Archive for Merchant Tools

Holiday Merchant Webinar – Optimize your Affiliate Channel for December and Early 2015

Dec 03, 2014 No Comments by

checklist-4

Thanks to all those who Attended the Holiday Webinar – The Final Chapter today. As promised we have provided a Checklist to optimize your Affiliate Channel for December and into 2015. Please remember the dates provided are the latest recommended dates but our recommendation is to get these checked off now by scheduling your ads and emails as soon as possible.

The Webinar recording will be posted soon here as well and will be announced in the Merchant Announcement section of the AvantLink Interface.

Enjoy the Holidays and get ready for the rush!

Click on the Link Below to Download

2014 Holiday Checklist and Shipping Cutoff Chart for Major Carriers

Optimize your Affiliate Channel for December and into Early 2015 Strategy – Presentation

Merchant Q&A, Merchant Tools, Merchant Webinars Read more

Merchant Holiday Webinar Series: Use Black Friday/Cyber Monday To Drive New Traffic & Customers

Oct 27, 2014 No Comments by

AvantLink Merchant Holiday Webinar Series

Q4 is flying by, huh?

It’s hard to believe we’ve already arrived at part two in our three-part Merchant Holiday Webinar Series for 2014, and that of course means setting aside some time on your calendar to learn how your affiliate program can make the most of the holiday season. Did you miss the part one? We have it recorded and recapped in this blog post.

Part two will look at how to use the two biggest online buying days of the year- Black Friday and Cyber Monday- to drive new traffic and customers through your affiliate program using unique functionality and affiliate tools.

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This event is scheduled for Wednesday, November 5th at 11am MST and will discuss the following topics:

  • Tagging ads as holiday-specific ads and/or ongoing dynamic campaigns.
  • Promoting holiday deal sheets to affiliates through email.
  • Enabling new customer functionality to track new customers in reports.
  • Using the Deal Of The Day tool to promote discounted, time-sensitive deals.

These webinars generally last between 30 and 60 minutes or so. Space is limited to the first 100 signups so RSVP quick. If you’re unable to make the live event, this webinar will be recorded and made available through our Holiday Webinar Recap blog post series.

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Affiliate Tag Management 2.0: The Complete Guide To Applying Rules To Affiliate Tag Groups

Oct 22, 2014 No Comments by

AvantLink Affiliate Tag Management 2.0

Big news, merchants! All programs on AvantLink now have access to new, powerful features used with any affiliate Tag Groups a program manager has created. These features allow you to set certain business rules based on affiliate tag groups and, in some cases, how those groups interact with each other.

So, what exactly does that mean? Let’s start by reviewing the affiliate tag management functionality, which now consists of two major components: Tag Groups and Tag Categories.

  • Tag Groups: Tag Groups allow you to categorize affiliates into specific groups based on criteria of your choosing. For example, if a number of affiliates have content about fashion trends, you could create a Tag Group called  ”Fashion Blogs” and put those affiliates in that group. Affiliates can be put in as many Tag Groups as you would like.
  • Tag Categories: Creating a Tag Group Category allows you to segment affiliates even further. For example, if you wanted to segment out all of the affiliates in the “Fashion Blogs” Tag Group that focused primarily on winter fashion trends, you would create a Tag Category of “Winter Fashion Bloggers” that was a subcategory of the “Fashion Blogs” Tag Group.

You can create, edit, and delete Tag Groups & Categories by going to the main account navigation and selecting Affiliates>Affiliate Tagging/Administration>Create New Tag Group or Category. What these Groups and Categories are named is completely up to you and you can create as many as you need to segment your affiliate base according to your needs.

