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  1. #1
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    Should Merchants Reveal Affiliate Contest Winners or Amounts?
    What do you think about merchants that offer competitions for highest sales in a month etc but never tell us who won or even announce any sort of details about who won (even keeping the winner anonymous)?

    One merchant ran a competition like this over the holiday period and I made quite a few sales for them but I never got any details about who won etc in their newsletters. They have even said I'm one of the best affiliates.

    So last week I wrote to them and asked what happened and their answer was that they needed to distribute a newsletter. So I got the Newsletter and at the bottom it just had congratulations etc to our winners and had (Winners have been notified).

    Shouldn't they list the amount of the sales etc so at least the network can see if they are correct?
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  2. #2
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    Some of us are bound to keeping it all anonymous. It would be nice to say who the winners are, but we need to be carefull in case that affiliate does not want to be announced or called out, even though it could help to motivate more affiliates.

    As for the sales or the percentage increase, or click to conversion decrease or whatever metrics are used. In our company's case, I am not allowed to say what sales were, how much we made off of it etc.... especially in something semi-public that can also be reproduced. It is unfortunate, but some of us have redtape and restrictions which hold us back from sharing things we would normally like to be able to share and use as motivators.
    Adam Riemer Marketing, LLC. Online Marketing Blog and Affiliate Management Company
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  3. #3
    Merchant & ABW Ambassador
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    Whenever I have a winner, I would contact them directly and told them, $XXX has been credited to your Linkshare account. I don't make them jump through hoops to get the $.

    Then I ask them if I can mention their name, it would be like Eric Ewe of Orlando. No mention of their site cos I know some people will just rip off their idea.

  4. #4
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    Eric makes a good point. I won a contest once, it was an affiliate of the month thing. I hadn't actually entered a contest and I didn't know my site was going to be mentioned in the merchant's newsletter. I didn't like that very much.

    My sites are unconventional by AM standards and most people in AM wouldn't want to copy what I do (it's labor intensive) so I felt somewhat safe from having my sites copied, but I didn't feel completely safe. It was a little unnerving.

    I think there's a valid reason for not publishing names of winners although I do agree that it's impossible to know, when the URLs of the winners aren't published, whether the merchant has in fact disbursed the prizes. But then I'm a huge skeptic about these things.

  5. #5
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    thanks for the feedback, just to verify that I do realize that the names and sites don't have to be listed but I think some sort of verification like how much the top five affiliates generated in sales etc gives some credibility to the contest. I guess I felt a little uneasy about this particular contest since I'm one of the top affiliates for the program supposedly ( don't make a fortune from them but I guess just because they are fairly new I have been one of the better performers) but I had to ask to get more details about the contest results and even then they were not very direct to me plus they always promise to get back to me but they seem to forget this quite often. It doesn't exactly motivate me to keep promoting their program now and I asked about another cookie issue, requesting that the cookie days be extended but again never herd back from them. Since they don't seem to have the time to respond to me or won't change the cookie duration then I would like to now look into promoting other merchants instead but I don't think there is any online that can offer the same tools I would use in this particular industry.
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  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    I think glinted is right here. Giving at least the winning amount in sales will give people something to strive for.
    Jason Rosenbaum
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MINDsprinter
    I think glinted is right here. Giving at least the winning amount in sales will give people something to strive for.

    On the other hand though, if you have someone that lieks to participate int eh contests and realy tries hard to improve but only increases sales a little bit, by posting the large numbers you might discourage them a little bit as well.

    Suppose someone used to do 500 in sales and has been working to win and has been able to increase to 1000 and really tried their hardest to get there, then you post your top who is doing 20,000. It could definitely discourage them from worrying and could also give them a little push to try harder in someone else's contest where they feel they have a better shot.

    Really it could be a great motivator and a strong demotivator at the same time. If there were not soo many other merchants and options, then they would only have the one contest and would probably use this in reverse and really keep pushing.

    I'm torn between good or bad as a merchant.
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  8. #8
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Seeing the amounts that other top affiliates make is usually encouraging to me.

    Depending on how the contests are structured in the future, knowing what the top earners make might discourage me from participating in some contests. For instance, if I'm earning $1000 per month but the top affiliate is earning $50,000 per month, and the contest is "the affiliate with the highest sales gets X", I know I don't have a chance so it won't motivate me.

