Archive for General Info

Affiliates Getting Cut Out of the Loop?

Aug 14, 2007 5 Comments by

There is a lot of talk about “Branded Links” recently. Also known as direct links, these are Affiliate tracking links that do not go through an Affiliate network’s tracking servers and redirects. Rather, the link is direct to the merchant utilizing added parameters to track and credit the sale accordingly. Here is an example of a branded or direct link URL:

http://www.merchantname.com/?network=1611_cl_0_trac

It’s interesting how many merchants are starting to ask the question “Do you offer direct Affiliate links?” as one of the first orders of business when we begin talking about a possible partnership. The answer I give is no we don’t offer branded links, and if we did, it would be the Affiliate’s choice on whether they used them or not. I then go on to explain exactly why we don’t and why that’s not a good idea. In nutshell, building link popularity and pagerank is not the job of the Affiliate. Nor should it be. The Affiliate’s job is to send the merchant their qualified customers. There are many other techniques a merchant can use to build their backlink count.

Most merchants new to the game have an open ear so once I explain everything they look at the whole picture and start to think more reasonably about the Affiliate/merchant relationship. They have to figure out what they want. Do they want inbound links, or do they want sales volume from many highly productive and savvy online marketers.

There is quite a bit of discussion these days on this issue, as the big 3 networks, as they’re known, are all offering branded links. Here is a lively discussion at ABestWeb about just this:

Similarly, we’ve started to see cases in which the network and merchant have cut the Affiliate out altogether! Downtown Ecommerce Partners, an interactive services firm specializing in ecommerce consultancy, recently posted a great blog article about this. In many ways, it’s similar to networks using the selling point of Affiliate branded links to attract merchant business. They have it all wrong, though. Merchants go where the Affiliates are, not the other way around! Interested parties (Affiliates, namely) should have a look at this write up. Here is a quote:

The negative impact to our business is not the point. What is more relevant to the Affiliate Marketing Industry is the dynamic of the traditionally three way relationship. This dynamic is changing and Affiliates and Merchants will have to choose their partners wisely. The former “three-way” pie is rapidly consolidating to just two hands – the Affiliate Network (soon to be renamed as simple a “Network”) and the Merchant.

Read the full article: Affiliates Beware – You may be next

Let us know what you think..

Gary & AvantLink

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Direct Deposit & PayPal Payment Options Added

Jul 24, 2007 1 Comment by

Affiliates, please take note that we now have Direct Deposit (U.S. banks only) and PayPal payment options now available. To configure one of these new payment options follow these simple steps:

  1. Login and click on ‘Account’ from the main menu.
  2. Click on ‘Contact/Payment Information’.
  3. Under Payment Preferences, select either direct deposit or PayPal from ‘Payment Method:’.
  4. Depending on your choice, a smart form will display.
  5. Fill out the required information and click ‘Update’.

That’s all there is to it. Let us know if you have any questions.

Gary & AvantLink

Affiliate Tools, General Info Read more

Customized Report Settings

Jul 11, 2007 2 Comments by

In addition to the Hit Trail visibility I mentioned yesterday, we’ve also upgraded to give you the ability to customize your report settings. This functionality is there for both Affiliates and merchants. Follow these simple steps to customize your report settings in AvantLink:

  1. Login and click ‘Reports’ from main menu.
  2. Click ‘Customize display settings for this report’ in the upper right corner of the ‘Performance Summary for Today’ table.
  3. The ‘Report customization’ pop up will allow you to modify your report settings.

This is a nice way to get the metrics most important to you listed in your default report page view, with the ability to update at any time.

Oh yeah and remember to play around with the API for report subscriptions. RSS, Email or Direct API request (HTML, Tab Delimited, Comma Separated, or XML). You could get your favorite report results delivered without even logging in to the network!

I also announced our customized reporting at ABestWeb today.

If you have any feedback or suggestions please let us know.

