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Building a mailing list as an affiliate marketer

One of the challenges of being an affiliate marketer is maintaining your own customers. When visitors get to your website one of your main goals is to send them off through an affiliate link to gain commission, visitors that don’t click through to a merchant don’t generate you any affiliate revenue. Ideally you would like them to come back to your website again in future in order to generate recurring revenue and not have to continually acquire only new customers. The problem is though, now that they have found what they are looking for from a merchant they may no longer need your website. One way to combat this and lure visitors back is through a mailing list.

A mailing list is one of those things which seems easy enough in principle but is actually something that you really to focus on and devote time to.

The first thing you really need is something worth mailing to people, this can be a number of things which I will expand on below including: product deals, site updates, unique data, competitions, cashback and joining a club/ community.

Product Deals
Deals are one of the primary things an affiliate can offer a mailing list subscriber. As an affiliate you no doubt either use software or research products you are looking to promote. You are generally in a good position to source great deals that a customer may otherwise miss just visiting the one merchant. This is something you need to plan ahead on though. If you are doing this by hand the time taken to craft one mailout has to be a consideration. If by software, you need to think about whether or not the deals will be relevant to subscribers. For instance the best deal on a baby pram is only going to interest a small niche group of customers, if this isn’t on topic for your site then interest will be low.

Site Updates
If your site is built around a stream of unique content this can be your mailing list offering. Great on topic new content will keep users coming back. This will only work though if you have high quality content, no one is going to want to come back to read the latest 300 word summary you brought online for SEO value.

Unique Data
Affiliates are generally aggregators of products/ services and deals. What you offer collectively is something that people can’t just get from the one merchant. Having this information across multiple merchants allows you in some cases to generate unique insights that won’t be possible from a single providers own data. A good example of this is Adioso, where you can signup for any email which will alert you when there are good airfare prices on routes that you have searched. A single airline could offer this, but would only include their own prices, reducing the effectiveness.

Cashback
Another very popular model is cashback, giving your users a percentage (or all) of your commission as a payout. Users will usually signup for cashback, providing you with an opportunity to send out cashback reminders and, with permission on signup, a more generalized mailout.

Competitions
People love competitions, a good prize is a great incentive for people to signup for a mailing list. A competition can also allow you to become the merchant and create your own affiliate program to drive traffic to it. Competitions can tie into your current promoted products and you may even be able to acquire your prizes at a cheaper rate in partnership with the merchants you are promoting. A word of warning though, there are plenty of low quality leads that will jump at the chance of getting in the running for free stuff. The kind that you are very unlikely to convince to pay for anything. So while subscribers may skyrocket, you may not see a lot of conversions from your mailouts. As a explain below, it is important to track conversions to continue to improve your mailouts into the future.

Build a community
Building a community around your offering is something that many want to do but only a few succeed. A community involves many people spending time around your website, obviously there aren’t enough people to go around for everyone to be able to do that. Rand Fishkin, one of the biggest names in SEO, has a lot of good advice on how to go down this path. It follows though that with a successful community people will be more than willing to signup for updates and other types of mailouts.

Next you need to make a commitment to actually using the list, often the time spent creating incentive for people to join and putting the code in place will be for nothing if the mailing list just sits unused or used in a haphazard or informal way. Sure you can start collecting now for the future, but I think the whole process works a lot better when coupled with an active newsletter. With a long gap visitors may forget even ever visiting your website.

You should also uphold the law which varies from region to region but usually involves not tricking users into signing up, giving mail out content that the user expects based on the text around their signup and providing an easy way for users to unsubscribe. 3rd party mailing list managers such as mail chimp, while providing plenty of other great features, will cover you on legal requirements.

3rd party software also generally gives you something else you should really have to make full use of your mailing list: user tracking. Knowing things like how many users are on the mailing list, how many have unsubscribed and what links in the mailout are being clicked on can help you better tailor a more effective mailout.

Give it a try, even if initial performance is bad, by committing to it, tracking results and iterating over successive mailouts you are likely to find eventually success. You will also learn a heap in the process, managing a mailing list is an important skill for the modern affiliate marketer

Adwords Phrase and Exact match types are changing

Google has announced that Adwords Phrase and Exact match keywords will be changing. Currently an Exact match requires that the search term typed in by Google exactly matches a keyword to trigger the corresponding ad (case insensitive). A phrase match is essentially the same except that that keyword only has to match a portion of the entered search term.

