Welcome to my third installment of Affiliate Watch. I've had some great help reviewing applications from the intern department over the last month while I worked on a large SEM project, but was able to pick out some affiliate websites that I thought we could learn from. Let's see what kind of sites applied...
Site 1: Surfin For Style - If your target audience is female and the products you sell are Coach Handbags at discount prices then this affiliate is for you; provided that you also sell on eBay. SurfinForStyle uses an aesthetically pleasing flash widget to show hundreds of eBay auctions for Coach Products. While eBay offers store referral credits for the seller when a sale is driven by this type of affiliate there are many reasons why I would steer clear from these types of affiliates. The opportunity for branding is significantly decreased in this situation as the consumer will see the eBay brands and remember purchasing from eBay rather than one of our websites. We prefer to have publishers driving traffic to our websites directly so that we have the opportunity to expose our brand. It helps that eBay offsets part of the FVF (Final Value Fee) with the referral credit. I think it's a great idea that eBay and eBay to Go (in beta) has developed a tool that makes it easy for publishers to promote products listed on eBay. I am pretty sure that the tool was aimed at having shoppers promote products and create their own "unique" content, but how unique is the content if the widget users just repost someone else’s listing?
Site 2: .../RealMoney - Repeat after me class, "A good affiliate site will not use auto generated banners or animated gifs". I chuckled out loud when I saw this website. The lil guy in the lion costume is pretty cute. The site is created from a template and is not at its own domain but rather a subdirectory of the hosting company. I think the animated starry background is consuming my CPU usage as I type this... Links on this page go to a MSN group the affiliate created so not only were they not linking to products but the user group they did link to looked inactive.
Site 3: M/C Services - Images of bright orange MC Hammer pants flooded my mind when I read the name of the site and its description. They said they were working with Burger King (and others) for market research which made me think “wow these guys must be big”, but then I saw their site and quickly realized something wasn’t adding up. I tried to visit other pages of the site, hoping to find any type of evidence that they should be added to our program but found nothing.
Site 4: The Schlott Company - "Resource articles to get your business off the ground" is their tag line. I wonder if any businesses found this blog useful, as they stopped posting back in May. In all fairness I actually visited the company's real home page (which has no link or mention of their blog) and found their portfolio quite decent. They ought to update their publisher profile to the company home page not the blog. Once I saw this, I offered them a spot in our program.
Actionable take-aways for affiliates:
- Publisher Profile Information - always keep this up to date, in the example of The Schlott Company, they would have been declined had I not taken the steps to view their real website. Put your best foot forward, you only get one chance for a first impression (or your only impression).
- Don't use animated gif images - I may have mentioned this at least once or twice before.
- Don't get mad and irate at us when we decline your website - Unfounded, harassing phone calls and emails won't help your case.
- Get a real webhost - We can all tell when you are using a free webhosting service and it shows. There are many services available that cost less than a Big Mac value meal per month. I don't want to see long, hyphenated, multiple directory, unrelated domain names.