Gary & AvantLink

Affiliate Tools, General Info, Merchant Tools Read more

Hit Trail Affiliate Sale Tracking

Jul 10, 2007 5 Comments by

Now this is nifty! Many of you have probably already noticed the upgrade to the reporting system that provides “Hit Trail” tracking for sale records in AvantLink. The Hit Trail will give you visibility into the click through page that brought a customer to your site and on page views for pages they visited during their stay. We’ve labeled ‘Hit Types’ in a column as ‘Click Through’, ‘Page View’ and ‘Sale’ for your reference.

To view the Hit Trail for a sale record follow these steps:

  1. Login to your Affiliate account and click ‘Reports’ from the main menu.
  2. Click ‘Show Report Form’ and then run a ‘Sales/Commission (Detail)’ report for This Month or Last Month. If you’ve had sales with us in the last two months individual sale records will be returned.
  3. Click on ‘Show more columns >>’ in the sale record list and you’ll see ‘Hit Trail’ in the far right column.

Note: Some records may be missing the Hit Trail association. Reasons for this could be that the cookie was set before we integrated the Hit Trail tracking. Another reason could be that the customer was using dial up. In that case the IP of the customer at the time they first recorded click through/page views may be different then when they purchased. If they logged off and back on during the time frame from click through to purchase, our system may not be able to match up the full data trail.

The Hit Trail may even be visible across multiple Affiliate sites that you have configured in AvantLink.

Let us know what you think.

Gary & AvantLink

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Revenue Added the Press Release Article

Jun 28, 2007 No Comments by

Just a quick post to mention that Revenue added the “Press Releases and Your Site” article I wrote to their site. It was originally featured in the May 2007 PDF Newsletter, but just an hour ago it was also added to the Affiliate Marketing Tips section of RevenueToday.com. I posted this article back on May 7th on our blog, but it looks much better there!

In the “old days” of the Web, you published articles and waited for search engines to come and index your pages. Nowadays powerful syndication techniques will bring your content to readers, search engines and respected news sources. One of the most effective ways to syndicate site content is through online press release distribution services.

Read the entire article | digg it, too!

-Gary M on behalf of AvantLink

General Info, Press/News Read more

Upside Over Affiliate Program in the News

Jun 25, 2007 1 Comment by

A couple of weeks ago on June 5th we announced an exciting new partnership with kids gear retailer UpsideOver.com. Well we’re happy to bring your attention to a news release that is being distributed around the web right now!

We’ve seen a large amount of interest in this new program right out of the gate, and our hats go off to the team at Upside Over for producing such a focused and quality web store. They are growing at an incredible rate, so Affiliates take note. Apply now to AvantLink and this program to get their datafeed or links integrated in your family-oriented, outdoor or recreation site. Be one of the first Affiliates anywhere promoting this kids specific gear line! Coupon, shopping or discount sites should also take note, as Upside Over has an array of compelling promotions, sales and coupons at your fingertips to help you drive traffic.

From the PRWeb press release:

The outdoor gear for kids market is one of the fastest growing segments in the outdoor industry. As such, Upside Over has positioned itself in the center of this growth by providing products that are high quality (often hard to find), comfortable, environmentally safe and provide parents with a sense of safety, security and comfort for their kid’s enjoyment of outdoor activities.

Read the entire press release:

Outdoor Gear for Kids Specialty Retailer, Upside Over, Partners with AvantLink for Best of Breed Affiliate Marketing Relationships

This is exciting stuff. We’re thrilled to be working with a company that gets it! They absolutely understand the power of high-value Affiliate partnerships and they will get you what you need to succeed.

If you have any questions about how to get started promoting Upside Over contact anyone at AvantLink or the Upside Over Affiliate Manager Steve Gilfus. He can be reached at steve[at]upsideover.com.

More information on the Upside Over Affiliate Program..

Gary & AvantLink

General Info, Press/News Read more

AvantLink Welcomes the Backcountry Affiliate Programs!

