View Poll Results: What's the most important metric

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34. You may not vote on this poll
  • commission rate

    11 32.35%
  • return rate

    7 20.59%
  • conversion rate

    23 67.65%
  • best selling product

    3 8.82%
  • best performing link

    0 0%
  • EPC

    8 23.53%
Multiple Choice Poll.
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  1. #1
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    What's the most important metric to an affiliate?
    What most important to you as an affiliate?? What makes your decision to join and promote a program?? What matters and will move you to do more??

    Here are the top metrics I have been asked, pick the one that you consider #1.

  2. #2
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick
    What most important to you as an affiliate?? What makes your decision to join and promote a program?? What matters and will move you to do more??

    Here are the top metrics I have been asked, pick the one that you consider #1.
    Before I pick anything -- Chuck, your poll seems to allow multiple choices (check boxes) instead of one choice (a Radio Button that only allows one choice):

    Is that the way you wanted to set up your poll?
    I ask this because the multiple answer format might confuse people into picking more than one choice.
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  3. #3
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    As far as joining, I just take a look at them overall and if I think I can make money with them, I give them a try. Ultimately that's the only way to know for sure, you actually have to put up links and test them and find out how you do with them, doesn't matter how everybody else is doing.

    Out of that list it's hard for me to choose.

    commission rate - as high as possible

    return rate - if that info is available, I'll take a look and if it's really high it's something to consider. Some merchants are naturually going to have higher return rates than others.

    conversion rate - That's something for me at least, that I like to test out on my own.

    best selling product - If it's something no one else carries or maybe just a few and you have a good deal, it's a factor.

    best performing link - eh

    But as far as doing more, as long as the merchant makes me money they stay on my site. The ones that get the most attention are the ones that I have the best return with. The ones with the highest EPC (for me) I try to send them the most traffic as I can.

  4. #4
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I tried to go back and edit the poll but it does not all you to change the choices. As Trust said there are a number that influence his decision so lets see which comes out as the number one with multiple choices.

    I am more interested in the debate over what influences an affiliate to start or give more attention to a program. I know that some of those choices are guarded secrets that can make a difference if affiliates knew, both positive or negative.

  5. #5
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Chuck,

    I can't answer that multiple choice.

    I take ALL those, and some you didn't mention, into consideration, for an OVERALL rating.

    Each is important

    If I said "Commissions are the #1 choice" - then what about a merchant who has great commissions, but no cookies?

    It's like: Who's better - Wal-Mart 'cause they're cheaper (but 3 miles away from my house) or Target who may be a few pennies more expensive, but is right across the street from my house.

    If I was buying ONE item, I'd go to Target 'cause it's close. If I was spending $4000 on new electronics, I'd go to Wal-Mart to save some money.

  6. #6
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    I voted for "best selling product," but what is the definition of a "best selling product?"

    I like to join programs (from any network) that allow me to link to specific products. If possible, I'd like to take a look at potential products I could promote (if I am deciding on a merchant's program but I can't preview all the product links, I will look at the merchant's website in order to get an idea).
    The more potential product links that I could link to or create from a merchant's site/feed/whatever the greater the chance that I will zero in on a product that my website audience likes, is attracted to, and will buy.

    Commission rate is always a factor but I take into consideration many variables related to the Commission rate.

    Return rate does not affect my decision when joining a merchant's program.
    Affiliates might balk at a 30 -60 day return rate, but those affiliates need to keep in mind the customer's perspective: if the customer doesn't have a fair amount of days to return the item, the customer might not buy that item online at all. I just cross my fingers and hope for the sale to go through and be locked.

    Conversion rate -- after setting links, I'll get a good idea at what converts but this is a trial-and-error type of thing for the webmaster.

    What is your definition of "best performing link?" Do you mean format/availability of links/banners?
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  7. #7
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    Right now I'm looking at return days a lot - don't know if that's what's meant by "return rate" in that poll No matter how well a merchant/product line converts, regardless of whether the commission % offered is high, if there aren't enough return days and there are a LOT of (or mostly) non-commissionable sales, it's got very, very little worth.

