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Old 07-30-2005   #1
stuntdubl
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Lightbulb Favorite Affiliate Management Software

I don't do a whole lot with affiliate marketing work, but I know it sure is handy to an SEO campaign to have an affiliate program that passes link popularity.

I had always suggested Myap for this reason (along with linkconnector), but with the recent price hikes, it makes it a bit less of a solution for most folks. I haven't done much affiliate management, but like to be able to make a fairly informed suggestion to clients who happen to inquire.

Without getting into pros and cons about why this is good or bad (if you expect link pop you had better compensate to your affiliates for it), does anyone have a take on their favorite affiliate management software packages (preferably that pass link pop)? If you were narrowing down the choices, what would you use and why?

Last edited by stuntdubl : 07-30-2005 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 07-30-2005   #2
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Quote:
it sure is handy to an SEO campaign to have an affiliate program that passes link popularity.
Yes, some think that way, but it can come back to bite. I'd suggest reading through some of the posts here, where what's happened is that the URL with the affiliate's ID replaced the merchant's own page in the SERPs.

Quote:
(if you expect link pop you had better compensate to your affiliates for it)
The merchant site losing rankings to one affiliate would give a lot of compensation to that one particular affiliate, to be sure.

Added:

There have been several, but here's just one of the recent ones:

http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/...ead.php?t=6967

Last edited by Marcia : 07-31-2005 at 01:01 AM.
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Old 07-31-2005   #3
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problems aside, what are your favorites?

Hey Marcia,

I did see those threads in searching before I did this post, but for the most part it sounds like poor management from a technical standpoint to me. I know there are ways to "have the cake and eat it too" since I've seen it in action with customized scripts.

My question is more which scripts / software are good starting points to use and then try to remedy issues like the ones mentioned in that thread (I'm sure that could be another thread onto itself). Honestly, if it's done correctly the merchant site should always outrank the aff sites, and having aff id's in the serps (in the short term) should really just be seen as more search real estate for the merchant. If the top 3 serps had aff id's in 'em I might sing another tune, but I think this tradeoff for better overall rankings is well worth it in the short term while the tech team gets their act together. More links that help for rankings vs. payin' a few affiliates a bit more is a no brainer in my mind. Just the same as click fraud (or click fraud auditing) is a cost of doing business for PPC, I think this would be a cost of doing business for an affiliate program that passes link pop.
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Old 07-31-2005   #4
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>if it's done correctly the merchant site should always outrank the aff sites

Most merchants will not and should not run the risk of doing it correctly. [BH]
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Old 07-31-2005   #5
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>I know there are ways to "have the cake and eat it too" since I've seen it

The problem here, IMO, is the mindset. Does the merchant want a good affiliate program to have good affiliates, or for links?

A solid merchant won't be doing what they can to benefit themselves from their aff links, they will focus that time on their program to benefit them AND their affiliates. So, that's where your cake comes in. Do you want the best aff program you can have, or are you simply looking out for YOUR best interests.

We can see which programs pass linkpop, almost as easily as we can see which programs have leak problems.

Sure, you can make the argument of why not both, but affiliates don't like being taken for granted. The serious ones are hardened to merchants only looking out for themselves, we have been dealing with crappy merchants and tactics for years.

Do you notice how every day you see new posts about "How do I promote my program? I've done X, Y and Z and nobody signs up!" We can smell serious merchants, and we know some affiliate programs are nothing but a facade.

If you want a solid affiliate program, let your link campaigns be your link campaigns and your aff program be what it is supposed to be, not both.

Your SEO clients may be more interested in links than a good partner setup. If so, continue making your suggestions for solutions that give backlinks. I just hope they don't count on real affiliate revenue.
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Old 07-31-2005   #6
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the merchant site should always outrank the aff sites
Only if you have better SEOs on staff than the affiliates. And the fact is, that today more and more SEOs leave client work to do addiliate SEO so I'd expect a great deal more affiliate sites will outrank the original sites in the coming time.

Me, as A consumer don't really care what affiliate site I get my Viragra from - as long as they ship to me at a good price
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Old 07-31-2005   #7
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People that know me well, know I am as pro affiliate as they come. I want affiliates to get every dime they are honestly entitled to. I don't think affiliates should be used for link pop either.

