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  1. #1
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Unresponsive Affiliate Managers
    I'm cleaning out my email folder today...

    Last month I SENT 34 emails to AMs

    26 never responded

    That's 76% - a truly sad commentary about our industry

  2. #2
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Regardless of industry, responding to emails from clients and customers is just good, smart business. I'm sure I don't get the volume of emails that some of those on your list get, but still, the percentage you state is what's striking about your post.
    Kevin Webster
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  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador
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    I think it's more a commentary that most merchants don't have a dedicated affiliate manager/team. Most of the time it's something thrown in the laps of somebody who does other type of marketing as well and can't spend full time on the affiliate program and then you have cases where merchants pretty much let a network run the program, don't think that's a good idea because they love a certain type of affiliate and responding to each and every email is probably not a top priority. I think most merchants out there who have someone devoted to the affiliate program and nothing but the affiliate program would probably have a successful one. I was listening to a podcast once with an affiliate manager talking about exactly this.

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador bettylou's Avatar
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    Just curious.....

    I bet out of the eight that did respond that it was within hours.

    Am I right?

  5. #5
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    The ones that responded were generally quick

    I didn't mention that even tho they responded, some were "useless responses"

    For example, I contacted a merchant to tell them their banners weren't showing up on my site, and not even showing up in the Linkshare interface

    Yes, they responded, but their response was "We use Internet Explorer. So it must be a browser issue".

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    That's one of the reasons I decided to take the plunge and be an OPM. When I was an affiliate, I had an AM, who I sold over $800K in products for, who wouldn't reply to my emails. Couldn't help but wonder just what he did all day. If he couldn't be bothered with someone selling $800K, who was he spending his time with? With all the bad AMs out there I figured there had to be plenty of merchant prospects.
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  7. #7
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    What is the time frame within which an affiliate would like his/her e-mail attended by an AM? What's desired (a.s.a.p to 48 hours?), and what's too long (so long it is unacceptable)?

    Geno

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador
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    Sooner better than later It's hard to put a number on it as I realize some could be very busy and I have no idea their workload and if they're also doing other marketing for the company and don't know how much time they have to reply to emails. But as soon as they can. I like to see a response within 24 hours. Opinions will vary. I mean they can take a break from working on their own affiliate sites every now and then to answer email right

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador bettylou's Avatar
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    Great question, Geno!

    I think that we all understand that they can't be answered immediately.

    I also think that certain questions may take precedence over others.

    Within 48 hrs seems very reasonable. I still am waiting on a response from someone from last Christmas. That's a little too long! Ha!

    Bettylou

  10. #10
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Timeliness - NLT 48 hours in general.

  11. #11
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Geno, remember when I recently asked you if I could join Collectables - but I only needed the Disney Princess items - nothing else? And of course you responded quickly and you got links

    Last month I contacted my Linkshare rep and asked for some recommendations for Hannukah stuff.

    His team, as near as I can tell, checked every Linksare merchant individually and searched their sites for Hanukkah stuff. A LOT of work on their part.

    He sent me several emails with LS merchants, their urls, contact info, etc.

    I contacted each merchant with "You were recommended to me by Linkshare. You have a lot of stationery... but I just need your 2 Hanukkah cards. Would it be ok if I joined your program if I onlly plan to promote 2 products?"

    I think only 3 replied

    That was a waste of time for the LS employees who did the research. And by not responding, these merchants lost out on my sales.

    If they ever do respond - it's been over a month - you know I won't want to partner with them.

  12. #12
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geno Prussakov
    What is the time frame within which an affiliate would like his/her e-mail attended by an AM? What's desired (a.s.a.p to 48 hours?), and what's too long (so long it is unacceptable)?
    Geno
    I would expect an answer within 24 hours - 48 at the longest. Even though I may be on the keyboard 24-7, I also realize that many companies do not have office hours on weekends, so I would not count Saturday and Sunday in that response time. However, an email question asked on a Friday should most certainly be answered before COB Monday.

    Fortunately most of the folks with whom I work respond much sooner than that - usually within an hour or two.
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  13. #13
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    This is turning into a thread that would look particularly useful in the Merchant Best Practices Forum, no?