    Very rough, rounded off example at 5% commission:

    $500 sales
    $500 non-commissionable
    $25 commission - is NOT 5% of sales, it's only of sales that were made within the limited time period, the rest were freebies for the merchant. Customers they acquired free and for nuthin'

    And yes, it sure can be close to 50/50 or even much worse.

  8. #8
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Two things are important:

    1) Reliable tracking
    2) Reliable payment

    Subjective factors are of secondary importance.

    I would consider cookie duration as a "reliable tracking" factor though. Lately it has become fashionable for merchants to take advantage of latency rates by using short cookie durations. Then their reps will talk up a storm and kick up a cloud of dust on the mirror, but the stats don't lie.
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  9. #9
    Prince of Content Vinny O'Hare's Avatar
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    What makes your decision to join and promote a program
    Little secret that no one mentions is the merchants website itself. If it looks shady or unorganized there is no way I would join. If I wouldn't buy something from it neither will my users. This comes down to epc I guess in the long run. It doesn't matter what the commision rate is if I never sell anything at all anyway because of the merchants site.
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  10. #10
    http and a telephoto
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    (puts on affiliate hat)

    The most important things to me aren't on your poll. Fit to my traffic and fit into my site. Conversion is up there, and goes along with what nyfalcon says, merchant website. Leaky merchants don't go up.

    Commission and return days are important, but return days are becoming less important with the number of people blocking/deleting cookies.

    Also high on the list are choice of creatives (plain links in addition to dynamic, product links, easy to make links, complete, clean datafeed).

    Another metric I started to consider long ago, after I started poking around ABW is program management. If I like an AM their links go to the top of the todo list, if their merchant is a good fit. All the metrics in the world don't help if my site isn't the kind of traffic that fits.
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  11. #11
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    Dollars in my pocket
    As an affiliate, the most important thing is "dollars in my pocket." Since what I have to offer is an inventory of pageviews, I suppose it would be "earnings per pageview." The factors that go into this: clickthrough rate AND conversion rate AND commission rate AND average transaction size. My income is equal to

    PageView Inventory
    X Clickthrough Rate
    X Conversion Rate
    X Commission Rate
    X Transaction Size

    I need to know (or reasonably forecast) all four, in order to evaluate an advertiser's offer.

    As a merchant, my ultimate goal is also "dollars in my pocket," and those same four factors are relevant (with clickthrough rate being something I'm least worried about), but the merchant has some additional factors to consider (such as margin, which may vary by product line even if a single commission rate is offered).

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador Paul_Ward's Avatar
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    The merchant site is very important as others have said. As for stats - I pay little attention to general merchant stats as its my own that matter to me, and these are often very different to the merchant publicized average stats. I don't set out to be an average affiliate for a programme I join.

    Important things for me are:

    Good datafeed
    Ease of linking to any page I choose
    Landing pages don't die! - if an item is out of stock, then it goes back to the SAME PAGE when it comes back into stock
    All landing pages are active sales pages - with alternative items if the surfer doesn't like the clicked through one, or if it's out of stock
    Merchant site is readily and easily navigable - so if the surfer doesn't like the first item, they have lots of tempting alternative pages to click through to

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Most important to me from best to least:

    1. Needs to fit my niches
    2. Regularly updated quality datafeed
    3. Conversion rate
    4. Commission rate

    Most of the time merchants don't get past the first requirement.

    - Scott
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  14. #14
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Feeds are a must if I'm going to promote individual products.

    I also avoid content-is-kinger merchants/AMs. As is obvious to all who have read my posts, a content-is-kinger is a very bad fit for me and my sites.

    My important stats:

    Payment Reliability! No deadbeats need apply.

    Commission Rate: Has to be worth my time, otherwise I might as well play video games instead!

