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

    Could you please share what you rate as some of the most important considerations when evaluating a new program?

    A friend and business associate of mine is writing an acticle titled "Should I Promote this Merchant?" with the subtitle of "A Critical Checklist for Choosing an Affiliate Program".

    He posted in the wrong forum so I offered to repost here and told him some of you AWB veterans would be happy to give him your 2 cents and some content for the article

    Here is the rest of the post from Jim Gribble:

    I'd love it if a few of you would send me your personal selection criteria, i.e. what things you look at when deciding to promote a merchant (in additon to the great feedback you get here).

    Please email me directly with your input. If I use it in my article, I'll certainly give you a plug, so please be sure to include the url of the site you'd like me to mention.

    Best regards,

    Jim

    Jim Gribble
    jim@linkprofits.com
    LinkProfits - Affiliate Program Management
    LinkProfits.net - Business Development Network
    Partnerific - Affiliate Recruitment Service

    FROM LINDA
    Thanks for any and all feedback, as this is something I am interested in finding out as well. I have several new merchants that want me to promote them, but I try to only pick winnners based on what YOU guys want!

    Linda Buquet :: Affiliate Management Consultant :: Catalyst eMarketing.com
    5 Star Affiliate Programs :: Top Paying/High-Integrity Merchants :: Visit ABW Forum
    <FONT COLOR=red size="1">EveryTicket Sports/Concert Tickets :: Irv's Luggage Warehouse :: Executive Essentials Office & Gifts:
    DentalPlans :: HealthPlans :: Avid Hosting :: IntelliContactPro :: zZounds Music :: Roadloans :: MORE!
    </font>

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    I'm not sure if the merchant perspective helps, but the things that people seem to really appreciate about our program (and some of the things people have asked us for in the past) include:

    - Coupons - many affiliates LOVE coupons, and - based on the response we've seen to date - we can't blame them.

    - Parasite Free - why do all of your work promoting someone who allows someone else to steal their commissions??? Although I'm still surprised to see some of the major merchants promoted, parasites and all, many, many publishers will drop you if you support these other program (although they are usually nice enough to warn you about the parasite first).

    - DataFeeds

    - Image and Link redirects - so that you have the flexibility to link shallow or deep.

    - Cookie Length - For some of our publishers, this is more important than commission. Everyone knows that it takes time for a person to narrow their choice, both of product and of retailer. It's not fair to expect someone to buy right away, or lose the commission. (at least in my humble opinion).

    - Dedicated Affiliate Manager - someone who can take the time to help you build your business.

    I think that covers the major points that have been raised with us.

    Hope that helps...

    Paul


    Rugman.com (Merchant Through CJ)

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

    Good to hear it from your perspective too since responsive AMs like you often get really good feedback from affiliates on this issue.

    Linda Buquet :: Affiliate Management Consultant :: Catalyst eMarketing.com
    5 Star Affiliate Programs :: Top Paying/High-Integrity Merchants :: Visit ABW Forum
    <FONT COLOR=red size="1">EveryTicket Sports/Concert Tickets :: Irv's Luggage Warehouse :: Executive Essentials Office & Gifts:
    DentalPlans :: HealthPlans :: Avid Hosting :: IntelliContactPro :: zZounds Music :: Roadloans :: MORE!
    </font>

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador phillyburbs's Avatar
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    Points from a minor player in the affiliate world:

    * Parasite-free. Goes without saying

    * Cookie length. See Mike & Charlie's numerous posts on merchants that are simply looking for free advertising. In our case, we're banking on a lot of return visitors; it is the nature of our site. Reasonable cookie lengths help.

    * free datafeeds with complete, up-to-date information. Free because we shouldn't have to pay to promote a merchant; datafeeds because, as you know, they can help generate more sales

    * dedicated AM [or catalytic AM consultant ]; having a person to contact - whether it's you, Joe at AF or merchant-specific like Akiva or Patrice - makes it easy to get things done and get answers to simple questions that can take networks days [or longer] to respond to. Corollary - activity here at ABW helps. I've learned a lot from watching AMs work through boards and from member posts about merchants and AMs.

    * Good commission rates and conversion rates. Talk to Joe at AF, whose company works closely with merchants to create landing pages that result in conversion.

    Well, that's a long post post from a small player. I'll let the pros take it from here.



    Karl Smith
    phillyBurbs - Your Internet Starts Here
    ---------
    Beware Parasiteware!
    [What is Parasiteware? click here to learn more]

  5. #5
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    From a very small affiliate's perspective timely payments of commissions is very important. Late/no payments is one of the major annoying problem with many merchants. If I find a single complaint on this board or elsewhere about a merchant in this context then I'm most likely to stay away from that affiliate program.

  6. #6
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    It's pretty easy to see if a program is affiliate friendly, that makes a huge difference to me. I've shifted my focus in mid-stride and taken on merchants with commissions that are a little lower than I like just because I felt I could work with the AM. The program does not have to be perfect, if the AM is accessible, honest, and treats affiliates with respect.

