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  1. #1
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    Temporarily Offline - how long...
    ... before you remove the merchant?

    My opinion is that if the merchant hasnít deposited within a few days they arenít looking after their program that well.

    But when to make the decission to remove? Is there any reason that a merchant can be offline for a week and still be worth retaining?

  2. #2
    notary sojac Herb ‘Ņ‘¨'s Avatar
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    Lightbulb
    I've asked some point-blank, using the internal SAS form, if they are coming back or should I drop them. Many responded and fixed their account. Others I gave a week from my notifying them.

  3. #3
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    if the merchant hasnít deposited within a few days they arenít looking after their program that well.
    I agree with that point of view -- if they don't care, why should we?

    And I also agree with Herb that it's important for affiliates to be pro-active in immediately contacting the merchants, to let them know that they are offline. I keep a "generic" email ready for this sort of thing, which is respectful but also clear that there is a short limit to how long we will carry a merchant that is generating dead links on our sites.

    If they come back online promptly, then that's fine -- I'll assume it was a temporary oversight on their part.

    Otherwise, my own cut-off is 3 full days. And I will not reinstate a merchant after that point unless they go "auto-deposit". Unfortunately, it was my experience when I first started with SAS that some merchants would go offline several times a year, and after awhile, that gets real old.

    .

  4. #4
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aphiliac
    ..., it was my experience when I first started with SAS that some merchants would go offline several times a year, and after awhile, that gets real old.

    .
    It's real important to check Program Uptime History before joining a merchant program - that's a great SAS feature that other networks do not have. If a merchant was offline 5 times in 2007, chances are they'll be ofline 5 more times in 2008.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
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  5. #5
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    It's real important to check Program Uptime History before joining a merchant program
    That and looking for "auto deposit" is the best advice we can give to new affiliates.

    When I first began with SAS a couple years ago, I had (regrettably!) not visited this board, so did not know how important it is to check their history and ONLY use auto-deposit merchants.

    Burn me once, shame on you; burn me twice, shame on me.

    .

  6. #6
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    I think a good way to avoid merchants going off line is by making them pay a "restore fee" to get back into the system before they go back on line. Make it a big enough chunk of cash so they'll pay attention. Mandatory auto deposit would be sweet, too but auto deposit merchants go off line, too.

    Merchants need to respect their businesses and their affiliates as much as affiliates need to respect their merchants.

    Letting a merchant know they're showing low funds or off line is good and also letting them know that affiliates can look at their off line history is an eye opener because they don't see the same interface we do.

    Meanwhile, a merchant who regularly goes off line is a joke. I just pulled a very promising merchant from my site after sending lots of visitors to a dead page. After checking their uptime history, I saw they were off line last year at this same time and go off line constantly (Then I checked at ABW and sure enough ... last year affiliates were complaining about them being off line during Q4). I loved their products and would have promoted them like crazy but now I wouldn't consider partnering with them unlesss they hire an OPM that I trust and show good will toward their program.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rexanne
    I think a good way to avoid merchants going off line is by making them pay a "restore fee" to get back into the system before they go back on line. Make it a big enough chunk of cash so they'll pay attention. Mandatory auto deposit would be sweet, too but auto deposit merchants go off line, too.
    Agree!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rexanne
    Meanwhile, a merchant who regularly goes off line is a joke.
    Couldn't agree more!

  8. #8
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    but auto deposit merchants go off line, too
    About 45 minutes ago I saw a good merchant of our's go off that has auto deposit so I immediately wrote an email, to alert them that they are offline. Very shortly thereafter I received a reply from that merchant, thanking me for letting them know of the offline status, which included this sentence:

    "I don't know what is going on with shareasales automatic deposit system so I had to manually deposit more funds."
    So perhaps the SAS network is in the red zone, due to too much activity? Whatever the cause, the problem may not be only on the merchants' end.

    .

