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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Conversion Percentages - Reason to Eliminate Affiliates?
    First off let me say that I do not plan to do this without serious deliberation, including the feedback I get here, but I did want to pose this question for thought.

    If the average conversion on your site is 22.7% (for all affiliates) and is 31.1% for internal marketing (non-affiliate PPC)

    What do you do with affiliates that send 500+ hits per week with one or two conversions at most?

    I have reviewed a lot of these affiliates and the leads they do send seem find and are from legit sources.

    My thoughts are all over the map.

    First, I think if they are sending 1 or 2 leads a week, hooray.

    Then I reminded that there is overhead to each lead. Thus, we make maybe $5 for the hassle of all that traffic.

    This type of traffic allows for 5 affiliates (out of 195) to account for 46% of the hits and only 0.3% of the total leads generated.

    Is 0.3% of our leads worth the stress to the server and other possible problems?

    You might think with such low conversion they must be using spyware. So far, none of the leads have shown as such.

    I am curious to see what you all have to say on this. Please ask any questions and I will answer as fast as possible.

    Thanks in advance!
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  2. #2
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    Hi Matt -

    Long time no speak (I think I've sent you one lead but I moved onto other projects that are less competitive then insurance - such is SEO, I guess).

    Anyway, a few thoughts.

    1. There's always the 80/20 rule. 20% of your affiliates will generate 80% of your leads. Do you see this?

    2. Can you get a better idea of where the traffic is coming from? It seems like it's legit, non qualified traffic. IOW, it's a clean site but maybe not really targeted to insurance?

    3. How much overhead are we talking? If your server can't take an extra 500 - 2000 hits then you need either to recode or get a better server.

    4. There is such a thing as dropping in-active or non worthwhile affiliates. This is something you need to really think over. So long as they are legit affiliates, I think you run a slippery slope in dropping them just b/c they don't perform so well. word will get out and you might lose other potential affs.

    o

  3. #3
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    "I have reviewed a lot of these affiliates and the leads they do send seem find and are from legit sources."

    What's the problem? Somebody is sending you good leads, their conversion is just low. The important thing is the quality of the lead right?

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    Try working with those affiliates to see if you can help them increase their conversion rate. Are they getting those 500 leads because their copy is misleading? Does the referred visitor know why they clicked?

    These affiliates are getting traffic to their sites and sending traffic to you, try to make the most of it.
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  5. #5
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    If the average conversion on your site is 22.7% (for all affiliates) and is 31.1% for internal marketing (non-affiliate PPC)

    What do you do with affiliates that send 500+ hits per week with one or two conversions at most?
    Think, "man, that site must suck" but ACCEPT THE CONVERSIONS! To do otherwise is just like taking $5 bills and lighting 'em on fire.

    If you think it'd be insane to flick a Bic on a fiver, your thinking is correct!

    Is 0.3% of our leads worth the stress to the server and other possible problems?
    What Oziman said: Get a better server and/or more RAM. There shouldn't be any mechanical problems from such a puny amount of traffic. 1000 hits/week really is puny!

    It is a pain to have the log files filled with hits from a big sender of nonconverting traffic, though.


    You might think with such low conversion they must be using spyware.
    Nah. I've seen worse. Far worse.

    The only time I was really, really tempted to pull the plug on a nonconverting aff, he was sending hundreds of nonconverting hits A DAY! Yet in an entire season, he sold 1 or 2 orders.

    I tracked it down, suspecting parasiteware, or at least "traffic blast" buys (you know, the 10,000 hits for $10 crap)--and found out he simply had a totally anticonversionary site, but he'd managed to get #1s in both Yahoo and MSN. Traffic levels were in line with Wordtracker stats for that key in those 2 engines.

    Since I saw that it was real SE traffic, I figured it'd resolve itself in a few months. Sure enough, the algos changed. His site sank. Since it wasn't converting, he wasn't motivated to keep SEOing, and the problem was resolved without me having to bring ill-will upon myself.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  6. #6
    Outsourced Program Manager Angel Djambazov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Rice
    Try working with those affiliates to see if you can help them increase their conversion rate. Are they getting those 500 leads because their copy is misleading? Does the referred visitor know why they clicked?

    These affiliates are getting traffic to their sites and sending traffic to you, try to make the most of it.
    It is important to monitor traffic to make sure the traffic being sent to you is legitimate, but I think Greg is right on target.

