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July 28th, 2002, 07:07 PM #1
- Join Date
- January 18th, 2005
I was interested in a merchant, when I checked out the site, it had a toll free number *prominently* displayed on *all* pages.
This has really put me off, as they seem to be trying to take my commission away from me.
Anyone have any comments on this?
July 28th, 2002, 07:35 PM #2
July 28th, 2002, 07:42 PM #3
I've made it a point not to use merchants that do this. They are just taking advantage of us!!!
July 28th, 2002, 07:42 PM #4
- Join Date
- January 17th, 2005
Agreed - BUT....
It is absolutely imperative for any merchant, online or off, to have toll-free numbers, etc. as part of their marketing scheme. Anything convenience for the customer will help to increase sales.
Certainly some merchants use these to siphon off commission payment obligations, but there are also honest merchants who just don't understand how this impacts their affiliate campaign.
This is where the affiliate must step in to inform and educate the merchant, and find a way to work around it.
Just my two cents.
July 28th, 2002, 08:43 PM #5
- Join Date
- January 17th, 2005
If the number is displayed on top, in HUGE font, chances are some people will take advantage of it and use to place an order instead of placing one online(and you won't get any commissions). If the number is in small/reasonable font, chances are you will still get orders. Will you still lose a few? Probably, but you will never know [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]
And yes, as Deelz points out, if you are still interested in that particular merchant, email or call and tell them what you think about this.
July 28th, 2002, 09:49 PM #6
It seems to me that the appropriate place for toll free numbers is the "Contact Us" page for Customer Service purposes. Any merchant that plasters its toll free number conspicuously on every page, wants to encourage call-in orders.
If a merchant is serious about wanting to develop a good base of affiliates, they shouldn't blantantly undermind the process.
July 29th, 2002, 01:11 AM #7
Given a choice between merchants marketing the same item, with the same ease of navigation of their site, the toll free number plays a huge roll in the decision of which merchant to market for me.
If you're stuck wanting to market something and your one decent looking merchant has a toll free, you can try it anyway. As stated previously by eloquent posters in this thread, the toll free number positioning (the most annoying is the one larger than the "Checkout" link in the shopping cart) can make a huge difference.
That said, I let up on how strict I am about the toll free number without ignoring it as a serious factor.
Another sales killer is the "free catalog". Far worse than the toll free IMHO, since an online shopper is often the sort who does well with catalogs (doesn't need to touch and see the goods).
July 29th, 2002, 02:55 AM #8
From a merchant's persective, having a toll free number on all of the pages is a good thing because it does increase sales for them. Yes, it does take away affiliate commissions, but remember that most merchants got in the business selling products and not to just make affiliates money. Yes, there should be a way to track orders over the phone and I hope that soon some smart merchant will come up with a way to track it and all the major affiliates would come running to them because they are honest. Until this happens I think as affiliates we need to just bear with it and find the merchant the does best for you and look out for yourself. If a merchant can place 10% more orders by having a phone number placed on all the pages, then you bet that they will do it. I personally think that they should.
July 29th, 2002, 03:00 AM #9
Toll free numbers and pop-ups requesting for email address
are affiliate killers.
are we allowed to post the name of the merchants? i think the following merchants have pop-ups.
July 29th, 2002, 03:41 AM #10
I completely disagree
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Yes, it does take away affiliate commissions, but remember that most merchants got in the business selling products and not to just make affiliates money. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
The real story is the merchant wasn't able to sell enough products on their own and desperately need affiliate marketing to step it up! The phone # is nothing more than a crooked way to thieve from the affiliates. There would be no merchants if it weren't for affiliates.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Yes, there should be a way to track orders over the phone and I hope that soon some smart merchant will come up with a way to track it and all the major affiliates would come running to them because they are honest. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Well at least here we are on the same side however this already does exist so the truth is there are no honest merchants with their toll free numbers plastered on every page.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Until this happens I think as affiliates we need to just bear with it and find the merchant the does best for you and look out for yourself.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
We do hehe
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
If a merchant can place 10% more orders by having a phone number placed on all the pages, then you bet that they will do it. I personally think that they should. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Yeah because the exposure to that phone number is affiliate driven! Might just as well screw them right?