The new Phrase and Exact match types act more like the current broad match in that they also accept close variants, plurals, stemming (such as a search for “fish” would also include words like “fished” and “fishing”), accents and abbreviations.

This can be seen as both a negative and a positive. On one hard many search engine marketers (SEMs) are already adding many of these very similar terms and misspellings to their campaigns, this will reduce a lot of the leg work involved here and keep keyword numbers more manageable. On the other hand one of the big advantages of Exact and Phrase matches is that you do have much more precise control than a board match. Allowing you to precisely measure the results of each variant and not having to be exposed to weird edge cases this matching may create.

I get the impression from the blog post that while Google is allowing you to leave your Exact and Phrase match types to behave as they do now, they are pushing these new versions as the ones everyone should be using. What would be nice to is the ability to selectively use them on each keyword rather than being constrained to setting is at the campaign level. They currently do that with Modified Broad Match which constrains a board match to require each of the terms with a “+” symbol before them in the users search term. It should be noted that these terms with a “+” symbol also work like the new Phrase and Exact match types in allowing for close variants of the terms.

Amazon Associates Tracking Support Added To AffClicks

Amazon Associates, one of the biggest affiliate networks in the world, is now available as a network to connect to in AffClicks.

Despite it’s size we held off for some time on integration. The network is notoriously difficult to extract all the statistics an affiliate wants, the information available is weighted heavily towards amazon. Given their size and inventory they are able to get away with sub standard reporting. We wanted to provide the same level of statistics we are able to provide for the other affiliate networks we have integrated.

The core of the problem is that Amazon Associates doesn’t allow a custom passthrough (or subid) to set when one of your users clicks through one of Amazons affiliate links. You are provided with a comparatively small number of tracking ids which you can use to differentiate sales. In practice using Amazon Associates from their UI though, this usually means lumping things into broad tags and getting little to no visibility tracking individual sales. You are also unable to determine which items were bought in the one transaction, as you only get a listing in terms of individual items.

AffClicks has solved this problem by automatically creating a large number of tracking id tags and rotating through them. Then using a series of factors to determine which user the tag maps back to when a transaction is made. This gives you things such as grouping items into transactions, click through time, visitor ip address and the referral term and landing page your visitor landed on. You can also choose not to have the custom tags created and just aggregate the items brought with your other affiliate networks connected in AffClicks.

Give it a try today, we are eager to hear users feedback and suggestions regarding this feature. As well as any profit improvements stemming from the extra data now at your fingertips.

AffClicks Adds Weekly Summary Mailouts

For many Affiliate Marketers, their affiliate business is designed to be a residual income stream. There to support them while they either engage in other endeavors or continue to build new income steams. Many successful Affiliate Marketing sites/ campaigns are able to generate a steady income without much more than occasional maintenance, it is one of the really appealing aspects of being involved in Affiliate Marketing.

At AffClicks we recognize that different Affiliates will spent varying amounts of time on their businesses and occasionally life will take over and mean extended periods on auto pilot. This week we have released our first tool towards this goal, weekly email account summaries. These summaries, mailed out on a Monday morning, list a users transactions, revenue, cost and profit for each day over the past week as well as provide a graph of the information that matches the ones you can see within AffClicks. It also includes quick links that auto login so a user can quickly view more information from within the App.

It should be noted that there is also a link to allow users to quickly opt out of these emails if they no longer wish to receive them.

A look at the weekly mailout AffClicks users now receive.

 

This is our first step of many in helping the busy Affiliate. In future we will introduce more customisations for mailouts and make account recommendations for Affiliates that don’t have time to deeply analyze all the analytics that are being generated around their Affiliate business.

Why Every Affiliate Marketing Business Can Benefit From PPC Advertising

Affiliate marketers tend to have strong opinions about PPC. They may have put it in the too hard basket with or without trying it, they might have spent lots for little result or they may have even been banned and are still scratching their heads on exactly where it all went wrong. When we talk about PPC for the most part we are talking about Adwords. Sure there are other choices out there, the most prominent of which is Microsoft’s adCenter which allows you to advertise on Bing and Yahoo. The fact is though, even their combined volume is small compared to what you can get through Adwords, making Adwords the best bang for buck in terms of traffic your ad is exposed to.

