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  1. #1
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    ShareASale vs. Independent Program - Seeking Advice
    We are starting a new affiliate program for our website. Without getting into detail, our product is a membership, and we are looking to pay $20 bounties on $99 memberships.

    I am debating now whether webmasters/affiliates, would prefer that I use ShareASale and pay out a $16.50 bounty, or have a direct program and pay a $20 bounty.

    If we did the program ourselves, it is likely that payouts might take longer.

    Is the independence of ShareASale and the fact that they are dedicated to making payments and handling all issues in a timely manner worthe the $3.50 difference in bounty to affiliates? Do you think we would have more success with an independent program, or by signing up with ShareASale?

    I appreciate your feedback.
    Last edited by JakeWalker; October 30th, 2006 at 01:58 PM. Reason: title

  2. #2
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    I'd say it would depend on many factors (major ones being the popularity and recognition of your brand and the ability to support an "indie" & recruit for it)...

    Geno

  3. #3
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    Well we certainly want to develop our brand to become more known, but initially, we will be doing a lot of brand development work.

  4. #4
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    What about supporting the indie? Do you have the resources (time, staff, finances) for it?

    G.

  5. #5
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    I think so. I mean, at the end of the day, it's just a matter of writing some additional code and handling 1099's at the end of the year. That being said, I'm tempted to go with the SAS program, because it will free up time for me to work on other efforts.

    I'm just wondering how big a hit I take in the affiliate world with a lower % bounty (vs. the bump I get with 3rd party verification, network of existing affiliates, etc.)

  6. #6
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeWalker
    I'm just wondering how big a hit I take in the affiliate world with a lower % bounty (vs. the bump I get with 3rd party verification, network of existing affiliates, etc.)
    These threads may be of help to you:

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=60361

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=69741

    SaS is great not only in taking away the headache of tracking and check writing, but also in offering you opportunities of advertising your program to their pool of affiliates. They are also an extremely reputable network (mainly for its transparency and strive to keep the parasites out), and you want to be aware of this when making your decision, Jake...

    Geno

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeWalker
    I think so. I mean, at the end of the day, it's just a matter of writing some additional code and handling 1099's at the end of the year.
    If that is all you plan to do with your affiliate program, then you could really use the publicity that SAS would provide.

    FYI - A successful affiliate program is more than just putting up affiliate links and paying affiliates. It takes some work on your part or with someone who can dedicate some time to it. I strongly suggested you research this at ABW and I think you will understand what I am talking about.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  8. #8
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    Running an inhouse program or a network program is more than writing some code and issuing 1099's. You should be able to justify paying out the same amount to affiliates via Shareasale as you would for an indie program, the network fees there are low and should be equivilent or lower than paying someone to do the work inhouse. You should also look into an opm or inhouse dedicated affiliate manager to support either program, neither will work without an agressive recruitment campaign and support from an established opm with help affiliates with the "trust" issue, which is one of the issues you will see come up repeatedly in discussions of SAS (or any network) vs indie for an unknown brand.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  9. #9
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    Again I'll post "DO BOTH"

  10. #10
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    Adam is right -- doing both is preferable to choosing one or the other. Over the past decade, as a consultant, I shifted my opinion from "in-house only" to "direct program, plus maybe an additional program through one of the networks," to "launch the program first with a network partner, then expand to a direct program and possibly other networks also."

    Be careful in evaluating the cost of an "in-house" program -- the costs (in both time and money) can be substantial. For my current client, I suggested launching the affiliate program through ShareASale, and then adding a "direct" program next year, and we will consider "other networks" after launching the direct program.

    My experience has been that "merely" being a ShareASale merchant is NOT going to bring you much attention or meaningful affiliate enrollments. (We have not paid SAS for premium listings or announcements.)

    We have not signed up ANY meaningful affiliates whom we did not directly recruit -- so merely "being in the network" has not yet brought us any affiliates that have proven to be effective at selling our products. I'm certainly hopeful that some of our existing affiliates may yet prove effective, and that we may find other effective affiliates through SAS -- but my experience is that 90% of affiliates, and of effective affiliates, come from direct recruitment.

  11. #11
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    My experience has been that "merely" being a ShareASale merchant is NOT going to bring you much attention or meaningful affiliate enrollments. (We have not paid SAS for premium listings or announcements.)
    That is why, Mark. Some of our best affiliates have come to us through a Featured Program of the Week spot...

    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    We have not signed up ANY meaningful affiliates whom we did not directly recruit...
    My experience is similar only by half... My most effective affiliates are pretty evently split between those that I've recruited through SaS & forum campaigns and direct recruitment. So I would definitely not underestimate the internal network's program announcement and advertising options too.

    Geno

  12. #12
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    Direct recruiting being via forums here also, as Geno pointed out above.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  13. #13
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    Thank you all for your feedback, I appreciate it.

    To me, 20% seemed like a high price to pay to SaS to run the logistics of the program, but perhaps it is not. Still, dealing with the bureaucratic part of the affiliate program does seem like it could cost time and money. From what I am reading here, whether I'm indy or SaS, I will need to spend time developing affiliates and marketing the program. As someone with only so many hours in a day, perhaps offloading the bureaucracy will be worth it. We are going to have a discussion inside our group and come to a decision soon.