Shhooooot, just deleted a big long part of my post by accident. Can't type it all out again. Darn. But in short I was saying I can see one Win/Win reason to consider using direct linking. That's to help avoid issues with ad blockers and cookie eating spyware apps that are blocking or could in the future decide to block popular tracking software URLs or telltale URL strings like KBID.

Not gonna get into all the pros and cons of the affiliate PR linking issue, because others above have covered them well and we have discussed them in other threads. Again I don't support using direct linking affiliate software just to get PR from affiliates.

So to answer stuntdubl's original question:

UltraLinks - www.ultra-affiliate-software.com claims that they are the only ones that do true direct linking to help link pop. They don't use any type of redirection. Users go straight from the affiliate link to your website. They also don’t tack a query string on the end of your URL. Again I can see some advantages from the ad blocking perspective and also giving affiliates links that don't look like standard tracking links, could improve click through for affiliates. HOWEVER I have never tested this software and am not endorsing it in any way. Just trying to offer an answer based on what I know about. Do your own due diligence.

Another POSSIBLE option - don't know for sure is www.AffiliateClicks.com MYAP's baby brother from Kowabunga. Since Kowa raised the MYAP price so steeply, I need to find out more about this one for smaller merchants. Need to talk to Wade and Todd about the differences.

AffiliateClicks page says: "All Affiliate links in the AffiliateClicks system point to your software at 'affiliateclicks.com/yourdirectory/yoursoftware'. However, if you would like the visible Affiliate links that your customers click on to point to your domain for branding purposes, this can be done by uploading a simple script to your server. This script 'redirects' the visitors to your software for processing, and the software redirects the visitor back to the appropriate page on your site." So sounds like they have some type of direct linking option, but according to the Ultralinks info link pop wont pass if it's a redirect or a ?query string tagged to the end. Not sure if that's true, I'm not all that technical.

Am I saying either of these is the way to go? No. They are simply a couple of the many tracking options out there. Deciding which software is best for a particular affiliate program involves a whole lot of issues that vary by merchant. The least important IMHO is passing link pop. Many other things are more important. If you don't consider the other things you won't get serious affiliates anyway.

Like Drastic said: they can smell serious merchants, and they know some affiliate programs are nothing but a facade."

Linda
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Old 07-31-2005   #8
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>The problem here, IMO, is the mindset.

You can smell it...
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Old 07-31-2005   #9
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Question Playing devil's advocate now...Never?

I've seen a few instances where people have multiple programs.

Playing devil's advocate -
I sell widgets. Good product. Good conversions. Fairly average program, but consider it is EXTREMELY relevant to your current niche site.

If you have the choice between two programs.
1. Network program
90 day cookies 10% commissions

2. Custom program with program manager
Indefinite cookieless tracking that is reliable. 20% commissions. Passes link popularity.

Without giving the answer that you would choose neither, which would you choose?

Quote:
Most merchants will not and should not run the risk of doing it correctly
I appreciate your sagely wisdom, but could you please explain instances other than indexing/hijacking problems where there were more risks involved with a program that uses proper 301's, direct links, or cookieless tracking? I would love to know some of the issue as to help find the defenses for them.
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The problem here, IMO, is the mindset. Does the merchant want a good affiliate program to have good affiliates, or for links?
Intent is definitely important, and I KNOW that affiliates are among the smartest, most skeptical people on the planet. They can smell a scheme from a mile off. If I'm a program manager (which I'm not), having an open dialogue with affiliates is one of the most important elements to a good program. I can see this just glancing at who is doing well on the boards. If I'm runnin' a program, and tell you I'll be happy to pay a higher percentage for a situation that helps my link popularity to decrease my spend on links? Isn't that a win-win?


Quote:
Quote:
the merchant site should always outrank the aff sites
and the fact is, that today more and more SEOs leave client work to do addiliate SEO so I'd expect a great deal more affiliate sites will outrank the original sites in the coming time.
Totally true. Passing link popularity helps a merchant more than most merchants deserve. Affiliates ARE the best SEO's, and I'd be the first to admit it. Affiliate marketing is also safer to a lot of merchants because it is performance based. The risk is more with short term losses than it is with a longer term seo campaign. I think affiliates have been slighted enough times where they give a slanted eye to anything that directs a merchant immensely for the long term and doesn't hold a lot of compensation.