Many affiliate marketers think that their business isn’t suited to PPC, their model not being built around direct calls to action that quickly send new visitors off to merchant’s sites. An example of this could be a travel search site that includes affiliate links for people to buy flights after they have picked routes and dates. Usually a site like this isn’t going to see a high conversion rate for each visitor. Many visitors will get confused with all the possible search options, others will just be using it as a guide to plan their trip or are just comparing prices. With travel you also get a lot of “window shoppers”, people that are looking at what is available without looking to make an immediate purchase.

As a rough guide to conversions I will put down some approximate numbers (feel free to disagree with these, they are somewhat based on experience and somewhat based on general feelings I have from affiliate marketing experience). For a single page with a direct call to action, such as links to a few targeted merchants in a niche, you might hope to get a conversion rate (a conversion here being a click through to a merchant) of 50-60%, but little reason for users to ever revisit your site. For a page with a bit more going on, still targeted, but including multiple merchants, multiple product choices, links to other pages and features on the site to visit, you might be looking at 30-40% conversion as being good (Of course this additional build out should benefit you by covering a wider collection of deals and giving you a far biggest list of relevant keywords. Also hopefully in making your site useful enough that people come back to in and not head straight to the merchant next time). This is still giving users a fairly direct path to merchants, just giving more options. Once you are providing users with a blank slate landing page with a large amount of possible search options and multiple levels of interface to get to a merchant you might be looking at 5% or less conversion rate. Of course with this type of model you are looking to acquire return customers that love the service enough to recommend it to friends.

It is pretty easy to run some numbers on a site not suited for PPC by virtue of conversion rate and determine it is a waste of time. Such numbers may be:
25 cents cost per click (relatively long tail term)
5% conversion
$5 cost per conversion
10 average conversions per sale (or any commissionable action)
$50 cost per commissionable action
$10 average commission

With those numbers you are $40 out of pocket on every time you earn commission,  the break even point a 25% conversion rate (assuming the other assumptions remain unchanged). You would also have to factor in how many of those paid visitors end up using your site again, telling friends, signing up to a mailing list or other services you offer. Even with all this though, advertising around general terms (which can cost a lot more than the CPC mentioned above) is probably not going to be a long term winner. Branding could come into play, using advertising as somewhat of a loss leader to get a critical mass of users. Although unless you have a lot of money in the bank your probably looking for direct quantifiable returns on your spend.

Another slightly different business model to consider is an informational site, to borrow from travel again you may have built up a site that has lots of quality articles on what to do when traveling to a certain place. Again your going to have affiliate links on things where available (and probably also running some ads) but users are primarily after your content rather than your offers. Many will come, read articles, then leave the site without clicking on any offers. This isn’t a bad thing, you may rank for a large number of terms and have repeat visitors, it will just mean individual PPC clicks will have a lot conversion and therefore a negative expected return.

So what can you do with PPC if you fit one of these lower conversion models?

More specific landing pages, use a different model for your PPC visitors.
From the simple math above, the low conversion rate isn’t going to make you a direct profit. What you can do though is pick out specific offers and either build a landing page around them or simply deep link people into existing functions of your website that would usually take user actions to get to. So instead of advertising on “travel search” or “travel search australia” you advertise on “melbourne to sydney”, “fly from melbourne to syndey” or  “cheap travel syndey to melbourne” etc. These ads can have destination urls that pre-populate your search engine for the specific Melbourne to Sydney route, you could also pre-pick a date range to give the user an instant idea of price. From this users will only require a small amount of actions to convert. Users searching for the specific route are also more likely to be looking to buy than those browsing around your site.

For a site with many informational articles the strategy would be to pick specific offers and target the article around that. So instead of a topic  ”Where to go in New York”, you would target a single New York attraction on which you are able to earn a decent commission and make the whole page about that. One thing you must be careful of though is being considered a bridge page by Google. This means that they decide the only purpose of your page is to send people to another site. If you have a decent collection of unique content on your site though which internal links between it you should be fine.

Promote special offers.
Merchants are frequently trying to push special offers. While the normal affiliate offers you are using might not work for PPC, building something around a really good special or unique opportunity might. This can be a good opportunity to test PPC against a limited set of keywords/ landing pages without rolling it out to you whole site.

