5 Ways to Passively Recruit Affiliates

What is one of the most important elements to effectively managing an affiliate program? The answer is simple, recruiting new (quality) affiliates. One of the most common themes when speaking to merchants that have under-performing affiliate programs (even ones that have successful ones mention it) is that they cannot find affiliates to promote their products or services. It may be a lack of knowledge on where to find them or they are not willing to put the work in, but either way, locating and successfully recruiting affiliates is a necessary element to any successful affiliate program.

In an article I wrote over three years ago, How to Find Affiliates to Recruit into Affiliate Program, I outlined ways affiliate managers can actively recruit new affiliates into their programs. In this post, I am going to outline ways to Passive Affiliate Recruitmentpassively recruit affiliates into affiliate programs. What exactly is passive affiliate recruitment? It is a recruiting method when prospective affiliates find a merchant’s affiliate program on their own. Below are 5 ways to passively recruit new affiliates into an affiliate program:

Paid Search Campaigns

Creating paid search campaigns on Google, Yahoo, and Bing are effective ways to get an affiliate program in front of affiliates. Keywords such as “affiliate program” and those of direct (and in-direct competitors) are good ones to bid on. Even keywords related to a specific industry can be effective.

Affiliate Directories

Affiliates use directories to find affiliate programs they want to join, so logically, merchants should include a listing of their program in as many affiliate directories as possible. Many of them are broken down into categories, so locating a program is simple. An example is http://affiliatesdirectory.com

Popular Publications

Placing ads for an affiliate program in popular magazines is a relatively low cost and effective way to get in front of targeted, quality affiliates. FeedFront caters to both affiliates and affiliate managers.

Second-tier affiliates

This is a less frequently used technique but can be effective if done properly. This technique can be used in two ways; first, it can motivate current affiliates and secondly, it can provide great new affiliate partners. Second-tier affiliates are referrals from current affiliates. Typically, current affiliates are rewarded with a bounty (ex. $5 per referral), but also can be paid ongoing commissions from their referrals. The decision is up to the merchant.

Press Releases

Press releases can provide effective recruitment opportunities for many years in the future. Merchants can use press releases to announce the launch of their new affiliate program, milestones reached, partnerships created, but the beauty of it is the SEO value. If properly optimized with relevant keywords they can be successful recruiting tools.

Passively recruiting does not mean to stop actively recruiting, what it means is to use both methods in tandem and maximize the effort to grow an affiliate program to new levels. Many merchants ignore the passive recruiting methods, but successful affiliate programs interweave them into their overall strategy.

ShareASale Auto-Deposit Feature: How to Make the Most of It

Managing an affiliate program requires careful attention to details. Effective program management is not only about recruiting, activating, and compliance policing, but also little details that keep the program operating and functional at all times. Having all affiliate communication documents uploaded, an email address where affiliates can contact the program manager anytime, but for ShareASale merchants maybe the most important detail is enabling the auto-deposit function in the ShareASale interface.

Why It Is Important

ShareASale gives merchants the option to auto-deposit funds into their account when the balance hit a certain threshold. It is recommended that all merchants set up this feature before launching. Having an account balance go negative will result in all affiliate links being turned off (until the account balance is positive) and you can guess what that means; unhappy affiliates.

How to Enable It

In this post, I will explain step-by-step how to set it up to ensure your program never goes offline due to a low or negative account balance.

Step # 1 – Navigate to the Deposit Center

After logging in to the ShareASale merchant interface go to “My Account” and then “Deposit Center”.

Step # 2 – Make a deposit or set up auto-deposit

This step a merchant can either make a deposit with a credit card or set-up the auto deposit feature. Merchants can make a deposit at any time even if the auto-deposit feature is enabled. For example, if they anticipate increased traffic and sales during a given period the deposit can be done at this step. To set up the auto-deposit feature click the “Update Auto-Deposit Settings” button.

ShareASale Affiliate Program - Funds Deposit

Step # 3 –  Setup Primary and Secondary Payment Methods

Merchants should have two methods (if possible setup the backup gateway) in case one does not work. Input credit card # 1 in the primary payment method and credit card # 2 in the secondary payment method. The next step is to turn the auto deposit on and set up the low balance trigger and how much to deposit once the low balance trigger has been enabled. It is recommended to not let a merchant account dip below $100, but the more in the account the better. Once all sections are complete, hit “Update Settings”.

ShareASale Auto-Deposit

Step # 4 – Setup Complete

Now the auto deposit setting is enabled. Merchants can now see their current settings and the last four digits of the primary payment method. All of the settings can be adjusted at any time. Simply follow the same steps.

 

Attention to details in managing affiliate programs is vital. Making sure the affiliate account is fully funded and has backup options is also critical to the success of a program. If an affiliate sees the auto deposit feature is off they may be hesitant to apply to join. Sometimes it is the little things that matter the most.

