Archive for August, 2008

Cultivates the serious and honest…

Aug 29, 2008 No Comments by

“Cultivates the serious and honest”, from the headline of this post. I love that statement pulled out of the Affiliate testimonial below. Take a look at the rest of what Blake from favorideas.com says about our partnership. Thanks for all your continued support and feedback, Blake!


Affiliate marketing is still kind of a wild west, last frontier way of making a living. For that reason there’s plenty of wildcat stuff on the fringes: cookie-stuffing affiliates, slippery merchants and sometimes, (ouch) exploitational networks. Anyone whose daily bread starts overlapping significantly with their affiliate income gets quite an education in these things. I took some lumps with various networks when my business first took off, but thanks to AvantLink’s timing in entering the marketplace, I got spoiled pretty early on. When the staff aren’t being helpful, responsive and even touchy-feely (ever get a call from a network rep when they’re actually at top of a ski slope on a holiday? Thought not!), they’re invisible. Actually, they’re better than invisible, because over the months and years I’ve developed this delightful sense that they’re battling for my rights behind the scenes. I have a lot of trust in AvantLink, something that would be naive on my part with many networks. And even when I ask for something a little out of the ordinary in terms of data to work with, they advocate for it.

I don’t cheat merchants, and all I want to do is get my business done. Because Avantlink has a value system that excludes the squirrelly and cultivates the serious and honest, I don’t worry about getting paid for the legitimate sales I send. Nor do I feel like merchants are constantly worrying about me pulling one over on them. Most of the time, I don’t think about how much I appreciate this environment until I have to do a little business somewhere else; then it all comes back.

Blake Kritzberg
www.favorideas.com

Testimonials Read more

September Affiliate Sales Contest for The-House.com!

Aug 29, 2008 2 Comments by

Affiliates,

As we are nearing the end of summer and peak season is approaching we have something that we hope will interest you affiliates out there. The-House.com is offering a nice incentive to affiliates for the month of September. The sales contest will take place from the 1st through the 30th and the first five affiliates to generate $1,000.00 in sales will receive the added bonus of $100.00!

We hope all of you will take advantage of this opportunity and want to say thanks for all of your hard work so far this year.

Check out the ABW announcement as well.

Best of luck to all of you!

Mark Kalbach
activesports@avantlink.com

Promotions Read more

Affiliate Program Branding & Management

Aug 28, 2008 3 Comments by

Time for another Affiliate Marketing Best Practices article, but this time it’s an article for merchants. Disclaimer: It’s been a while since I’ve managed an Affiliate program, so correct me if I need it. But I think the primary concepts and techniques for effective Affiliate management may just be timeless.


Just as Affiliate marketing has evolved and matured, so has the roll of Affiliate Manager (AM). Today’s managers (and the merchants they work for) have to understand the process of building a quality program. And a process it is, especially if the program is new. It takes a lot more these days than launching in reputable networks. There is too much competition among merchants for the top Affiliates. Retailers, maintain a program that’s more compelling and higher converting for Affiliates, and you win. You attract the most talented marketers who consistently bring you new customers and large sales volume. But how can that be done? And what resources are available?

Over the years one thing that has remained the cornerstone of effective program management is consistent communication with Affiliates. So email your Affiliates. Email them collectively with big news or with a monthly newsletter. Email them one-to-one and support them, offer ideas, talk shop. Over time effective communicators build solid relationships and get honest, constructive feedback. Both of which empower Affiliates to drive more sales.

Options for program management include hiring in house, hiring a management firm or using a network. AvantLink recently rolled out a very competitive Managed Solution service level for merchants. And there is a strong proof of concept in what we’re doing. The fundamentals are rooted in business and branding strategy, and any web-based business can benefit from them. Especially web retailers with Affiliate programs, and Affiliate marketers themselves.

For communication, traditionally AM’s used email, instant messaging, and telephone. And more recently Twitter. That’s all good. But consider these additional channels for engaging Affiliates, link building and growing your Affiliate program brand; all at the same time.

  1. WordPress. Start a blog dedicated to your Affiliate program and nothing else. Distribute your monthly newsletters as blog posts, make a post about new banners, new products, and of course sales and promotions. Think critically about the subject line, and use a good link strategy. There are many reasons why you should use WordPress for your blog, but that’s for a different article. Take a look at the Backcountry Affiliate Blog to see a working example.
  2. ABestWeb. Sponsor a branded, sub-forum on ABestWeb.com. This is the largest Affiliate community on the web, and every inbound link from ABW is gold. Essentially, what you post to your Affiliate program blog, you can post to your ABestWeb category. Tweak the subject line a bit, and don’t re-purpose the content exactly from your blog. The extra 10-15 minutes you take to rewrite the article is well worth the effort. Check out Altrec’s sub-forum on ABestWeb to see an example.

The reality is that the best Affiliates won’t simply take your word for it. Especially if you’re not a nationally recognized brand. Any retailer can talk up how good their program is, and how well their site converts. Likely the first thing Affiliates will do before signing up with any program is Google “Merchantname Affiliate program” and see what comes up. So make sure there is more in the results than just the Affiliate program info page on your site. The more blog articles and forum threads about you, the better. But no thin posts or articles!

A couple of other examples of distribution channels AvantLink regularly uses includes the AvantLink category at the Rocky Mountain Affiliate Marketing Association’s (RMAMA) blog. We’ve also used PRWeb.com (see sidebar of blog) consistently over the years to get important news out. These articles also include very important links to our content. We try and take full advantage of any opportunity to pump out good news!

So to conclude, Affiliate managers who are competent communicators should align themselves with the distinct branding and content distribution channels discussed above. Not only will this open up more communication mediums (your WordPress blog’s RSS feed, for example), but every bit of content being distributed will get picked up quickly by Google and the others. This is what builds your authority and positive brand in the Affiliate space.

