Nov.05

Niche Affiliate Communities

Google+ Cloud Backup Affiliates Private Community

Google+ Cloud Backup Affiliates Private Community

I know some of you have been doing this longer than I have, but a few years ago, nobody talked about what niche they were in. It was like if someone found out, they’d start a competing site and take away some of your market share. Yet these days, it seems that affiliates are more open to talking about their niches, and even collaborating with the competition.

Cloud Backup AffiliatesAlong with reviewing wine clubs, I also have a site (in desperate need of work) that promotes cloud backup services. When GAN shut down, CrashPlan‘s affiliate program also shut down, with promises that it would launch “soon.”

Well “soon” turned into weeks, then months, of excuses. Luckily, I knew a couple other cloud backup affiliates and we pooled our influence in this market to get results. It was a disorganized effort, but it worked.

I’ve also worked with other affiliates to identify tracking issues (affiliates typically know when tracking is down, before the merchants know), to coordinate efforts to remove toolbars and other spyware from the merchants’ affiliate programs, and have discussed Google SEO changes specific to our industry.

We now have a private group in which we can discuss the industry, and specifically the affiliate programs. While we’re all competitors, we also have a common goal.

Whatever niche you’re in, I encourage you to work with your competition. You’ll probably learn something, meet some nice people, and increase your earnings.

A Niche Affiliate Community is different from a Mastermind Group, which is used to enhance your overall business and success.

Misc

Sep.01

Apr.29

Merchants: Why You Need To Partner With An Affiliate Network

For some reason, in one of the niche’s I’m in, over half of the merchants that have affiliate programs decided to use (or create) an in-house system, avoiding networks. While there may be some benefits to using an in-house system (such as avoiding network fees & overhead), I think in the long run, merchants will have greater success with their affiliate program if they use a network.

Networks not only handle the tracking and payments for an affiliate program, but they also act as the policemen, making sure affiliates are not defrauding merchants, and that merchants are not cheating affiliates out of their commissions.

But when an in-house program is used, affiliates must assume that what is reported in the tracking reports is accurate, and hope they get paid on time.

Affiliate Networks help manage the Circle of Trust

Lately, that hasn’t been the case for one particular merchant I’m promoting. Tracking is way off and completely inaccurate (for example, they tried to tell me I sold -40 subscriptions last month (that’s negative forty. When I questioned this, they sent over a new report with new numbers, but insisted the payment was not affected)). In addition, payment was late this month.

Misc

Apr.06

Why Merchants Should Allow Direct Linking

Direct linking is a method of PPC bidding that affiliates use to send paid traffic directly to a merchant’s website, without going to a landing page (or affiliate site) first. This means when a search is done, the merchant’s domain name is shown in the ad, and when the user clicks on the ad, they end up at the merchant’s site, after the cookie is set for that affiliate.

The advantage (for affiliates) of direct linking is that an additional step in the buying process is removed (the affiliate’s website). However, some merchants do not allow this, and this can be a big mistake.

When merchants are not involved in PPC marketing, they’re often afraid of getting started. Spending money for each click can be daunting, especially if they choose the wrong keywords. But this is a huge missed opportunity, which can drive a large portion of sales.

Merchants should consider allowing their affiliates to direct link. With CPS payouts, the merchant knows what percentage of the sale they will be paying out. So if their profit is 40%, and they payout 12%, they know that they’ll still make 28% (well, a bit less, because the affiliate network takes their cut). If a sale is not made, they don’t pay a dime!

PPC affiliate marketers are experts at what they do – online businesses should focus on what they know, not worry about learning all about PPC advertising. If merchants would open up their affiliate program to direct linking, they would gain the benefits of PPC exposure, and the safety of only paying out on a CPS basis. For merchants, it’s PPC exposure, with guaranteed profits!

Maybe someone (a merchant, or an OPM) can explain to me why a merchant who is not doing any PPC advertising doesn’t allow Direct Linking?

Misc

Apr.05

Get Involved with the Performance Marketing Association

PMA AssociateIf you’re in the affiliate (or performance) marketing industry, you’ve probably heard of the PMA. Their goal is to connect, inform and advocate on behalf of the rapidly growing performance marketing industry.

One issue which the PMA has been fighting against lately has been the advertising tax. Currently, affiliates, networks and merchants are fighting various advertising taxes being proposed (and passed) in many states. Without the PMA, each time this issue came up in a new state, the process would start all over again.

Previously, the most affordable membership with the PMA was $500 / year – a rate far too high for many. The PMA heard our feedback, and recently created a new, “Associate” membership level at $99 / year. At this level, you get to say you’re a member of the PMA, can participate in one working group, and get a warm fuzzy feeling inside, knowing that you’re helping the performance marketing industry.

The working groups that are currently put together include advocacy / legislation, advertising practices, and marketing. I look forward to working with the advertising practices working group, as I’m a stickler for fraud and would love to see some standardized practices amongst the different networks or even merchants within a specific network.

With the introduction of the new Associate Level membership, the PMA is currently offering membership at this level for just $49. This special offer ends June 30th, but why wait? Join now, and help make a better performance marketing industry with the PMA

Misc

Aug.31

New York & Company – Strict Affiliate Program

I just received a program update from New York & Company, a merchant in Commission Junction. The update includes the following terms:

Affiliates may not use the New York & Company name, or any variation thereof, directly or indirectly in (a) metatags, (b) title tags, (c) hidden text, page titles or source code, and/or (d) the Affiliate’s domain or sub-domain.

That’s right… you can’t use the the merchant’s name, New York & Company, anywhere in your website. Now I can understand not allowing affiliates to bid on your name in PPC listings, but to say the affiliate website cannot have the company name anywhere in the source code is completely outrageous.

New York & Company need’s an affiliate manager that understands what affiliate marketing is.

Note: by using the phrase New York & Company in this blog post, I’ve violated the terms set forth in Commission Junction. Good thing I terminated my relationship with them, before posting this 🙂

Misc

Jun.29

Passing of Billy Mays

I probably appear strangely obsessed with Billy Mays, but the reason his passing has had such an impact on me is because I’ve built up the BillyMays.TV website and have kept up on his doings the past few months.

BillyMays.TV is a blog featuring Billy Mays, the products he pitches, and his show, Pitchmen, on Discovery.

I started promoting Billy Mays products through the As Seen on TV Network, and after a dinner meeting with then in Vegas last January, moved on from a single product to anything Billy Mays pitched. The stories I heard about Billy were great, and I had hoped to meet him someday. We even talked about a custom, Billy Mays ringtone! “Hi, Billy Mays here for your cell phone…”

Yesterday I opened my email, after being offline for 3 days, and found my entire inbox flooded with Billy Mays e-mails (from YouTube comments, Twitter followers, etc). Clicking on one, I read “RIP Billy Mays” which was a complete shock to me.

The fan base of this infomercial superstar is amazing. There’s no middle ground – you either loved him, or hated him. However, after the past 24 hours, all of the comments I’ve seen on the blog, the YouTube channel, and even the Twitter account have been positive.

Traffic to BillyMays.TV increased over 5,500% yesterday – Billy Mays was a superstar amongst all marketers and will be truly missed.

Building your business on a single company, product, or person is a huge mistake (heed the warning, Apple!). Luckily, this was a small portion of my affiliate business – it was more of a pet project, rather than a big income producer.

Remember Billy Mays this Wednesday starting at 11am on the Discovery Channel with a Pitchmen marathon.

Life’s a pitch, then you buy.

Misc