The fact is that there would be very few if any merchants selling much of anything if it weren't for their affiliates. We are the force that drives the sales and when merchant side steps it's sales force they are crooks.
Nothing personal just disagreeing with you. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
[ 07-29-2002: Message edited by: Heyder ]
July 29th, 2002, 04:05 AM #11
- Join Date
- January 18th, 2005
I have sent them an email asking if the commission is still payable if the customer calls the toll free number.
If they reply yes then I will ask how they track this and make sure I get my commission.
If they say no, I will ask why they feel I should still send customers to them when they use the toll free number so prominently and take the customers that way.
Good point about the catalogues as well.
July 29th, 2002, 04:14 AM #12
I agree with Heyder
Toll free numbers do not attract customers.
Affiliates do that.
But instead of giving the sales commission to the affiliate, the sales becomes non-commissionable because of the toll free number.
July 29th, 2002, 06:20 AM #13
One of my merchants used to convert really well for me. Then they modified their page and added an 800 number in the top left hand corner.
It's not big, but it does stand out due to the background color and they way they've designed the page. Now I'm lucky to get one sale a month from them!
Coincidence? I guess I need to write them and ask what's up.
July 29th, 2002, 07:08 AM #14
- Join Date
- January 17th, 2005
Question from the merchant side. Is it totally incorrect to place a toll-free number on the site. You cannot expect a company not to have one, however, there are ways around it. One, as websurfer pointed out was to place it somewhere not so obvious like on the contact page. Secondly, you can offer discounts on web purchases vs telephone orders. This way, a customer can find out what they need to know from customer service, and then place their order on-line based on that information. Also, it doesn't hurt to be sure that the sales staff is aware of affiliate marketing, and they inquire about who/what site referred them.
July 29th, 2002, 08:15 AM #15
I'm going against 90% of the grain here but usually I couldn't care less. They can have a humongous 800# on every page and it won't help them, if the pitch is right.
Whether they WANT TO divert sales isn't as much of a concern as whether they can, effectively divert sales. A lot of places *try*--few succeed.
Plus, I have seen that there is a certain degree of 800# visibility that HELPS conversions. Customers are leery when the contact info is *too* hidden--that seems shady. The "hidden, or nonexistant" 800 number actually hurts sales!
But ideally, it shouldn't be too prominant, either. Just visible enough so that leery customers know it's there without ridiculous amounts of searching, but not actively competing.
The trick to selling over prominent 800#s is simple: The bigger the 800 number, the more you tell the viewer how INCREDIBLY CONVENIENT (or FAST, if speed is the issue) it is to ORDER THAT PRODUCT ONLINE!
Once the technique is perfected, the merchant can be *named* after an 800 number and the people will still buy online, with decent conversion ratios.
It takes practice. I took on one about a year ago as a "challenge project" and practiced on them. They not only had an 800 number, but a PITCH on their site aimed at getting people to call instead!
I didn't go into that affiliation with the expectation of making money right away, since I knew that that one would take some doing to get conversions from. I did it because I wanted to see if I could beat their game. But it was well worth the practice time--now 99% of these other 800 number places have no chance!
And yes, I did eventually beat their game and got lots of sales from there once it was beaten. At least before they degenerated into outright fraud and started reversing half the transactions--at which point they were dumped from my sites (although they still rot in my account, untouched for a year...)
July 29th, 2002, 08:24 AM #16
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>The trick to selling over prominent 800#s is simple: The bigger the 800 number, the more you tell the viewer how INCREDIBLY CONVENIENT (or FAST, if speed is the issue) it is to ORDER THAT PRODUCT ONLINE! <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
I was under the impression that we weren't really supposed to say anthing like "order this item online only, etc."
Back when Amazon had the used book escapade, where affiliates didn't get paid for used book sales, I did place a message on my book pages about ordering only new books, and supporting the author and publishers by doing so.
That did seem to work, as new book sales went up immediately. If it's acceptable to put a blurb on my page before the link is clicked, I might try that as well with the merchants with 800 numbers.