    This doesn't mean that you shouldn't post the numbers. It just means that you should structure your contests in a way that it motives everyone to produce. For instance, perhaps something like this:

    1) The new affiliate (one who has never generated a sale before) who generates the most sales this month wins $50. (Encourages activation of inactive affiliates.)

    2) Every affiliate who generates a sale this month will be put into a drawing. Five random affiliates who generate a sale will each earn $50. (Encourages the small affiliates.)

    3) From the affiliates who generated at least $1000 in sales last month, the one who increases their sales by the highest percent this month will win $250. (Encourages the medium and large affiliates.)

    4) A drawing will be held among all affiliates who earn at least $1000 in sales this month, and the winner will win $250. (Encourages higher potential affiliates.)
    Michael Coley
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    Seeing the amounts that other top affiliates make is usually encouraging to me.

    Depending on how the contests are structured in the future, knowing what the top earners make might discourage me from participating in some contests. For instance, if I'm earning $1000 per month but the top affiliate is earning $50,000 per month, and the contest is "the affiliate with the highest sales gets X", I know I don't have a chance so it won't motivate me.

    This doesn't mean that you shouldn't post the numbers. It just means that you should structure your contests in a way that it motives everyone to produce. For instance, perhaps something like this:

    1) The new affiliate (one who has never generated a sale before) who generates the most sales this month wins $50. (Encourages activation of inactive affiliates.)

    2) Every affiliate who generates a sale this month will be put into a drawing. Five random affiliates who generate a sale will each earn $50. (Encourages the small affiliates.)

    3) From the affiliates who generated at least $1000 in sales last month, the one who increases their sales by the highest percent this month will win $250. (Encourages the medium and large affiliates.)

    4) A drawing will be held among all affiliates who earn at least $1000 in sales this month, and the winner will win $250. (Encourages higher potential affiliates.)
    Thanks for the input. Got some nuts and bolts cranking again. Had the idea but it was never verified by any aff prior to this.

  10. #10
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    Michael, you are so right. I think there are contests to be had for the sake of high sales, but there must also be contests to be had for the sake of motivation that can be within reach of everyone.

    Well said.

  11. #11
    CPA Network Rep Joe Lilly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liquidate
    On the other hand though, if you have someone that lieks to participate int eh contests and realy tries hard to improve but only increases sales a little bit, by posting the large numbers you might discourage them a little bit as well.
    PW tries to break down all of our publishers into buckets for this reason, so that high performers are competing against high performers, mid vs mid, etc.

    Or we have multiple winners for a contest...one for highest sales, one for most improved %, and one newbie award. That way everyone is happy!
    Joseph Lilly
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  12. #12
    Newbie ronaldmarva's Avatar
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    I think that it would be wise to respect the privacy of inviduals who would rather not have their financial information publicized. I for one would like to keep this information under the table.

  13. #13
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    glinted, make sure you contact the AM and let them know that you as an affiliate of their program hadn't seen anything about the winners of the contest. If they have a forum I recommend posting the question.

    As an AM we can drop the ball too! I for one would like to know if I forgot about it!

  14. #14
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    Yes I did contact the AM as I wrote above, they never gave me any details that I requested which were the sale amounts, I didn't want names just the sales amounts but they ignored it. I feel they may have been hiding something.
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  15. #15
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Guess I error on the side of too much information and not worry about giving away the secret sauce.

    I am a firm believer that if you give performance information to your affiliates to help them do better you will keep ahead game. If you are afraid that your competition will take that information and beat you then that means you are not capitalizing on it yourself. I don't fear competition I embrace it!!

  16. #16
    MasterMike HardwareGeek's Avatar
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    Read the sweepstakes should have an address to request a winner list. Is required by law.

  17. #17
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    This wouldn't have been a sweepstakes, so I don't see how sweepstakes laws would be applicable.
    Michael Coley
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  18. #18
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    Someone wrote: > "I won a contest once, it was an affiliate of the month thing. I hadn't actually entered a contest and I didn't know my site was going to be mentioned in the merchant's newsletter. I didn't like that very much." <

    That's certainly a good reason not to publicize the names of affiliates -- or at least to ask for permission. But as noted, many affiliates are worried that if they are identified as a top affiliate of XYZ Company, then other affiliates will study their web sites and perhaps even copy them to try to poach those commissions.

