Archive for Merchant Tools

Want to make 2014 the Year of New Customers?

Jul 31, 2014 No Comments by

AvantLink.Com brings in New Customers!

2014 the Year of New Customers!

AvantLink is pleased and excited to announce a new feature in the AvantLink networks that allows our merchants to reward affiliates for purchases made by new customers!

What does this mean to your affiliate program?  New Customers!

With a small adjustment to your site you can reward affiliates with either a higher commission on that coveted new customer sale or even a flat dollar amount.  Combine this powerful feature along with AvantLink’s industry leading affiliate screening and brand protection process and you are sure to bring  new customers to your site.  The affiliate’s commission rate stays the same for returning traffic but this feature will provide incentive to bring new customers to you and also demonstrated the power of the AvantLink Affiliate Network.

How hard is this to integrate?  Simple!

It is an easy change to make just click here to take a look at the AvantLink Forums post with instructions and as always if you have any questions please do not hesitate to send us an email at support@avantlink.com.

Don’t miss out on this great new feature that entices your affiliates to find and send new customers to your store.  It’s time to make 2014 the Year of New Customers so bring it on!

Happy converting and enjoy the day!

 

Not a Merchant in the AvantLink Network?  Click here to apply!

Not an Affiliate in the AvantLink Network?  Click here to apply!

Merchant Tools, Press/News Read more

New Merchant Tool: Bulk Ad Editing Now Available

Feb 18, 2014 No Comments by

So, we’re two months past Christmas and maybe you’ve been a bit slow to update your loads of Christmas related ads for affiliates. Yeah, definitely time to fix that!

For lots of merchants who maintain many ad campaigns, updating each individual ad can prove to be a long, time intensive process. That’s why we’ve created a new tool that gives all merchants the ability to bulk edit any number of ads all from screen. Let’s take a peek at how this works.

How It Works:

First, you will want to start by logging into your account, clicking on “Tools” up at the top and then clicking on the “Add/Edit Ad Campaign” option. From here you’ll be taken to the standard ad campaign list screen, but with one major change: each ad has a checkbox next to it followed by an “Edit” button at the top and bottom of the list. Here’s what it looks like:

Select Ads To Edit

 

Notice that for this tutorial, two outdated Christmas ads have been selected to be edited. Once each ad’s checkbox has been checked, clicking the edit button will bring up the bulk editor screen where all ads can be adjusted on one screen, pictured below (warning: very tall photo):

Bulk Editing Ads

While it looks like a lot is going on here, it’s actually relatively simple and straightforward and can be explained in four parts:

  1. Apply To All: For changes that will be made across ALL selected ads in the bulk edit screen, only one change needs to be made on the first ad on the list. After that change has been made to the first ad, simply click “Apply To All” and that change will then be made to the corresponding field on all other ads in the bulk edit screen. This is useful for a number of different reasons. For example,if your program was promoting a big on-site sale and you wanted the ad destination URL for each ad to lead to a new landing page on your site dedicated to that sale, simply update the ad destination URL on the first ad to point to that landing page and then click “Apply To All”.
  2. Adjusting The Ad Content: For each ad in this screen, you have the ability to change the actual content of the ad. Whether it’s adjusting the verbiage in a text ad or changing the image source for a banner ad, each ad’s content can be individually adjusted and updated.
  3. Adjusting Start/End Dates: The start and end dates for each ad campaign can be adjusted as well.
  4. Update Ad/Update All: After all changes have been made, each ad can be updated individually or the top ad will have an option to “update all”.

And that’s it! Easy, fast and simple bulk editing for any number of ads that you’d like. Thanks to the folks over at Sierra Trading Post and the Fanatics affiliate programs for the great functionality recommendation.

Best Practices:

Remember “Dynamic Updating”, that clever way to streamline creation of new ads by replacing existing ads with new content? You know, the thing we drill into on every merchant training webinar and the subject of this video (also embedded below) we encourage every program manager to watch?

Well, bulk editing allows for dynamic updating to occur much quicker, both for text ads and image based ads. Program managers should always be striving for dynamic updates of ads to not only make your work load less and your campaign management easier, but to also cut down on the work required by affiliates to keep up-to-date with the newest, most relevant ads you produce. In other words, make dynamic updating a regular process and use the bulk editing tool to help with that.

Bulk Editing Tool Tutorial Video:

Dynamic Ad Updating Tutorial Video:

Have feedback on this tool or a suggestion for some new functionality you would like to see from AvantLink.com? Let us know in the comments below.

