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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager
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    How important is affiliate recruting?
    We are a smaller company and we are currently using Shareasale. It has worked well for us to this point, however, as a company we haven't done any affiliate recruiting. We currently have 600 affiliates. Can this number be raised? Where are the most efficient places to advertise our affiliate program to further recruitment?

  2. #2
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    Affiliate recruiting is absolutely crucial to most affiliate programs, especially in the past few years.

    Even webmasters whose web sites are related to your products, and who are already participating with other merchants at ShareASale, are unlikely to learn about your program. There is just too much stuff fighting for their attention. Of course, there are many other webmasters who aren't yet working with ShareASale, and your program is essentially invisible to them unless they stumble across it with a clever web search.

    So the solution is to recruit: identify specific web sites that are related to your products, and other web sites which you have determined will drive a reasonable level of sales; track down the contact information for those sites (don't EVER use a "scraper" but instead have a human being check every web site). Don't solicit non-profit web sites, and you probably won't want to solicit sites that carry no advertising.

    Do NOT delegate recruiting to untrained staff (or worse, to offshore folks who can't communicate effectively in English). Absolutely, positively, do NOT pay anyone "per solicitation" or "per new affiliate" as this will always cause spamming.

    After you've solicited a few thousand webmasters, you'll discover that emailing just doesn't work very well any more. So your next step will be to identify a phone number or physical mailing address, and call or write to the affiliate "the old-fashioned way."

    There are no guarantees, but my experience is that only 10% or less of affiliates sign up because they "found you in the network," and more than 80% of "real" affiliates (those who actually post links) will come from your recruiting effort. My experience is that more than 90% of affiliate sales will come from affiliates you've recruited.

    Try searching for "recruiting" on this forum and see what comes up -- there have been many discussions, all concluding pretty much the same thing.

    If you are unwilling or unable to do meaningful recruiting in-house, there are a number of "outsourced program managers" who could handle recruiting (or even management of your entire affiliate program) for a fee and/or for a share of affiliate-driven profit.

    I'm currently working on a new project as an affiliate, and I've just determined that there are more than 2,000 active merchant programs run through ShareASale. Out of those 2,000 active merchants, more than 450 provide a product datafeed with 10 or more products; I suspect that those merchants represent more than 90% or more of all affiliate sales through ShareASale.

    Of course, there are many thousands more merchants that use other technology solutions to operate affiliate programs.

    With all that competition, you need to make sure your program is well-structured and that your web site doesn't contain "obstacles" that will cause potential affiliates to look elsewhere. (Things like an 800 number on the home page, broken links, hidden shipping info, and a zillion other issues.)

  3. #3
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Can I make a suggestion - and you're free to toss is out...

    600 affs is GOOD!

    And since they're SAS affs, that's even better.

    My suggestion is to work more closely with your current affs - approach each one individually - to see what can be done to improve everyone's bottom line.

    Getting more then 600 - IMO - is really just throwing sheet against the wall and hoping something sticks. Again, "develop" your current base into "super-affiliates".

  4. #4
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    hello bfree74,

    Very well explained and detailed info provided by Mark. There are spammers and horror stories out there to stay away from so he's 100% correct on his suggestions!

    Also Billy is on point on that 600 is great. If you have 600 means they joined your program because they found something or products of interest to them on your store. Sometimes it takes a while to get them all active, so I am sure they joined but just have not had a chance yet.

    Do as Billy says:
    "My suggestion is to work more closely with your current affs - approach each one individually - to see what can be done to improve everyone's bottom line"

    The next step you have now taken, promoting and letting partners know of you on ABW

    Welcome to ABW

  5. #5
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    Billy's point is well-taken: make sure you are serving and exploiting your current affiliates well. Too often, merchants stop paying attention once the affiliate has "signed up," but it's crucial to move beyond mere registration to "activation" (posting links) and optimization.

    While I agree that 600 affiliates is a lot (certainly it's more than most merchants will acquire), it's likely that the vast majority have never posted a link for your program, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that only one or two dozen of those affiliates have ever generated a transaction.

    Common sense can usually help you to separate the affiliates with potential from those who aren't likely to drive sales.

