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  1. #1
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    Affiliate Management Software, Hosted, or Network?
    I am looking at all sorts of options to re-launch our affiliate program. Currently, it is an in-house script. I would like to find a solution that works for a product like ours. We are only selling 3 pieces of software with both hosted and license versions. This means we need the ability to track recurring billing. We also want to have direct linking, different commission structures for different clients, etc.

    We first started by looking at:
    Direct Track - They seem great for networks, but are not necessarily a strong option for a company like ours that is only selling 6 products in both CPA and CPS structure.

    MyAffiliateProgram - This company seems like they are at the top of the market when it comes to technology and features, but they want $2495 to set up and a minimum of $500/month or 30% commissions. Seems like they are trying to be a network rather than a hosted solution.

    Now, I have migrated to looking at some software solutions.

    Here is what I need:
    2-tiered (or multi-tiered)
    Incentive or differentiated commission structure
    Auto/Manual approval
    Direct linking
    Creative serving, and auto generated code
    Clean interface for affiliates/administrator
    Easy payment option: export to .csv, check cutting, Paypal or EFT
    Ability to add custom fields to sign up process
    Integration with recurring billing
    Pay per sale % and per lead options
    Direct email/auto emails
    Ability to segment according to performance level
    When sign up
    Password recovery
    Send out new ads
    Newsletter (weekly)
    Javascript 1x1 image tracking or something similar to track sales/leads
    Drop down, graphical reporting for affiliates
    Payment history and reporting with easy integration with financial software
    Easy affiliate lookup/search

    So, I have looked more seriously at:
    Post Affiliate Pro
    JROX

    Now, here is my question. First off, does anyone have experience running an affiliate program for software? Our packages run anywhere from $19/month to $20,000... so a Network is out of the question (at least for now). Second, out of all of these options, which one would you choose and why? And, did I miss a program or hosted solution that is better than the ones I listed?

    Any advice would be helpful at this point.

  2. #2
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    Someone sent me a PM, but apparently, I do not have enough posts to use the PM system.

    I look forward to any response.

  3. #3
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    Why not stick with your in-house solution? One way or another, the recurring payment info must be transferred from your accounting solution to your affiliate solution, and in-house seems likely to work, especially if you have programming staff to work on this.

    From your requirements, I suspect that the most serious issue is going to be "Integration with recurring billing."

    I know that many sites in the gambling and adult industries can handle recurring billing, so you might look "over there" -- but my sense is that the affiliate interfaces are kludgier on that site of the web.

    I'm not sure I understand what you mean when you say that a "network" won't work because of your price points ($20 to $20,000). Most networks charge a fee based on a percentage of what your affiliates earn (for example, ShareASale charges 20% of the amount you pay the affiliate). I suppose a key issue would be "pre-funding" your account and maintaining it with an amount adequate to pay if your affiliates sold your top-end software.

    I worked with a single-product software merchant back in 1999, when an in-house solution was certainly the only viable option, but I haven't worked in that space since then, so I don't know what's new there.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    Why not stick with your in-house solution? One way or another, the recurring payment info must be transferred from your accounting solution to your affiliate solution, and in-house seems likely to work, especially if you have programming staff to work on this.
    Hi Mark,

    Sorry about the confusion. The software that we sell is anywhere from $19/month to $20,000 per year. That's why I was saying that 30% of commissions straight off the top to a Network such as CJ or Linkshare is out of the question.
    Thanks.

  5. #5
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    chelzcer wrote: > "The software that we sell is anywhere from $19/month to $20,000 per year. That's why I was saying that 30% of commissions straight off the top to a Network such as CJ or Linkshare is out of the question." <

    I'm sorry, but I suspect that you don't understand how these folks charge -- as far as I know, nobody charges "30% straight off the top."

    I would never recommend CJ or LinkShare -- for a lot of reasons -- but I'm happy with ShareASale since I launched a program on SAS for QuoteProducts last year.

    SAS charges merchants 20% of the affiliate commission, so if you sell a product, you'd pay your affiliate whatever amont you're going to pay them, and then an additional 20% of that commission amount to SAS.

    For example, QuoteProducts pays a 15% commission to our affiliates. If a consumer clicks an affiliate link to QuoteProducts.com and places a $50.00 order, we pay the affiliate $7.50. ShareASale then charges us a 20% fee on the amount we paid the affiliate, or $1.50, so our total out-of-pocket marketing cost is $9 on that $50 order.

