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  1. #1
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    Affiliate Programs that offer their products/services over the phone.
    Do you guys trust them? I haven't really encountered many, actually just two... and one of the programs doesn't exist anymore.

    I am an affiliate of the IMC, which allows customers to phone their orders in. They claim that they do not cheat affiliate marketers out of their commissions.

    Next to the phone number, there is a promo code that contains your affiliate ID.... but I wonder... What if a customer just happened to write down the phone number and forgot to write the promo code? Would IMC turn them away, asking the customer to call back when he finds the promo code? or Would they just go ahead and place the order and not pay out any commission for that sale?

    Being that I am a new to affiliate marketing, I would like to get some feedback from some of the more experienced affiliate marketers on this board.

    I know everybody has their own story to tell, and there will probably be some conflicting advice, just post what your personal experiences have been like with affiliate programs of this nature.

  2. #2
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    They can't turn the orders away, as that would be bad for the merchant. Assuming you're talking about Shareasale merchants here, but I don't know. Depending on how the code from SAS is installed, the promo code could either be a canned number if there's no active cookie, or the code may not show up at all if there's no active cookie.

    Sadly, there's no really good way for an affiliate to know if the merchant is going to be on the level, unless you endeavor to develop a personal relationship with that merchant (or their OPM). Over time though, cheating affiliates won't be good for their program, as a lack of success with a merchant is a GREAT excuse for an affiliate to drop links.

    And these days, there seems to be no shortage of valid reasons for affiliates to drop merchants. Their are plenty of bad merchants, and even more clueless ones.
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  3. #3
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noth
    Sadly, there's no really good way for an affiliate to know if the merchant is going to be on the level, unless you endeavor to develop a personal relationship with that merchant (or their OPM). Over time though, cheating affiliates won't be good for their program...
    Also, experience shows that one or two test phone orders (placed by affiliates that want to ensure the decency of the program) that affiliates get no credit for regardless of the promo code mentioned can ruin the program altogether. With platforms like ABestWeb being around, it pays off to be transparent.

    Geno

  4. #4
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    Thanks for you replies... I can see why a good merchant would want to honor their claims, with forums such as this one I'm sure the word about dead-beat merchants spreads throughout the affiliate community rather quickly.

  5. #5
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    The vast majority of merchants do not commission on phone orders or claim that they do. It's just a fact of life in affiliate marketing and you have to hope for the best. If you have merchants that prominently display a toll free number and you aren't earning anything from them, then drop the merchant. If you are still earning respectable commissions, just accept it as a cost of doing business. This applies to all "leaks." Some merchants display affiliate links to other sites. You will not earn anything from those either.

  6. #6
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman
    If you have merchants that prominently display a toll free number and you aren't earning anything from them, then drop the merchant. If you are still earning respectable commissions, just accept it as a cost of doing business...
    The above is probably a fair approach. I personally have had clients that haven't been willing to pay commissions on phone orders because of the costs involved in taking a phone order (so I was told). Yet, the volume of phone orders has been much lower than that of online orders, and it hasn't bothered any of the affiliates much.

    Geno

  7. #7
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    Snowman & Gino, thanks for your feedback on this topic. You both bring valid points into play...

    You're right, the cost of having an actual customer service rep answer the phone never really crossed my mind. Perhaps lower commisions should be set up for over-the-phone orders..this could be a solution for the cost issue. But it still won't solve the issue of the non-paying or deadbeat merchant. I guess that is something that were all susceptible to as affiliate marketers, whether dealing with online or offline sales.

    I'll just have to ride it out a little longer with IMC and see if they actually pay as they say they do. The commision that they offer on their products are wonderful, the only problem I could see arising is that since the products are so expensive I think a lot of people would be reluctant to buy them.

  8. #8
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    You can ask the merchant for two things:

    To conditionally NOT represent the number when the visitor is referred through and affiliate link. Its as easy as using ?s=affiliate

    To provide you with an exclusive 800 number that tracks your sales and to credit that back at the end of the month. Ancestry.com does that and top affiliates saw a 20% lift in sales commission.

    At the minimum strike up a conversation with the AM. I can tell you from experience that a large merchant's customer service will not be asking for the promo code during peak seasons. The agents are buried and have calls stacked, they will do everything they can to cut a few seconds per call which increases their call volume.

  9. #9
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    The thought of having my own exclusive 800 number has definetly crossed my mind before... I'm definetly going to check out ancestry.com to see what it's all about and how they operate.

    Do you know of any other affiliate programs that offer exclusive 800 #'s, or that are heavy in offline marketing?

  10. #10
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AffiliateOutlook
    The thought of having my own exclusive 800 number has definetly crossed my mind before... I'm definetly going to check out ancestry.com to see what it's all about and how they operate.

    Do you know of any other affiliate programs that offer exclusive 800 #'s, or that are heavy in offline marketing?
    A couple of the hotel merchants offer private label phone numbers to some of their proven affiliates. But other large merchants may. If they already have a call center, the cost of adding a dedicated (toll-free) number is minimal. It never hurts to ask...
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  11. #11
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    We are testing 800# on one of my programs but you have to be a top producer to make it worth the setup time. We are also working with several merchants to allow us to control the 800 number on their site when an inbound link is from an affiliate. Feel free to email me at chamrick@affiliatecrew.com for details.

  12. #12
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    800 #s
    One of our sites has an exclusive 800 # to the merchant that tracks to us. Since a large amount of orders come over the phone, it's a must. Obviously a certain level of trust is required, but if you can get it I think it's worth the while.

    Cheers.

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