    Conversion Ratio: If nobody buys the thing, it doesn't matter much what the commission rate is.

    But on the other hand, a great conversion ratio is still not as important as great commissions: if I have to sell 10x more of something to make up for the commission difference between it and a higher-commission (but lower converting) item, there's no real benefit to me in the deal.

    Reversal Rate: Stuff that doesn't stay sold is worth $0. Actually less than $0, since reversals can mess up or even destroy projected profit margins for PPC campaigns.

    Cookies: Nice long cookies. It doesn't matter to me if 98% of sales come in the first couple of days. I want commish on ALL my sales! Plus, those high quick-purchase figures are taken from across all of affiliate-dom, and hide the fact that some merchants have a long purchasing cycle.

    If some place has a short cookie duration, I figure they're the place where most of the sales come AFTER their cookies expire. Otherwise they wouldn't have short cookies. If they claim to have done it because "most people buy fast, so there's no NEED for long cookies" I don't usually believe it. But even if I do believe it, it tells me something negative about their entire mindset. They don't like to go at all beyond what's "needed" in their minds--everything is just covered, barely, and probably not quite. And they can't bear to think they're parting with anything even an iota over the minimum requirement. They are, in a word, STINGY. I don't like stingy merchants, even if they do pay up and even if they don't "have to have" long cookies.

    The Merchant Site factors into the "Conversion Ratio" estimate.

    EPC: Depends. At CJ I pay a lot of attention to it, since they tend to have merchants with large programs (a large sample size, as Michael Coley would say). In smaller programs, every action, or lack of action, has a magnified result on EPC so it doesn't mean as much.

    Things which I either don't care about or that can work negatively:

    Best-Selling Product Information: Once that's out there, it becomes a saturated product. So, I'd rather it not be. On the other hand, if the merchant sees that I'm promoting some dust-covered dud they've sold 1 of in the last 10 years--at which point, it'd be nice if the merchant said, "Hey, that thing's a dead issue, try featuring something else..."

    Best-performing link: Irrelevant.

  15. #15
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    I am just a green horn........but.....

    I look at merchants presentation, then how will the product fit my site, then how much money is available.

    I also look at how available the product is at local stores. I try not to compete with the local Target or Walmart, etc....
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  16. #16
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    As an affiliate, the most important thing is "dollars in my pocket." Since what I have to offer is an inventory of pageviews, I suppose it would be "earnings per pageview." The factors that go into this: clickthrough rate AND conversion rate AND commission rate AND average transaction size. My income is equal to

    PageView Inventory
    X Clickthrough Rate
    X Conversion Rate
    X Commission Rate
    X Transaction Size

    I need to know (or reasonably forecast) all four, in order to evaluate an advertiser's offer.
    Mark is spot on, once again. I've said several times that EPC can be calulated as Average Order Size * Conversion Ratio * Commission Percent. All of those are important to me, which is why I chose EPC. It is basically just a composite of the other three. An increase in any of the three will increase EPC.
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  17. #17
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    What most important to you as an affiliate??
    - The need to fit my niches
    - Can I trust the merchant to deliver the product on time?
    - The quality of the product sold at the right price.
    - An easy ordering process

    Above everything, I'm looking for a positive shopping experience of my visitors. PERIOD. If they're happy, they will come back and buy more. If I sell them crap, it will be a one time negative experience for them and for me.

    What makes your decision to join and promote a program??
    - Who's the merchant? Who's the AM
    - Are the merchant's products adding value to my offer
    - Who are the other affiliates?
    - The long term potential of the relationship


    What matters and will move you to do more??
    The conversion rate and ultimately the amount on the check.

    I will never add a merchant on any published metrics like EPC. The only one I trust is mine.

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador erninator's Avatar
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    My best metric is found in my bank account summary.
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  19. #19
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Great poll, Chuck! Thank you for it!!

