, but my position is effectively the AM. I am asking these questions to compile data in order to possibly change things for the better. Thank you for your feedback.

  24. #24
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    Names are important, it helps build relationships. When you first meet someone, you usually shake their hand and say "Hello, my name is Whoever." The active AM's on this board all use the first and last name. They usually also have an email address and phone #. Just doing that have helped the merchants they represent in getting links up and better placement, because affiliates like active affiliate managers. Active AM's are better than Lurker AMs. And you still haven't answered Cedric's quesion. Are you the AM for Ashford only, or a bunch or programs?

    May all your ups and downs be in bed

  25. #25
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    quote:
    Originally posted by Ashford:
    I appreciate your curiosity and agree with you somewhat. My name, at this time, is unimportant, but my position is effectively the AM. I am asking these questions to compile data in order to possibly change things for the better. Thank you for your feedback.


    I appreciate that you misunderstood my advice for curiosity.

    It's amazing that you continue to effectively snub all the affiliates on this thread even after you were called on it.

    Edwin Hayward

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