    For those who suggested doing both an internal and external program, how do you judge who gets the bounty when there are referrals from both programs? That is, what if someone comes to me with a referral link in my indy program, and I place a 30 day cookie; then, that person visits and thinks about it, only to encounter another ad for our service from an SaS affiliate. SaS is going to pay out to the SaS affiliate, but is that fair? How do you manage multiple programs on the same site?

  14. #14
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Not everyone votes in favor of "both". It takes experience to manage both so that no harm is done in either - bad behaving affiliates in one can affect the other. There are advantages to each both and not - but if this is at all new to your team ("We are starting a new affiliate program for our website"), go with SAS and later, if the need becomes acute, consider an indie / in-house. From what I know from merchant consulting that I do, you seem to be underestimating the workload / issues / problems / policing an in-house indie will require. Starting with just SAS, would hardly be a handicap in my opinion. Starting with 2 hands in the cookie jar, given that this is new, will bring you several headaches you don't yet see coming.

    Good luck.

  15. #15
    Affiliate Manager rcampbell's Avatar
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    In a related issue. We have just purchased direct track which I guess would kind of be considered going indie. We have looked at both linkshare and CJ. SAS is new to us. In our discussions with Linkshare they said it would take 4-6 weeks to get our affiliate program up and running with Linkshare. Our product is highly seasonal and 4-6 weeks would put us in a bad position to make money sense with Linkshare. Does anyone know how long SAS takes to get going for a newbie?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcampbell
    Does anyone know how long SAS takes to get going for a newbie?
    It's just a few days -- I think our program was up and "live" within 3 business days after we signed up. I think the most frequent problem (in any system, including LS, CJ, and SAS) is getting the tracking working, if there are multiple people involved (a key issue: if the programmer who needs to insert the tracking code into your shopping-cart solution doesn't report directly to you, there may be delays).

  17. #17
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    As an affiliate, I feel that many independent programs are poorly handled as if the company is clueless or disingenuous.

    I would rather take a chance on a SAS merchant who is making a solid commitment to learn more about affiliate marketing. Going with SAS would cut down on your learning curve, too.

    Setting up your own program means that you may be stretched too thin. Most likely your affiliate marketing program would be low on your priority list and it would flounder from lack of attention.

  18. #18
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    I probably wouldn't even look at you if you are independent. SAS offers consolidated checks so the risk of time for me is less. Even if you do not sale well, I know I will get paid for everything that does sale. So, I am more willing to try a merchant.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  19. #19
    Full Member clyderose's Avatar
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    But SAS can turn out to be an expensive affair as well, especially if you pay high commissions to your affiliates!
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  20. #20
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clyderose
    But SAS can turn out to be an expensive affair as well, especially if you pay high commissions to your affiliates!
    We may need a new poll like this one to determine what affiliates would prefer...

    G.

  21. #21
    Full Member clyderose's Avatar
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    hmmm quite a few supporters for Independant programs........hmmm makes sense......especially when you have to pay an affiliate a bonus.......u pay the network 20% of that is sort of ridiculous!
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  22. #22
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clyderose
    hmmm quite a few supporters for Independant programs........hmmm makes sense......especially when you have to pay an affiliate a bonus.......u pay the network 20% of that is sort of ridiculous!
    Clyde, that poll I've referred to is almost 39 months old!!

    I've just started a new one here. It'd be interesting to see the feedback...

    Geno

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcampbell
    In a related issue. We have just purchased direct track which I guess would kind of be considered going indie.
    Just FYI, I had an incident in the last couple of months were at merchant with Direct Track had tracking and reporting problems for three days before I could get a hold of the merchant and have them look into it. When I asked what they found out from Direct Track about it, they said they had no idea what caused it. Something like this, losts commissions and lost trust, can really hurt a program. If you run an independent program, be sure you are available every day of the week for problems like this.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  24. #24
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    losts commissions and lost trust
    Yep. It is much harder to build trust as an independant. You may have more flexibility, and pay less in the end, or be able to offer better commissions, but all the problems you see here at ABW are about trust...
    Jason Rosenbaum
    Affiliate Manager
    MINDsprinting

  25. #25
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    I tend to agree with the posts that say do both - but I definitely think you should get one up and and running before you dive into the other (unless you or someone on your staff is experienced with a lot of free time). The company I'm working for has an in-house program that has been around for several years, and there are some definite big earners that never seem to make a peep. The in-house program pays much better commissions (more like 25-40%, depending on the product), but of course, there's always that trust issue.

    SAS is nice because it puts you in front of a lot of new faces. We've gotten a bunch of affiliates, but it's going to take some time and energy to build up any kind of volume. It's a little frustrating, considering how well the in-house program does. Unfortunately, most of the products have fairly low retail values (most between $15-25, with our SAS orders averaging around $60 so far), so I think that turns off a lot of people who only go for the huge per transaction payouts.

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