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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador MeeMaw's Avatar
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    How much information to give an advertiser?
    I received what I "feel" is a disturbing e-mail today.

    Congratulations on your recent success of generating leads for our program. We appreciate your efforts.

    As affiliates generate leads for us, we inquire to see how our program is being promoted.

    I'd appreciate if you could please provide information on how you're generating traffic to your site to get leads for our program.

    Please provide information such as:
    Where our affiliate banner/text links are being displayed on your site at even if they are on a different url address.

    Are you using keyword bidding through Pay Per Click Advertising? If so which Pay Per Click, Google Adwords, Overture etc.? Please provide a screen shot of your marketing efforts if so?

    Are you using search engine optimization? If so, which search engines are you using?

    Are you using email marketing? If so are you using opt in's only? Posting on forums in discussion groups etc.? If so, where?
    Please note: Spamming is not tolerated and is illegal. Any spamming activity will result in immediate suspension of your account.

    Please inform us of any other marketing methods or tactics you employ.
    It is very important that you respond to this email. As we must monitor the marketing efforts of our partners, failure to reply within 48-72 hours could lead to account suspension.

    I greatly appreciate your help and your cooperation. Knowing how affiliates are generating leads or traffic to their site to generate leads helps us to know how to serve our affiliates in the best possible way we can to maximize your success and ours.

    I appreciate your response.
    Now, normally, if there were an advertiser I was making a lot of money with I would try to provide as much information as possible so they would not feel or see that I was doing anything "wrong". I have been on CJ for years, and do much better with other advertisers.

    Which is why this e-mail bothered me. We have generated a TOTAL of 3 leads in the past 4 months for this particular advertiser. Hundreds upon hundreds of clicks for them (bad converter).

    Now their e-mail didn't ask like most how we can "improve" your conversions, clicks or sales. Instead because we generated 2 of the 3 leads in the last week suddenly our entire marketing strategy needs to be revealed to them, including screenshots of our niche marketing and everything.

    Is it right for an advertiser to know your COMPLETE marketing strategy? Should you give up what niche keywords or other areas and how much you pay per click, etc to an advertiser when it does not involve any trademarked or suppression list words?

    Why do they need to know that unless there is some questionable tactics being used by the publisher (which I would think would indicate a higher conversion rate) or perhaps they just want to know how to do it themselves?

    There is no evidence that we are violating anything because we aren't. Heck our PPC strategy is in totally different keywords for an entirely different subject, we just occasionally have them fall over to this category since our visitors might be interested in more.

    I don't know if I am overreacting, but to threaten with suspension of their program just rubbed me the wrong way. I feel like dropping them. I refuse to answer that much information when I have earned a total of like $40 with them.

    Okay, I am done venting...

  2. #2
    15 years and counting
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    I never had to answer such questions, fortunately. It depends how much you trust the merchant or the AM.
    "Is it right for an advertiser to know your COMPLETE marketing strategy?" No.
    "Should you give up what niche keywords or other areas and how much you pay per click" No.
    "failure to reply within 48-72 hours could lead to account suspension." Come on

    I like merchants to check their affiliates but to be nosy like that is telling me they don't know the affiliate side of their business.

  3. #3
    Moderator Nabz's Avatar
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    If I were in place of you, I would have said "Sorry I can not provide this information. My websites are already listed at CJ, go have a look. We are not biding on any of your names or Tradmarks. If you are not satisfied, we are ready to end this partnership."

  4. #4
    Pimp Duck popdawg's Avatar
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    It is very important that you respond to this email. As we must monitor the marketing efforts of our partners, failure to reply within 48-72 hours could lead to account suspension.
    Too much info
    Too much attitude
    Veiled threats are still threats.
    I don't play well with others, especially ones that attempt to threaten me.

    btw mr merchant ...
    I'd appreciate if you could please provide information on how you're generating traffic to your site to get leads for our program.
    <>
    It is very important that you respond to this email. As we must monitor the marketing efforts of our partners, failure to reply within 48-72 hours could lead to account suspension.
    ================================================================
    Been away, now I'm back. Not as much, but I'm back & starting from scratch. Where I was, was fantastic. Where I am now, less so. Things have changed, become harder. So have I. Game ON!!!
    ================================================================

  5. #5
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Andy Rodriguez's Avatar
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    Un real...

    I have seen this before, affiliates are kicking their butt, clueless merchant and they want to pilfer and adopt ideas and techniques from their talented affiliate sales force.

    Last time I saw this tactic, I gave my 2 week notice ...
    Andy Rodriguez Consulting, Affiliate Program Management and Consulting Services, Since 2001
    www.andyrodriguez.com | E: abw@andyrodriguez.com | P: (888) 931-ANDY (2639) | Skype: affiliatedoctor | AIM & MSN: AffiliateDoctor | Subscribe To Our ABW Forum Posts | Follow me on Twitter | Join Our Affiliate Programs

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador MeeMaw's Avatar
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    That is another thing. These are verified leads. If they were bogus or unqualified then reverse them or don't let them show up in the first place. It's not like the merchant doesn't get a chance to verify leads and they are paid the same day.