    Geno

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geno Prussakov
    What is the time frame within which an affiliate would like his/her e-mail attended by an AM? What's desired (a.s.a.p to 48 hours?), and what's too long (so long it is unacceptable)? Geno
    I think it depends on the nature of the problem. Each AM, OPM etc has their own policy, but our policy is "service as quickly as possible."

    For instance, if a PPC affiliate is driving traffic to a site that is not functioning, IMMEDIATE response is imperative. If links aren't working, immediate response is needed. If it is a general question and not something that affects the affiliates ROI, asap. Our in-house policy is to respond to general questions the same day, or immediately if the affiliate contacts us by phone. If it is an issue that can adversely impact an affiliates pocket book, we want to respond within a couple hours, but we also encourage affiliates to contact us by phone in such cases.

    On the other hand, if it is a question from Billy K, I'd say within 30 - 60 days should do it!!!
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  15. #15
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Andy Rodriguez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Kay
    The ones that responded were generally quick
    I'm sure glad that Billy knows how to get ahold of me ...

    For the rest of you, seriously, email today is not the most reliable...we get over 4,000 emails per day. We have spam filters and sometimes they make mistakes.

    Billy knows that i'm an IM or phone call away. For the rest of you that want an immediate reply from me, here's all our info:

    ICQ: 175010 (notice the short 6 digit number), i've been on since the 80's
    AIM: affiliatedoctor
    Yahoo: affiliatedoctor /at / yahoo.com (only for IM, dont check that email)
    MSN: affiliatedoctor /at/ hotmail (only for IM, dont check this one either)
    Phone: 305-785-4524 (Cell) - 305-412-3512 (office)
    Toll Free coming soon ....

    Whew ...... thanks BK
    Andy Rodriguez Consulting, Affiliate Program Management and Consulting Services, Since 2001
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  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    Andy, this isn't about you. Really, geez.
    And Billy, why not just join the program and promote the product, why email them? I don't think most merchants care, as I don't necessarily promote all the products every merchant has. I am thinking they have lots to do and maybe found your question not urgent? Or perhaps they know you and that is why they didn't answer?

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador
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    Would be nice if there was a comprehensive IM list, something like this:

    http://www.affaimlist.com/

    but even more comprehensive.

  18. #18
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    You're right Andy. The challenge there is that there are many affiliates who don't want to use their phone (as I know you are well aware). I for one wopuld love it if my phone rang more from the affiliates we already work with, much less interested ones.

    In your case, I'm not sure what I would do if I had that volume of email. Probably cry a little bit at first.

    I really like the way you make yourself available by IM (as many of us do). That's a great method of contect these days.
    Kevin Webster
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  19. #19
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    An example of why 48 hours is preferred:

    On 9/6, Performics announced a new merchant, Paper.com.

    I looked. They had a lot of Hanukka stuff. Cool!

    And the AM was actually an OPM firm. Cool! OPMs actually answer emails!

    I replied with "Can I join if I just need your Hanukkah stuff".

    No response. Aargh!

    I go to paper.com and fill out a "problem ticket". Cool! problem tickets get responses. No one can say "I never got the email".

    My problem was: Sep 17, 2007 09:31 PM
    The company you PAY to respond to affiliates... doesn't respond. How else can I get a response? (then copied the unanswered email)

    No response. Aargh.

    Finally got my problem ticket response on 9/24. They gave me a different name to contact at the OPM firm - not the contact info, just a name.

    But that means it takes them a WEEK to respond to their own customers. That's way too long. That's a guaranteed way to loose the sale. We as affiliates are used to being ignored. but we expect merchants to acually respond to their customers.

    So they showed they are not a company I would partner with.

    Yesterday I rec'd a response from the OPM (paper.com forwarded my ticket), but it's too late.

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamingoworld
    And Billy, why not just join the program and promote the product, why email them? I don't think most merchants care, as I don't necessarily promote all the products every merchant has. I am thinking they have lots to do and maybe found your question not urgent? Or perhaps they know you and that is why they didn't answer?
    I agree with this. It also makes you look like a newbie.

    If what you posted was really all you asked, I think you were wasting your time and theirs.