    Quite frankly, we chose our "marketing cost" amount by figuring out what we thought we could afford to pay -- 18% -- and then we set the affiliate commission at 15% so that the total cost, including SAS fees, would be 18%.

    If you pay such a high affiliate commission that you believe 20% is just not reasonable, then you should bring your data to the network and ask for a lower rate -- but only if you think your proposal makes economic sense for the network. For example, if you pay 50% commissions on each $20,000 sale (so the affiliate earns $10,000), you might reasonably suggest that the network should be happy with just $500 instead of $2,000 per sale. Maybe they'll agree, or maybe not.

    As I mentioned, it probably will make sense to keep your program entirely in-house, but don't make the decision based on a misunderstanding of the network fees.

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager Textbooks's Avatar
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    we use MyAp9 and have been happy with it. The main reason we chose them was that we didn't want to pay our network provider based on how much we pay our affiliates. We can now afford to pay more to our merchants.

    The $500 fee is minimal and the set up is no big deal when you look at it across the life.

    The biggest deal with any of the smaller networks is you really have to recruit our own affiliates. We have gotten some quality affiliates through Kolimbo but the big ones were people we went after.

    A good way to keep your monthly fees down on MyAp is to not track impressions. Those rack up your numbers quickly.

  7. #7
    Full Member asr_guy's Avatar
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    There's about 55 solutions out there that we've looked at. Some have those features you list, but there's usually trade-offs and no one has all of the 200+ features we've seen.

    Regards,
    Peter
    [URL=http://www.typoassassin.com/?utm_source=abestweb&utm_medium=forum&utm_content=p&utm_campaign=sig]Are these affiliates stealing from you?[/URL]

  8. #8
    Affiliate Network Rep Kim Salvino's Avatar
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    January 17th, 2007
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    I can tell you that my programs use MyAffiliateProgram and I'm quite happy with it.

    Good luck with your ultimate decision.
    Kim Salvino, Client Services Director, Performance Horizon Group
    Reach me at kim.salvino(at)performancehorizon.com or on (443) 617-4036

  9. #9
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    Yes, I like MyAffiliateProgram, but for our purposes, the minimum of $500 per month is just not feasible. Our company is not looking to pay network fees such as those that LS and CJ command. Once our program is successful in-house, we may consider moving to some platform like CJ or Linkshare, but since our affiliates are in such a niche market, it may not make sense to ever join a network.

    Does anyone have experience using DirectTrack as a merchant? I like many of DT's features, and their solutions have been around for more than a decade. But, I would like to hear current feedback about their service from a merchant rather than a network perspective.

    Thanks so much!

  10. #10
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    I understand that it is not "30% straight off the top," in the most literal translation. Excuse the confusing semantics.

    Neworks want 30% of the commission paid. And Mark, as you pointed out - this could add up fast. 30% of 20% on $10,000 is not worth it for the type of business we are in.

  11. #11
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    As an affiliate I do not like using Direct Track, that is something you want to consider as well. I do not think Direct Track is what you want for a 3 product affiliate program.

    You need to reconsider what network fees get you. In a trusted network you get affiliates that won't work with an indy that they are unfamiliar with, and you get access to tools and affiliates that you won't get outside of a network. You give up getting direct affiliate information in the beginning, but as your affiliates start to trust you they will email you directly and give you their direct contact information.

    There are many other reasons that using a network can be beneficial, but I'll leave it to you to make a call to Shareasale and find out the rest
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  12. #12
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  13. #13
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    loxly, What don't you like about DT? Is that it is an indy program? And, why do you think DT is not good for a limited number of products? Do you have any other suggestions besides the big networks? Your help is sure appreciated.

  14. #14
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    As an affiliate it is hard to use to get links and creatives. The interface is confusing and not aimed at web based publishers. If you want more info, feel free to IM me for my phone number (I prefer Yahoo over the others).
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  15. #15
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    loxly64, I just sent you a message via MSN. If you are online, I would like to hear about your experience with DT. Thanks, Chelsea

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by chelzcer
    loxly64, I just sent you a message via MSN. If you are online, I would like to hear about your experience with DT. Thanks, Chelsea
    That isn't my msn, that is me on Yahoo. If you added me as a yahoo contact through MSN it didn't work... I didn't get the request or message. I will go open MSN, (my LEAST fav IM, lol, and I am merlinscamelot at hotmail.com there. (DON'T USE THAT EMAIL ADDRESS TO EMAIL ME AT, for those that see this message in the future , I do NOT check that email address....)
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

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