Looking for some expertise on my affiliate program ...

by OTrap
2 replies
So, I'm the Affiliate Manager for a large toy manufacturer. Our primary program is currently run on CJ, and I was brought in to grow the program.

Now, I've been in affiliate management for almost a decade, but I must admit that this is my first experience with a program in the physical product space. There's been more of a learning curve than I'd anticipated, and so I've come to realize that there might be things I don't realize that I don't see yet.

All that to say, I'm looking for input from any of the affiliates on here who deal in physical product niches.

What are the sorts of things that are most attractive about such a program?

Are bonuses or prizes a big incentive?

Is first-click attribution a deal-breaker for content affiliates?

Aversion to working with programs who allow toolbar/coupon affiliates?

Are commission rates themselves a deal breaker, or is it more about ROI/EPC?

If a company doesn't allow brand name keyword bidding, is that an automatic impasse?

What sorts of things would make a program ideal for you as an affiliate?

The company itself is very open to making changes that will bring on affiliates, which is a big positive. However, there's also a sense of urgency with a plan. Essentially, I'm open to all input, and so long as the company is solvent, I'm willing to entertain any idea.
#affiliate #expertise #program
  • Profile picture of the author Gambino
    Originally Posted by OTrap View Post

    Are bonuses or prizes a big incentive?

    Are commission rates themselves a deal breaker, or is it more about ROI/EPC?

    If a company doesn't allow brand name keyword bidding, is that an automatic impasse?
    I closed by affiliate program 6 months after I opened it so take my opinions with a grain of salt. But, it did deal with physical goods so I'll give my 2 cents on a couple of your questions.

    For me, cash bonuses certainly increased performance and interest in the program but were short-term boosts. They were good for launches but we weren't able to cost-effectively run them month after month.

    We weren't able to run them month after month because we had to pay high commissions to attract and keep top affiliates. So, it wasn't cost-effective for us. But, keep in mind that we were selling products in the $30-60 range with 30-35% commissions. So, when it came to affiliate sales, our profit margins were fairly small, and we moved on to more profitable and/or less time consuming marketing options. But, your margins may be better and more feasible to run a good affiliate marketing program.

    As far as ROI/EPC/commissions, I think it's a combination. It's also a bit of creating a mutual/fair deal with affiliates and articulating your program to them. If your commissions are too low, then affiliates will find and promote your competitors. But if your affiliates are sending you traffic and it's not converting, then they're going to leave too. So, decent commissions and a proven conversion funnel is ideal, in my opinion.

    I'm sure you already know this, so just blanket advice to anyone out there in a similar situation. I believe our fatal flaw with our affiliate program was taking the approach that if we built it they would come. We built a great brand and awesome products and didn't get the results we expected/wanted. If I ever do it again, I would reverse engineer our program and seek out top affiliates and build our program to their needs as opposed to our own. The one thing I learned is that 1 top affiliate can be more valuable than 1,000 affiliates that don't know what they're doing yet.
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  • Profile picture of the author OTrap
    That's some good feedback. I appreciate you taking the time to reply so thoroughly.

    Our decision-makers seem to like the idea of prize bonuses, but I can't imagine those being as valuable as cash bonuses, and as you say, even those are more tailored for one-off boosts.

    Our margins are better, I would imagine, though I don't actually know by how much. I've asked a couple times what they are, and I get the "It depends" response more often than not. I know we are still profitable with a 30% commission rate on some of our products (though not on all of them).

    Your mention of the conversions is why I brought up first-click attribution. As has been the case since I took over the program, the biggest sellers are toolbars and coupon sites, which has me thinking that they're possibly poaching sales from some of our content affiliates, and while I do believe in some value being offered by a coupon affiliate, I know that if they're sniping would-be sales from content affiliates, then the content affiliates are going to leave. Since content affiliates are, from a traffic stand point, the heavy lifters, that's obviously a problem, I would think. However, like I said, I'm still a little new to this whole physical product thing, and we never had worries with coupon affiliates when I was selling training courses and ebooks.

    The program has been around for probably eight or so years, most of which were before I was around (I've been the AM here for a year), so I know it's been sustainable. However, in looking back, I noticed that it seemed like the affiliate activity rolled off a table about four years ago, so I'm trying to do my best to reverse engineer what changed and roll back those changes as best can be done, but I know the landscape is always changing, and I wanted to know what the community here might want to see in an ideal program as well.
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