    A page a day keeps the creditors away.....

  7. #7
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Karl,

    "catalytic AM consultant" Thanks for the compliment, I like that!

    And thanks all for your input. Even though you may have some of the sme points you can express it in a different way. Keep your feedback coming - what else is important to you?

    Linda Buquet :: Affiliate Management Consultant :: Catalyst eMarketing.com
    5 Star Affiliate Programs :: Top Paying/High-Integrity Merchants :: Visit ABW Forum
    <FONT COLOR=red size="1">EveryTicket Sports/Concert Tickets :: Irv's Luggage Warehouse :: Executive Essentials Office & Gifts:
    DentalPlans :: HealthPlans :: Avid Hosting :: IntelliContactPro :: zZounds Music :: Roadloans :: MORE!
    </font>

  8. #8
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by phillyBurbs.com:
    * dedicated AM [or catalytic AM consultant ]; having a person to contact - whether it's you, Joe at AF or merchant-specific like Akiva or Patrice - makes it easy to get things done and get answers to simple questions that can take networks days [or longer] to respond to. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Awww, thanks, Karl.


    -patrice

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador Radegast's Avatar
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    Patrice

    How can any panther resist those eyes?

    I will sign up with Eastwood (if I'm still welcome after posting less-than-complimentary comments about CJ) and place links on my automotive websites...

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager
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    One of the biggest things I look for is a responsive affiliate manager. When I am looking at a program I will send the affiliate manager an email and if I don't hear back within a day they aren't worth pursuing.

  11. #11
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> How do YOU select new Merchants to promote??<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    For me, the procedure is rather standardized.

    1. Go to CJ and pull up The List of merchants.

    2. Mentally eliminate everything below $5 EPC (both 7 days and 3 months), and/or below 3 bars.

    3. Of the rest, select a few whose products look saleable/desireable to a wide market, for further consideration.

    4. Check commission rate. Eliminate losers with puny percentages. Eliminate "flat fee" merchants.

    5. Check at WordTracker to see if their products REALLY are desired! Eliminate losers from consideration.

    6. Check merchant's site. Eliminate sites with hodge-podge design, pop-ups, link leaks, sites that look like a 5-year-old made them, and other trash from consideration. Apply my "fraud filter" radar. Eliminate losers and those who get my anti-crook antennae waving.

    7. Check HERE (ABW). See if the merchant has been dissed. If so, pay attention to: a) Dissed for what, and, b) Who is complaining. I especially look for credible-sounding claims of nontracking, reversal mania, and micromanagement as deal-killers.

    8. Check for a datafeed (easy to see at CJ--if there's product links, there's a feed). Most merchants who I sign up with now have one, and only the rare exception gets in without that feature.

    9. Sign up for those who pass all the preliminary tests.

    If they're NOT at CJ:

    FIRST AND FOREMOST, I check here to see if there are ANY claims of nonpayment or molasses-speed payment. Any such claims (except from blatantly uncredible sources) are grounds for disqualification. I may also check Google under "MerchantX Sucks" and see if that dredges up any off-ABW commentary.

    I also check here to see what other gripes the merchant has accumulated and who is doing the griping, and also what general commentary exists. No comments being posted is sometimes a good ad (people tend to keep good programs under their hats), but it can also mean that the place simply has no affiliates.

    The other rules from above are then applied.

    OTHER FACTORS:

    THE AM. Basically if the AM is not some kind of jerk, they'll do. I prefer them to stay out of my face and not take that "manager" title too seriously. Those who think they're employers are dropped when I catch wind of The Attitude. Those who show The Attitude in advance, shall not get me in their program. I am no one's empl*yee. In a way you could say this is the Most Important Consideration because I will NOT sign up for any program where there is a jerk trying to give orders as if I'm an empl*yee, no matter how great the commission.

    But as long as they don't try to be Boss I don't really care if they're "active" or not. "NOT active" is actually better because it's not too big of a leap from "active" to "bossy!" Just give me the feed, stay outta the way, and when I hit the threshhold for payment--CUT THAT CHECK right on time!

    Last but not least:

    PARASITES.

    Infestation is more of a consideration to me when there is a choice between merchants who both have good-looking stats--but one has parasites and one doesn't. Then sure, I'll take the louse-free one!

    But it's just one factor among many in my considerations. It takes more than that to make a program good (good = lucrative, worth the typing), and more than their presence to make it bad.


    [Fixed typo]

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

    [This message was edited by Leader on September 04, 2003 at 05:54 PM.]

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador
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    What most exulted Leader said re points: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8.

    I go a little further and eliminate programs that set program referral actions to 1. It needs to be unlimited unless it is lead based. (Any less than unlimited and merchants are only using affiliates for traffic generation and have no interest in a long term relationship. i.e. you get paid for 1 sale from 1 customer and then they own the customer.)