Jun 12, 2007 6 Comments by

Well folks, if you thought our Outdoor/Recreation category was complete before.. now it’s ultra complete with the addition of the Backcountry.com family of stores/Affiliate programs. This includes cutting edge programs for Backcountry.com (High end gear for outdoor enthusiasts – Affiliate Program Info), BackcountryOutlet.com (Today’s top gear at yesterday’s prices – Affiliate Program Info), Dogfunk.com (Snowboarders only – Affiliate Program Info) and Tramdock.com (Skiing 365 days a year – Affiliate Program Info). All programs are supported by a dedicated staff (with our old friend Brian Boyd as your point of contact), industry leading Affiliate tools, the best datafeeds in the business and a flawless site & order/fulfillment process that will not only seal the deal for your referral, but keep customers coming back for a high probability of repeat transactions on your initial cookie!

Backcountry.com has been a leading, Affiliate-centric program in the outdoor category for almost a decade. If you have outdoor related traffic from a content site or blog dedicated to the outdoors, or an outdoor category on your shopping site, promote any of these programs through AvantLink and watch your conversion sore!

We’ve dedicated a Affiliate marketing blog post to each of the Backcountry.com programs:

To highlight these exciting developments, for each program we’ve also posted a dedicated thread on our ABestWeb category:

As always, if there is anything you need drop us a line. Thank you for your continued support and happy converting!

Gary & AvantLink

General Info, New Merchants Read more

Merchants: Affiliate Details Upgrade Part 2

May 25, 2007 1 Comment by

On May 15th I posted an article on this blog highlighting some great enhancements to the Affiliate Detail Pop-up available in the merchant account interface. We received some immediate feedback from Greg Toledo at Altrec.com Outdoors on a couple of other suggestions that would improve the upgrade even more. Fast forward one week and our CTO David Clark had the new changes in place and fully functional. Here are the additional Affiliate detail feature upgrades that went into place as a direct result of merchant feedback. Thanks Greg for some great ideas!

  1. In order to get better visibility into which of the integrated tools Affiliates are using, David added a quick view to the ‘STATISTICS’ tab on the Affiliate details pop-up showing the ‘Tool Usage (Last 30 Days)’. For example, Greg T would see something like ‘Altrec: Banner/Text Ad, Coupon Feed, Custom Link, Datafeed, Product Display Builder‘ for a particular Affiliate record.
  2. David also added a system that allows AMs the ability to choose groups of Affiliates to send emails to, such as all Affiliates with a specific tag, or those using particular tools. This email segmentation tool will help merchants avoid desensitization to emails, eg, only the Affiliates using the Dynamic Coupon Feed can now receive emails about updates to coupon offers.

Thanks to David and the tech team for such a quick turn around on not only a HUGE upgrade to the Affiliate detail records, but also on the responsiveness to the feedback we received from one of our most respected merchants! Looks like Greg Toledo appreciated the effort, too. Check out his response to the news:

David,

Nice work. What you have done is actually better than I had in my head. And overall, the affiliate detail page, especially the statistics page, is the best I have seen. For an AM, looking at an affiliate, and getting stats for mtd, ytd and current day in one view is valuable.

Thanks for the quick turnaround.

Greg

Let us know what you think. We have some even more exciting upgrades and system improvements coming soon!

Gary & AvantLink

General Info, Merchant Tools Read more

Press Releases and Your Site

May 07, 2007 7 Comments by

I recently wrote and submitted an article for Revenue Magazine about writing online press releases for your web site to boost link popularity and traffic. It was fun to write because we have been very disciplined in AvantLink about using PRWeb.com’s distribution channel to get out all kinds of information about our company including details on Affiliate tools, improvements to the platform and new merchant co-branded announcements. There is an excellent thread on ABestWeb.com that talks in detail about taking advantage of not only the PRWeb service but several others you have at your disposal. I actually took the title of that thread as the name of my article (sorry MoneyBusiness ;)). Here is the article and a link to the May 2007 Revenue Newsletter where it ran:

Press Releases and Your Site

In the “old days” of the web, you published articles and waited for search engines to come and index your pages. Nowadays powerful syndication techniques will bring your content to readers, search engines and respected news sources. One of the most effective ways to syndicate site content is through online press release distribution services.

