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  1. #1
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    Question BlackForest and LoneStar Datafeeds
    I just wrote a note to LoneStar, but maybe someone here can clear this up for me faster than I can get a response from an affiliate manager?

    I've been using BlackForest's datafeed with decent results but I've been more than a little perturbed that most of the product links in the datafeed take my potential sales visitors to their home page and NOT directly to the product page. I'm sure I lose a lot of commissions that way, not to mention BlackForest losing a lot of sales...

    But when I started using LoneStar's datafeed this week I found the exact same thing! I love the products they offer so I decided it was time to figure this mess out - yet I can't do it on my own.

    I'm wondering why have links that have a product id embedded but that link doesn't take my visitors to a product page?

    For instance, if you look at my current home page primitivecountrydecor .com you'll see a link to the star pull that when my customers click on, take them to lonestar's home page (not the product page for the star pull).

    Before I start a big promo with the products in the datafeed I'd love to get some suggestions or step by step action plan on how to fix this mess? I'm sure to lose most sales if my visitors have to click around from LoneStar's home page 10 times to find the product I suggested to them.

    Thank you all in advance, Laura Childs

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager TFAW.com's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
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    Hi Laura, and welcome to ABW!

    I don't want to put words into these two merchants' mouths, but ...

    The entire purpose of a datafeed (IMHO) is to create deep links to products. If the links do not land on product detail pages, I can only assume that the links were accidentally mangled during datafeed creation or the merchant updated their website and changed their site structure without properly redirecting their legacy links. Some merchants redirect "error" pages to their home page by default rather than displaying a 404 error, so it's possible that this is happening here.

    Either way, the merchant is (by far) the best one to solve this problem.

    If they are unresponsive and you still want to promote their products, you could try replacing their urls using the urllink override to the merchant's search page with the product title as a search string. For example:

    http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?m=xxx&u=yyy&urllink=http://blackforestdecor.resultspage.com/search?catalog=newportantiques4-shop&p=Q&ts=custom&w={product+title+from+feed}

    See this thread if you're not familiar with urllink.

    But again, I would consider that a last resort. If the merchant is at all interested in their program, they should be willing to fix the datafeed links.

    Good luck.

    -Dale
    Dale LaFountain, CIO, <a style="color:#c23015; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline;" href="http://www.tfaw.com/">Things From Another World</a> - More Comics. More Toys. More Stuff. More FUN!
    14% base comm / up to 21.5% w/perf incent / 90 return days / parasite free / HUGE datafeed / <a style="color:#c23015; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline;" href="http://www.tfaw.com/Help/Affiliate-Information___168?qt=abw">[b]Join[/b]</a>

  3. #3
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    September 7th, 2006
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    Thumbs up
    Dale, thank you so much for that! I think your response is one of the most helpful forum replies I have ever had, anywhere.

    I had never heard of urllinks and re-writing the link code in such a manner - wouldn't have even imagined that it could be done. I'm so thankful that I asked and that you replied, truly.

    On a side note LoneStar did reply - fast and friendly - and stated that they were updating their feed over the next few days.

    Thanks again, great week to all!

    Laura

  4. #4
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
    I decide when the pigs fly!
    Rhea's Avatar
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    I see this type of thing happen in situations where a product is no longer carried by BFD. In other words, if a product goes out of stock and presumably the product page is deleted from the site, then the link to that now non-existent page will instead take the visitor to BFD's home page.

    I'd prefer that the URL be maintained with the message, "This product is no longer available. We think you might also like (three similar product offerings.)"

    I don't know when BFD last updated their datafeed. I've seen products available on their site that aren't listed in the feed.

  5. #5
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    Smile
    Quote Originally Posted by Rhea
    I'd prefer that the URL be maintained with the message, "This product is no longer available. We think you might also like (three similar product offerings.)"
    Rhea: That's a great idea! I wonder why more merchants don't listen to their affiliates? A page like you suggest would surely be a win-win-win for all (customer, affiliate and merchant).

