Archive for May, 2008

Revolution Essays: Clearly cost-effective

Written by Kirsty Grimes on . Posted in Publisher Tips

rev logo

If 2007 was the year when affiliate marketing finally broke through into the mainstream then 2008 could be the year when its payment on performance model is finally understood and fully exploited.

As we find ourselves facing straitened economic circumstances there is an inevitability that those holding the purse strings to online marketing campaigns will further scrutinise the cost effectiveness of all their activity. Therefore it stands to reason any channel that places payment based on customer acquisition at its heart will find itself increasingly in demand.

At affiliate marketing’s core is transparency on returns through incremental sales and a commission payment for each of those transactions. It’s a deceptively simple concept that belies its complexity but takes on a greater resonance when budgets are reviewed and potentially squeezed. Working network side we know advertisers are switched onto and engaged with affiliate marketing more than ever before; starting to join up the numerous pieces and realise its potential. The test for affiliate networks will not be whether more money is diverted online but whether cautious marketers assign a greater importance to paying out on a ‘harder’ action.

This wasn’t always the case; there was a time when it was seen as a poor online relation, distrusted and misunderstood. I remember a conversation with a digital agency a couple of years ago to agree the commission or cost per acquisition (CPA) of various insurance products they were running affiliate programmes for.

The CPAs we talked about were considerably lower than the cost to secure those policies through other channels. When I enquired whether there was room for manoeuvre with the CPAs, possibly raising them to other promotional channels they said by increasing them the activity became more marginal when compared to other channels they could divert spend to.

The fact that affiliate marketing is a ‘no risk’ model (no monitoring of activity to ensure costs don’t creep up needed) and increasing the commissions would probably generate additional sales wasn’t necessarily considered so we carried on at the lower levels, aware our cost to the advertiser was about 25% less than a sale achieved via other online media.

Thankfully this is more of an exception rather than the rule now but the historic leanness of commissions now works in affiliate marketing’s favour. A significant travel client of ours shared their return ratio on spend across all off and online activity they currently run. With the exception of brand led PPC activity affiliate marketing is the most cost effective channel they invest in and by a stretch. Throw in the ‘no risk’ angle and you have something very compelling.

It remains to be seen how this will impact affiliate marketing longer term. Budget may be diverted from those channels focused more on brand awareness, non performance based activity. Certainly those hardest hit by any economic slowdown should be talking to affiliate networks about how to grow their campaigns beyond their current levels.

Although it’s too early to say the credit squeeze has changed our advertisers’ attitude and approach to their affiliate marketing campaign there is a more general shift towards ROI focused activity.
Pat Foley, Marketing Director, Dixons acknowledges an ongoing shift towards cost per sale: “To ensure that we maximise our reach, we are increasing the emphasis on CPA structured advertising opportunities and limiting our CPC advertising to the existing proven opportunities.”

This is borne out by the close integration of a clutch of trusted paid search partners to work alongside Dixon’s current PPC campaign, addressing the ‘long tail’ keywords and relevant non brand search terms. The beauty for Dixons is all of this pushes the onus on someone else. There is no brand focus to their paid search activity, it’s all product led and all paid on a cost per sale with the affiliate taking the hit on any search engine expenditure.

It’s naïve however to assume that affiliates won’t bear any brunt as advertisers look to tighten their belts. According to the affiliate manager of Boden, Shelley Ahluwalia, affiliate incentives or upper tiers could be scaled back but “this is an ideal opportunity for affiliates to act constructively, to look to increase their customer base and, most importantly, invest in programmes with high conversion rates, not just high commissions”.

Agencies are now a vital part of the affiliate mix and Sara Varnell, Media Account Director at LBi, agrees there could be pressure on affiliate bounties, “advertisers will be less likely to increase commissions across the entire programme as readily as they have done in the past. It will be essential for any additional investment to show clear incremental growth and fit within wider businesses objectives”. She suggests individual affiliates could find themselves increasingly targeted as a network or agency would be.

If commission levels are pared back there has to be a full understanding of the ramifications, especially on those paid search affiliates who arbitrate between the cost of their traffic and their returns in commissions. Remaining competitive and ensuring you’re heard amongst the burgeoning number of affiliate campaigns remains key.

The industry faces other challenges. We need to ensure advertisers feel comfortable and confident about who their affiliates are and how they’re promoting them. This level of transparency is vital to the industry’s ongoing development.

The market has also always been fiercely competitive and margin pressure continues as long standing players look to leverage this realisation for lower overrides and better deals. For networks there is the added cost of supporting these programmes; any network worth its salt has beefed up its account management to provide confident, strategic guidance to multi-million pound campaigns.

Costs are being squeezed at both ends but there are few people within the industry who wouldn’t say it’s in rude health. As long as it offers a thoroughly cost effective route to sale coupled with little or no risk to the advertiser, the opportunities remain endless with networks perfectly placed to offer the reassurance and guidance marketers are looking for in these challenging times.