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New Merchant Functionality: Restrict Exclusive Ad Campaigns To Multiple Affiliates

Jan 27, 2014 No Comments by

For merchant who utilize our exclusive ad assignment functionality to make one-off ad campaigns available to just one specific affiliate, the tool became unusable when there were more than just one affiliate to assign an ad to. Now, there’s an update to the exclusivity functionality that allows program managers to assign exclusive ads to more than just one individual affiliate. Here’s how it works:

1. Start by grouping the affiliate who will receive the exclusive ad into a custom tag group. To associate a tag group with an affiliate, log into your account and head over to “Affiliates>Affiliate Applications” and search for the affiliate you’d like to offer the ad to. Once you pull up that affiliate’s application, hit the “Details” option on the left to bring up the additional information popup box. From here, select the tab that says “Tags” and add any categorization tag of your choosing to that affiliate.

AvantLink Affiliate Tag Group

2. Once the appropriate affiliates have all been added to the same tag group, it’s time to make the new exclusive ad and select that specific tag group of affiliates that will receive that ad. To do this click on “Tools>Add/Edit Ad Campaigns>Create A New Ad Campaign”. From here you’ll be taken to a typical ad configuration screen.

(Side note: If you’re looking for some guidance on how to properly manage and create new ad campaigns, be sure to check out this video on dynamically updating ad campaigns.)

Once the exclusive ad campaign is configured, find the very last option that says “Affiliate Restriction”. From here, ad campaigns can be restricted to either individual affiliates or, now, groups of affiliates that you have tagged, just like what’s pictured in the photo below.

Multiple Affiliate Ad Restriction

For you merchants who actively create one off and exclusive ad campaigns for multiple affiliates, we hope this is some new functionality that you find useful. As usual, if you have any feedback on this new update or have a suggestion for a tool you would like to see, let us know in the comments below!

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Major Paid Placement Updates: Affiliate Date Restrictions & Merchant Outbid Tools

Nov 26, 2013 No Comments by

The Paid Placement Bidding System has been experiencing some tremendous growth since its launch in October. With the busy part of Q4 now in full swing, we’re happy to announce some updates to the system that should make managing Paid Placements a lot easier for both affiliates and merchants alike. Here’s what to look for:

Affiliate Updates: Specified Date Ranges

Affiliate Paid Placement Date Range Restriction

Some affiliate may not want to have paid placement opportunities running full time, but instead opt to make them available during certain timeframes of the year (eg. Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Christmas season). Because of this we’ve added the ability for affiliates to specify certain date ranges for when they would like their Paid Placement opportunity to “be running live” on their site as biddable ad space for merchants.

When configuring a paid placement occurrence, whether new or existing, affiliates will now see an additional field titled “Restrict Bids To Date Range”. Clicking this box will bring up an option to choose a start and an end date for the paid placement spot to be bid on by merchants. Warning: when that box has been checked and certain dates have been specified, merchants can only bid on for that ad space during those dates. No bids can be made on the space outside of the dates specified and the paid placement will only be considered active within that date range.

Merchant Updates: Tools For Easier Outbidding

Paid Placement Outbid Overview

For merchants, we’ve made it far easier to outbid other merchants who have outbid you. When viewing the active, pending and past bids summary screen, a new section titled ‘outbids’ can be seen in the middle.

The Outbids section details any bids that you have placed on a paid placement that have been outbid by another merchant. Each outbid line represents any and all bidding on paid placements from an individual affiliate. To place a new, higher bid on a paid placement opportunity, click the ‘See Dates’ button on the right hand side. Clicking this will bring up a new popup window (see screenshots below) that will give the option to place a higher bid using one of two methods:

Individual Day Outbidding options on the AvantLink Paid Placement Bidding System.

  1. Individual Day Outbids: The first option is to manually specify new bid amounts for each individual day that was outbid on by another merchant. In the righthand column titled ‘New Bid’, a new bid can be specified for a specific day by entering in a higher daily amount. When all new amounts have been specified for the desired day, click the “Submit New Bids” button to place the new bids.Outbid raise all bid option in the AvantLink Paid Placement Bidding System
  2. Group/Raise All Outbids: This option forgoes the manual day-by-day raising of bids detailed above and applies a blanket increase across all outbids using the “Group Bid” option at the bottom of the popup screen. In the example screenshot above, a Group Bid increase of $1.00 was mass applied to raise each outbid by $1.00. Specify a blanket outbid amount, click “Apply To All Bids” and once that group bid increase has been applied, click “Submit New Bids” to place those new bids. It’s a quick and easy way to produce outbid amounts for all paid placement days currently being bid on.