    Merchants should also be wary of identifying their top affiliates, because that merchant's competitors are sure to find the information and solicit those affiliates to "switch." Keep in mind that for most affiliate programs, the top 10 affiliates probably generate 90% of the sales for the entire affiliate program, and the #1 affiliate might be generating 20% to 70% of all affiliate-generated sales. (I'm sure there must be merchants whose top affiliate generates more than 50% of the company's gross sales!) Losing that top affiliate could be expensive, and keeping that affiliate (when there are competitors wooing them) can also be expensive (boosted commission rates).

    As for identifying the amounts paid to top affiliates (without identifying them), one issue is that if your top affiliates are being paid a higher commission rate, then identifying the payout amount may be misleading to the other affiliates who are at the base commission rate. And most companies aren't comfortable disclosing any specific sales figures, since that's data a (current or prospective) competitor may find very useful.

    Finally, as folks have probably realized, I'm pretty skeptical of claims made by merchants and affiliate managers and salesmen and pretty much everybody I encounter -- probably excluding only my wife.

    So I assume that some of these folks are simply going to lie, so if someone says that XYZ Company paid its top affiliate $52,875.62 last month, or that its top five affiliates generated $92,873.47 in gross sales, I will always suspect that those numbers are inflated.

    Moderators? This thread might also benefit from a title change, perhaps something like "Should Merchants Reveal Affiliate Contest Winners or Amounts?".
    Last edited by markwelch; February 27th, 2007 at 09:30 PM.

  19. #19
    Outsourced Program Manager Stephanie Harris's Avatar
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    I just want to add to this that when running a contest or sweepstake of any kind, an AM should always make sure to clearly state the rules and guidelines of the contest as its being announced. For instance, whenever we run a contest in our forum, the announcement and call for participation is accompanied by a list of the rules. This would include who can participate, how the winner will be identified and if and when the winner will be announced, what the reward will be and how it will be distributed, etc. This way everyone is clear from the get-go and before they participate as to how the contest is structured so there are no surprises. If you see "winner is announced in newsletter" or "announced on this forum" and you don't want to be public, then you don't participate.

    In the case where the top earner of a program receives free product, we first contact the affiliate letting them know they've won and ask if we can make mention of their winning status in our monthly newsletter. If people don't want to be announced, its understandable but to meet the need of the rest of affiliates to find out what happened, I have given out the amount that was commissioned that earned the winner their status for that month.
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  20. #20
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    I have won several contests and never had an am identify me or give my website out.

    That would really upset me. As for publishing the rules of the contest, thinking that affiliates could opt out, if identifying them was a condition.

    Well, what would happen if I just spent two weeks creating fabulous pages, and happened to be the leading affiliate - although I was "not participating in the contest". Would I just say I pass up the prize and therefore I don't get identified?

    I find knowing what the best affiliates make very inspirational...and useful in figuring out where I stand in the general scheme of things.

    Usually the AMs I deal with List the top 10 or so and I don't have any problem with that.

  21. #21
    Member geoffmarcy's Avatar
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    Contest Winners Announced
    Today I got an email from restaurant.com giving out the names of a couple of contest winners and their websites. I thought it was interesting to see that. To me, if you give permission to be announced then it's cool - otherwise I can why people get a little miffed.



    Geofferson Marcy
    [B]geofferson marcy[/B]
    [I]affiliate manager[/I]
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  22. #22
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    I still think they should list something like the following:

    December 2006 Top Affiliate Contest
    1st Prize winner had $100,000 in commissions
    2nd Prize winner had $90,000 in commissions
    3rd Prize winner had $80,000 in commissions
    etc etc

    No one is been identified, no one needs to opt in and it puts some authenticity to the contest. At least the network could then verify if these amounts are correct if the affiliate has any doubts (the networks I would hope would co-operate) - maybe that brings up a new discussion where networks could start up new sections on the website to run these contests under a more efficient system and in a more controlled environment. I think it needs to be take more seriously as often these bonuses are part of our income and a AM just telling the affiliate they didn't win is simply not good enough. It doesn't effect me too much now but as my business grows then it will be more important that these contests are run fairly.
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  23. #23
    The Beer Hunter LearnAbout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glinted
    ...I do realize that the names and sites don't have to be listed but I think some sort of verification like how much the top five affiliates generated in sales etc gives some credibility to the contest....
    GigaGolf (Rick Hart) runs the occasional contest and posts a leaderboard on the affiliate pages of their site [not sure if I'm allowed to post the URL for one recent example, will check with Rick]. The leaderboard shows the LS Aff ID, the current sales amount and the current standing, and it is updated every few days or so. This gives affiliates a gauge where they stand and works as an 'encouragement' - without giving any identity away.