Affiliate Profile: Raymond Theakston AKA Befuddle

Written by Kirsty Grimes on . Posted in Interview

I am…
Raymond Theakston, known as ‘Befuddle’ on the affiliates4u site.

You can find me…
When I’m not in my full time job for Orange in Leeds, I’m updating ShopCodes.co.uk when you sleep or updating my blog at www.befuddled.me.uk.

What best describes my website?
ShopCodes.co.uk is a directory of UK shops and services, with a particular focus on those that offer promotional codes. It has the largest collection of Exclusive retail codes in the UK. I’ve just invested in and acquired ShopCodes.co.uk to help build my own brand. After that site launches later this year, I’ll be working on a mobile version.

The best feature on my website is?
All the codes are clearly visible without any ‘click for code’ buttons that hide content and force new windows to open. All codes or sales that have expired are removed, so I have loyal repeat users.

Which of the following best describes your affiliate activities?
PPC
Niche or true content site
Blog / Personal Website
Product /Price Comparison
Directory
Loyalty site
Coupon or Voucher Code redemption site

What is the best piece of affiliate marketing advice you’ve been given?
To capture visitors email addresses and turn them into loyal users. I’ve now have over 500 subscribers to my RSS and newsletter, which is more than the daily visitor numbers I sometimes receive from SEO.

What advice would you give to a brand new affiliate programme manager?
Your email newsletter is probably the most effective tool you have. So include as much information as possible. If you know a sale ends in two weeks time, say so and I can use that effectively.

What are your thoughts of creating a code of conduct for merchants, affiliates and networks to follow?
I sometimes have to deal with other affiliates copying my codes or content verbatim onto their sites. I don’t know if a code of conduct would help me in this position but I do feel that networks should support and police affiliates where necessary.

Which methods have merchants used effectively to motivate you?
If you email me with the word ‘code’ in it, you’ve got my attention immediately. For all the other merchants that don’t offer voucher codes, I’ve been motivated by receiving some very nice gifts and even a holiday over the past year.

How do you use the AWin index to help profile suitable Merchants?
When it first launched I particularly looked at the poor performers to see if I could help them improve and to see if there was some untapped potential.

What is your favourite blog and why?
There isn’t one blog out there that includes all the elements I like which are inspiration; factual statistics on performance and humour. The closest I’ve seen is Jason Dale’s One Little Duck.

*Interview from the AWin Merchant Newsletter, Thanks Raymond

Wishlist -a new Facebook application

Written by Sarah on . Posted in Network News

The question posed in every article written about social networking is “How does anyone make money from this channel?” With the launch of Wishlist, a new Facebook application from Affiliate Window, we believe we have created the first real answer to this question.

Wishlist turns every Facebook user into a potential affiliate, that’s over 10 million Facebook accounts in the UK alone! Enabling them to search for items from our 4.5 million product database and then share them with friends by tagging them as items they want or items they want to recommend.

Affiliate Window merchants can now put Facebook links on their site that will encourage customers to tag items into their Facebook profile without leaving the retailing website.

Although the application turns Facebook users who promote the application and specific product into affiliates, tracking cookies are only saved on a PC when the user clicks on the ‘visit store’ button. The ‘visit store’ button is located on the ‘Search Results Page’ and the specific ‘Product Details Page’ within the Facebook application. In all other circumstances existing affiliate cookies on the users PC remain ACTIVE.

For mor information about Wishlist please click here. To find out about how to add Facebook links to your website click here.

We look forward to your feedback.

Safiyya’s Tech Tips: ShopWindow Datafeeds

Written by Kirsty Grimes on . Posted in Network News

There has recently been some new functionality within the ShopWindow datafeed section, please refer to the green box headed as “Last Update Details”.

• The section regarding “Datafeed products”shows you which products have been “Imported” and “Failed”. The “Failed” products illustrate the number of products which haven’t imported into your datafeed due to an error – you can download the errorneous products as a CSV file by clicking the number.

• The new section which is labeled “ShopWindow Products” shows “Approved” and “Unapproved” products for the imported datafeed. The Unapproved number means that your datafeed doesn’t contain a valid Image URL or Product Name. Please download this list also by clicking on the number which will prompt you to download a CSV file containing the problematic products.

• You can also hover over the “?” icon which will display further information regarding the sections above.

• As well as the above the green box will show you the “Start – Finish” duration in which the datafeed has imported.

• It’s important to have all of your products importing and showing within the ShopWindow toolset so affiliates can fully take advantage of your information. If you require further assistance, contact Technical Services on 0844 557 9247 or email us.

Safiyya Abba
Head of Technical Services

* Sourced from the AffiliateWindow Merchant Newsletter

Why Compare? AWin Comparison Programmes Measure Up

Written by Kirsty Grimes on . Posted in AWin Advice

Comparison shopping sites compare prices from a number of online shops. A range of goods can be compared, including books, music CDs, DVDs, PCs and electrical goods. The aim is to find the product that the user wants and also to provide choice.

Comparison sites have blossomed over the years and moved into focus on specific industries and services, such as insurance, holidays and utility suppliers.