With this article I will highlight online press release etiquette and structure, as well as best practices that will drive traffic and result in a valuable, long term link building campaign for your site. To see the most favorable results, be prepared to invest some money but don’t let that scare you. It’s worth every penny. To offset costs, consider moving a percentage of your PPC budget over to press release distribution. In the long run you’ll be glad you did!

  • Press Release Format: Your press release should consist of three segments including the title/headline, summary and body (300-350 word count). As with any effectively structured content, think hard about your title/headline. Get keywords in the headline as well as in a concise summary that outlines your article in two or three sentences. Keyword density in the article body itself should not exceed 5%.
  • Article Structure: Start with a paragraph or two dedicated to introducing the news as something novel, unique and exciting. What new products or services are you offering? What content or technology feature has been added to your web site? In addition to the introduction, you should also add a few sentences quoting a company representative on the benefits of the service or technology. Bullet lists are also powerful elements you might consider using.
  • Your BackLinks: Links to your site can be embedded and optimized very effectively. With PRWeb for example, you have the option of anchoring the link text you want from the context of your article if you pay for their SEO Package (minimum $200 contribution fee). This is far and away the most effective link building strategy so don’t let that $200 scare you off. The backlinks you can include in both the summary and the first paragraph of the body using keywords you’re targeting justifies the expense.
  • About Paragraph: After you have emphasized your company news, added a few quotes praising your new service, product or technology and included a bullet list of any remaining power points, add a brief paragraph for the readers describing your company or site. Three or four sentences on your company background, location and goals are sufficient.
  • Traffic Optimization Campaign: Once your press release is published, many news and related web sites will pick up your article. Don’t be satisfied with just this. Blog about your press release, linking directly to the news source with a trackback URL. You can also post your news to different social bookmarking sites and social networks. Finally, add a Press Room to your site where you can feature the article.

It’s important to remember that the link you’ll get from the online news syndication service is worth the cost of a press release alone. Add to that the benefits of the distribution channel, where your content (and backlinks that come with high-level packages) will be featured across an array of relevant web sites, and you can’t go wrong. An effectively formatted news article will not only drive traffic to your site in the immediate short term, but it will give you a powerful link building strategy for long term search engine optimization.

Check out the entire May 2007 Newsletter from Revenue Magazine where this article recently ran (PDF).

Gary & AvantLink

Affiliate Tools, General Info Read more

AvantLink Hires CTO

Apr 19, 2007 11 Comments by

We’re delighted to announce that AvantLink recently brought on board David Clark of Salt Lake City, Utah, as Chief Technology Officer. David’s skill set perfectly compliments our leading-edge Affiliate network technology and proprietary platform. He has extensive experience in web-based database-driven applications, PHP reporting systems and process automation (e.g. automated data imports/exports, statistical calculations, trigger/event notifications, etc.).

From his resume:

Experienced database developer and DBA with proven history of planning, deploying and maintaining creative solutions to business problems. Adept at individually executing projects as well as mentoring and assisting other team members with shared responsibilities. Well-versed in refactoring applications to keep pace with changing business goals without resorting to complete redesigns. Excellent troubleshooter often called upon by colleagues in “last resort” situations.

Publications:

  • Use XML Query Definitions in .NET Applications, May 2004 (available at SitePoint)
  • Stored Procedures on PHP and Microsoft SQL Server, November 2003 (available at SitePoint)

Education:

Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics, May 1997
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Graduated Summa Cum Laude with GPA 3.9/4.0

David’s interests include reading, hiking, camping and spending quality time with his wife and two small children.

We’re excited that David accepted the position of CTO for AvantLink and we look forward to the innovation and ideas he’s sure to bring to our team!

General Info, Press/News Read more