    Rick's contests are also 'opt-in', so if you don't want to participate you don't have to. He will ping you in case you do well and haven't opted in, just in case you missed it.

    On top of that the contests are usually staggered, meaning if you hit a certain target you're in for a higher prize (i.e. make $1000 get $100, make $2500 get $250, make $10,000 get $1000). This way you always have a chance to get at least something. You also know where the next hurdle is you need to jump over to get into the higher prize bracket. All this is made known before the contest starts.

    This is very transparent and fair to smaller affiliates as well. I think it's a good model for other contests...

    Frank
    [URL=http://www.golfbeginnerguide.com/]Golf Beginner Guide[/URL] ; [URL=http://www.ladygolfersguide.com/]Lady Golfers Guide[/URL]

  24. #24
    The Beer Hunter LearnAbout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie Harris
    I just want to add to this that when running a contest or sweepstake of any kind, an AM should always make sure to clearly state the rules and guidelines of the contest as its being announced. For instance, whenever we run a contest in our forum, the announcement and call for participation is accompanied by a list of the rules. This would include who can participate, how the winner will be identified and if and when the winner will be announced, what the reward will be and how it will be distributed, etc. This way everyone is clear from the get-go and before they participate as to how the contest is structured so there are no surprises. If you see "winner is announced in newsletter" or "announced on this forum" and you don't want to be public, then you don't participate.

    In the case where the top earner of a program receives free product, we first contact the affiliate letting them know they've won and ask if we can make mention of their winning status in our monthly newsletter. If people don't want to be announced, its understandable but to meet the need of the rest of affiliates to find out what happened, I have given out the amount that was commissioned that earned the winner their status for that month.
    Reminds me that I won something exciting in the "Where is Stephanie" contest. Every day I run eagerly to my mailbox but nothing, just boring commission checks…
    [URL=http://www.golfbeginnerguide.com/]Golf Beginner Guide[/URL] ; [URL=http://www.ladygolfersguide.com/]Lady Golfers Guide[/URL]

  25. #25
    Outsourced Program Manager Rick - Bitcom's Avatar
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    Thanks Frank...

    That contest was developed with lots of help from folks here. Here's the thread that started it all.

    Here's what the contest was:

    During the month of April...

    Any affiliate who does more than $100 in sales gets a $25 gift certificate and a 20% commission increase for the next 2 months.

    Any affiliate who does more than $500 in sales gets a $50 gift certificate and a 20% commission increase for the next 3 months.

    Any affiliate who does more than $1000 in sales gets a $100 gift certificate and a 20% commission increase for the next 4 months.

    Any affiliate who does more than $2000 in sales gets a $200 gift certificate and a 20% commission increase for the next 6 months.

    Any affiliate who does more than $5000 in sales gets a $500 gift certificate and a 20% commission increase for the rest of the year.

    The goals of any contest are many:

    1. Make sales (obviously) This is not the most important thing though! Breaking even would be OK with me if it grew the program.
    2. Get affiliates to support the merchant better or maybe for the first time
    3. Motivate affiliates to give the merchant a better presentation/position
    4. Inspire affiliates to belive they can succeed in the program
    5. Promote the program in general to folks who may not know it
    5. Give affiliates a challenge and a chance to have fun (affiliates love to have fun)

    The best contest is one where everyone can win yet everyone is challenged. Tiered prizes based on meeting various sales goals works well. A prize for $100 in sales up to a prize for $10,000 in sales for example.

    Increased commissions for short periods of time work well.

    Prizes can be cash or gift certificates. In golf it seems most folks love a gift certificate.

    Showing results is critical. Who wants to enter a race and not know how you did compared to everyone else. It's pointless. In fact it's not even a competition unless you show a leaderboard. Here's the page where whe post the leaderboard for our latest contest. No you don't want to give anyone away but some reference that would help the affiliate recognize themselves would work well. In fact just showing the numbers would be all it takes. Affiliates can look at their stats to see where they fall.

    The great thing about a leaderboard is it motivates new affiliates to see that they can make money with the program and in the niche. I've gotten many calls from affiliates asking me how do they get to where the top guys are. As an AM that's the call/email we love to get.

    Thanks to the contest above GigaGolf had it's best month in history. More importantly it started some really good relationships with some great affiliates. We can't wait to run our Master's Month Contest again this April.

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