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Old 12-30-2000, 02:06 PM   #1
akbob
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Question Designing 'Dream' affiliate program

Hello all,

This is my first post to this forum, so I'll keep it fairly brief.

I'm a small business consultant, and have recently been selected
to spearhead a new affiliate program. (don't worry, I'm not
promoting it... yet :-) We are in the early development stages
when having the perspective of active affiliates would be
extremely valuable to us in creating our program.

I've been reading a lot of material online that talks about what
affiliates don't like about many programs, and I've also seen
quite a bit written about programs from the merchants
perspective... what I haven't really found is an affiliates wish
list. The 'dream' program that offered everything an affiliate
could want. Does anyone know of such a resource? Or perhaps you
could share what a 'dream' program would include for you.

Thanks in advance for your help and feedback.

Bob Cortez

PS. If you're curious about me and what else I do, my site is at http://tqm-online.com (Not the affiliate program site)

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Old 12-30-2000, 02:42 PM   #2
YeahBuddy
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Welcome to the forum!!

For me, what I look for in affiliates is:

-High pay rates (will you be paying for leads, sales, or clicks?). Netsetter, for example, does well thanks to it's 4$/lead payrate.
-Good support would be nice too.
-Reliability. This doesn't matter quite as much if you're with Commission Junction since the money is pooled, but if you're with Linkshare, Befree, or independent you'll be more responsible for the payment of affiliates. Then it's very important.
-Good reporting of earnings. Befree's is horrible. I'd like it to be updated often and straightforward.
-More than one method of earning money. You might pay .05 per click, then 4$ per lead.

That's my dream affiliate http://geekvillage.com/ubb/smile.gif

[This message has been edited by YeahBuddy (edited 12-30-2000).]
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Old 12-30-2000, 03:23 PM   #3
akbob
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Question

Thanks for the welcome YeahBuddy.

Right now, we are leaning towards going 'independent'. We want to maintain as much control, and have as much flexibility as possible in managing our program. We're considering http://myaffiliateprogram.com as our solution provider. Anyone have any experience with or feedback about them?

What type of support would be most valuable to you as an affiliate? We're planning on a affiliates resource center, discussion board, newsletter and scheduled chats/teleclasses... anything else?

We've also been looking at the per click/per lead compensation. But, we are leaning towards per sale with two tiers, residual income, and lifetime customers. We're looking at more of a long term type of relationship rather than just another advertising method. If given the choice would you prefer the per click/lead over per sale?

Thanks again.

Bob
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Old 12-30-2000, 04:12 PM   #4
Lost Puppy
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Quote:
Originally posted by akbob:

What type of support would be most valuable to you as an affiliate? We're planning on a affiliates resource center, discussion board, newsletter and scheduled chats/teleclasses...
Bob
Well so far this isn't anything that is different from alot of other affiliate program sites.

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Old 12-30-2000, 04:39 PM   #5
lemon
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For me monthly payments are very important. (forget about quarterly!). Affiliates want to see right away if something is working for them. There is no justification for quarterly payments.

As for which model is better, I would say pay-per-sale never have worked for me.. What are the chances of someone clicking on an ad and buying something in that very same session?? Not many I guess.

For my experience pay-per-lead programs with good conversion ratios are usually the best.

Pay per click is OK for many affiliates, but I have found out this model is (usually) very "unsustainable".. Because preventing fraud in these programs is costly. Also merchants pay for something which doesn't automatically convert into profits for them.

The best is to align your interests with those of the affiliate and compensate them accordingly. And I think the best way to do that is pay-per-lead. (the definition of lead can be as sophisticated as you want, just make it clear to affiliates, have honest tracking in place, and make sure it all converts into good money for affiliates)


[This message has been edited by lemon (edited 12-30-2000).]
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Old 12-30-2000, 04:53 PM   #6
akbob
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lost Puppy:
Well so far this isn't anything that is different from alot of other affiliate program sites.

Agreed. That is why I'm asking what else we can do or offer in the way of support :-). Other elements of our program will set us apart from the pack, but we'd like to offer the best possible support as well.

One idea that I received from another board was to make create a customized page using an actual page from the affiliate site and integrating the affiliate marketing (banner, text, article, etc...) This may be something of more interest to beginners, but it could be a time saver for experienced webmasters as well. What do you think?

Bob
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Old 12-30-2000, 05:04 PM   #7
akbob
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[quote]Originally posted by lemon:
[b]For me monthly payments are very important. (forget about quarterly

As for which model is better, I would say pay-per-sale never have worked for me.. What are the chances of someone clicking on an ad and buying something in that very same session?? Not many I guess.