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager TFAW.com's Avatar
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    Smartz: You're very welcome. Best of luck.

    Rhea: Great idea. We keep the product record around and change the addtocart button to "SOLD OUT", but don't currently display any suggested alternatives. I'm definitely going to look into pushing alternatives... Defining "similar products" is sometimes not too easy though... Hmm... food for thought.

    Thanks,

    -Dale
    Dale LaFountain, CIO, <a style="color:#c23015; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline;" href="http://www.tfaw.com/">Things From Another World</a> - More Comics. More Toys. More Stuff. More FUN!
    14% base comm / up to 21.5% w/perf incent / 90 return days / parasite free / HUGE datafeed / <a style="color:#c23015; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline;" href="http://www.tfaw.com/Help/Affiliate-Information___168?qt=abw">[b]Join[/b]</a>

  7. #7
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
    I decide when the pigs fly!
    Rhea's Avatar
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    TFAW, identifying similar products would be easy if the datafeed had category-subcategory-category1-category2 type structure.

    For instance, shopper is searching for a "deer antler chandelier," using an example from BFD. If the datafeed has "lighting" in a category, "chandelier" in a different category, and "deer antler" in another different category then to pull up three similar products all you have to do is programmatically identify products with the same variables in the same categories.

    "Deer antler chandelier" would bring up as alternatives, "6 light deer antler chandelier," "8 light deer antler chandelier," and perhaps "deer antler table lamp."

    Sorry, I'm not doing a good job of explaining this. It's early and I haven't had a half pot of coffee yet. Is this making any sense?

    Smartz, some merchants do listen to their affiliates. A couple of weeks ago the AM of one of the indie programs I work with phoned me and picked my brain for over an hour. It's great when merchants and affiliates work together. I suspect there's a lot of that happening behind the scenes, so take heart!

  8. #8
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    August 19th, 2006
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    Regarding Black Forest Decor & Lone Star Datafeeds
    Hi, Laura!

    I'm the affiliate marketing person for Black Forest Decor and Lone Star Western Decor. I hope you have received the emails I have sent regarding our efforts on the datafeeds.

    We have made the corrections to the Lone Star Western Decor Datafeed - I am just awaiting a new upload to the Share A Sale platform before sending out an email to all our affiliates that a new datafeed is available.

    I am very interested in learning more about the affiliate side of the picture from affliates like you. Merchants don't get to see the affiliate interface on sites like Share A Sale and Commission Junction, so I'm kinda in the dark as to how the programs work on the affiliate side. That's why I try to respond quickly to contacts from our affiliates - and try to find answers that are solutions and not just excuses.

    I have to admit that I'm fairly new to affiliate programs - I've been with Black Forest Decor for less than a year. But I want to assure you we are trying to step up the level of contact with affiliates and our commitment to providing our affiliates what they need in order to benefit from being affiliated with our companies.

    Please feel free to share with me the challenges affiliates face in working with merchants. That will provide me a list of goals to work toward in the coming months.

    Cherie Speer
    Affiliate Marketing
    Black Forest Decor
    Lone Star Western Decor

  9. #9
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    Merchants don't get to see the affiliate interface on sites like Share A Sale and Commission Junction, so I'm kinda in the dark as to how the programs work on the affiliate side.
    It would be a good idea for you to set up an affiliate account so that you *can* use the interface the way an affiliate would. Otherwise a lot of what is being asked about might not make sense to you. CJ boots affiliates that don't earn, but they should be asked to set up an account that wouldn't get cut so that you can explore from the affiliate side.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  10. #10
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    August 19th, 2006
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    Thank for suggestion
    That sounds like a good idea. Thanks for the suggestion!

  11. #11
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    August 19th, 2006
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    Datafeed has been updated
    Laura:

    Just a quick message to let you know the datafeed has been updated and reloaded on Lone Star. It took longer than I wanted because we had to double check that the datafeed on Share A Sale was the correct one before announcing the update.

    Thank you for contacting us regarding the problem with the datafeed. Please feel free to contact me with any other concerns.

    Cherie

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