It's tough to hire a good SEO for reason (affiliate marketing offers good $ and flexibility). One way to go has definitely been to let your affiliate program handle your SEO and only worry about conversion issues on the merchant site. Hmmm...maybe SEO consultants and aff program managers aren't so different after all...

Quote:
avoid issues with ad blockers and cookie eating spyware apps that are blocking or could in the future decide to block popular tracking software URLs
Definitely a great example of a win/win. Affiliates and merchants working together for the good of both has helped create some cool stuff. I would guess it's mainly those that are abusing the systems that don't want to talk about 'em. Of course I'm not active enough in the affiliate marketplace to make most of the comments I already have


Quote:
Deciding which software is best for a particular affiliate program involves a whole lot of issues that vary by merchant. The least important IMHO is passing link pop. Many other things are more important. If you don't consider the other things you won't get serious affiliates anyway.
I would imagine there are a lot of issues, but I can't see the link pop issue being worthless to consider when choosing software and campaign direction. This is an opportunity for aff/merch cooperation, I don't understand how it can be totally overlooked unless there are areas where it can cause extreme detriment to either party (can it?) It can be such a large part of an online merchant's strategy that there should definitely some opportunity for crossover in the online marketing mix. Most of the best ideas would come straight from the affiliates. Appeasing those that make the most money is certainly going to be important to a good aff campaign. I don't see why these efforts should hinder the merchants SEO though? Why not rule the serps together? Attracting links is not a inexpensive endeavor. I would rather see the affiliates of a program contribute to and benefit from this process if possible.

Thank you for your suggestions Linda. I'd love to hear other suggestions/ feedback if anyone else has dabbled. Is there potential room for middle ground here or am I just a naive consultant?
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Old 07-31-2005   #10
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>having an open dialogue with affiliates is one of the most important elements to a good program.

Not here, I don't care to talk to you. I send you the traffic, you send me the checks. Answer my email if I need something. Otherwise leave me alone, I've got limited time. But that issue is for another thread. ;-)

>I'll be happy to pay a higher percentage for a situation that helps my link popularity to decrease my spend on links? Isn't that a win-win?

It's confusing the issue on an already clouded landscape. Affiliate programs are set up for your partners to send you qualified traffic, for you to get more direct sales. Trying to get additional boost that you should be doing elsewhere makes you immediately questionable.

I think this thread is a good example. You seem like an SEO who looks at aff marketing as a way to boost link pop, not someone who looks at aff marketing as a solid method of driving more sales. A merchant not properly focused on the target is going to miss.

There are serious programs that compete well and get real affiliates' interest. Then there are programs that just don't get it.

>If you have the choice between two programs.
>1. Network program
>90 day cookies 10% commissions

>2. Custom program with program manager
>Indefinite cookieless tracking that is reliable. 20% commissions. Passes link popularity.

The answers depend on a lot more variables. Does the network in #1 have other issues such as tracking or parasite problems?
Does your #2 custom program use a custom solution that I'll have to test for accuracy?
What do the stats look like? Are they realtime?
Are your terms wishy-washy?
This list could go on forever.
The bottom line is once I am satisfied you are ok to work with, which tracking mechanism and structure ends up giving me the most revenue per click is the one I'll use. Not what the structure says, the bottom line EPC.
If that ends up being #2, what are you going to do about my cloaked and redirected aff links that don't pass linkpop? Are you going to demote my commission? Not pay me? This clouds the issue, and makes me wonder what your real aim is with your program.

A merchant that has chosen a tracking solution for linkpop or offers more commission for one, is clearly missing the point. If you need linkpop, get links or SEO or whatever you need to do. That is not your affiliates' job.

>Affiliate marketing is also safer to a lot of merchants because it is performance based. The risk is more with short term losses than it is with a longer term seo campaign.

I'm not sure you understand affiliate marketing, or I'm not understanding what you're saying. Affiliate sales are not a loss, and proper programs are not a risk. I don't see how they could be seen in this light. Are you saying a merchant may lose money on aff sales so they get their linkpop boost? This doesn't make sense.

>I don't see why these efforts should hinder the merchants SEO though?
It's not so much the side benefit of linkpop hurting the deal, as it is your focus on it. You're quite into this discussion and have advised clients on this, but have little or no real experience with it. Only focusing on one aspect of the tracking which only benefits the merchant is the kind of attitude that cranks out crappy programs.