  9. #9
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Aphiliac,

    If you want me to look into it, email me the Merchant that you are dealing with and I'll find out what the problem might have been.

    Most of the time it is just that an auto-deposit card is declined or expired. For that reason we have the "backup" card that can be put on the account. Again, it is important for a merchant to take advantage of all these tools but some choose not to.

    When an auto-deposit fails, the merchant also receives 4 seperate emails, and two more when the account gets close to and below $0...
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  10. #10
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    Brian,

    In their email to me the merchant said that they were going to contact you on Monday (no doubt assuming that you folks took a break on weekends), so I'll defer sending the info only because they plan on doing that themselves next week.

    Given your explanation, it sounds like it's something that will be easily cleared up. Thanks for taking the time to respond....

    .

  11. #11
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    I decided to stay flexible. I think that action should be taken on a case by case basis.

    The reason I asked is because I am creating a system to report offline merchants and was thinking of auto disabling the merchant if they went offline.

    I decided to create a system that sends any false click from the offline merchant back to the 404 page of correct site with a 302 header and send myself an email about it.

    This way gives me the flexibility to decide what to do and how quickly to do it.

    Thanks for your answers.

  12. #12
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    I certainly look at "offline history" as an extremely important factor in deciding which merchants to work with; like others, I assume that a merchant who went offline 3 times in Q4'2006 will also go offline 3 times in Q4'2007. I also feel that "going offline" multiple times (for more than a day or so) is a signal that the merchant is not "serious" about their affiliate program.

    Like others, I maintain a spreadsheet that identifies all the ShareASale merchants whose programs I've joined (no, I won't share the entire spreadsheet, since it is the result of 100+ hours of work, although I do share my list of merchants whom I consider to be "defunct" or who have dreadful "offline histories").

    I have a specific column to identify "offline history." Any merchant who's had multiple "temporarily offline" events for more than 7 days (or a single offline event of 14 days or longer) is currently flagged for me to "ignore," meaning that the merchant won't be included in any work I'm doing, and generally will even be excluded from any "directory" that I create.

    At one time, I had a column for "Low Funds History" but I've removed that because the more important thing for me is "Auto-Deposit."

    Others mentioned using the SAS "contact us" form to ask the merchant about the offline status -- I often try this, but frequently "affiliate-inexperienced" merchants remain offline because SAS emails aren't getting past spam filters, so I try to send a direct email also.

    (In response to a merchant's advertising inquiry in 2005, I encouraged the merchant to join SAS [26 months ago], and then I rudely waited 9 or 10 months to actually add links promote the merchant [which had a persistent "zero" EPC until then]. As soon as I began driving sales, the merchant fell to "Low Funds" status. When I noticed that the "Low Funds" status had not been cured, I emailed the merchant, asking if he'd received the "Low Funds" notification; he did not, as he hadn't whitelisted ShareASale.com, and per my advice he did so and also set up Auto-Deposit.)

    On the issue of whether to remove links to offline merchants (whether manually or automatically), "it depends."

    - Certainly, I'll try to immediately suspend any PPC campaigns (either "direct-to-merchant" or promoting one of my sites which derives most revenue from that merchant) if the merchant falls "temporarily offline" or if I have any concerns about tracking. Ideally, this would be done automatically, but I'm still many months away from that capability.

    - In contrast, I rarely remove links on my "content sites" when a merchant falls "temporarily offline." Indeed, I've left "dead links" on some sites for years (I recently moved all my sites to a new server and purged more than a million "stale pages" during the transition).

  13. #13
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    I would also want to emphasize to any people reading this thread who are relatively new to SAS to be sure to set up your own custom "REDIRECT.HTML" page. This is a fantastic feature at SAS that opens one of your own pages -- not the typical "404 Page Not Found" or default SAS offline notice -- whenever a merchant goes down, so you keep any visitors within your own site. All you need to do is to design the page, upload it to your server, then identify it in your SAS account settings, so it's both easy and effective.

    .

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