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager
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    Roughly 75 out of the 600 have generated commissions. Do you think it is worth it to go after the other 500 more aggressively (we actually sent out a newsletter today) or try for new affiliates that will contribute more to our organization.

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager
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    Another quick question ... we are considering switching over to Commission Junction. Is it okay to have more than one affiliate network or should we just stick with one?

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Why switch? If you have not been active with your program, switching or adding networks would not add much to your program. You might see a little rise in affiliate sales, but you'd soon be back here asking the same questions.

    I suggest staying at SAS and develop your affiliate program first before trying other networks. Many of the OPM's here, including me, can provide consulting services and/or affiliate manager services. Investigate the possibilities before spending more money at another network.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    bfree74,

    As a moderator here, I deleted your other posts in the other network areas here at ABW. You are asking the same question over and over, which is considered poor forum etiquette, plus you are asking in network threads where you do not have an affiliation with them. Sorry, but needed to delete those before you got carried away and before people started responding.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  10. #10
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    Billy beat me to it, you definitely need to work with those existing 600 affiliates. Changing networks is a bad idea if you are not currently working with those current affiliates. How old is your affiliate program and do you send out regular newsletters and have datafeeds and/or other creatives and tools for your affiliates to use? Do you have a blog to communicate with them? Is your inhouse staff contacting and working with your affiliate base to get them active? Have you tried offering incentives to get them active?

    Doing all these things in your current network, before you expand to a second, is a much better plan, and more cost effective. Once your statistics on Shareasale show a spike, even more affiliates will find you and want to work with your program.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  11. #11
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    As an aside, and this may not necessarily apply to you or your program, but...

    Before worrying about recruiting affiliates, make sure your program is promotable. Lately I have seen several programs that offer no promotional tools other than banners that display a certain "category" of products, but lead to the home page so the customer then has to go on a goose-chase to find the items that were depicted on the banner. And other who offer feeds that have many many missing fields, incomplete (or otherwise non-functional) URL's, no category column, and pictures that disappear into the ozone leaving the affiliate's page a barren wasteland (that is, IF the affiliate took the time to clean up the feed and get it up on their site.)

    Back to you and your program: if you have 600 affiliates and you are not getting satisfactory results, chances are you need to do something to make your program work better. Just 3 or 4 strong affiliates can produce enough results to make your program worthwhile. If you haven't gleaned that from the 600 you already have, then 600 more is not going to do you any good. I strongly suspect that you need to do something to make your program work better for the affiliates you already have.
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  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager
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    Well ... we do have a few real strong earners, however it is obvious that we can increase our level of business with stronger affiliates. We do have a strong promotional set of products as well as datafeed and a very strong website with good products at competitive prices. We also do offer occasional promotions through our website. I do feel incentives might be a good way to attract some of our weaker affiliates to perform a little stronger.

  13. #13
    Affiliate Network Rep Kim Salvino's Avatar
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    Your post is a good one - How important is affiliate recruiting?

    In a nutshell: It's important to recruit quality affiliates. A good affiliate manager is one who can identify niche sites and sell their program through various means of contact - email, phone or snail mail. There are also other valuable ways to recruit - forum participation, going to industry events, etc.

    I would like to speak on the great point brought up in this thread (Thanks, Billy!) concerning what you are doing to activate those that are already members? It takes a lot of effort to attract affiliates to sign up and as an AM once they've done so you need to be able to encourage and motivate them to activate. And where activating is concerned, I don't mean just throwing up some links and calling it a day. To me, that is not an active affiliate because I haven't given them all of the tools they need to be successful.

    You need to be able to give productive feedback and point them to the highest converting creative for their type of site. Give them access to datafeeds, coupon codes, information on new products, best selling products, etc. Offer to write unique content for them if they need it. Create whatever banner they need according to whatever specifications they ask for and do it quickly. Code every single text link for them if they need you to do so. Affiliates are busy. The more you can do to help them, the more likely they are to promote your stuff.

    I love what I do. I like when the day comes to a close and I know someone made some money because I was able to help. I know there are others in my niche that they can promote over me and I'd sure like to be promoted right alongside them. I think giving an affiliate partner my all is the only way to accomplish this.

    Best of luck with your recruiting and activating.
    Kim Salvino, Client Services Director, Performance Horizon Group
    Reach me at kim.salvino(at)performancehorizon.com or on (443) 617-4036

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager
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    I appreciate all your advice!