These updates are aimed at making the day to day use of the Paid Placement Bidding System more streamlined and manageable. Of course, we welcome any feedback or suggestions on the system. Please leave a comment below or talk to us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Merchants: Include Recommended Ads In New Affiliate Welcome Emails!

Nov 25, 2013 No Comments by

Merchants on AvantLink have the ability to create and adjust the automated welcome emails that go out to new affiliates who have applied and been approved to their program. We bring up the importance of these emails up in webinars and trainings quite often, as they are generally the very first touch point a new affiliate is going to have with a program after approval. We’ve even broken down the most important components of welcome emails by looking at a terrific real-life example from JensonUSA.

Now, merchants can embed ads from their program into these welcome emails, a new additional feature that should help activate new affiliates even further. The screenshot below is a real example of an embedded ad campaign in a welcome email for the AvantLink Merchant Referral Program:

An example of an affiliate ad included in a welcome email to a new affiliate.

Note that just like the Email Affiliates tool, any included ad in the welcome email includes a ‘Get HTML’ link accompanying the ad preview, allowing affiliates to instantly get the code for any advertisement they’re interested in using. Including ads will give new affiliates an immediate option to get started and engage with the program. Here is some methodology behind choosing the ads to embed in welcome emails:

  1. Select Only A Few: Don’t overwhelm new affiliates with every ad available. Select and offer one, two, or three ads max.
  2. Conversion rate: Include the ad with the current highest conversion rate.
  3. Adoption rate: Include the ad with the highest current affiliate usage.
  4. Seasonal ads: Offer an ad that corresponds with the season or next major holiday.
  5. Multiple ad types: The ability to include ads in a welcome email isn’t just limited to banner ads. Text ads and DOTD tools can be included as well. Give affiliates the option of getting a text ad or a banner ad from a welcome email.

To embed suggested ad campaigns in a welcome email, login at AvantLink.com and go to “Account> Edit Standard Email Templates>Application Acceptance Email“. From here the welcome email can be fully edited including inserting ad campaigns by use of the ‘Ad Campaign’ button found at the lower right side of the kitchen sink area (see screenshot below). To insert an ad into the email content, simply select an ad from the drop down list the ‘Ad Campaign’ button brings up. Whatever ad is selected will be inserted into the content of the email with a full preview of the ad as well as the ‘Get HTML’ option for affiliates.

 

Merchants now have the option of including ads from their programs directly in welcome emails sent out to new affiliates

We hope this new functionality is useful. As usual, we would love to hear any thoughts and feedback, either in the comments below or on our Twitter and Facebook.

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New Invalid Link Report Shows Which Affiliate Are Using Expired Ads

Nov 11, 2013 No Comments by
Invalid Affiliate Link Report

Screenshot of a Merchant’s Invalid Affiliate Link Report

For merchants, working with affiliates who are currently using expired ad campaigns becomes a common problem this time of year. Most merchants will make holiday related ad campaigns available to their affiliates, many of which represent seasonal sales or promotions and thus have specific expiration dates. In the past, affiliates using these seasonal ads after the holidays, and more importantly after the promotion or sale had ended, presented program managers with a very manual process of identifying affiliates using these ads and then communicating with them to make the switch to a newer, more relevant ad.

To solve this problem, we have always highly recommended merchants exclusively use a consolidated list of non-expiring banner ads and continuously keep those ads relevant through DYNAMIC UPDATING. Is that so important that it deserved all caps and bold, you ask? Yes, dynamic updating really is that important and a fundamental management technique each program manager should be using as it saves time and work for both you and your affiliates. Watch this tutorial video on how to dynamically update your ads this holiday season:

AvantLink Merchant Reports Form

But even programs who actively practice dynamic updates to their ads will occasionally find affiliates using outdated ad campaigns. Because of this, AvantLink has added a new merchant report that shows affiliates who are currently promoting any expired ad campaigns. It’s called the “Invalid Affiliate Link” reports and can be found under the Quality Assurance section in the merchant report configuration screen. Besides identifying which affiliates are using outdated ad campaigns, it also gives you a number of different error reports for their activities including:

  • Using expired merchant ads (mentioned already)
  • Using an invalid affiliate link
  • Invalid link requests
  • Invalid tool type specified
  • Invalid use of exclusive affiliate ad
  • Non-active merchant relationship (discontinued affiliates still using your ads despite not being active)
  • Non-existent datafeed configuration (tool configured around a datafeed the merchant no longer provides)
  • Any combination of the above

A number of additional yet far less common errors are also available, but not mentioned above. In addition to showing the errors, details on the particular affiliate causing this error as well as the number of occurrences and what program the error was made in are provided so you can reach out to these affiliates and ask them to make the necessary updates.