>Why not rule the serps together?
Sorry, but I'm going to be above you, or least that's my goal. If you fall in behind me, that's up to you and not my deal. I'm not here to help you rank, that's your job.

I am an independent salesman. I am here to make money. If you suck, your tracking sucks, or your product sucks, you'll see me working with your competition. All the feel good, hippy let's work together and be buds crap is nonsense. This is business.

>Attracting links is not a inexpensive endeavor.
Exactly, so why should I have to get mine the hard way, and you get a free ride?

>room for middle ground here or am I just a naive consultant?
;-)
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Old 08-01-2005   #11
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Here's a related discussion from about a year ago....

link building with affiliate programs -- does it work?
http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/...ead.php?t=1915

I don't do much affiliate work either, and my interest is much as stuntdubl's... At the time of the above thread, I was very much impressed by LinkConnector, and I've seen nothing since to change my mind. Was it just MyAp that raised its prices, or did LinkConnector go up too?
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Old 08-01-2005   #12
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Wow this is turning into a great thread! Gonna have to blog about it. Great comments on all sides.

stuntdubl said:

Quote:
I would imagine there are a lot of issues, but I can't see the link pop issue being worthless to consider when choosing software and campaign direction. This is an opportunity for aff/merch cooperation, I don't understand how it can be totally overlooked unless there are areas where it can cause extreme detriment to either party (can it?)
While I understand what you are saying, here is the most important consideration of all IMHO. If you want strong affiliates and they are the only ones that will generate lots of traffic and sales anyway -- you must understand what they value most and give it to them! There are lots of things that affiliates evaluate and that are important to them, but in my opinion, some of the most savvy affiliates value: trust in the tracking and their time above all.

I have worked with most of the popular solutions out there. I also work with thousands of affiliates and know that one of the most important considerations in selecting tracking software, is to use a program that partners not only trust, but are used to - so it's easier & faster for them to get links and check stats. One of the MOST popular and highly rated programs - merchants love but affiliates HATE! The reports and layout are just too different for them to get used to and it wastes their time trying to switch gears everytime they have to log-in a use it.

The strong affiliates you want are pros that value their time and traffic. They want a comfortable interface they are used to, with all the reports they are accustomed to and hopefully one place to log-in and check several programs at once. Having a top name program they trust to do accurate tracking is a must. (That's why I could not whole-heartedly recommend Ultralinks even with the PR bene. It may be good, but I don't think that many affiliates are used to it.)

So my top recommendations for programs (that aren't at the level to consider CJ which has lots of pros and a couple cons) are www.Shareasale.com (the BEST small network by far in my opinion) and MyAP from Kowabunga. One of the BIG benefits to MYAP is that once you have their software you can be added to their new Kolimbo network - and their Affiliatecash directory at no additional charge. Now with MYAP prices being up around CJ it's not a good fit for small start-up programs.

Sharesale offers easy, low cost set-up and pays affiliates for you, so that's one less thing you have to worry about. Only one of my client's is on SAS right now but I wish more were. We have many big CJ clients. But many of our smaller programs are set up on in-house software. A lot of affiliates prefer a network and many of them prefer SAS due to Brian's pro-affiliate attitude and anti-parasite policies, so it's a good place to be.

I know more about the pros and cons of each solution than I wish I did sometimes. There are lots of things I know about tracking glitches and stuff, that I wish I had no idea about. However, based on all the benefits and challenges I know about with every tracking solution, if I were to start an affiliate program today, I would choose Shareasale. SAS does nothing for your PR, but if you can't attract good affiliates then you won't get much PR value anyway.

Recruiting and attracting quality affiliates is everything. Find out what affiliates want and give it to them! Help save them time, use a solution they trust with reports and tools they are used to and make it easier for them to make money.

For affiliates, being able to log into one affiliate network to check stats and pull links from 20 merchants - is just like you being able to go into AdWords to manage 20 different PPC campaigns. It's much easier to do it all in one place than to log-into 20 different sites, each with different reports and different ways of managing the account.

Drastic's comments are a perfect example - he's basically saying don't jerk my chain and don't waste my time. Just like any smart business person - time is money to busy affiliates.

Linda
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Old 08-04-2005   #13
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Hello all....I'm new to this forum (pointed here by the boss ), but not new to the industry. There are alot of excellent recommendations made in this thread. To add to the list, we are an affiliate software firm (in business for 7 years) that has affordable packages and an option to build link popularity. It has become one of our most popular features. We've also recently brought on 2 affiliate management partners to offer reasonbly priced affiliate management services if you don't have the time to devote to the program. Our url is www.affiliatetracking.com if you are still in the market.