FTC Disclosure Best Practices for Affiliates

Affiliate managers wear many hats and are asked to manage many tasks on a daily basis. These include affiliate recruitment, affiliate activation, compliance policing, optimization, and communication. Compliance policing is often an overlooked task, but it should be taken as seriously as the rest. In terms of compliance policing, paid search and coupon policing are two of the main activities affiliate managers engage in on a daily basis, but what about FTC disclosure compliance?

Why are Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclosures important? Short answer, they aid online users in determining if the endorser (or reviewer) has a connection to the brand which they are talking about. The FTC can fine both the endorser and advertiser for not properly disclosing their relationship in a product review or sponsored post. The fine can be upwards of $11,000 per infraction. The FTC requires that endorsements use clear and unmistakable language and should be easily visible. They cannot and should not be hidden or tucked away. The last place a brand or blogger wants to be is on the FTC’s radar.

Last month (September 7, 2017) the FTC updated their endorsement requirements, so the post today will discuss the updated best practices for affiliates, outlining how to comply with the FTC’s rules while marketing on social media and via blog posts.

Facebook

There are multiple acceptable ways to disclose on Facebook, but having it too long may be counterproductive to your goals and turn off your audience. Here are a few examples of how you may disclose the connection:

  • Ad: XYZ is a great computer that is perfect for a small business owner. @XYZ
  • Sponsored Post: XYZ’s computer has helped to keep our business more organized.

Take into account that the phrase “affiliate link” may not be accepted as an adequate disclosure. So using something similar to this at the bottom of the post will be satisfactory:

Note: I am using an affiliate link below which means that if you buy something via this post I may receive a commission.

Twitter

This one is a little more challenging of a context, as there is a 140-character limit; but disclosing still must be done when you are endorsing/reviewing a product via Twitter. Here are a few examples of how to disclose:

  • Start the Tweet with “Sponsored” (uses only 9 characters)
  • Start the Tweet with “Paid Ad” (uses only 7 characters)
  • Use #Sponsored #Ad at the beginning of the Tweet.

Using one of the above options is sufficient, but it is also strongly recommended that you tag the brand in question.

Pinterest/Instagram

Tricia Meyer noted in her latest “FTC Updates Endorsement Guidance” blog post that the FTC requires that all Instagram disclosures are located above the “more” button (to avoid being pushed down the feed) or on the image itself. Here are examples of disclosing:

  • “Ad” or “Advertisement” placed at the beginning of the post
  • “Sponsored” placed at the beginning of the post
  • “Paid Ad” placed at the beginning of the post+

Snapchat/Instagram Stories

Disclosures can be overlaid on images but should be easy to notice on the image(s) and clearly worded. There should be no confusion on whether it is a sponsored post or not. Also, making sure ample time is given to followers to view the image(s) and comprehend that it is a sponsored ad.

Additionally, while disclosing that your social media post is sponsored does not have to be at the beginning of the post, the disclosure must be easily noticeable and understood. This is why, the beginning is, generally, a good place for it.

Blog Posts

The key here is to disclose upfront that there is a relationship between the post and the brand. It should be obvious to the reader that it is a sponsored content that they are going through. The reader should not have to guess if a person is being compensated. The disclosure must appear before the first affiliate link, above the fold, and be easy to find. Do not wait until the end of the post to disclose, as it may be considered misleading. Here is an example to place at the beginning:

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you purchase something mentioned in the below post.

At the end of the post, the disclosure may be reiterated by writing:

I receive(d) compensation in exchange for writing this review/post. This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you purchase something mentioned in this post.

Recommended, but not required is to add a link to your self-hosted “full disclosure statement” page at the beginning of the post. The more transparent the post – the better it is for the blogger and the brand.

Actively managing affiliates and influencers to ensure their compliance with the FTC disclosure requirements is an extremely important task for affiliate and influencer managers. Both the brand and the endorsers must be sure that the FTC disclosures are being complied with.

We also recommend you read the FTC’s .com Disclosures document here. It should answer additional questions you may have.

An Overview of CJ Affiliate’s Cross Device Tracking

Affiliate Marketing continues to evolve and CJ Affiliate has recently introduced (and long overdue) a new technology solution called Cross-Device Tracking. What is it? Why is it important? How does it work? All of these questions will be answered in this post.

What is Cross-Device Tracking?

CJ Affiliate’s Cross-Device Tracking solution gathers all impressions and clicks from all devices a customer uses during a single transaction. Up to this point only one device was trackable, but now customers can use multiple devices (computers, smartphones, tablets) and the final device will be attributed to the sale. This will also allow affiliates to feel better knowing that they will get credit for their hard work even if the sale does not occur on the originating device.

Here is an example: A customer clicks on a CJ Affiliate link today from their tablet and then decides to not continue with checkout, but a few days later (given the cookie is still valid) they use their smartphone to continue the transaction and ultimately purchase. The CJ Affiliate Cross-Device Tracking will track the entire path and credit the appropriate device and affiliate.

Why is it important?