This report should be used frequently to help ensure that all affiliates are using ad campaigns and tools that are current and configured properly. 

For any questions on the Invalid Affiliate Link report, please contact AvantLink support by clicking the “support” tab at the top right of your account and submitting a support request ticket.

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Merchant Email Tool Update: Hypertarget Your Affiliates

Oct 24, 2013 No Comments by

The merchant email tool has been updated with some amazing features to let you get extraordinarily specific with the types of affiliates you’d like to be messaging. Before this update, several options existed to target sub-demographics of your affiliate base, including only emailing affiliates from certain categories, affiliates who used certain tools, or even based on activity level within your program. Merchants could also email individual affiliates, but the selection process was bulky and hard to manage.

These new updates allow for a much more streamlined email experience while also allowing for a far greater amount of control on choosing what affiliates receive what updates. Here’s what’s new:

Individual Affiliate Selection

Selecting individual affiliates to message is still an available feature, but it is now much easier to search for and select affiliates as well as see how many have been selected. Using a simple search box, affiliates can now be selected by searching for their name or website URL. Once the desired affiliate is found, clicking on their name will add that affiliate to the “Selected Affiliates” box to the right.

Affiliate Selection

Affiliate Group Selection

Affiliate group selection has been expanded to include a number of additional sub-demographics of your affiliate base on top of the original group selections available in the previous version of the email tool. Affiliates can be selected by activity, all affiliates, ad campaign usage, classifications, locations, new affiliates, tag groups, tool usage, and ratings.

Each of these groups includes different specification options. For example, if an email is going out to an ad campaign usage group, you’ll be asked to select the specific ad campaign.

Affiliate Group Selection

And/Or/Not Logic

One of the coolest new features is the And/Or/Not logic that allows you to mix and mingle different groups of affiliates or even chisel down certain groups of affiliates. Take the screenshot example below.

aon one

Here we’ve designated an email to go out to all new affiliates that have joined the program since October 23. We’ve selected our groups criteria and hit “Apply”, bringing over all affiliates who fit that criteria in the “Selected Affiliates” box. Now, say we want to further limit that list of affiliates by only reaching out to affiliates who are new but also classified as content affiliates.

To do this, we’ve selected another “Filter by” option, this time by classification/content affiliates and selected the “AND” option. In other words, this group email will only go out to affiliates who joined after October 23 and are content classified affiliates.

aon

When multiple group filters have been put in place, it will be reflected in the affiliate count box below the “Selected Affiliates” box. Remember that to apply a And/Or/Not filter, you must start by selecting a first group and then applying a second group/filter as And/Or/Not after.

aon notTry It Out!

Emailing highly targeted groups of affiliates with specific messaging more relevant to those affiliates than others is an incredibly effective way to communicate with and activate your affiliate base. While the standard sent to “All Affiliates” option is still available, next time you need to send out an email try to diversify your affiliate communication to different sub-demographics of your affiliate base.

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AvantLink’s Paid Placement Bidding System is Live!

Oct 14, 2013 2 Comments by

Official Press Release: Affiliate Marketing’s First Paid Placement Bidding System

How It Works (Publishers) | How It Works (Merchants)

Paid Placement Tools Icon

The Paid Placement Bidding System was developed to help merchants get priority ad placement on high-value publisher websites by way of bidding for that placement. Publishers benefit by setting aside allocated ad space for merchants to bid on in daily increments, allowing for upfront investments on their priority ad space as well as upside commission payouts for referred sales.

Many publishers do not want to manage the tedious process of negotiating paid placement rates, invoicing the merchant, posting the appropriate ads, etc. The Paid Placement Bidding System streamlines and automates the distribution of ad space to the highest merchant bid.

Merchant/advertiser bids are made to secure ad space on publisher sites for 24 hour increments. Merchants can out bid one another for future 24-hour blocks of placement dates.

How It Works (Publishers)

Publishers, start by logging into your account then going to “Ad Tools > Paid Placement > Create New Paid Placement”. From there complete the form to set up your bidding requirements. The screengrab below is showing the publisher placement configuration form. Publishers, please be sure to…

  1. allocate a specific amount of ad unit space on your site for the placement.
  2. choose common banner ad unit sizes (125×125, 728×90, 120×600) to increase chances of securing bids.
  3. place the necessary HTML/Javascript on your site where merchant ads will appear.

AvantLink Paid Placement Bidding System - Placement Configuration

Most form options are straightforward, but a few may need further explaining:

  1. Ad Space Dimensions: As noted above picking a standard ad unit size is important. Try creating a placement offer for a standard banner size, rather than an uncommon size merchants may not have available.
  2. Default Ad: If an active bid is not in place you can rely on a default place holder banner ad of your choice (from any ad network).
  3. Minimum Bid Amount: This is the minimum bid amount you will accept for a 24-hour period.