  15. #15
    Outsourced Program Manager Rick - Bitcom's Avatar
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    Hi bfree 74...

    To scout up some more affiliates have you considered running some PPC to your affiliate page.

    I see you have some good rankings for "fabric affiliate program" in Google. Lots of your competition is there too and doing PPC.

    You have a very nice affiliate page and you could even expand on it and add pages that give your affiliates some marketing advice on how to be successful, special links, you could create some "fabric" content that affiliates could use, or put your datafeed there. The point is if you make a nice "destination" place for affiliates to go you can expand your relationships, optimize it a little, you'll get some traffic. You could run some PPC too just to make sure you "own" that page. That would be a lot less expensive than going on CJ too.

    You can also proactively search for good affiliates by scoping out your competitions trade names in the SEs. You can find many of your competitions' affiliates that way.

    But like eveyone says, 600 good affiliates is note bad...in fact it makes it very manageable. You can really give them some good attention. Time to "work em".

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick - JRami
    Hi bfree 74...

    To scout up some more affiliates have you considered running some PPC to your affiliate page.
    Thats good advice, never thought of that.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    With all that competition, you need to make sure your program is well-structured and that your web site doesn't contain "obstacles" that will cause potential affiliates to look elsewhere. (Things like an 800 number on the home page, broken links, hidden shipping info, and a zillion other issues.)
    Why would an 800 number be an obstacle for an affiliate?

  18. #18
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Any merchant who doesn't know the answer to that question desparately needs this class:

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=86921

    A toll free number is a leak (except for those few merchants who have phone tracking). An affiliate sends a customer to the merchant. The customer calls the number. The merchant takes the order. The affiliate gets squat.

    The problem is even worse in any of these cases:

    1) The 800 number is very prominent.
    2) The products are complicated or expensive, which means more people will call to order. (Cruises are notoriously bad.)
    3) Some or all products can only be ordered over the phone.
    4) The merchant offers a discount for ordering over the phone.

    The last two are a very effective way to kill an affiliate program.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
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  19. #19
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    1 800 number
    Michael,

    Wanted to touch base as our website has our 1 800 number all over it, but 99.9% of purchases come online. The only phone orders we'll take are from a few select foreign countries (thailand, nigeria, etc...) to check fraud. The rest we send back online. Will putting in my program description "99.9% of all orders via online" circumvent the concern by potential affiliate partners? Or should I still get the phone code set up too even though we don't necessarily need it?

    Thanks!

    Phil Andrews

  20. #20
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    If you can set up phone tracking and communicate that to affiliates, this would be the best strategy -- but then you absolutely MUST train all staff to insist on getting the tracking code when placing an order by phone.

    I don't mind seeing a toll-free number on the "Contact Us" page of a site (that's just good customer service), but when it's shown in 24-point type at the top of every page, it definitely sounds like an effort to induce people to place phone orders.

    Affiliates don't know you yet, and thus can't trust you to be honest about 99.9% of all orders happening online. I don't waste time on sites with prominent toll-free numbers.

  21. #21
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    "The only phone orders we'll take are from a few select foreign countries (thailand, nigeria, etc...) "

    AWWWW, we are not all bad here in thailand, the home of AMWSO.


    What i suggest is you want to keep the 800 number is post that it is only for ORDERS already placed (ie customer service) and that you do not accept phone in orders.
    Last edited by Richard - AMWSO; August 15th, 2007 at 04:09 AM.
    Richard
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  22. #22
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard - AMWSO
    What i suggest is you want to keep the 800 number is post that it is only for ORDERS already placed (ie customer service) and that you do not accept phone in orders.
    People don't read, they see the 800 and call.

    Another point is stating "only for......" is a turn off to a consumer
    Bob Pets Warehouse
    Worlds Largest Pet Supply DataBase
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  23. #23
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    and if they call the customer service person asks them for their order number. This is what we did when i worked for a Jewelry merchant site when people had questions ( which many did) We did not accept any phone in orders.

    "only for " was just an example but why is that a turn off? Just curious
    Richard
    Affiliate Marketing Manager AMWSO
    Digestinol, Luxe-Design


    Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. Pablo Picasso

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