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  1. #1
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    August 14th, 2007
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    Your site vs. the Merchant's site
    Hi there everyone,

    This is not so much of a 'question' per se, but rather a mere observation....

    You have a site that is well rounded, appealing and professional. Then a visitor/s clicks on one of your links because they are happy with what they see and they get redirected to the Merchant's site. They buy the product or service and are interested to come back again in the future because they're happy with with they bought.

    I would think it would be a natural habit for people to go 'directly' to the Merchant's site and bypass yours for future purchases, simply to save time, since you're not the one with the product, why would they bother with your site again?...thus you losing out on repeat business.

    I read that if at all possible, try not to find an affiliate program where you will be competing with the Merchant directly, as it's important to find companies that 'demand' that you go through their affiliate links first - I would imagine that this could be extremely difficult to find - yes? no?

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts, time and perspectives.

    Gratefully,
    Mark

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador
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    I would think it would be a natural habit for people to go 'directly' to the Merchant's site and bypass yours for future purchases, simply to save time, since you're not the one with the product, why would they bother with your site again?...thus you losing out on repeat business.
    This isn't exactly the question you are asking.. but you can get repeat business, even if the customer goes back to the merchants' site, because of cookies. Have you looked into any affiliate programs yet? They should tell you how long their cookies last. Some say 30 days, 60 days, etc. During that time, any new purchase that is made, you'll get credit for.

    Hope that helped?

  3. #3
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    Thanks Hardaka for your reply...

    Yes, cookies can and should certainly help.....I guess though.... and with no intentions whatsoever, of trying to look at the glass half empty, but I would imagine that 30 or 60 days isn't really that much time, as I would think that there aren't 'that' many people who would buy I product and go right out and buy a second product so soon before the cookies would expire, would they?.....that is unless the product is of a content that has a short life-span, such as vitamins or pet food..... I dunno, I may be totally mistaken??

    Thanks again for your reply
    Mark

  4. #4
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    AfffilMarx, I answered a similar question in another forum last night http://forum.abestweb.com/showpost.p...33&postcount=8 and the gist of that reply was to not necessarily promote a merchant but promote a niche. Give your visitors a reason to return to your site by adding a value that individual merchants don't (like product reviews or comparisons) and you have a better chance of recapturing that visitor and turning them into YOUR customer.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager David Carter's Avatar
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    March 8th, 2006
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    Hi Mark,

    Most of our most successful affiliates offer a service to the customer that we as a merchant can't provide. For example, some affiliates have a tremendous amount of information concerning a narrow range of topics or even a single topic. They use that information to provide an advertising platform for related magazines from our site. In this way, the service that the affiliate is providing is the draw and the product that is sold is secondary. The customer goes back to the site not to buy more magazines but to get more information or participate in some way with what the site offers.

    Good merchants will also offer a 30 cookie or longer as a show of good faith towards the affiliate base that we are not simply interested in keeping all of the repeat business to ourselves.
    David Carter
    MagazinesQuick.com

  6. #6
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    Thanks for your reply David. It's encouraging to know about the 30-60 cookie window......I appreciate you giving me your input from a merchant's perspective.

    Mark

  7. #7
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    As David says, the key to getting "repeat business" (repeat visitors to your site, rather than one-time "pass-along" traffic sent to merchants) is to provide VALUE at your site. Some "value-added" content includes:

    - directory to resources from multiple vendors
    - price comparison
    - product feature comparison
    - reviews or commentary about products
    - buyer's guide (what features & issues to consider when buying)
    - repair history, user comments, recalls
    - consumer comments, feedback

    Some of these require constant updating (price comparison), others require frequent updating (directory).

    I recently sold my "teaching site" (literature lesson plans for secondary English teachers), which was a directory of lesson plan resources. Over the 3+ years since I created the site, many teachers had bookmarked the site because they'd found great resources there, organized in a more useful way than they could find elsewhere (such as Google). For example, if a teacher is planning lessons for "To Kill A Mockingbird," she might find one or more useful resources linked from my site; she might also bookmark the site so that when she is planning to teach the same novel next year, she can check for any new resources for that novel that have been added to the directory.

    It's interesting to note that while I earn more money from my focus on "PPC search" as an affiliate, I earn the highest profit margin from my work on "niche and directory sites." That makes sense -- with the PPC work, I'm spending money on every click, so I might only keep 50% of the revenue earned (after deducting the PPC costs); with the niche and directory sites, I might spend a modest amount to promote the site, but generally I keep 90% or more of the revenue stream.

    Even as I write this, I must acknowledge that I've been focusing too heavily in the past few months on PPC, and not allocating time to the longer-term benefits of "content site" creation. Thanks for the reminder.

    On the topic of choosing merchants who "demand" that customers go through their affiliates first, instead of navigating directly to the merchant site -- I am not aware of ANY merchants who take that approach. Certainly, there are merchants that are more supportive of their affiliates than others; and there are merchants who essentially "delegate" certain key functions to affiliates (such as SEO for specific keywords, and of course PPC for some or all keywords).

  8. #8
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    Dear Mark,
    Thanks very much for your informative reply. Lots of note-taking lately and I'm ALWAYS very appreciative of people here, writing in and not only providing insight, but also sharing their own experiences and what they've learned from them, so they can pass it on to others for their benefit also.

    Thanks again!
    Mark

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager bcwaller's Avatar
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    Mark, David, and rematt all had great advice. One other thing is that there are some merchants who offer lifetime commission. This means that even if the affiliate never goes through your site again, you earn from them for as long as they are with that merchant. You can find many (I have not checked to see if the site is updated often) through http://www.lifetimecommissions.com/ (an Allan Gardyne property).

    Some merchants offer lifetime commissions and some just can't. I remember hearing a talk from PeaPod back in the late '90s (Mark, I think we met at that conference) where they explained that they lost money on commissions to affiliates because they had such a small margin. It was 5% with an average order near $120, meaning they had a profit of about $6 per order. Affiliates would not be happy earning a few dollars per sale, so they did research. They found that if a customer uses them three times that they would be a "lifetime" (long time) customer. So they came up with a commission structure that paid $15 on the first sale and then $15 on the 3rd sale. That would mean they paid $30 vs. an expected profit of $18. They figured that they front loaded the commissions and they would earn money in the long term from these customers. A great idea, as long as the rest of their business model was sound...

    We have been offering lifetime commission at EPage since almost the beginning. We had a number of affiliates complain that they thought their customers would just jead over to our main site and use us. So we added in a 10% lifetime commission that is linked into a user's ID. Every user gets tagged with the ID of the person that referred them (including PPC, directories, and even the base site). All payments made by that user will have 10% allocated to the originating ID, no matter what site that may use in the future. I also use this to track my ad buys, PPC traffic, and directory listings.
    Brad Waller | VP, Business and Affiliate Development
    EPage.com

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager David Carter's Avatar
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    No problem on the advise Mark. Merchants rely heavily on the expertise and savvy of our affiliate base and we have a vested interest in your success. Anytime you get the idea that a merchant is only interested in quick cash, you would probably be well served to investigate further before investing your time in the program. As long as your site is on topic with something that interests you, you will be successful on some level.
    David Carter
    MagazinesQuick.com

  11. #11
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    Dear BC,

    Thank you for providing such information, especially regarding the lifetime commissions. Hopefully there are still a good number of merchants who carry this policy and it would be really nice to find the ones that do, because I intend to give this my all in every regard and I hope that I can find merchants who could appreciate affiliates' earnest efforts and who could reward such hard efforts with a sound commission policy.

    Thanks again for your detailed explanations

    Regards,
    Mark

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