  21. #21
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    And Billy, why not just join the program and promote the product, why email them?
    Connie, problems happen in this buisiness - that's a given.

    If a problem happens, as Alan pointed out, a PPC ad may be going to a dead page... it is important to know there's a human on the other end to fix the problem.

    So I always contact a merchant prior to investing any of my limited time... to confirm there IS someone at home.

  22. #22
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Regardless, Snowman, if an affiliate reaches out to you, it should be responded to. That's part of what we're paid for.

    Regardless of size, regardless of product line, your sales team needs to be communicated with.

    If an affiliate reaches out to you, and you don't reply, how can you expect the affiliate to return the favor when you need something from them? Why bother sending newsletters if you don't want feedback and contact?

    I know some programs are on autopilot, and I guess that's ok. Just wouldn't be my preference, is all.
    Kevin Webster
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  23. #23
    Full Member Code Monkey's Avatar
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    Most AMs Want..
    The ultimate solution for this problem is to allow AMs to have a special email address for truly valid emails from affiliates...

    I can only imagine how many useless emails an AM gets every single day. An AM needs the ability to focus on those affiliates that are making sales (the 20%) and put all of the other affiliates (the 80%) on the back burner to be answered later...

    I bet for every valid, necessary email an AM receives, he/she probably gets 50 or more very basic questions that would easily be answered if the affiliate would simply do a google or ABW search...

  24. #24
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    If what you posted was really all you asked, I think you were wasting your time and theirs.
    Yep - that's all I asked

    Hi

    I'm building out my Hanukkah section at

    [my url]

    and I asked [my rep] at Linkshare for some recomendations

    rather then one merchant with 100 products, he found 100 merchants with one product - LOL

    Would you mind if I joined, but only need 2 products?

    Thanks,
    [my real name]
    Those that responded now know I really exist. I know they're there if I need them.

    And...

    Dear [my real name]

    Thank you for your interest in the [merchantname] affiliate program.

    We would be happy to consider your application through LinkShare, even
    if only for 2 products. Possibly you would be willing to include some
    of our text links or banner ads in addition to the 2 products you need.
    We carry a broad variety of products that would fit on your website. If
    you're only looking to expand your Jewish section we offer the following
    that would fit within that section: Rosh Hashanah cards, Hanukkah cards,
    Bar and Bat Mitzvah invitations, personalized napkins, Naming Ceremony
    invitations and wedding invitations.

    We look forward to receiving your application.

    Best Regards,
    and others said things like "Hey! Our stuff would also do well in your graduation gifts section".... etc

    I don't think It makes me look like a newb at all. Just the opposite. Makes me look professional and proactive.

    My one email got me

    a relationship

    merchants who know what I do

    suggestions for other things from merchants

    a partnership that should grow and prosper for all concerned

  25. #25
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    Most of the time it's something thrown in the laps of somebody who does other type of marketing as well and can't spend full time on the affiliate program and then you have cases where merchants pretty much let a network run the program
    That is mostly the case. I speak to merchants that they are either the CEO and do not have time or they only have a third party programmer/designer/marketer or do they do their own selling through yahoo or eBay, etc. They want to setup and have a good affiliate program, but they do not have anyone inhouse or even a third party that knows or maybe even wants to run the affiliate program. Most times what I hear from merchants is that they do not want to deal with hiring someone just for that only since they are just starting and resources are low to justify paying someone in an office all day.

    The key I think and what I always tell merchants is to setup an email right away called: 'affiliates @ merchantdomainname' and monitor it at least once a day, most have it properly but some do not. On some networks I see all kinds of manager's names, the network names or some other domain name which is not the actual affiliate program store name. We do know of networks that prefers all their merchants have 'networkname @ merchantdomainname' or merchantdomainname @networkname'

    I think we should start and every affiliate start that when communicating with merchants should send them a message about creating such an email called 'affiliates @merchantdomainname' too. It will easier for old and new to know exactly where to send emails, but merchants must monitor is daily too.

    I vote for an industry wide standard to get merchants using this. To get a standard email so that not only they can see it and respond often, but also sometimes we search around not knowing what email to use or wonder why they are not answering it and it could be one reason. But we also know they might not even see that email since it gets picked up by someone else first, either the network or a third party person.

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