I hate the "support our advertisers and support this site" stuff, seems so desparate. I'm not sure it really works, either.
July 29th, 2002, 08:25 AM #17
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I did it because I wanted to see if I could beat their game. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
This is the real secret to affiliate marketing: treat it like a video game. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]
Oh do I have one challenge ahead. A merchant recently left, after it took me days to find the products I wanted to market. Finally found another merchant with the same line, but they put the buy link in some red text ABOVE the product, with a big old "email us or call" link to the right where I would logically look. But I sense a good duel in the making, now! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]
July 29th, 2002, 09:39 AM #18
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I was under the impression that we weren't really supposed to say anthing like "order this item online only, etc."~Andy<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
First let me clarify that Amazon's terms are different than Network terms in some ways, and what can be done at networks is not always allowed at Amazon.
Although what I am talking about SHOULD be okay with Amazon, when done in the manner I was meaning.
The method I'm talking about is NOT to say to "only" order online, etc.
Just HEAVILY stress how convenient and/or fast it is to order online.
Nowhere do you say "only". Also do NOT come right out and say that offline is slower, or less convenient, or anything else about it! Simply don't mention the other options, or give "orders" like "Help support authors".
Here's the psychology behind what I am getting at:
There is a natural tendency of people to ASSUME that when one way is talked about very highly, that the other ways are inferior. What the 800# Anti Diversion Technique does is capitalize on that trait. When you say the ONLINE way is soooo great, viewers just ASSUME the offline way sucks! You merely allow them to go on thinking that way... without ever saying it or blatantly telling people not to order offline!
(For a Large Number)
"Enjoy the convenience and speed of online ordering when you use the order form at MerchantName's site! There is no need to get offline to order Product X..."
That snippet is an example I just thought up for this post (I use different words on actual pages) but you get the idea. (How long you go on with that line of writing, depends on the size of the number! Sometimes 3 line'll do--some places need 2 paragraphs of that.)
As you can see, you're just hyping up the ONLINE option, without actually putting down the other options--or actually telling people not to use the other options!
So it's legal according to any *reasonable* terms and conditions [there's always some clod place with Unreasonable Ts and Cs but I don't know of any against *that*--yet. Who knows what doob someplace may smoke tomorrow, LOL!]. And as long as you believe what you're writing is true, it's *ethical*, too!
(For the record, I DO think it's more convenient and faster to order online...no waiting on hold and no getting offline. Getting offline's a PITA when the catalog's ONline, and will therefore become unusable if I hang up to use my one phone line to order! Still, I save that pitch for the diversionary merchants.)
July 29th, 2002, 09:42 AM #19
- Join Date
- January 18th, 2005
- St Clair Shores MI.
Do prominent 800#'s kill off affiliate sales? You bet! My best CJ merchant for 2 years was Bonsai Boys of NY. Since the first of this year they have a 800# banner top and bottom of all pages and I'm lucky to get one sale per month from them. Live tree delivery and bonsai questions just begs for shoppers to call them and bypass commissions. They clam up when challenged saying few of the thousands of people calling in order by phone. What a crock of crapolla! Same traffic to them at 90% less revenue!
July 29th, 2002, 10:02 AM #20
- Join Date
- January 17th, 2005
I know the 1-800 is a big bugaboo for some folks, but I don't spend any time worrying about it. When I was in the corporate world (we had no affiliate program), we had the 1-800 number on every page and people still couldn't find the blasted thing. We put it on the contact page in huge font and they still couldn't find it.
So I don't worry about it too much because of that experience.
I also don't worry about it because personal Affiliate Experience tells me, if it's hurting my sales, it sure as heck isn't noticeable.
wonderfulbuys.com has the BIGGEST 1-800 number I have EVER seen on a page (and every page). But I've sent them over 10,000 clicks and they convert at 1:31 for me. They communicate well with their affiliates, they do things for affiliates like "double your percentage for the month of July", they let you know when a product is going out of stock, they notify affiliates of special sales ahead of time, and I've found them extremeley pleasant and genuinely Affiliate-concerned in the few email exchanges I've had with them. I wouldn't trade them for any other "seen on tv" product merchant.