    There are many suggestions both in terms of placement and relevant creative you can make as an AM to an affiliate which may help conversion. I remember one particular example at OLS where an affiliate specializing in clothing for plus sized women was sending traffic but wasn't converting. I suggested new creative relevant to their audience with a more specific landing page and conversion improved.
    Angel Djambazov
    Managing Edtior ReveNews
    OPM for Keen Shoes and Graphicly.com

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    That's a tough call Matt. Server capability aside, the time spent trying to guide low converting affiliates on methods to improve conversions has to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Could be that the $5.00 return may be better spent helping your go getters improve hits / conversions even more.

    I'd never throw away the $5.00 if it is someone with whom you can possibly work through to an improved result, but if they don't show a desire to improve conversions, aren't responsive to your calls - email etc, you have your answer.

    Good Luck
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  8. #8
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    As long as the traffic is legitimate, I would strongly recommend against terminating an affiliate for low conversions.

    If you think your traffic overhead is high enough that you can't afford a 1/500 conversion ratio (or even a 1/5000!!!), you've got much bigger problems than low converting affiliates.

    You should definitely work towards helping your low converting affiliates increase their performance, but don't put a lot of time into it. Try to do things that are scalable and lets affiliates help themselves. Focus most of your time on your top performers and recruiting.
    Michael Coley
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  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oziman
    Hi Matt -
    Long time no speak (I think I've sent you one lead but I moved onto other projects that are less competitive then insurance - such is SEO, I guess).
    I totally understand. We are getting much better payouts on some lines now...if interested give me a call. I think it may be a bit more worth your time

    Quote Originally Posted by oziman
    2. Can you get a better idea of where the traffic is coming from? It seems like it's legit, non qualified traffic. IOW, it's a clean site but maybe not really targeted to insurance?
    So far, it is a mix. Some is non-targetted, some is tough to figure out. None seems to be spyware/adware though. When we contacted the leads, most seemed to be good.

    Quote Originally Posted by oziman
    3. How much overhead are we talking? If your server can't take an extra 500 - 2000 hits then you need either to recode or get a better server.
    It's actually in total more like 10,000 -20,000 hits. For a gain of maybe $20.00 a day at most.

    Looking at the simple math (considering no other factors) it is not worth it.

    Quote Originally Posted by oziman
    4. There is such a thing as dropping in-active or non worthwhile affiliates. This is something you need to really think over. So long as they are legit affiliates, I think you run a slippery slope in dropping them just b/c they don't perform so well. word will get out and you might lose other potential affs.
    My gut feeling has been to just talk to them ask "what the heck are you doing to marketing this thing?" (but in a much nicer way haha)

    Thanks so much for the input!
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Thanks to Alan, Angel, Michael, Trust, Leader, Greg, oziman, sorry if I forget someone.

    Your thoughts are right in line with what my gut said. The repercussions are far worse than the problem, but it should do no harm to talk with them.

    It is interesting to find some of them doing (some) PPC.

    At a minimum of 5 cents per click (this is only if they were grandfathered in I guess) I cannot figure out how converting at less than 5% can be profitable.

    This is exactly why I love this forum. Anytime I am a bit confused, I get the perfect input here at ABW.

    Thanks again!
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  11. #11
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    My gut feeling has been to just talk to them ask "what the heck are you doing to marketing this thing?" (but in a much nicer way haha)
    Go with that. Who knows, you might talk to some of these people and both agree it's not working. That way everyone walks away happy. Or you might have some valuable tips that can help bump conversions. But terminating without talking first leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
    Jason Rosenbaum
    Affiliate Manager
    MINDsprinting

  12. #12
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattMcWilliams
    It's actually in total more like 10,000 -20,000 hits. For a gain of maybe $20.00 a day at most.
    I'd love to get 100 times that much low-converting traffic. 1-2 million hits a day earning $730k/year would be sweet.

    Sure, high-converting traffic is better, but I'm not going to turn any away.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
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    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  13. #13
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Your vertical must certainly attract a lot of lowlife scumbag thieves who will stop at nothing to cheat you out of every nickel they can squeeze out of you.

    I would suggest directing your attentions and energies toward dealing with those ones, and let the honest affiliates live in peace.
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  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidh
    Your vertical must certainly attract a lot of lowlife scumbag thieves who will stop at nothing to cheat you out of every nickel they can squeeze out of you.

    I would suggest directing your attentions and energies toward dealing with those ones, and let the honest affiliates live in peace.
    Not at all. For whatever reason the fraud rate is very low with us. Luckily we catch the bad ones within 1-3 leads 95% of the time.