 

AvantLink Affiliate Tag Groups and Categories

Now that we know how to segment affiliates into Tag Groups and Categories, there are powerful new Tag Group Rules that can be applied to change the way an affiliate participates in your program. Here are the rules and what they do:

Basic Rules

  • Affiliate Commission: This Affiliate Commission rule is for increasing or decreasing the commission rate for a group of affiliates. This is intended for more permanent adjustments in commissions (for temporary or promotional commission increases the Affiliate Commission Promotion Tool should be used) and allows for mass increases/decreases in commission rates for all affiliates included in the affected Tag Group or Category. Important: for any affiliates in a Tag Group receiving a commission deduction, those affiliates will be notified and given seven days to accept or deny the new term changes. 
  • Cookie Duration: The Cookie Duration rule is for increasing or decreasing the cookie duration for all affiliates included in the selected Tag Group or Category. Important:  for any affiliates in a Tag Group receiving a cookie length deduction, those affiliates will be notified and given seven days to accept or deny the new term changes. Also, for any merchants using the AvantMetrics Attribution solution, adjustments using the Cookie Duration rule are not available. 
  • Referral Restrictions: The Referral Restriction rule specifies that affiliates in a specific Tag Group chosen by the program manager cannot have their cookies overridden by referrals from another Tag Group of affiliates.

Advanced Rules

  • Tracking Parameters: The Tracking Parameters rule allows for the set up of URL parameters that will be appended to affiliate link destination URLs for an affiliate Tag Group. URL parameters are made up of name and value components (e.g. http://www.url.com/?name=value&name1=value1) and can be used for determining referral sources in analytics platforms.
  • AvantMetrics Additional Commission: This rule is for those merchants who have dived deep into the realm of affiliate attribution and splitting commission between multiple affiliates. If a cashback or loyalty site is among those affiliates that occasionally have their commission payouts adjusted due to multiple affiliate referrals in a single sale, this rule is intended to give those affiliates in a Tag Group a non-adjusted, permanent commission payout for each sale in order to fulfill the promise of a cashback or loyalty reward for their users. Important: this rule adds additional commission paid out to affiliates in a selected Tag Group, but only for any sale they are involved in that involves additional affiliate referrals and a commission split. 

The Tag Group Rules are currently in beta and can be applied to any Tag Groups or Categories by going to Affiliates>Affiliate Tagging/Administration>Tag Group Rules.

Please note that the first rule created and applied is subject to review and approval by AvantLink before going live in your program. Besides these new rules, Tag Groups and Categories also have some very helpful functionality for day-to-day management of a program. Affiliate Tag Groups allow program managers to:

  • run performance reports run just for affiliates specifically in a Tag Group
  • create a new ad campaigns and limit access to the campaign to a specific group
  • send emails only to specific Tag Group of affiliates

The new Tag Group Rules were put into place to help make your program more dynamic and effective in meeting your needs as a manager and the needs of your affiliates. Have a thought or two on this new functionality? Let us know in the comments below or by sending us an email.

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Use Google Product Feeds To Power Your Program’s AvantLink Datafeed

Sep 11, 2014 No Comments by

AvantLink Datafeeds Use Google Product Feed Specs

For many merchants launching an affiliate program on any network, one of the biggest barriers to entry is having to create a datafeed that matches the feed specifications required by the network. These datafeeds are vital to the operations of any program and here at AvantLink they power many of our cutting edge affiliate tools. Because of this, we have recently developed and implemented a process that allows merchants current or new to use an existing Google Product Feed (GPF) as the datafeed supplied to the network for their program.

This change was made as almost every merchant setting up a program already had a robust, usable GPF configured and ready to use. Why make more work than is necessary?

The process is simple. A merchant gives us their GPF, we’ll map it to our network’s feed specs, and that’s it! We take care of all mapping and conversions automatically each day as the updated GPF is sent to us and the merchant never has to worry about adjusting or updating a second network-specific feed again.

In addition to taking extra work off the table for merchants, this update helps make the move towards a more standardized and unified datafeed specification environment, which is something that benefits the entire industry as a whole. If you’re interested in converting your feeds over to be sourced from a GPF, please contact the AvantLink support team.

Like what you see? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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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!

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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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