Get a feel for keywords, where further SEO efforts are best placed.
Baring some amazing extra source of traffic, not being a PPC affiliate basically means you are an SEO affiliate (or amazing at social networking). Optimizing for organic traffic can be a very effective strategy, large amounts of free new or returning visitors is always going to be desirable. What is hard though is starting, initially you don’t have a great big list of keywords that work well and you also don’t know which are going to be dead ends. It is really hard to know where to best spend your time producing content and link building. Bidding across some broad match terms can quickly give you an idea on the type of traffic you get, the keywords they use and whether they convert. A broad match is a keyword which will display for that particular search query, as well as an other closely related ones. That way from a few keywords many different, more specific search terms are found that can be targeted.

Test features/ concepts.
Following on from the last point, if you are considering branching out into different areas or even using different content around your current offers you really want to know quickly whether the new ideas will fly. Usually it takes time to build up search rankings for new terms in organic results, this could be wasted time when you find out that traffic from these searches isn’t converting well. Google’s keyword tools can give you a rough idea of expected search query volume but what visitors will do once they reach you site is a big unknown. The fastest way to test this is PPC.

Learn.
Even if right now your affiliate marketing business is unable to make PPC work at all, there is always the experience you will get by giving it a shot. Adwords is both a powerful and extremely complex tool, an important once in any marketers arsenal. AffClicks simplifies the experience, putting it in the reach of even the smallest part time affiliates but there is still a learning curve there that can only be overcome once you get stuck in and run some ad campaigns.

Once a campaign is running, the affiliate marketers next big question is how am I going to track the results? Without a specialized tool this is a difficult task, if you are a merchant doing direct sales you can put conversion code on your sales thank you page and have little problems tracking ROI. For affiliates though you don’t control the sales process so most of the time this isn’t an option. One of the core motivations for AffClicks is to get around this issue, although we have extended a lot further to build a comprehensive solution for PPC affiliates.

Currently this isn’t available as we still need out API implementation approved by Google but the commission aggregation component plus much more is, signup for beta on affclicks.com if you are interested.

I would love to hear others opinions on PPC and affiliate marketing, what have you found successful? What has just cost your money? And any problems you have had that more advanced tools could solve.

AffClicks Launches Into Beta

As an Affiliate Marketer life can be hard. With limited resources you have to be a web developer, a marketer, an analyst and a relationship manager. You are at the mercy of the next algorithm change, cookie law or ad network terms change.

Even when you are on top of everything you still have a hard time knowing exactly how profitable your business is. How much is traffic acquisition costing? How much is each network/ merchant delivering in commissions? Am I spending time and money on the right products or am I promoting duds? Is most my traffic just window shopping?

AffClicks can answer these questions for you and more. With a quick setup much of you analysis workflow can be automated, allowing you to spend more time focusing on growing your business and less on crunching the numbers.

AffClicks has moved into the beta testing phase, to register your interest head to affclicks.com and enter your email address. We are restricting invites to allow us to gently increase capacity and avoid any crunch. Generally though it should be a short wait from the time you provide your email.

If you wish to keep updated on progress but don’t want to participate at this stage enter your email and we will be happy to keep you informed.

Some of AffClicks key features are:
Automated affiliate network reporting - Once you have setup your networks and the automated reporting for them you no longer have worry about constantly checking individual network stats again. Transaction listings and commission totals will always be up to date. Our current list of supported networks is: Affiliate Window, Commission Junction, Web Gains, TradeDoubler, Paid On Results, Affiliate Future, Zanox, Buy.At, AdTraction, LinkShare, Commission Monster, Clix Galore, DGM and Digital Leads Network.

Some of the networks on the list for inclusion next are: The Google Affiliate Network, EBay, Amazon Associates, ClickBank, ShareASale, Commission Factory, AffiliNet and TradeTracker. We will also be including the Adsense network for Ad revenues, this isn’t the same model as affiliate networks but an important part of many Affiliate Marketers revenues. We are flexible on which networks get integrated and in what order depending on user demand. Let us know what networks you are interested in and we will be happy to accommodate.

Automated Adwords Reporting - AffClicks is fully integrated into Adwords, which allows you to both automatically download reports and manage your account from within AffClicks. The Adwords interface can be a confusing at times and isn’t at all suited to Affiliates as it doesn’t record your commission earnings. AffClicks solves this problem.

Quickly identify actionable changes - The faster you can find out which things aren’t working, the faster you can make changes to improve your business.