    Geno

  20. #20
    OOOPS just realized was an old POST, LOL GethsemeneRose's Avatar
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    I am still very new so I didn't even understand most of the metrics when I first started out. (I have quickly learned them though) I still look FIRST at Do I want this product / service for myself if so then how would it fit on my site. (If I would like it then hopefully the type of people I am attracting will want it) I will not promote anything I cannot stand behind. That being said I still have found plenty of merchants that gives me a choice so I guess the next would be the Site itself (after I land on it would I stay) so I guess Conversions would be the highest metric out of the choices above.
    :gnome: [URL]www.gethsemenerose.com[/URL] :gnome: As for me and my SITE we shall serve the LORD!

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    When I first started I tried to join programs that had products I personally liked and felt good about promoting. My most important factor now is what Loxly mentioned. I have a small group of affiliate managers that I like a lot, trust and respect for how they run their programs. I guess I trust that if I think all those things I mentioned about them are the truth then they're going to work with me to always improve and kinda be looking out for me since (never been an affiliate manager so not really sure ) but would think if an affiliate does well then the affiliate manager's gonna do well....so in the end an affiliate manager should want their affiliate to do well and will try to help them as much as they can. As I've been an affiliate longer my attitudes have changed somewhat. Stupid or not, I've never looked at comm. They're very nice to have but not real high on my list especially if what I previously mentioned isn't there.

    Type of product is a factor. Guess sort of my ethics or whatever. lol For instance my mil was a smoker and died from mouth cancer (started there but progressed)and one of my favorite uncles died from mouth cancer. (before any smokers or tobacco merchants pounce on me. lol If a person smokes that's none of my business and I don't care, if you're a merchant or affiliate that sells them....don't care. That's your business and I'm not trying to put you down or say you shouldn't be doing it) .... I just personally don't want to have anything to do with making their money or helping them make money because of my own personal feelings. Are other products I may not personally like so I won't promote them even if they offered me a ridiculously high comm.

    Guess it goes under the aff. mgr. stuff but now if I do belong to a program and an aff. mgr. doesn't bother to have any contact with me, if I'm offered another program he or she manages I won't join it.

    Since only now learning or trying more to learn the whole parasite stuff....it definitely has become important and try to weigh it with other factors, where didn't know anything when I started about them. Same goes for sites that have big leaks.

    Amount of days for cookies definitely has become more important now.

    Overall how good a merchants products are, the merchant's reputation for being trusted and having an overall good reputation for the visitor is definitely important.

    Still, though first issue for me is how the affiliate managers are. I'm not going to be involved anymore with any that act like you're not even there or don't matter.

  22. #22
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Guess it goes under the aff. mgr. stuff but now if I do belong to a program and an aff. mgr. doesn't bother to have any contact with me, if I'm offered another program he or she manages I won't join it.
    What the heck are they supposed to say?!

    I never know what to say beyond the autogen signup letter and the occasional newsletter, so that's what people get unless they contact me and ask/say something specific for me to work from. After all, the same comments that might cause one person to promote me on every page may get another one to hit Drop Program!
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  23. #23
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leader
    What the heck are they supposed to say?!
    When I am approved for a program, I like the "Welcome to the program" message to contain:
    • The contact details including the name of the AM/Rep
    • A short description of what the company sells
    • The network/company that manages the affiliate details or the idependent details -- this is a really important basic feature and you'd be surprised at the number of "affiliate programs" that have sent word to me that I qualify for their program yet other than naming the program (that is not always identifiable in a meaningful way) within the e-mail message but the AM does not include a full contact name, does not tell me what the company sells (this is the opportunity for the AM to "sizzle" the affiliate with a line like: our company is well known for widgets and we specialize in blue widgets -- just one positive line about what is available to market can put the AM's business in the forefront of the affiliate's mind and can make the affiliate think of that AM program when the affiliate is adding links to his/her site)
    • Basically -- just the basics is all I want to begin with.
      Without the information I mentioned, I wonder if it is someone phishing for information?
    • If I am turned down for an affiliate program, I would like a sentence or 2 why. Don't throw a "blanket gobbilty-gook response" at me about pornography or hate speech or a bunch of other reasons to exclude [me] that do not pertain to me and my sites.