So, no, I don't care about 1-800 numbers.
July 29th, 2002, 10:15 AM #21
- Join Date
- January 18th, 2005
Wayder - I'm glad you brought that up-
Just a reminder to everyone that just because there is a phone number all over the site- it does not always (although it is often) mean that
1. It will be on your pages as an affiliate
2. You will not recieve credit
For example, we work with a couple travel affilaite programs. One shows a number with a discount code attached that the customer is asked for as an option. As a default, we do not show a number at all. All of our programs also offer custom numbers to affiliates who have proven their ability to push sales through. These numbers are autosourced to the affiliate- so they don't look like an affiliate number at all.
Just remember to ask the questions before passing up a potentially good program!
July 29th, 2002, 10:31 AM #22
Thanks everyone for the insight, I'm going to try elaborating on how convenient online ordering is and see if it makes a difference.
The pages involved get quite a few views every day, so it shouldn't take long to see if this will work for me. I was under the impression that people don't like to read that much when they're ready to buy, so the extra verbage wouldn't do any good.
Amazon is now paying a little for used book sales, so that is no longer an issue there. I might try the same build up on placing items directly in the cart, as Amazon pays more if the item is immediately put in the cart, as opposed to clicking around first and then placing the item in the cart.
I've never really been big on providing guidance to ordering, as I thought most people would know how to do it, or wouldn't bother reading about it.
I'll let you know what happens!
July 29th, 2002, 11:46 AM #23
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Heyder:
The real story is the merchant wasn't able to sell enough products on their own and desperately need affiliate marketing to step it up! The phone # is nothing more than a crooked way to thieve from the affiliates. There would be no merchants if it weren't for affiliates.[/QB]<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Actually that is not necassarily true. I worked for a merchant that had about 8 or so sites on CJ. Recently all but about 3 were taken off. The reason is a lot of people are scared to order online and prefer to speak with a real person. We used to get complaints from customers saying that they couldn't find our phone number. Once we put up the number our sales increased, but we weren't making enough profit to be very succesful so we cut out a few of our affiliate programs. I am just saying that customers tend to feel safer buying when they see the 1800 number regardless of wether the use that or order online.Just having if up helps to increase sales, and not just phone sales. Our customers surveys revealed that them seeing the number put them more at ease to order online. Just my opinion that we shouldn't freak out when the merchants put up a phone number, I think that they should. However, maybe us affiliates should create a system that we can present to merchants to help track the phone orders. I heard that Dell I think does that. Maybe I am wrong.
July 29th, 2002, 11:53 AM #24
@Andy, only the books have the potential for 15% if immediately put in the shopping cart. All other items are at 5% with a ceiling of $10. Just clarifying.
IMHO, life is MUCH better not even thinking about that 15%. Then when you get one, it's like a special prize. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]
July 29th, 2002, 12:05 PM #25
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Once we put up the number our sales increased, but we weren't making enough profit to be very succesful so we cut out a few of our affiliate programs.~drumminlogan<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
There are affiliate programs that program in a tracking number as an "extension" which is given when calling the toll free number, thus tracking to the affiliate. You might take a look at Ken Evoy's order forms for one, but there are others.
There is no real reason that a toll free number can't track affiliate traffic as well. It obviously gives customers confidence (I'd prefer knowing ahead of time that the toll free number will appear on my cc bill in case of trouble), but there is no reason for it to reduce commissions.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>The reason is a lot of people are scared to order online and prefer to speak with a real person.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
But an affiliate drove that traffic, why didn't the affiliate get paid commissions?
And Pulllleeeeez don't tell my visitors who seem to be miraculously not in the "lot". They are happily ordering lots of great things online.
I was highly offended when I found just the right gift to send Gramma from a merchant in her area and they insisted I call in the order. I emailed and said "get PayPal at least!". I did end up ordering by phone (no, they don't have an affiliate program), but only reluctantly. I am one of those don't-make-me-get-off-line-to-do-my-shopping folks. Except for my groceries, since I don't have online ordering in my area. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]
Okay, so which merchants did you work with? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]