We've already decided on monthly payments, with a low minimum (possibly no minimum if using PayPal)

We're planning on using cookies and IP tracking to credit affiliates even if the sale doesn't occur for another three years. Our site will also be designed to encourage visitors to 'act now'. Perhaps coupled with a lower per lead compensation? X amount for those that sign up for Free tutorial by email?

Bob
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Old 12-30-2000, 05:34 PM   #8
DJ_B
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lol http://geekvillage.com/ubb/smile.gif

Went to your website Bob. I love that picture of you ( http://tqm-online.com/images/littlebob.gif ) http://geekvillage.com/ubb/smile.gif You look like one mean pirate! http://geekvillage.com/ubb/smile.gif Nice name you gave the photo too : LittleBob.gif.

Sorry to get off topic, but that picture cracked me up ! http://geekvillage.com/ubb/smile.gif



[This message has been edited by DJ_B (edited 12-30-2000).]
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Old 12-30-2000, 05:47 PM   #9
akbob
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Quote:
Originally posted by DJ_B:
Sorry to get off topic, but that picture cracked me up ! http://geekvillage.com/ubb/smile.gif

Glad I could provide a chuckle http://geekvillage.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

Bob
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Old 12-30-2000, 07:49 PM   #10
WildComputer
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Welcome to the forum akbob

My wish list:

1. A great product + competitive with a clearly defined audience.

2. If multiple products, link to individual pages on your site of my choice

3. The merchant site that sells and doesn't leak like crazy

4. High commission per sale.

5. Credit for people who bookmark merchant after finding the merchant thru me

6. Really good tracking. Belt+Braces - cookies, affiliate code in URL, etc. So it still gets counted in all cases

7. Lifetime referral of a customr, or residual or something like that

8. Content and/or articles to use on my sites, ezines. Or at least lots of info on the products etc. that I can use to market it.

9. A fair operating agreement

10. open to non-US webmasters (I am in the UK but target US surfers for example)

11. Regular payment, through an aggregator like Commission Junction, or monthly.

12. I should control the minimum check value (above some reasonable minimum). For example, if I want you to hold a check till I reach $100 or $250 or $500, or $1000, then let me set this, and let me change it.

13. Live stats

14. E-mail Notification if links expires (e.g. a product removed from merchant site and I'm still sending traffic). Hopefully not too often http://geekvillage.com/ubb/smile.gif

15. I am not bothered about ezines and stuff like that from the vendor, or marketing support etc etc. I know what to do. Just notify me for major changes, problems, full disclosure etc.

16. Somebody at the other end who answers e-mail questions. Don't expect this to be frequent - but it's painful when you don't get answer to a simple question which is blocking you making progress. A phone number to call would be good too in an emergency.

17. Don't hassle me or put up artificial deadlines. For example I hate programs which chase me every day to do more with their stuff (occassional chasing is okay). I do have other things to do than market their product!

In one case, I have joined a program, prepared a promotional site on my local computer, but not got round to uploading it, got kicked off before I even started cos I didn't start sending traffic in 30 days (I was busy with other stuff). If vendor had waited a bit longer, they would have had a hardworking and active affiliate, but their impatience meant I modified the site to promote their more patient competitor! [I now sell around $1K of their competitor's stuff per month]

18. MOST IMPORTANTLY - lots of flexibility, especially in linking. Don't force me to use ugly banners. Don't force me to link to your home page instead of a product on your site. Allow me to use your links where I think they are appropriate on my site (subject to restrictions on unsuitable sites). Allow me to use legitimate + ethical forms of promotion.

Allow me to do integration into features of your site, for example pass parameters to your site's search tool, or order form or whatever.

More flexibility = more integration = more sales for you.


19. Personally I do NOT care about 2-tier, referrals, pay-per-click or any of the other stuff. If you must have this stuff, fair enough, but too much emphasis on it is a negative in the program for me.


------------------[*]Over 207,000 Killer Domain Names from $11.97 each[*]Create Your Own High Profit E-Books[*]Drive thousands of visitors to your web site cheap'n'easy[*]Affiliate Programs reviewed
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Old 12-30-2000, 07:57 PM   #11
YeahBuddy
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Wow, WildComputer really summed it up. That's EXACTLY what I want. If you can do all of that, then your affiliate program will be a huge success.
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Old 12-30-2000, 08:34 PM   #12
akbob
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Cool

Wow is right!! Thanks WildComputer, that was the best and most detailed response I've received to date!