For example, seeing that an Adwords Ad is sending traffic to your site that is either not clicking through to a merchant or making it to a merchant but not generating any commission on the merchants site. This is costing you but delivering low returns. Conversely you could see an Ad working really well and want to increase your bids on keywords that trigger that Ad to improve your Ads position in search results and send more traffic.

Another scenario example is when you have two or more merchants selling similar or even identical products. The amount of traffic you send should be dependent on how each merchant is converting the traffic you are sending. This is easy to see and compare across networks in AffClicks.

Attributing Sales/ Leads Back To User Actions And Search Terms - When you do receive commission, often you will want to know as much about a sale/ lead as possible, questions such as: How did the customer find us? What actions did they take on our website? Which merchants did they click through to?

You may want to check later on and see which search terms are turning a profit so you can focus your SEO effort on the pages that are converting well. You also may choose to add search terms which have resulted in commission to an Adwords campaign to drive more traffic to these terms.

More information is available on the website. We hope to see you involved in AffClicks either in beta or down the track when we launch publicly. We wish you all the best in your Affiliate businesses in 2012 and promise to do everything we can to make it your best year yet.

Social Extensions Introduced Into Adwords Ads

Earlier this year Google introduced the +1 Button for Google Plus and 3rd party website to implement. It is their answer to the controversial Facebook Like button which is now firmly entrenched across the net. It behaves in a similar way allowing users to indicate that they found something engaging or useful. Of interest to search marketers and SEO’s is that +1’s are shown in organic results and ads. A page with more +1’s can improve ranking and click throughs both algorithmically and because of Social Proof.

Back in March when +1’s were first introduced into organic search and ads they only applied to single page/ ads, meaning that it was unlikely those advertising across many niches/ product lines would be able to build up a significant number. Further hampering reach, they only appeared when a user had a connection to another user through Google Plus.

This week though they added Business Pages to Google Plus. These pages are very similar to Facebook Pages. They are another place for businesses to build up a social presence and connect with customers. The big difference though is that through social extensions you can connect all your ads to a single Google Plus business page and the +1’s gained through this page will be shown across all your ads. The other big change is the distinction between personal and basic annotations. Before only the personal annotations, where an ad would show +1’s if they were from a users connections applied. Now basic annotations will give a count of the total number of users that have +1’d your page.

Building a following on Google Plus is potentially far more rewarding if you primarily rely on search marketing for new customers rather than social presence/ community building and the curation that goes with it. This is especially true of smaller Affiliate Marketing operations who just don’t have the resources to make a big impact in social media.

Will this have a big impact on click through rates and get your ads standing out? I think that the social proof of knowing that others have visited a site/ business page and found it to be useful is a big deal. There are so many scammy or just low quality pages on the net that users are always going to be wary of new small operations and any promises that they make. Displaying trusted badges from popular shopping networks has been shown to dramatically increase conversions as the user trust the shopping network and by proxy trusts your site as part of that network. This should provide a similar effect when it comes to a user deciding what ad or organic result, if any, they wish to click on.

All this just provides the framework though, in order to leverage it your going to need to build up a decent number of +1′s, this involves ideally having a web site that people are happy enough with to want to recommend  to others, and once they do decide this, an easy way for them to do so. This is where a yet to be released badge from Google will come into play. I think from the choices of badge available the only badge will really be effective as is the which includes the +1 button (shown below). Asking your users to click through to Google Plus or add you to their circles is asking a lot and will lower the amount of +1 recommendations you can collect. Once this badge is available I would put it in prominent places and encouraging people to use it or add to their circles to say up to date on your latest offers. It also requires users to have a Google Plus account, numbers will vary depending on your nice but it is growing fast.

Google has also added segmentation for both personal and basic social annotations so you will easily be able to see the impact the extensions are having on your Adwords metrics.

Unfortunately currently not all users may be able to get the social extensions as it currently requires a verified page (“If you haven’t already verified with Google that your Page actually belongs to you, you’ll need to complete this step first. If you skip this step, you’ll be able to link a Page to your campaign, but your ads will not include this feature until this step is completed.” [http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1645035]) and Google states “Since this is primarily a security mechanism, there’s no way to apply for a verification badge. If we think you or your page might benefit from a badge, we’ll reach out to manually verify you.” [http://www.google.com/support/plus/bin/answer.py?hl=en&p=plus_page_verification&answer=1620074] Hopefully this restrictive use won’t prevail for long and we can all start experimenting with incorporating social signal into search ads.