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Old 08-05-2005   #14
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Confusing a cloudy issue with affiliate loyalty

Some great points Drastic, thank you.

I think there definitely ARE two sides to the coin though, and I think affiliates tend to get a chip on their shoulder from workin' with crappy merchants. If you drive strong traffic, you deserve to be compensated accordingly, period.
Agreed.

Quote:
Not what the structure says, the bottom line EPC.
Cool. I'll get you the best EPC. I'll bend over backward to help you get it. If you can add value for me for minimal additional cost to you why be a miser?

Affiliate marketing is a great option...no qualms about it...but it is only a PART of the online marketing mix in many, many cases. Affiliate marketing can co-exist with merchant SEO and PPC. It just doesn't happen correctly often in my opinion. Probably because those who should be coordinating the efforts don't understand all three areas well enough to have them support one another.

Quote:
>Affiliate marketing is also safer to a lot of merchants because it is performance based. The risk is more with short term losses than it is with a longer term seo campaign.

I'm not sure you understand affiliate marketing, or I'm not understanding what you're saying. Affiliate sales are not a loss, and proper programs are not a risk. I don't see how they could be seen in this light. Are you saying a merchant may lose money on aff sales so they get their linkpop boost? This doesn't make sense.
The point I was trying to make here is that affiliate marketing is often less of an up front investment on the merchant side, and it is totally performance based. They setup the network, work with affiliates, hopefully hire a good affiliate manager and pay commissions. With an SEO campaign the initial barrier to entry before hitting the breakeven point is often much higher, but once the results hit, the merchant can usually ride them for a long time, and the results could be .01, 10x, 100x, ROI. Not at all saying that affiliate programs are a loss or a risk...quite the contrary. I definitely recognize the value of good affiliate marketing. It is more "consistent odds" if you will. I also recognize the very low level of loyalty by most large affiliates. I think that shines through with your comments on assisting with link popularity as well.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but as an affiliate I would be most concerned with:
  • REALIABLE TRACKING/ NO LEAKAGE
  • Higher percentages
  • Better conversion rates
  • Less Chargebacks
  • Any tools that will help make my job easier (datafeeds, generators, etc)

If your merchant is taking care of these, and you're happy, what's the problem with passin' some link pop?


Quote:
It's not so much the side benefit of linkpop hurting the deal, as it is your focus on it
Agreed. I can understand that you would gauge a merchant on intent. But ruling the program a farce JUST on the fact that link pop is passed? That was somewhat of the initial intent of the question (to find a program that passes link pop), so I could make a recommendation to clients that asked, and I could research it a little further from those like yourself and Linda who are more in tune with the affiliate marketplace. I agree that I would be ticked off if a merchant was tryin' to get me to sign up just to harvest my backlinks. Being signed up as an affiliate for linkconnector, I see new merchants daily that reek of it. It definitely smells at that level. Through this discussion, however, it also made me again realize how much of a disconnect there is between the areas that handle the marketing mix for good vendors. How many merchants do you know that have a strong in-house SEO, PPC, AND a good affiliate program that co-exists well with it's affiliates? As a consultant, I also don't want to do anything that is going to be of detriment to the affiliate program (like suggesting a link pop passing software that would put off affiliates), so I do appreciate the eye-openers.

Quote:
All the feel good, hippy let's work together and be buds crap is nonsense. This is business.
Sounds pretty extreme to me. You're hoping for cooperation from merchants. You can demand respect because you've worked hard to put yourself in that position, but that can't be said for all affiliates on the rise. There is such a thing as cooperation for the common good. I like working with people who want to help make me money, and I like making other people money. I prefer "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" to "it's a dog eat dog world" myself.

Quote:
>Attracting links is not a inexpensive endeavor.
Exactly, so why should I have to get mine the hard way, and you get a free ride?
I agree. Never was askin' for a free ride here. Just a little more loyalty than it seems an affiliate would be willing to give.

Quote:
but in my opinion, some of the most savvy affiliates value: trust in the tracking and their time above all.
This is the same way I understand affiliate marketing Linda. Affiliates want to be able to trust their merchants and get a fair cut. Why is it so difficult to expect that from affiliates?