Once prospective Affiliates get a sense that your program is an authority, and that someone is communicating effectively, it will in essence become a powerful recruitment or acquisition channel as well. The task of forming good, long-term and prosperous relationships just got easier!

Gary M

Note: Visit our Solutions page for more information on our Branding Package for merchants. With this package we offer merchants the distribution channels highlighted in this article, at a substantial package discount. The Branding Package may be utilized as a stand alone service, or encompassed in our comprehensive Affiliate Management Solution. Contact us for more information.

Best Practices, Merchant Tools Read more

Backcountry Affiliate Program Blog

Aug 21, 2008 No Comments by

Just a quick post to introduce our latest merchant to join our blogging network: Backcountry.com! Brian Boyd and the Backcountry Affiliate program will now be maintaining a dedicated category on AvantShare.com, AvantLink’s dedicated blog network. Look for compelling offers and other relevant news from their killer program to be posted regularly there.

You can even subscribe to the Backcountry Affiliate Blog RSS feed to have the news and content delivered to you.

Check out it: Backcountry Affiliate Program Blog


Reminder to all AvantLink merchants: We offer a very competitive one off service that allows you to brand and maintain a news distribution channel for your program on our high-profile blog network. A dedicated category on our blog also comes as part of the Branding Channel for merchants. Drop us a line if you would like more info.

General Info, Merchant Tools Read more

New Video Ads from The-House!

Aug 18, 2008 2 Comments by

House Logo

Just a quick note to point out that some of the new video campaigns have begun to roll out for The-House.com here at AvantLink. Their product videos are put together in a very laid back but informative way and highlight many of the key features on great boards like the Burton Fish and other products like the Flux Emblem Snowboard Bindings to name a couple.


Look for more videos to come!

If you’re already an Affiliate for The-House in AvantLink, you can begin using these campaigns by taking the following steps:

  1. Login to your Affiliate account at AvantLink
  2. Select ‘Tools’ from the main menu
  3. Look for ‘Add/Link Tools’ and then select Get Merchant Ads
  4. Select ‘The House’ from drop down list of Merchants
  5. Select ‘Video’ for Ad Type then click Get Ads

If you are not yet a part of The-House and their affiliate program here at AvantLink Join The-House.com Affiliate Program today!

Mark Kalbach

ActiveSports/at/Avantlink.com

Affiliate Tools, Press/News Read more

NWScrubs.com is now live in AvantLink!

Aug 11, 2008 No Comments by

Introducing our newest exclusive merchant in AvantLink:

NWScrubs.com

We are pleased to welcome NWScrubs.com to our Medical Supplies Category here at AvantLink. NWScrubs.com has been in the medical uniform industry for 5 years and they are already becoming one of the top players in the business. They have the largest selections of major brands like Cherokee, Dickies, Peaches, Baby Phat and Izzy.

NWScrubs.com has an aggressive program planned and some of the stats on the program should prove it. They are offering affiliates who join 10% base commissions which is nice in and of itself, but in addition, they are also bumping those commissions up the 13% on monthly sales of $10,000.00 and over. Cookie life is set for 120 days giving you 4 months to earn. Oh, and I should point out Free Shipping on all orders over $100.

Here is some straight from the NWScrubs.com.com affiliate program detail page:

The NW Scrubs site is designed to convert with a professional layout, BBB and Hacker Safe certifications, a 110% Low Price Guarantee and Free Shipping on orders over $100. Because we sell every item available at our suppliers warehouses, our site lists the maximum number of styles allowing us and you to capitalize on long tail search terms. Most of our competitors list about 10% of the selection we offer. Our use of Subdomains on branded pages gives you authoritative URL’s to enhance clickthrough. We also provide a detailed datafeed of all products to help you build a quality site.

Our ownership is personally involved in the marketplace and online marketing. We value our Affiliate relationships and are open to any and all suggestions to improve our site to the benefit of all of our partners. We are currently expanding our offerings and will continue to do so, with brands such as Katherine Heigl, Grey’s Anatomy and Barco in the process of being added.

Read the program launch announcement on ABestWeb.

Let us know what we can do to help you get started promoting NWScrubs.com. Contact anyone at AvantLink or email the NWScrubs AM Jason Smith, jason/at/nwscrubs.com.

Mark & AvantLink

New Merchants, Press/News Read more

evogear.com is now live in AvantLink!

Aug 07, 2008 No Comments by

We are proud to introduce our newest AvantLink merchant:

evogear.com

Necessity is the mother of invention which is proven true in the way that evogear.com was formed. Starting out in the confines of a dorm room evo began as a way to supplement the travels of pro skier Bryce Phillips. Today their following continues to grow and evogear.com offers more than just great deals. The companies core values reflect their genuine desire to maintain a community where people who are passionate about the sports and styles evogear represents can all come together and share in their passions.

The evo gear program is offering a tiered commission structure giving affiliates the opportunity to earn up to 12% commissions on some great products and killer brand names like Burton, K2, The North Face, and more! All this from a company who is ready and eager to help you begin earning today and the program has all the free built in affiliate tools AvantLink offers so do yourselves a favor and check em’ out!

Here is a little bit from their program’s detail page:

Since its conception,

in October 2005 the flagship store in Seattle was opened to the public. We now have been selling products on the web for the past 7 years committing ourselves to our customers by adhering to our company values, the Great 8. The best way to find out more about evo is to visit our About Us page. Make sure to check out the Great 8!

Read the program launch announcement on ABestWeb.

Let us know what we can do to help you get started promoting evogear.com. Contact anyone at AvantLink or email molly/at/evogear.com.

Mark & AvantLink

New Merchants Read more