    I could understand also if there was suddenly 50 or 60 leads generated in a week, when there had been none for months. That could make me question things I suppose (I would be questioning it first, btw).

    I did respond that if they feel they needed more or if there was a problem then I would rather just drop them. I don't need to stress out what I might be doing wrong when I am not.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador MeeMaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nabeelk
    If I were in place of you, I would have said "Sorry I can not provide this information. My websites are already listed at CJ, go have a look. We are not biding on any of your names or Tradmarks. If you are not satisfied, we are ready to end this partnership."
    Yup our websites are listed in CJ correctly, and we aren't using any other "hidden ones" either. If they would do a little research themselves they would find nothing wrong.

    Perhaps they did, and that is why they want to know more? Though two lousy lead conversions, please.

  8. #8
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    I would build on what nabeelk offered:

    I would say, "Dear XYZ Company

    Quote Originally Posted by nabeelk
    "My websites are already listed at CJ, [you can see the listing here]. We are not bidding on any of your names or Trademarks."
    Your program is important to my affiliate site(s), so if there is something specific you would like to discuss with me, please do so.

    Best,


    Asking for specifics always gets them

    Once a Performics merchant accused me of intellectual property foul play with Adwords and I shot back that I don't engage in Adwords or word bidding of any form and I asked for them to send me a detailed specific report on how I am doing anything against their intellectual property -- they dropped the matter immediately.
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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  9. #9
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    This is one of the most interesting threads I've come across in my entire time on ABestWeb. My attitudes about sharing things with affiliate managers has changed dramatically over time. A couple years ago, I would tell him/her anything she wanted to know. Today, I'm very hesitant to share any information.

    In short, it's all about the affiliate-merchant relationship.

    You could categorize your relationship with an affiliate manager in one of two ways:

    1) AM approaches you to get you involved with a program. He/she personally shares keyword lists, tips, strategies, etc. to help boost conversions.

    With this AM, I would be completely open and share anything and everything including AdWords metrics.

    2) AM is simply listed as contact person on CJ Advertiser Detail page. I find the campaign and generate my own keyword list and begin promoting merchant on AdWords.

    With this AM, I would share very little. It would be hard to argue with a response like "That information is proprietary and confidential."

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Paul_Ward's Avatar
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    OK - devil's advocate here, though I pretty much agree with what everyone else has posted.

    Maybe they think it's your fault that 100's of clicks have led to 3 or 4 sales and they want to know why just in case you're bringing their programme into possible disrepute?

    Depending on whether or not you want to continue with this relationship, maybe ask why they want to know this?

    My gut reaction would be to dump them as they seem to be trying to get you to tell them stuff that they think they may be able to do themselves, or at least offer as advice for other affiliates. Then again they might just be poor communicators and phrase things wrong - in either case, I wouldn't tell them anything without learning more first.

  11. #11
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    It is not worth jumping through so many hoops. Nobody has a monopoly on anything; you can promote another merchant or twenty in their place.

    And who wants to deal with an AM whose sphincter is so puckered up as that? Most of us got into AM to get away from characters like that.

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador MeeMaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Ward
    OK - devil's advocate here, though I pretty much agree with what everyone else has posted.

    Maybe they think it's your fault that 100's of clicks have led to 3 or 4 sales and they want to know why just in case you're bringing their programme into possible disrepute?

    Depending on whether or not you want to continue with this relationship, maybe ask why they want to know this?

    My gut reaction would be to dump them as they seem to be trying to get you to tell them stuff that they think they may be able to do themselves, or at least offer as advice for other affiliates. Then again they might just be poor communicators and phrase things wrong - in either case, I wouldn't tell them anything without learning more first.
    I see your point. However, this is certainly not the way to go about it if a publisher is bringing your EPC down I would think.

    I have gotten e-mails in the past saying that you are generating a lot of clicks but very little conversions. They go on to offer advice on changing the creatives, or offering to assist in helping convert further.

    In a rare case they said if it continued they would have to drop me because their stats were being affected. That didn't happen because I reworked the landing page and everyone was happy as our conversion rate then went up.

    If that were the issue in this case then say it. Don't ask me about my marketing of my website when clearly there is no wrongdoing on my part on things like spam, direct to advertiser in adwords (they can check the referrring URLS for proof), and such. Even then I question whether you have the right to do so in the first place. Obviously if you suspect something is wrong either let the publisher know or drop them.

    One of my website descriptions on the details page for them to read is that we have over 14,000+ members and growing. That is well in addition to anything else we do.

    In this case we are talking about a lousy 2 conversions/leads. I checked the stats and we got 3 leads in about 348 clicks in the past 4 months. That is NOT going to bring down their EPC as far as click ratio. I have learned that much in the past 6 months.

    Everyone pretty much agrees that a pretty standard conversion rate is about 1 in 100 clicks. Some have more and some less, but I have asked questions in the past and read a lot up on it to come to that conclusion. So as far as stats go I can't see where we are affecting them.