Quote:
If that ends up being #2, what are you going to do about my cloaked and redirected aff links that don't pass linkpop? Are you going to demote my commission? Not pay me? This clouds the issue, and makes me wonder what your real aim is with your program.
A merchant couldn't STOP you from doing a cloaked redirect so you didn't pass link pop, but it's the same line of thinking as merchants skimming in my mind if passing link pop was part of the agreement for a higher commission. From an outside point of view, it sounds a bit like most affiliate/merchant relationships are a somewhat strained one with both keeping a very skeptical eye at all times. As a businessperson, this is not the types of deals I am excited to get into. I like working with people who have earned trust, and give me one less thing to worry about at night.

If I'm a merchant real aim is to make sales...You're going to help, I want to take care of you accordingly. I want to maximize my other avenues as well. I'm concerned more about my bottom line than I am about you in the same way that you are. You ask for merchant honesty and dilligence in tracking...if it is a part of the agreement, why would you want to be deceptive with your practices (agreeing to linking for link pop then bait and switching)? Maybe karma is a hippy thing.

All disagreement points aside, do you have some favorite tracking systems that you think are more exceptional than others? Since reliability is the most important element...which do you see as the MOST reliable? If you were a merchant what would you use?

Do you work with ANY merchants you trust? What made them trustworthy, and would anything besides cold hard cash instill some sense of loyalty for you? If the affiliate realm is really so harsh, perhaps I'll enjoy retaining my naivete, and keeping an outsider's perspective.
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Old 08-08-2005   #15
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>Please correct me if I'm wrong, but as an affiliate I would be most concerned with:
> * REALIABLE TRACKING/ NO LEAKAGE ...

The 3 things I am most concerned with are:

EPC
EPC
and EPC

all of your bullet points fall under this. You do your job properly, and it will result in a good EPC. If I'm looking over your program, and trying to decide if you're worth giving my time and trial, I look at the specifics.

>If your merchant is taking care of these, and you're happy, what's the problem with passin' some link pop?

You know, the top EPC program for my promotion is going to be where I send the traffic, linkpop or not.

>But ruling the program a farce JUST on the fact that link pop is passed?

No, it's part of the equation. If I see you have some leaks, or maybe a questionable past (spyware, etc), or maybe terms that aren't clear, then I also see you have set your program up for a linkpop boost - you are starting to look very questionable. I work with programs that pass linkpop, but their programs are solid overall, and I think the linkpop is just a byproduct of what they set up, not an initial desire.

However a merchant whose focus on their affiliate program begins with the linkpop they get out of the deal, is already missing the mark. A merchant should use a tracking mechanism that best fits them, their product and affiliates. If it ends up passing linkpop too, great. I just would not let that be much of an influence on the decision-making process.

>Sounds pretty extreme to me. You're hoping for cooperation from merchants. You can demand respect because you've worked hard to put yourself in that position

Extreme? Well, I guess my personality still matches my nick. ;-) Seriously though, I'm a numbers man. To me, this business is about numbers. I have taken emotion out of the equation, and it has served me well. It allows me to better focus on what I see as the goal. Others may think loyalty is an important part, or working together. That's great, if that serves them well they should see it in that light.

I'm not looking for cooperation, that will be part of the partnership. An affiliate program is a statement of commitment of cooperation. I just need to figure out if you're serious about it or not. I'm not trying to command respect, I just want to send you solid traffic and be compensated for it. It really is that simple.

>I like working with people who want to help make me money, and I like making other people money.
This is exactly how this business works by nature. It doesn't require loyalty or working together other than the aff agreement. If I do my job and you do yours, we are going to be helping each other make money. I just don't put a face on it - I put a bottom line on it.

>I prefer "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" to "it's a dog eat dog world" myself.
You won't make it in this business without back-scratching. I just am very careful who I call friends. A merchant is not my friend, they are my business partner. I think a "back-scratching" partnership is not the way to start off with someone you just met. Trust isn't dished out, it's earned, on BOTH sides.

>I agree. Never was askin' for a free ride here. Just a little more loyalty than it seems an affiliate would be willing to give.
The point I've been trying to make here, is you're asking a lot. We're working in a landscape where thieves and conmen lurk behind every corner. I'm jaded yes, and I'm cynical. I've learned to be that way the hard way. The lessons from the school of hard knocks are not easily forgotten, and rightly so.