Affiliate Commission Percentage and Cookie Length

Two key metrics publishers take into account when picking sales affiliate campaigns are commission percentage, which is the percentage of total sales value on referrer sales which they receive and cookie length, which is the period of time after the initial referral the affiliate is entitled to commission for.

These metrics can be hard to compare though, am I better off taking the higher commission rate with a short cookie time? Or should I take a lower cut and bank on the fact that customers will return during the cookie period to make additional purchases?

Another factor to consider is also the tracking methods used by a network. Standard cookie tracking deteriorates over time as people will either clear their cookies or have browser settings or automated programs that do it for them. According to statistics from the  Affiliates4u 2011 performance marketing guide, after 30 days 43% of sales are coming from alternative tracking methods. This means for a network using standard cookies your commission is getting cut by 43% after 30 days, a longer cookie length, whether this stat just gets worse, may not be very beneficial.

To provide a rough guide I have analyzed some of our personal account merchant referrals over a long enough period of time that they would be pretty stable, especially for the first merchant. The first merchant is on a 30 day cookie and is recorded from a pool for 20,814 sales over 17 months. The second merchant is on a 45 day cookie and is recorded from a pool of 2526 sales over 6 months.

This first chart for merchant A shows that 59% of sales occurred within 24 hours of the original click, this would mostly be people who clicked through and purchased in the one internet usage session, but also include those who may have made a mental or physical note to come back later in the day and make a purchase. As you can see this tapers off quickly with less than 5% of sales coming in the second 24 hours period and settles around the 2% mark for each day of the first week. Taking into account the perviously mentioned issue of regular cookies being removed over time it seems that after the first week there is a fairly uniform chance that someone will return on any given day to make a purchase.

It may be better to think in terms of the next graph, the amount of total sales completed on or before each day of the cookie period.

Here we can see that by day 10 you have 80% of the sales value. To get an idea of how cookie length and value would be interrelated here we will insert some numbers to put a figure on different levels of revenue. Say that you have 1000 sales at an average of value of $100 with a commission percentage of 10% over the 30 day period. This means the total revenue over the period is $10 * 1000 sales = $10,000, $8000 of which comes in the first 10 days. Meaning if your commission was changed to 15% on a 10 day cookie you would get $15 * 800 sales = $12,000 which would be better value but unless you have a rough idea of the distributions of sales you are getting from merchants it may not be clear.

In merchants we have ran 2 commonly offered cookie lengths are 30 and 45 days, to get an idea of difference between these 2 we examined the second merchant.

 


 

Here we see an even more pronounced effect towards the first 24 hours, with about 85% of sales occurring in the first 24 hours. It also features a similar tapering off after the first couple of days. What we want to check here though is how much extra revenue does having an extra 15 days of cookie length generate and if presented with competing offers, one of which offers a longer cookie for less commission percentage on each sale, what is the best course of action?

The graph confirms what you would have already been suspecting from previous graphs. The extra 15 days only generated an extra 2% of sales. 45 days at 10% or 30 at 12.5% are offers you may be likely to see. Using 1000 sales at an average of $100 per sale again as an example, with the first offer you would get $10 * 1000 = $10000 and with the second you would get $12.50 * 980 = $12250. For both methods to break even you would need 20% of sales to come in the additional 15 days of cookie time. It is possible that depending on the products being sold this could happen but from the data we have to go by here it’s definitely not in our niche.

Another aspect to consider is that of sub sales, those are purchases by customers referred that have been completed in transactions after their initial transaction by a merchant. Sometimes these sales will attract a different commission rate than first sales as some merchants feel they have already paid for and acquired the customer and shouldn’t be rewarded as handsomely on additional transactions that still occur in the cookie period. This data is taken again from merchant A, but from a smaller poll of 6952 sales which could have their sub sales more accurately tracked. From this, 8.3% of sales were sub sales and their distribution across days is show below.

Apart from the first day when people tend either buy things across multiple transactions but in the same session of browsing, there doesn’t appear to be a great pattern in when people come back. It could be said though that people who have purchased are more likely to come back across the cookie period than those which haven’t before. When considering a different rate for sub sales it is useful to figure out what percentage of your sales are sub sales, also what is considered a sub sale, is it just people making a second transaction on the current cookie or is it also those that had your cookie 6 months back and have just required it and made their first purchase on this cookie?