    Based on conversations with other AMs, I would say our fraud rate is lower as a percentage than all programs. We still have our problems on occasion, but for the most part we have been lucky in this regard.
    Matt McWilliams
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  15. #15
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    I would try to work with the affiliate to help his quantity become quality. It may be worth the effort, for both of you.

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattMcWilliams
    First off let me say that I do not plan to do this without serious deliberation, including the feedback I get here, but I did want to pose this question for thought. If the average conversion on your site is 22.7% (for all affiliates) and is 31.1% for internal marketing (non-affiliate PPC)
    What do you do with affiliates that send 500+ hits per week with one or two conversions at most?
    Other options....

    1.) You could go on the board here and publicly denounce the low producers as losers. Chastise them without mercy in public, make a mockery of their aff marketing skills and then mention that you are going to report their next month's production on ABW for all to see.

    2.) You could prohibit the low producers from coming by your booth at the summits. Taking away their "entry" privileges will get their attention.

    3.) They could get an announcemet saying that HTQ would triple the normal commission if they hit "X" number of leads for the month + throw in a $2,000 bonus. Then after they do, send them an email stating that an unknown hacked your SaS account and reset the commission and bonus without your knowledge. You get off with the normal commission, and they find out in the offing that they CAN produce better conversions if they actually focus on it.

    4.) Don't respond if one of the low producers has a birthday announced here. That always gets em!!

    Hope these are helpful to you Matt. Not from a business decision perspective, but from a stress relief chuckle perspective. I think you know what you need to do, but venting and second thinking is always useful.
    Alan
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  17. #17
    Not that fat. ReallyBigGuy's Avatar
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    Is your brand worth nothing?!? I'd love to get 10,000 new visitors to my site! if they like it, hopefully they'll come back.
    What easier way to get your name out there than to have affiliates sending traffic your way!
    If you don't want it... redirect them all to my site.. I'll take the thousands of page hits, and hopefully a handful of those folks'd like my site and stick around.

  18. #18
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    This type of traffic allows for 5 affiliates (out of 195) to account for 46% of the hits and only 0.3% of the total leads generated.
    46% OF THE HITS. Wouldn't it make better business sense to find ways to convert this traffic. If only 5 affiliates are sending this much traffic, work with them man. You're sitting on a potential goldmine and you're considering burying it.

    What would it mean to you and HTQ if you could help these affiliates increase their conversion rate by 10%, 20% or 50%. How much effort are YOU willing to put in to turning these clicks into sales? If the affiliates that are converting at "acceptable" rates are the only ones worth working with you are going to seriously limit the growth of your program.

    Remember, we find 'em it's up to you to skin 'em and cook 'em.
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  19. #19
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Thanks Alan for the comic relief.

    I totally agree with rematt. Like I said my gut told me to talk to them and figure out ways to convert it.

    Since I have spoken with 3 of the 8 total in question, we found that one had failed to notice his conversions stunk as he has been out of town for 3 weeks.

    It turns out his form that linked to us was totally screwed up by one of his programmers. It kept sending them to our error page, which explains why a few of them did convert but 99.5% of them just said "screw it"

    Of the other two, one was using Zango and one could not really explain it.

    I explained to the one using Zango that we do not allow it etc. and he stopped. He is going to try other methods and is already using Adwords (and has a 60% conversion from Adwords...ok 3 out of 5 but still)

    All in all, I was wondering if my gut was wrong and if I should call out the dogs and get rid of them.

    The consensus was right on - talk to them...seriously what is the WORST that can happen?

    Thanks again!
    Matt McWilliams
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  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    I think you should talk to them. I am not one of your affiliates but the merchants that I do affiliate with must wonder (just like I do) why clicks don't convert, and I would hate to think they would just cut me off like that. I have 3 sites, I am a newbie to affiliating, I am sending my own traffic, no AdWords yet, have sent through about 1000 hits to 20+ merchants and have exactly 3 sales. Why do my visitors click on links and not buy? I can't guess, but prominent 800 numbers don't help. I take the datafeeds and creatives available and work them into pages with content to promote the merchants so I can't think that visitors who click don't know where they are going when they click. I was surprised to find affiliate pages I had put up two weeks ago on pg2 in serps at Google. I am still reading and learning the many ways that turn links into sales but I am catching on. I understand that there is much more that can be done, right now I am looking into link cloaking/redirects because over 30% of my visitors who order my own products from me have at least something like FunWebProducts on their systems. This is an extremely busy time of year for my own business I am putting in well over 14 hrs a day so some of the ideas I have for affiliating are not being implemented right now. This does not mean that I am lazy or complacent with my conversions. I am only trying to give you a glimpse into some of many reasons that things aren't the same for everyone. If some affiliates are sending masses of useless visitors to your site maybe you need to let them know that this is not what you want an affiliate to provide and let them know what you do want instead of just dropping them. If the affiliate does not care to make attempts to provide better traffic then maybe there is no choice for you but to let them know that what you are offering is not a good match for their traffic. I see that talking to them did help the situation, I only hope that other merchants with a similar complaint would take a few minutes to check into a situation before they boot an affiliate for low conversions. Maybe some don't care but I think most of us are here to produce sales so that we get a return for the hours we spend promoting products.