Once a placement is configured and submitted, you will be provided a short line of HTML/Javascript to place on your site where merchant ads will appear. If you do not put this HTML/Javascript on your site your placement will not be activated. Once the HTML/Javascript is on your site, please allow up to 24 hours before your ad is available for merchants to bid on.

Paid Placement Bidding System HTML/Javascript sample code:

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://www.avantlink.com/ppb.php?ppbid=1&ctc=”>

While the bidding process plays out, the default ad unit you selected will be displayed.


How It Works (Merchants)

Merchants can access the Paid Placement Bidding System by clicking on “Merchant Tools > Paid Placement > Place A New Bid once logged in. From there you will be taken to the main bidding configuration screen to search for publishers who have available placements. Merchants, please note…

  1. you can be outbid by other merchants for any placement up until 11:59pm the day before your ad goes live.
  2. you can bid for multiple days at one time, but again, you can be outbid by other merchants for any future dates.
  3. all bids must be accepted by publishers before they are locked in.

The sample screengrab below shows placement offers submitted by publishers. We provide merchants with the same search and sorting options at the top that are found in the affiliate application management and affiliate recruitment tools.

Available Affiliate Sites To Place Paid Placement Bids On

When you find a publisher placement you would like to bid on, click the name of the bid on the far left column (titled “Name” in sample image) and will be taken to the bid configuration screen seen below.

Bid configuration in the Paid Placement Bidding System

Configuration of a bid is very straightforward. Simply fill out and submit the required information. A couple of major points to remember:

  1. Ad Space Dimensions: You can only complete a bid if you have a current banner ad that fits the allocated size and area the publisher has specified.
  2. Live Bid Preview: Click “Preview This Ad In The Paid Placement Implementation” to see how your ad will look if your bid is accepted.
  3. Notification Options: Get instant notifications if/when your bid has been accepted, or outbid by another merchant.

Once you have configured and submitted a bid our system will take care of the rest. When/if the publisher accepts your bid, it will be placed on the main paid placement overview screen which can be found by clicking on “Merchant Tools > Paid Placement > View Current, Future, And Past Bids.

As always questions, comments or suggestions encouraged. Happy bidding!

Affiliate Tools, Merchant Tools, Press/News Read more

Important Network Update: Geolocation Traffic Tool

Mar 12, 2013 No Comments by
Affiliate traffic location breakdown

Affiliate traffic location breakdown

For merchants who are looking to recruit affiliates who have active Canadian referral traffic, AvantLink’s new geolocation tool should be a major help to you. This tool breaks down the top 3 countries based on an affiliate’s referral traffic, allowing insight into an affiliate’s primary country of operation and the ability to aim recruitment efforts towards affiliates that focus on the Canadian market.

Learn more about how this new tool works by heading over to the AvantShare tutorial blog post and let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Major Merchant Update: New Geolocation Traffic Tool

Mar 12, 2013 No Comments by

Merchants, we’re very excited to announce a major update to the affiliate recruitment and application management tools in the AvantLink interface! As of this week, you can now search for affiliates based on what country the majority of traffic an affiliate is sending to merchant programs is coming from.

Let’s explain with an example and some handy screenshots. If you log into your merchant account and head over to either the affiliate recruitment tool or the affiliate application management tool, you’ll see an extra column titled Traffic on the far right. In this column you’ll start to see small favicon images of country flags associated with some affiliates.

AvantLink Geolocation Tool

These small icons denote the country where the majority of the affiliate’s referral traffic is originating from, giving insight into what country or market the affiliate has the most focus on. Additionally, each flag can be clicked on to bring up a further breakdown of the affiliate’s top 3 countries for referral traffic. This breakdown can also be accessed by clicking the Details option on the far left then selecting the Statistics tab.

AvantLink affiliate location breakdown

As you can see from the screenshot above, not all affiliates have a flag tied to their account. In these cases, the affiliate didn’t hit the minimum threshold for valid referrals in order for our system to properly evaluate the top 3 referring country locations.

Also, it should be noted that these Traffic By Country reports are “actual data” so to speak. Instead of simply asking affiliates what countries they anticipate their marketing efforts focusing on most, we’ve opted to analyze actual referral IP addresses from those affiliates in order to give you real, exact geolocation information.

We’re very excited to have this functionality up and live in the network. If you have any comments or suggestions regarding the new geolocation tool, please let us know in the comments below.

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