AffClicks is well poised to pose and answer these questions on others in future about affiliate marketing with anonymous user data (opt in of course). Will be interesting to see how it develops and any extra data we can provide to better inform affiliate marketers and help them make better decisions in their businesses is a great thing.

Affclicks Launches a New Website

Since early in AffClicks development we have just had a fairly simple and mostly outdated splash page up with some basic information about the product. As our product launch quickly approaches and we get more interest we needed something to send people to which would concisely explain to them what AffClicks does and why it will benefit their business.

Front and center we now have what we think are 4 of the key benefits Affclicks brings to a user:

  • Drive more sales and leads with keyword analytics
  • Boost PPC profits with automated ROI analysis
  • Track and optimise conversions from organic search traffic
  • Save time with consolidated network statistics

To match the new theme the blog is also now themed the same and much better integrated as part of the AffClicks website rather than a mostly separate entity. The top links allow easy navigation to the website for users discovering AffClicks through blog posts.

The other main thing we have done is created a features page which further expands on the key benefits with a more in depth description and screen shots.

While this is no substitute for actually getting onto AffClicks and trying it out it gives a better idea to those hearing of AffClicks for the first time whether or not it will be ideal for them.

On the development front we are at the stage where we are mainly ironing out bugs and areas rough around the edges, having most of the features we wish to launch a beta with implemented.

If you have any questions or suggestions for either the website or AffClicks please feel free to email us, we look forward to talking to more affiliate marketers about how we can make Affclicks the best possible product for them and their business.

(info@affclicks.com)

What is AffClicks?

Affclicks is an idea that we have been working towards for quiet some time now, as with any project what you are working towards changes with time and better understanding of the problem domain. This is where we are currently at with Affclicks as well as our vision for the future. We expect it to continue evolving based on customer feedback in our soon to commence beta to best serve the needs of affiliate marketers.

Affclicks provides profitability analytics for affiliate marketers. The main focus of these analytics is profitability analysis – as opposed to traffic metrics – which are available in products such as Google analytics (although we cover some of these as well). Affclicks imports cost data from Adwords at regular user-defined intervals. This allows analysis of the cost data right down to the keyword and search terms used level as well as reconciling it with the commission data imported from our many supported Affiliate networks. Having this data then allows an affiliate marketer to make more informed decisions about how to improve their campaigns.

Some examples of what you can then do with having both the cost and revenue data together in the one place are changing keyword bids based of profitability, pausing/ deleting underperforming keywords, identifying poor performing landing pages or merchants and adding search terms that have resulted in commission as keywords in Adwords.

WIthout a third party solution an affiliate marketer working across multiple affiliate networks would have to spend a large amount of time just to work out on a high level what their current financial position is. Although there are other tools that aggregate data across affiliate networks they generally do just that, ignoring the other half of the equation, traffic acquisition, to focus exclusively on the end result, commission revenue. As well as aiming to solve the commission aggregation problem as accurately as possible we are putting a lot of focus into the traffic acquisition and how users progress through your site. This makes us an application that deals with the entire process of a user visiting either through organic or paid search, clicking around your site, exiting to a merchant and finally taking an action on a merchants site which provides affiliate commission.

This allows us to obtain additional traffic data which networks often fail to provide such as exit clicks and therefore earnings per click (EPC). Affclicks can tell you exactly which exit link was clicked on any sale or lead. Through our own experience as professional affiliate marketers over many years we found that collecting a mountain of data was the easy part. However, it was largely useless to us when we didn’t have the time or the tools to convert it into a useable form and analyse it in a way that helped us to improve the profitability of our campaigns.

Our focus has been creating an interface that both serves the power user and the part time affiliate. For the power user a lot of details available and low level analytics to access and act upon. For the part time affiliate we have automation of tasks and high level graphs for them to quickly assess their position and where they can improve return on investment.

Most people aren’t advertising managers full time and find the Adwords interface uninviting and far to confusing to setup a simple campaign. Also the interface isn’t geared towards affiliates, the focus is more on big e-commerce operations with things like conversion tracking and google analytics integration. While these are good features, they don’t measure the end sale on a merchants site.

Affclicks is progressing rapidly and will soon be ready for a closed beta. We hope to hear from as many prospective users as possible right throughout the process. Got a business case you think we should cover? Are there features, functions, or certain networks we are missing? Drop us a line, or alternatively leave your email so we can get you involved in our private beta as soon as possible.

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