      One business [ this point was beyond the introductory stage -- I was actually heavily promoting this merchant but I regretted doing so & took down all of that merchant's links] sent me e-mails that were almost suggestive of wanting to sue me for my PPC and Adwords campaign and infringement of intellectual property. I countered with an e-mail saying that everything appearing on my sites was either original or there under permission and that I had been careful in my domain/link name choice and in writing my MetaData information and that I was confident that there was no infringement of intellectual property whatsoever. In addition to that, I have never engaged in any PPC or Adwords campaign. I wrote the AM that if s/he continued I would counter-sue.
    • If the merchant is with CJ and the products are not appearing [i.e. within CJ's excellent specific product search tool], that problem will most likely inspire my initial point of direct contact with the AM via e-mail.
    • I think AMs can overdo the contact: I get too many e-mails informing me about one day sales (I see the phrase "one day sale" and I hit the delete key really fast ) I get e-mails about weekend deals and things I either wouldn't be interested in or couldn't be interested in (due to time restraints -- if I figure out how to automate things on a bigger scale I might be able to incorporate some of the deals that are sent to me -- but I get so many deals in my e-mail inbox that I wish I were "Crazy Eddy" so I could handle them all

    Quote Originally Posted by Leader
    I never know what to say beyond the autogen signup letter and the occasional newsletter, so that's what people get unless they contact me and ask/say something specific for me to work from. After all, the same comments that might cause one person to promote me on every page may get another one to hit Drop Program!
    Absolutely.

    I will say that one AM once e-mailed me, "Your website has the perfect audience for my type of merchandise." Something very simple like that created a bond of loyalty within me (I was making more money with this particular merchant at the time than with anyone else).

    I did follow up [via e-mail] and asked for some advice as to what items would fit into my sites and I asked for advice on what's the best selling widget -- because I look for tips on how to make money off of my sites but beyond that there isn't really anything else except a cordial business relationship.
    Last edited by Rhia7; September 3rd, 2006 at 11:16 PM.
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  24. #24
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    Leader - I'm sorry I didn't make myself more specific. Don't know what other affiliates do, but after I join a program and put my links up I email the affiliate manager telling her or him I've done so, provide the link or links to the pages where I've placed their site and tell them I'd be happy to hear any of their feedback or suggestions and if there's something they'd like me to add or replace I'd be happy to do so. I don't mind if they don't respond since I realize affiliate managers usually are pretty busy people and don't have time to respond back to each and everey one of their affiliates or maybe they didn't need to know where I listed their site and just don't have any comments to make or suggestions or anything. That's ok. I realize affiliate managers are just like other people and have their own different styles.

    Although a nice little thank you or....yea links look good would be nice but I don't expect it. If I do get a response that makes me happy but definitely am not sitting around waiting for it to happen. lol Believe me, it don't take much to please me. lol

    I said earlier that I have a very small group of affiliate managers that I like a lot, trust and respect for how they run their programs. I realize I'm not the biggest or most successful affiliate but when I started I knew absolutely nothing and good or bad I relied on this group of managers to help me by I'm sure pestering them waaaay too many times with questions or advice. (Although none of these am's ever said I was, acted like I was and in fact majority said they were always there to help me) I'm an extremely loyal person and most of these am's are probably sick of hearing me thank them (Boy, do I appreciate them.....and yeap...very sure they're sick of hearing it said to them so many times. lol ) Some of them I've never had a sale with any of their sites but it hasn't been for lack of effort on my part. Because of how they've treated me I'll work harder and put more effort into their sites and hopefully will have sales in time. For the aff. mgrs. in my little group...I'm probably waaay down the list in regards to their most successful affiliates but they definitely have to realize I'm trying as hard as I can and maybe some of them just believe in me and figure I might some day be up there with those other most successful affiliates. lol