    Unless they just want to help us do more. Then they should have stated such, and not threatened with suspension. Which, btw, read their wording and they make it sounds like we will be suspended from CJ, and not just dropped from their program. Highly inappropriate if you ask me.

    Then again, nobody did.

  13. #13
    Mama in Charge Anne's Avatar
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    I just click delete on mails like this. To me this looks like a generic mail sent to all affiliates. I rarely respond to anything generic, personally.

  14. #14
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Rodriguez
    Un real...

    I have seen this before, affiliates are kicking their butt, clueless merchant and they want to pilfer and adopt ideas and techniques from their talented affiliate sales force.

    Last time I saw this tactic, I gave my 2 week notice ...
    I remember that notice for cause very well. Wish you were the AM in every program I promote as I'd exit in a heart beat the moment the info scraping boss decided to compete with their affiliates and AM using their success tools to wash cookies.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  15. #15
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecomcity
    I remember that notice for cause very well. Wish you were the AM in every program I promote as I'd exit in a heart beat the moment the info scraping boss decided to compete with their affiliates and AM using their success tools to wash cookies.

    Is there an online source (i.e. Cookie Washing 101 ) where I could learn about how an AM washes cookies? I see the phrase "washing cookies" often but I don't understand how it's done.

    It reminds me of a newlywed joke.
    The husband complained to the wife that the lettuce in the salad tasted funny and she responded, "Really? It shouldn't. I washed it with soap even!"
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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  16. #16
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    They have several ways to do it. It's better don't to give any detail on a public board. If a merchant or an AM firm use newsletters quite often, check if the links set a cookie and if that cookie overwrite your own. That's cookie washing. You sent a visitor with a 45 days cookie and a few days later that cookie is washed.
    They can do it also by tagging the visitors coming back from search engines, natural or ppc directly on their back end...

  17. #17
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus
    They have several ways to do it. It's better don't to give any detail on a public board. If a merchant or an AM firm use newsletters quite often, check if the links set a cookie and if that cookie overwrite your own. That's cookie washing. You sent a visitor with a 45 days cookie and a few days later that cookie is washed.
    They can do it also by tagging the visitors coming back from search engines, natural or ppc directly on their back end...
    I never thought about bleached newsletters

    What if I set my e-mail to receive text only and not html e-mail? Would that ameliorate the problem at all?

    Thanks for those tips, they're good
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador Sam Bay's Avatar
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    The problem with their e-mail is they are asking pretty much every method you used to market them as if they want to use this information themselves.

    It's not hard for them to see if you're bidding on their trademarks.
    It's none of their business which search engines you're using(?) to optimize your website.
    Etc.

    If they had specific concerns, such as if they're suspicious that you're promoting them via spam, they should specifically ask about that, not every method you use. Even then, it should only be an issue if you're generating many leads with large amount of unqualified sign ups, which you say it's not the case, so:

    IT'S COMPLETE NONSENSE.

  19. #19
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    Rhia - What if I set my e-mail to receive text only and not html e-mail? Would that ameliorate the problem at all?
    The way you're getting your e-mail is not the problem, it allows you to check what the merchant is doing. Think first about your visitors, and their computers. Your visitors will generate a commission for you ONLY if the cookie set on their computers is yours. In the case a merchant replace it by their own cookie you can kiss good bye your commission if a sale is made. The replacement is done if a visitor clicks on the link (sometimes just by opening the newsletter) It's cookie stuffing by the merchant.

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    I agree, that is way too much information and the "tone" isn't good. I've contacted low converting partners but it's more like "I see your conversion rate is lower than it could be..." and either offer ideas or at least reach out to let them know I can help.

    You can ignore it and see what they do or find an alternative. Too much BS for 3 sales.
    Greg Rice Affiliate Program Management
    www.gocmc.com info(AT)gocmc.com | 330-259-1223

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  21. #21
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    "I see your conversion rate is lower than it could be..."

    Though traffic quality, or lack thereof, may be an issue, conversion rate is not as important as it is made out to be.

    The bottom line is sometimes overlooked in favor of abstract voodoo smoke clouds like "EPC" and "conversion rate"

    A merchant with a $100+ EPC could be running at a loss.

    I'd rather have a million clicks converting at 3% than 100,000 clicks converting at 10%.

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    You're correct, the conversion rate should not be the deciding factor for success. My point being that if a program can consistently convert at 3% and you have a partner who is working hard but converting at 0.5%, they may want some help or advice on increasing conversions and get more sales from the same traffic.
    Greg Rice Affiliate Program Management
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  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador MeeMaw's Avatar
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    A mere 3 leads, and they haven't or didn't reverse any of them. So I gather they are not unqualified.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Bay
    The problem with their e-mail is they are asking pretty much every method you used to market them as if they want to use this information themselves.

    It's not hard for them to see if you're bidding on their trademarks.
    It's none of their business which search engines you're using(?) to optimize your website.
    Etc.

    If they had specific concerns, such as if they're suspicious that you're promoting them via spam, they should specifically ask about that, not every method you use. Even then, it should only be an issue if you're generating many leads with large amount of unqualified sign ups, which you say it's not the case, so:

    IT'S COMPLETE NONSENSE.

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