Just as I published the Q&A from my affiliate communication presentation, I am also making all of the questions and answers from my affiliate recruiting session available below.
Affiliate Summit — when is it?
Affiliate Summit 2005 is taking place June 13-14 at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. There is a special rate to attend for eComXpo registrants – contact me for details.
Could you explain a little more about how to use the additional url to track the effectiveness of direct mail? You said something about “… add on top of a 2 tier link”?
Sure thing – basically, it’s a matter of purchasing a new domain (less than $10) and forwarding that domain to a specific link (free from most domain registrars). For instance, I use joinClubMom.com to recruit for the ClubMom affiliate program. If you go to that domain, you will see that it redirects to http://www.affiliatetip.com/clubmom/?go=apply. During that redirect, it was tagged with an affiliate ID (tier 1 affiliate), so that anybody who joins through joinClubMom.com will be attributed to the tier 1 affiliate ID and the new affiliate is a tier 2 affiliate. So I am able to see exactly who joined the program through that campaign. It’s well worth dedicating a new domain to each direct mail campaign – less than $10 to properly track the results.
That said, if you don’t have two tiers on the program, try including a “call out” on the direct mail piece that will identify prospects as responding to it. For instance, I sometimes instruct people to contact me to say they received the postcard, and I will grant them a VIP commission.
Do you get mailing addresses from Whois info? Are there any other ways to get this information that you use?
Link Capture pulls from WHOIS, so I use that as a source, as well as Alexa, and manual visits to sites (in some cases) to see if they have their address on the “Contact Us” page.
Do you use a software program like Link Capture to build your direct mailing list?
Yes, Link Capture is my software of choice these days. And I supplement it with manual research in some cases to confirm the data. There is a fairly expensive program called Mailers+4 from MelissaDATA that will clean up the list. If you are going to do a lot of mailing, it’s worth getting a program that will CASS certify your prospect lists.
Any special tips for Business to Business recruiting?
Really the same approach as B2C recruiting, except that you have a much smalled universe of potential affiliates. Look up keywords that pertain to your indsutry and see who is buying Google AdWords or bidding through Overture for those words. Try reaching out to those people, as well as the sites that rank well in the natural results of search engines for your relevant keywords.
How many potential affiliates do you target per direct mail campaign?
It depends on the program (I manage multiple programs). I generally try to develop a list of at least 100 prospects when I am using ExpressCopy.com. But I also get postcards printed at VistaPrint.com and send them individually as I find good sites.
What is an affiliate data feed & how is it used?
The data feed is a database file that contains details on the products being sold by a merchant. For instance, it would include the product name, sku, description, photo, direct link, etc. So affiliates take these files and use software programs like WebMerge to convert them into HTML and display them on their sites. Ideally, an affiliate will add value to the data feed, but supplementing it with their own content, like having reviews of the products like you see at epinions.com.
How do you get direct mailing addresses?
You can go the cheap route and use Link Capture (like I did), but this is pulling the data from WHOIS records (the information submitted by people when they registered their domains). This can be risky, because that information isn’t necessarily up to date, nor is it CASS certified (necessary format for bulk mail from the post office). You can also rent lists – pick up a copy of the DM News – they have a directory of lists available to rent for mailings.
How do you make your programs stand out when you submit your program to sites like AssociatePrograms.com? Despite one of the best offers, I’ve found doing that to be a waste of time.
The best way to stand out in the AssociatePrograms.com directory is to also play an active role in the forum for that site. As you contribute to the community, you will build up credibility and become a commercial for your affiliate program. Alternately, you can advertise on the directories to get in front of affiliates.
It seems you’ve changed your opinion on two-tier programs since your book– why the change of heart?
I haven’t really changed. I advocated using two tiers, but wanted to warn of the dangers. Personally, I make the option available to certain affiliates that I trust.
Where did you get 1000 physical addresses to mail postcards to?
I used Link Capture to develop a database of prospects.
What has been the most success affiliate program besides eBay, that you know of / heard about?
It depends how you measure success. I’d say that Amazon is the most well known affiliate program (often cited incorrectly as the first one). Unfortunately, there isn’t a place to see the total affiliate activity for all programs, so it’s largely speculation, but I “hear” that eBay may well pay out the highest volume of commission.
Do most tracking solution providers offer 2-tier link systems?
Off the top of my head, the only two I can think of are MYAP and Direct Track (in terms of ASPs) – there may be plenty of software programs that do it.
Two-tier tracking; can you please explain a little more?
First, let me preface this by saying that it’s not an option currently with CJ, LinkShare and Performics. Anyhow, it’s essentially a way for your current affiliates to recruit new affiliates into your program. You provide special links to your affiliates (I would advocate only making this available to select affiliates) that track any referrals they make of new affiliates that you accept into your program.
Then, the affiliate that referred a new affiliate to you will have a stake in the performance of that referred affiliate. The drawback is that you are now paying two affiliates for one transaction, but the upside is that you can recruit some top players that may have otherwise ignored your solicitations.
I use two-tiers exclusively with the programs I manage through MYAP, and it’s been very effective for me.
How effective are prospecting emails? I tend to have a very low rate of return. How effective is a follow up phone call to that email?
I’d say that prospecting emails were somewhat effective in 2000, but a bad approach these days. With CAN-SPAM compliance issues, spam filters, etc., it’s a tricky landscape. I’ve found direct mail to be far more effective.
Though if you do email, you should definitely try and call to follow up. So don’t do mass mailings – target specific people and try to reach tem in multiple ways.
How can we get access Link Capture?
You can purchase the software at www.link-capture.com.