    When I first started and somebody terminated me.....I realize it's stupid but I really, really took it personally and felt really rotten about it...now have to admit it does still really bother me and unfortunately still take it personally, but honestly... I look at it now ....It's their loss. lol I do take this seriously...am always trying to learn more and improve and really, really put a lot of time into it and work really hard at it soooo if they terminated me....then may not be now but sometime in the future they probably would have had sales from my site but they won't cos they terminated me. That was their mistake, not mine.. If an affiliate joins a program but doesn't ever put any links up...yea an am has every right to terminate them after 6 months or so but if I have links up and have asked questions for help and you still terminate me....that's your fault...not mine. I've given you the affiliate manager every opportunity to tell me what I'm doing wrong, suggest to me what I should try to do better and to be honest.....if I'm trying you're still having your links on my site so I can't understand what purpose it serves to terminate me. Like I said...if I sign up and don't bother to put any links up..you have every right to terminate me but if an affiliate has made the effort...thick headed or whatever it just makes no sense to me to terminate them. lol I'm sure this'll really get em where it hurts lol ...but ain't no way in .... I'll ever even think of buying one of their products again.....and believe me if you do get on my bad side for something...you'll stay there a long time...most likely it'll be a life sentence. lol

    Hmmm Leader....are you regretting having asked the question now??? lol Sorry, anybody who knows me knows I have a really hard time with short responses. lol I don't mean to...just once you get me going ummm hard for me to stop. lol

    So....getting back to the question...
    "Guess it goes under the aff. mgr. stuff but now if I do belong to a program and an aff. mgr. doesn't bother to have any contact with me, if I'm offered another program he or she manages I won't join it."

    Answer is....pretty much literally what it says....lol An aff. mgr. can't blame me for no contact. lol Send me a newsletter actually addressed to me (I have a name....I'm not dear affiliate) drop me a line saying Hi...how the .... ya doin? Anything...Merry Christmas, Happy Easter. just Hey you lol but if I join a program and am just totally forgotten about or ignored.....ask me to join another program of yours and nope it ain't gonna happen cos by now I realize you could care less about me and you're not gonna do a thing to try to help me, you won't answer any of my questions...most likely you're gonna have google ads on your site and lots of leaks. So, yeap I was very naive when I first joined the one program you managed but nope....not gonna get me again. lol As I said earlier....honest it really doesn't take much at all to make me happy. lol Sorry so long.

  25. #25
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Send me a newsletter actually addressed to me (I have a name....I'm not dear affiliate)
    There's several hundred affs or more in most programs..those "named" newsletters (unless they say something truly specific to you other than your name) would be going through a script sort of like this: Hello, %NAME%

    I don't use that because sometimes the script will fail--As an aff, I've gotten quite a few that came exactly like that--with the %NAME% there instead of my name! So I figure, better to come right out and say it: "Hi Everybody..."
    Don't know what other affiliates do, but after I join a program and put my links up I email the affiliate manager telling her or him I've done so,
    Most of 'em don't do anything to let the merchant know they even remember that they signed up! I think I had one or 2 actually write me. From the merchant perspective, writing newsletters and such is quite like being a radio DJ, talking away, with no way to know if anyone's even got their radio on.

    As a merchant, I see several sites that need clues, but am always worried that they will hate to get unsolicited advice as much as I do! I'm always insulted when some AM or merchant starts trying to push off his "advice" on me for my aff sites. I can't stand it! So I never just email out of the blue with advice.

    As for terminations, I think the only valid reason to terminate an aff is if they're a crook. I think it's stupid to terminate (or not approve) anyone for nonperformance, site design, etc. You never know when someone will board the clue train and start making sales. And if it's an SEO clue train, it could literally be hundreds of sales!
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

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