I'd love to have you be part of our focus group that is reviewing the program before we go live. (sorry everybody else, there is limited space available) Drop me an email and I'll send you the information.

Thanks again... and I'm still looking for more comments from others if anyone has anything to add.

Bob
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Old 01-01-2001, 03:35 AM   #13
Jack
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Always glad to see an affiliate program manager ask for help here.

Great post above by WildComputer. Here are a few of my additional thoughts (or stresses of WC's points).

Be open to the many methods of selling your product. Your most successful affiliates will more than likely be creating a small site to promote your program instead of slapping up a banner on their current site. Be aware that my 100 uniques a day on my site actively selling your product will be much more potent than a site off the topic of your product receiving 10,000 uniques per day. Also, make sure your program is friendly to those who run legitimate opt-in E-Zines. This is a way many of us send massive amounts of traffic to programs.

Leaks are horrible. The site should give the visitor two options: Buy the product or leave. The product's sales letter needs to be able to close the sale effectively. Each product should be available to be promoted individually. The page must be fast loading with just enough graphics to sell the product. This category is the number one area sites mess up on.

This one is not as necessary but is always on my wish list for programs. Residual income/keeping the customer is a very nice bonus and will have super affiliates swarming around you ;-).

The commission needs to be high enough for me to promote the product. If there is another company out there selling a product like yours at a higher commission (or even a product within the same field as yours), then my traffic will be going there instead of to your company. Also, do not make promises you cannot keep. Do not set a high payout and be forced to lower it later.

Sales copy is important. Give us a healthy amount to choose from. We will use this on our sites/in our mini ads. Many of us do not have the time to research your field for hours to write good copy ;-). A few images couldn't hurt either.

Though this is not necessary, providing an E-Zine which sells your product for affiliates to sign up our visitors in is nice (Just make sure our affiliate link is coded into each issue of the E-Zine ;-) ).

If the company is selling a product or doing a lead type site, provide a commission instead of doing CPC. If you do use CPC, then I can't make a high converting page for your site because I likely will not be able to buy traffic to send there since the CPC rate is adjusted for those who have lower converting sites. Of course if you are doing this for a content site, CPC all the way ;-).

Two-tier is great for recruiting affiliates but too much emphasis on this makes me think about the lower rates I am receiving due to the tiers. Do not forget that 90-95% of your affiliates will never make one sale for the company. On a somewhat related note, do not under any circumstances require affiliates to add something like "WebMasters make Money!" near your links. This is a complete turn off to me and makes my visitors think I am less professional.

I cannot stress the importance of good stats. Live are definitely the best. If stats are updated less than once a day, then I have no way of telling if minor changes I make to my promotional page(s) are increasing conversions. Stats should include sales, refunds, clicks, and possibly impressions (all by product type). Also, I would be very happy if you assigned additional tracking codes to affiliates. For example, affiliate 1 can see different stats from tracking codes x, y, and z. This would allow me to look at and find ways to increase conversions much easier. Very few affiliate programs do this and I certainly wouldn't need this feature to join the program (but it would be nice ;-) ).

Those are the ones I can think of off of the top of my head. I might have a few more later.

If you follow most everything covered in this post and WC's post (and the product(s) aren't in too much of a niche area), then you will run a very successful program.
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Old 01-01-2001, 11:49 AM   #14
akbob
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Thanks Jack,

This has been a most helpful forum. It's great to know that there are places like this alive and well on the Internet.

I've been criticised by some for having these open discussions where any affilate program manager can use the information. The way I look at however is that all of the ideas are of little value unless there is an underlying commitment to follow through. If any manager has that commitment (which very few do I think) then they are welcome to this valuable information. It will only make the industry that much better for us all.
http://affiliateunion.com is doing some work in this area bringing affiliates and managers together to improve the industry.

Happy New Years everyone, and thanks again.

Bob
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Old 06-01-2001, 01:22 PM   #15
akbob
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Smile

Just thought I would pop back in and tell everyone that the 'dream' program we were talking about went live this week.

I don't know if we created the 'dream' for everyone, but we did our best to get as close as we could.

No sales pitch, but if your interested or curious here are the links.
www.listchannel.com/affsite/ - Affiliate Program www.listchannel.com/lc/ - Services Info

I'd like to thank all the contributers to the thread once again, it was a huge help to us.

Bob Cortez
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