Earlier this year, I shared some useful info on tools and resources that I’ve used to maximize the effectiveness of the ClubMom affiliate program. Since then, I’ve come across a number of other necessary items for the arsenal of any successful affiliate manager.
I’d like to share my favorites with anybody in the affiliate marketing community who hasn’t heard about them. No disclaimers here — these are resources that I personally use and stand behind.
How to Find Super Affiliates
All affiliate managers know that they need super affiliates — those that make up the 5 percent in the 95/5 rule. However, the burning question is this: Where do I find super affiliates?
Neil Shearing of the ScamFreeZone has answered this question with his Internet Success Spider, a tool that will help you to find super affiliates and get them to join your affiliate program.
This software runs in your browser, so it doesn’t matter whether you have a PC or Mac. There is no downloading, editing, uploading, installing, setting permissions, or any other complications. You simply access a Web page, and the Spider is ready to go.
Just Syndicate It!
If you run time-sensitive promotions through your affiliate program, you’ve probably encountered a situation in which affiliates were using outdated text links. This can be a liability if they are hard-coding prices or information about a contest that has ended. In a perfect world, you could update the affiliate text links on your end.
Master Syndicator enables you to approach such an affiliate marketing utopia. This software can be integrated into the linking options for a number of solution providers, and it allows you to publish text links on an unlimited number of affiliate sites with just one click of your mouse. A general knowledge of CGI (common gateway interface) script installation is required (an easy task for your tech department).
Master Syndicator is not limited to dynamically serving short text links; you can serve up entire articles and Web pages with this software. If you go to my site, BabyLounge, you can see the Master Syndicator in action with a ClubMom link on the right side of the page.
Help Affiliates Help Themselves
An educated affiliate is your best salesperson. In the past, I’ve showered praise on AffTrack, and I continue to think that it is the top product for helping affiliates analyze and rank their affiliate marketing revenue by key metrics.
However, the current price points for AffTrack are geared toward super affiliates, so there is a deficit out there for tools to help all of the other affiliates track their programs. In response to this void, I recently created an affiliate program tracker for my affiliates, but it can be used for any affiliate program.
I began using spreadsheets to track affiliate programs soon after I began promoting them in 1997, and this Excel file is the evolved version of my past creations. Although it does require a little work for the affiliate, the file is useful for comparing click-through rates, conversions rates, and the effective cost per click across all programs being promoted by an affiliate.
Who Are You?
Your affiliate agreement should stipulate that affiliates must notify you of all URLs where they plan to promote your affiliate program. This allows quality control of your program; you cannot determine if an affiliate site is objectionable if you don’t know where you’re being promoted.
Even if you do mandate that affiliates notify you of the URLs they are using to promote your program, there will be some affiliates who don’t read the agreement, and others who do not share all their URLs with you because they are up to something fishy. Luckily, there is WebTrends.
Plenty of software packages out there can analyze your logs and let you know the referring URLs of your site traffic, but WebTrends is my favorite. Your tech department may even already use it. With WebTrends, you can check (among many other things) which URLs are driving traffic to your site.
Some affiliates will fall below the radar due to low traffic, but I’ve identified numerous shady affiliates with WebTrends. These affiliates had applied to our program with legitimate-looking sites, then went on to promote us with questionable sites, such as one that billed ClubMom as an adult service and urged the visitors to register with us to see risqui photos.
How Does Your Affiliate Program Rate?
Affiliate managers formulate projections to reach goals internally, but not a lot of data has been published to determine benchmarks in affiliate marketing. Until now.
Affiliate managers from a cross section of the industry were recently surveyed on their overall statistics as well as on a number of issues about their affiliate marketing channels, such as staffing, planning, and management. The result was The affiliate metrix “2001 Merchant Report,” which I co-authored with Keith Kochberg.
This report features analysis of the aggregated statistics plus conclusions and projections to assist your affiliate marketing insight and strategy.
There are, no doubt, plenty of other great tools and resources out there, and I would love to hear about them. If you are using a particular product or service to simplify affiliate management and assist your affiliates, please pass along that information to me.