  21. #21
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    I appreciate a merchant who understands and protects his sites natural conversion ratio for all traffic sources. Google analytics and hosting server logs, together with affiliate referral sales tracking should be the merchants crystal ball as to who's sending targeted traffic.... verses junk traffic.

    I have no mercy for a merchant who can't give me feedback on why my established showcase pages for his products (DMOZ + top SE Serps for buying terms) dropped from being highest of all his affiliates and better then his own sites conversion ratio. I update the pages with more showcase individual products, PSC displays, links to outside relevent content sites and still a nose dive from $300+/monthly commissions to a few small sales every quarter on the same CTR.

    The Guy claims up upon my suggesting some insider is kiting my sales with a batch processing affiliate ID swapping program before uploading to CJ. He recommends I co-promote his program on SAS still nothing changes on this niche product category. More months of silence as the pages crank out 600-800 targeted clicks per month with a pitiful conversion ratio and only the smaller cost items ever showing up on sales. The huge 800# banners, livehelp and the BHO partnerships continue to grow.

    I let the pages languish. Then I get a call with offer to disclose their top converting keywords if I'd invest in driving PPC traffic to my pages. No mention ever about my poor conversion pages sending junk traffic. MY counter offer is for them to place their Google Analytics code on my pages and actually track my sales on their own PPC dime.

    You'd a thunk I slapped the guy in the face. Especially when I place a few non-reporting test purchases and sent him the receipts. I also gave him some more commission interlopers one buried as a loyality shopping Super Affiliate embedded right in the cart checkout process. A flurry of excuses came my way and then more silence.

    Final phone call should have forced this merchant to pull the plug on my affiliation when I told him all he had to do was investigate his top 10 affiliate earners through Ms. B's AffiliateFairPlay service. There-in He'd find who was stealing my legit referral sales and others just like me for all these years. By his silence I could assume he already knew and just wanted to keep that targeted juicy traffic coming.

    Moral of the story is any merchant who knows his natural conversion ratio and can see from where the affiliate is sending referral traffic has a responsibility. The responsibility to convert and report those prospects as no one else in the affiliate industry could maintain those high SERPs and DMOZ listings for years without producing sales. Now I'm glad he only gets 5000 clicks per year for the commission poachers and I spend no time on those pages.

    His graphs on SAS looks like a rollicoaster ride with valleys showing weeks of negative EPC, Reversal rates above 150% and many minus commission days as the affiliate crooks at SAS play him like a beaten drum kiting other affiliate sales.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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  22. #22
    Newbie Todendron's Avatar
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    As an affiliate manager, I usually do not remove someone from our programs unless one of two things occur:

    1. I have someone contact us letting us know they were spammed by one of our affiliates (against our affiliate TOS)
    2. If someone sends me 20,000 visitors in a very short period of time with 0 conversions (they are doing something wrong in most cases. I first go visit the site they are promoting to see if it is legit, in most cases they are spamming and loading something via html emails etc.)

  23. #23
    Affiliate Manager MikeVillar's Avatar
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    Recently, I'm having problems with publishers generating MILLIONS of clicks and coming up with only a handful of sales.

    As a Commission Junction Merchant, I try to keep our EPC within the top 5 in our category as advertisers often look at a Merchant's EPC rating to decide whether or not to promote them.

    What I do is try to reach out to them via phone and more often than not, they are PPC publishers experimenting with new keywords. The good thing about it is that most of them make the necessary adjustments after I contact them.

  24. #24
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    Lightbulb
    please bear in mind there are various spiders hitting your links on our sites. some will be counted as clicks.

    this is happening a lot with the goldencan and popshops .php pages.

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