We have a number of comparison sites on the network, all of which offer competitive affiliate programmes.

Beatthatquote.com

beatthatquote

BeatThatQuote.com is one of the UK’s leading search and save websites. They take the time, frustration and expense out of the consumer purchasing process by searching the market on their behalf. BeatThatQuote.com simplifies an individual’s search for the cheapest quote. It’s free, fast and without obligation or credit checks and they often secure cheaper rates and prices for the individual than they could by going direct.

Beatthatquote.com’s programme provides:

• Fast Validation times

• 40% Conversion

• All Loan ad creative and updated artwork illustrates the best rates as and when they happen – keeping the process fresh and the product offering highly desirable

• No filtering or pre-qualifying requirements – once you have sent over the traffic your work is done!

• Following completion of a short 2 minute search form the prospect views a comparison table of the best Loan rates specific to their requirements and circumstances, and applies online. The lead is also sent in real-time to a Loan broker who will call the prospect within an hour to convert the lead – if they don’t convert it online, they do it by phone

• 14 day period in which Loan providers can reject leads. You will receive commission on all valid leads not rejected by the providers during this time.

Click here to join the Beatthatquote.com programme

Moneysupermarket.com Utilities

moneysupermarket

Moneysupermarket.com offers a free, impartial online comparison for users wishing to change their gas and electricity supplier. They aim to provide users with a service that ensures that they choose the right supplier for their circumstance as well as helping them save money (up to £325!!). They do this by taking into account factors such as location, usage levels, price, service levels and payment method. moneysupermarket.com, who are energywatch accredited, acts as an impartial advisor in a user’s quest to get the best value for money.

Who uses moneysupermarket.com?
Homeowners or home-movers who want to compare prices and save money on their household bills.

How much commission will I earn?
We will pay you £20.00 for every switch generated by your website.

What is the earning potential?
Around 150,000 UK households change their gas or electricity supplier each week and the average saving customers make by changing energy suppliers via moneysupermarket.com is £140.00

How do I start?
Join the moneysupermarket.com program for free. Wait for confirmation of acceptance by email. Display the banners, sky’s and text links on your site. Sit back and let the cash roll in!

Click here to join the Moneysupermarket.com programme

Gocompare.com – Car Insurance

gocompare

Gocompare.com fundamentally changes how quote comparison sites work, by introducing the ability to buy what you really want, not just what’s cheapest.

Using their special 5 star rating, Gocompare.com gives customers the ability to sort their results so their most relevant quote is at the top – whether they want courtesy car, windsrceen cover, protected no claims bonus, or more – and then they can make sure they’re getting the best deal for their insurance.
It only takes a few minutes to visit over 50 insurance companies with one form, so for the right cover, at the right price – why gocompare anywhere else?

Gocompare.com offer £2 commission per unique completed quote for home and car insurance.

The cookie period is 1 day as Gocompare.com pay out on quotes and 9 out of 10 visitors who start a quote complete in session.

Affiliates can earn great commission promoting Gocompare.com as they will be paid on quote, whether a policy is purchased or not.

Click here to join the Gocompare.com Car Insurance programme

Gocompare.com – Car Insurance and Home Insurance

gocompare

Gocompare.com gives customers the ability to make sure their most valuable possessions are covered by their home insurance, rather than just choosing the cheapest cover or not moving and potentially paying over the odds for their cover.

Using their special 5 star rating, customers can compare the details of many different policies and prices and then make their choice based on which policy is right for them. They could also save money too – of those people who provided their renewal price in the first three months of 2008, over one in three saved an average of £116.41

It only takes a few seconds to compare over 20 home insurance companies with one form, making it easy for customers to get the right cover, at the right price – why gocompare anywhere else?

Gocompare.com offer £2 commission per unique completed home insurance quote

The cookie period is 1 day as Gocompare.com pay out on quotes, and around 9 out of 10 visitors who start a quote complete in session. Affiliates can earn great commission promoting Gocompare.com as they will be paid on quote, whether a policy is purchased or not.

Click here to join the Gocompare.com Home Insurance programme

a4uAward Nominations

Written by Kirsty Grimes on . Posted in Events, PerformanceIN

We are delighted to be a finalist in the Publishers Choice of Network 2008 category; our thanks to all who took the time to nominate us. If that wasn’t enough two of our account managers, Julie Wood and Thuy Pham have been shortlisted for the Publisher’s Account Manager award.

 


Julie Wood

Julie has been with Affiliate Window for a little over 4 years, working closely with big brands and affiliates; she has formed an incredible wealth of knowledge regarding the industry. Recently Julie has joined the Partnership department where she now works directly with key partners such as Airmiles and Nectar.

 

 

 

Thuy Pham

Thuy started at Affiliate Window on the 2nd April 2007 and has quickly progressed to manage some key brands on the network such as New Look and Robert Dyas. In this short time Thuy has built up some great relationships with both merchants and affiliates alike. With her bubbly personality and hard working ethic, she has helped to grow and develop a variety of programmes.