You make a good point about new affs coming up in the ranks. Sure, working together with them may go a long way. But personally, I have never learned anything new from a merchant. A merchant has nothing to offer me but the bottom line, so that's what I work for.

>Affiliates want to be able to trust their merchants and get a fair cut. Why is it so difficult to expect that from affiliates?
Linkpop has nothing to do with commissioned sales. I get you sales you wouldn't have had otherwise, I get a cut, you get a NEW customer and a NEW sale. Why is it so difficult to be pleased with that? Why is more expected for you to consider the arrangement trustworthy and fair?

>A merchant couldn't STOP you from doing a cloaked redirect so you didn't pass link pop, but it's the same line of thinking as merchants skimming in my mind if passing link pop was part of the agreement for a higher commission.

See, this is the kind of thinking you get into from this perspective. A merchant shaving commissions is effectively stealing from the affiliate. If you setup a program that passes link pop, and I redirect it through my custom app that counts clicks and evades scumware, I am working with my system. That is not taking something that is rightfully yours, unless it was stated in your terms that I must use your linkpop passing link. In that case you should boot me as an affiliate for not following the terms. (I would not have signed it to start with, myself.)

Many strong affs cloak and redirect links for many reasons. Considering not passing your desired linkpop as the same thing as you shaving/stealing from my commissions is the exact mindset you get into on these issues, where the merchant clearly misses the mark. This situation confuses and clouds the issue. The affiliate program is for partners to drive you add'l sales. Focus on that for your program, not links.

>From an outside point of view, it sounds a bit like most affiliate/merchant relationships are a somewhat strained one with both keeping a very skeptical eye at all times. As a businessperson, this is not the types of deals I am excited to get into.

Welcome to the reality of affiliate marketing. We've been screwed numerous times in numerous ways over the years. Only idiots would continue to trust merchants without them first earning that trust. Put yourself in our shoes for a moment if you can.

If you had merchants not pay, tracking just stop working, commissions get shaved, your sites and methods shown to the merchant's other affiliates, aff managers move on and sell/spam your contact info, merchants and their employees copying your sites, content and methods, etc. etc. - would you be so ready to trust any program that just pops up? I mean really, think about that for a minute.

Also, consider the free branding a merchant already gets. Free exposure when sales are not made, but clicks are. Return sales and solid customers that you get after (often) only paying one inital commission.

And now you want free linkpop too?

>not the types of deals I am excited to get into.
Exacly what kind of excitement are you looking for?


>I like working with people who have earned trust, and give me one less thing to worry about at night.
Whoa, wait a second. You say we need to earn your trust, but we need to give your ours right up front? Eh?


And what is it about affiliates you can't trust? You make it sound like merchants can't trust affiliates, just like affiliates can't trust the merchant? What part of the equation am I missing here, when the merchant holds the money?

>I want to maximize my other avenues as well.
But that's exactly it, other avenues are just that - other avenues. Don't mix them.

> I'm concerned more about my bottom line than I am about you in the same way that you are.
DING DING DING!! So, what about the friendly trust and back-scratching? Cake and eating it, comes right back to mind.

>if it is a part of the agreement, why would you want to be deceptive with your practices (agreeing to linking for link pop then bait and switching)? Maybe karma is a hippy thing.

I partly addressed this above, but I will not do anything different than what I agree to. And I won't agree to something I won't use. (my example in my previous post did not consider it part of the terms. Good luck with that.) Sorry, I don't believe in karma, but I think you knew that. :-)

>do you have some favorite tracking systems
Not really. The ones I think I like the most are usually custom in-house jobs. But favs don't really play in here, they usually work well or they don't.

>If you were a merchant what would you use?
Depends on the product, the scope of the program, and the results I was aiming for.

>Do you work with ANY merchants you trust? What made them trustworthy, and would anything besides cold hard cash instill some sense of loyalty for you?
Absolutely. Paying on time. Answering my emails and calls, by someone who knows what they're talking about. The number one trust builder is bumping my commissions in relation to my traffic and conversions. A quick note saying you are doing so and doing it without my asking goes a long way when I re-eval what we're doing together and look at your competition again.

>besides cold hard cash
What else is there? This is business. Bottom line, baby. Bottom line.