    I try to stay with programs that offer 15% or higher or negotiate to that level. It is very rare that I will waste time on less commissions. Apart from computers anyone who says they can't offer this much is just not playing cricket. We are absorbing/eliminating all costs related to marketing and mid-level distribution (with regards to sales we generate) so they savings should be passed on as there are extremely minimal recurring costs attached to Aff marketing (No transaction, no pay)

    as to 5: I do exactly the same thing except I don't use wordtracker but use another tool that allows me to easily check search frequencies for keywords and then check saturation with google so I can gauge the quality of the competion while checking its volume.

    From now on due to the most excellent enlightenment from Elbowcreek in another post, I intend to email each prospective merchant and check their Parasite stance/awareness in a professional manner before moving forward.

    One day soon I will have more time to grow. I tend to allocate all my time to an existing relationship that is proven to work and that I trust implicitly.

    <font face=verdana size=1 color=43639C>Parasiteware - Any software, process or method that aims to make money by avoiding any involvement in the sales process apart from hijacking transactions that have been created by the hard work of others.</font>

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> catalytic converter <HR></BLOCKQUOTE> Fits like a glove.

    <font face=verdana size=1 color=43639C>Parasiteware - Any software, process or method that aims to make money by avoiding any involvement in the sales process apart from hijacking transactions that have been created by the hard work of others.</font>

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador
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    Rules for my site for new merchants are:

    1. Parasite Free : NO PARASITES ALLOWED. PERIOD. No longer apply to ANY programs that are listed in Ebates (sites that are part of the MMM thing). Am in the process of removing the handful of remaining parasite merchants on my site, too.

    2. Merchant has a nice site. If the site is ugly, or, even worse, has affiliate links on it, no way I'll send them traffic. Reason is that conversions are likely to stink plus it cheapens my own site by sending people to sites that stink.

    3. Products related to my sites theme. Having a content site, sales only work if the products relate to the them (at least in a loose way).

    4. Commission and Cookie Duration : A long cookie is a massive plus, will make up for a lower commission. To hell with short cookie programs - particularly no cookie programs (unless the merchant offers cobranding and when the person bookmarks the site the affiliate ID is bookmarked with it).

    5. Forum on ABW. A big plus. Shows dedication to their affiliate channel. Will always promote an ABW forum member over a non-ABW member all other things being more or less equal.

    Anyways, just my list.

    Jim

  15. #15
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    jimh009 and Leader both make valid points. I won't touch a merchant who deals with parasites or e-bates.

    I am a bit more open to a relationship with SOME merchants and not with others. I like an atta girl from time to time. I will certainly work harder for a merchant who knows my name. Sorry to say, nagging works on me to a degree. I think it must have something to do with being a mother for 38 years.

    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.

  16. #16
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Oh I forgot to mention cookies.

    45 days, please.

    As for "action occurances," I haven't noticed much difference with unlimited vs. 1. This may be because people don't tend to run and buy another of what I'm promoting (most of what I promote, 2 would be redundant), or it may be that the customers are finding my listing again (and setting a new cookie) if they DO want to buy more later, or maybe even something else.

    But I have seen a definite correlation between cookie duration and recorded sales. Just how long it needs to be to help varies by product, but if I see 45 days I know I can hardly go wrong.

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

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador Vrindavan's Avatar
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    1. Online sign up form, no paper or postal please.

    2. Online Stat.

    3. Preferable merchants in consolidated check network.

    4. contact email

    5. Good Looking Websites without other commission leakages/destraction items

    http://8n.nu

  18. #18
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
    - Parasite Free - why do all of your work promoting someone who allows someone else to steal their commissions??? Although I'm still surprised to see some of the major merchants promoted, parasites and all, many, many publishers will drop you if you support these other program (although they are usually nice enough to warn you about the parasite first).
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    How do you tell if a merchant is "parasite free", is there a list somewhere?

    Thanx,
    TimBaker

  19. #19
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Hi Tim,

    There is not really an up to date comprehensive list anywhere. You need to do some digging in various areas, especially the parasiteware forums.

    Many of the anti-parasite merchants have posted their stance in this forum, so you might start there.
    http://abw.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=frm&...9&f=1526051621

    Linda Buquet :: Affiliate Management Consultant :: Catalyst eMarketing.com
    5 Star Affiliate Programs :: Top Paying/High-Integrity Merchants :: Visit ABW Forum
    <FONT COLOR=red size="1">EveryTicket Sports/Concert Tickets :: Irv's Luggage Warehouse :: Executive Essentials Office & Gifts:
    DentalPlans :: HealthPlans :: Avid Hosting :: IntelliContactPro :: zZounds Music :: Roadloans :: MORE!
    </font>

  20. #20
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    Thank you all for your great input and thank you Linda for your help with this post!

    ABestWeb rocks!

    Jim

    Jim Gribble
    jim@linkprofits.com
    LinkProfits - Affiliate Program Management
    LinkProfits.net - Business Development Network
    Partnerific - Affiliate Recruitment Service

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