>If the affiliate realm is really so harsh, perhaps I'll enjoy retaining my naivete, and keeping an outsider's perspective.
It's not really that harsh, you just need to be smart in what you do. You learn how to do business and what to watch out for, just like anything else. A merchant looking for linkpop is just one of those signals to watch out for.
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Old 08-09-2005   #16
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Great discussion. I was going to respond to some of stuntdubl's points, but Drastic really nailed them, so I'll save my breath.

I will add one more important thing to Drastic's three things...

EPC.
It really does just come down to that. I don't care what your commission rate is, return days, etc. are. Of course they're important pieces of the equation, but I can't look at any one of those things and know if your program is good. What matters is, for every click I send, what am I going to get?

I'm willing to test long enough to get a good feel for what that is, that's a cost of my business. If I can get better elsewhere, I'm off.

Besides that, I will offer another perspective on what tracking systems I like. While I will work with whatever, my preference is actually in the networks, well, a few of them.

I automate a lot, use my own redirect links for tracking (so yeah, sorry, no link pop from me) and automate the fetching of reporting data as much as I can so I can watch EPC closely.

So, my favorite tracking system is one that I've already got set up for automation. CJ and the old BeFree system, great. LinkShare blocks automation with a CAPTCHA check. Foolishness. Automation can be set up for most in-house solutions, but I won't do that unless I'm doing well. Sort of a catch-22, I'll admit. I am definitely blind to programs that don't fit my process. Right or wrong, I can't be the only one.

I think for many affiliates, it's about mindshare and where we spend the most time. There are only so many hours in the day, and if someone is spending most of those hours in a network, then that's where you're most likely to get them to pay attention. If I have a choice of two merchants to try out, the first one is going to be the one that's on the path of least resistance. That's not to say that ALL affiliates spend most of their time in networks, but that's where I start every morning.

And for those who worry themselves with networks and tracking issues, cookie deletion, ad blocking, parasites etc... It all comes out in the EPC wash. That stuff is interesting conversation and I hate those problems as much as the next guy. But first I'm worried about numbers, no emotion. That EPC does come in handy.
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Old 08-10-2005   #17
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Hi Bonz,

Quote:
EPC.
It really does just come down to that. I don't care what your commission rate is, return days, etc. are. Of course they're important pieces of the equation, but I can't look at any one of those things and know if your program is good. What matters is, for every click I send, what am I going to get?
Although EPC is really important just want to caution those that are more NEWB than you two are, about how easily EPC can be skewed so EPC is not the only factor people look at when selecting new programs.

Totally agree that Earnings Per Click is what you should focus on - however the EPC merchant ratings on CJ can be influenced by factors that have nothing to do with the EARNING potential of the program. Example: Program could have a high EPC but then one affiliate with high traffic site starts serving pop unders or using auto link checking software that goes haywire or an affiliate joins that has a free lotto site that generates thousands of clicks. The program EPC can tank quickly just because of that one affiliate if they are generating thousands of clicks a day. I have seen it happen numerous times. EPC can also go sky high due to fraud before it's caught. EPC is a funny thing and many things that really don't have to do with earning potential can affect it. So if you find a program you are interested in, take a look at the EPC graph over time.

Linda
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Old 08-10-2005   #18
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Right Linda, I'm talking about my EPC. Good clarification.

CJ's EPC is fun to sort by, but one big affiliate can skew he whole thing. You can tell a lot by comparing the long-term and short-term EPCs, watching trends, and comparing the competition, but don't expect to get the same as it's a big giant average. For an EPC of $50 (CJ-style with the 100x factor), someone's likely getting $75 and someone else is getting $10. Where would you fall?

Also, merchants who are in the super-competitive areas even do things to affect their EPC, like dumping publishers with high clicks, low conversion and other misguided things.
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Old 11-03-2006   #19
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Hello there.

I am going to offer software to affiliates and am looking for ways to get good affiliate sales. While I learned that shareasale.com is preferred, what other things do you, affiliate earners, would enjoy having in the affiliate program?

I am, generally, focusing on building quality relationships with people I work with, so building trust and providing everything an affiliate may need is one of my priorities in having an affiliate program.

No link pop - got that. What else?

Can anyone point me to the right resources or discussions, where numerous points for the affiliate sellers are discussed? What is your opinion?

Thanks.
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Old 11-03-2006   #20
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Affiliate Discussion

Try a visit to abestweb
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