Cross-Device Tracking allows merchants to study customer behavior and market to them more effectively in the future. Understanding why it is important for the merchants is essential, but also understanding why it is important for affiliates is equally as important. When affiliates now promote CJ Affiliate merchants they can be assured they will be credited with transactions if they are completed using one device or four. Happy affiliates will continue to promote merchant’s products and this is one technology solution that affiliates are excited to see.

How does it work?

Currently, this technology solution is unique to CJ Affiliate and connects customers to all of their different devices. They lump together first and third-party data and then create customer ID’s, which enables them to track customers from device to device without losing them after the first one. It is labeled as the most accurate tracking solution in the industry, but it can recognize more customers than any other affiliate network in the world.

If you are a CJ Affiliate merchant and want to learn more about this or enable the technology solution you can contact CJ Affiliate directly or follow the following steps:

  • Navigate to the main navigation bar and click Account > Settings > Account Integration Settings and then locate “Cross-Device Tracking
  • Click “Enable

Simple, right? From there a support ticket will automatically be generated and a CJ representative will be in contact with any next steps or integration instructions. Some merchants are automatically enabled, but check with CJ Affiliate to ensure it is operating properly.

How to View Affiliate Creative Performance in CJ Affiliate

Providing affiliates with plethora of creatives is essential for any affiliate program. The creatives could be banners, text links, coupons/deals, and videos; but providing as many as possible is advantageous for any affiliate program. Having a wide selection of creatives is great, but how do affiliate managers know the top converting ones and what new ones should be introduced? Affiliate networks provide merchants (and affiliate managers) access to important data regarding their creatives. This data helps determine what creatives to keep creating in the future and what ones to discontinue, but will also tell the needed statistics like clicks, revenue, etc.  CJ Affiliate is one of the networks that provides in-depth data on how specific creatives are performing. The following steps will show affiliate managers how to view affiliate creative performance in CJ Affiliate.

Step 1 – Click “Performance” under the Reports Tab

Once logged in to the CJ Affiliate merchant interface, navigate to the “Reports” tab and click “Performance” from the drop-down menu.

Step 2 – Filter Performance by Link

After clicking on “Performance” in the reports tab the next screen will allow affiliate managers to sort performance by links. Under “Performance by” click the drop-down box, select “Link” and then either hit “Run Report” or add a specific “Link ID” to the box. By not adding a link ID it will generate a report with all the creatives in the inventory, but by specifying a specific link it will only show data for that one.

Step 3 – Review Performance of Current Creatives

Each creative (banner or link) will have the following information available to analyze: publisher commission, total commission (includes CJ Affiliate’s fees), sale amount, number of sales, leads (if applicable), items, clicks, impressions, conversion rate, click through rate, and EPC (earnings per 100 clicks).

Whether it is just checking the performance of banners and links for basic knowledge or using the data to build a top-notch creative inventory affiliates can use to grow your affiliate program and their earnings, the data is extremely helpful. Finding out the best converting links (or deals) and banners will help make the affiliate program an affiliate friendly program that will be fruitful for all parties involved.

How to Create a Custom Recruiting URL in ShareASale

As an affiliate manager one of the main responsibilities is recruiting new affiliates to grow the program. There are different methods and places to find prospective affiliates, but keeping track of where new affiliates come from can be a cumbersome task. ShareASale offers a way for merchants to “tag” prospects and have them use a custom URL that will allow them to attribute the signup to a specific outreach campaign and create and make the recruiting process more organized.

The following steps are how to create a custom recruiting URL within ShareASale.

Step 1 – Create a Tag for Recruiting

First, navigate to the “Affiliates” tab in the main menu and click “Affiliate List”. Next click “Add Tag” and then Click “Create Tag” (in blue).

Next, the “tag” will want to be specific regarding the recruiting campaign, so in the smaller rectangular box the title of the tag should be entered (ex. SIGNUP FROM CONTENTAFF). Click “Create Tag”, now the tag is created and will be used in the recruiting URL.

Step 2 – Adding the Tag to the Recruiting URL

Below is the standard URL used for affiliates to sign up to an affiliate program.

http://www.shareasale.com/join/XXXXX

Merchants can use the URL above, but the recruiting link with the created tag should look as follows:

http://www.shareasale.com/shareasale.cfm?merchantID=XXXXX&source=CONTENTAFF

The source= should be the tag title minus the “SIGNUP FROM”.

Please note that the XXXXX should be replaced with a ShareASale merchant ID.

Each time a prospect applies to the affiliate program using the custom URL it will indicate that in the application.

Recruiting is one of the most critical components in building an affiliate program, so creating custom recruiting URL’s for all prospects is highly recommended. It will streamline the process and make campaign attribution easier as well.

If you have any questions please contact me at rick@amnavigator.com

ShareASale Transaction Breakout Report and Why It Is Important

Want a quick way to analyze affiliate transactions to determine their sources? ShareASale merchants are now using the “Transaction Breakout Report”. This report is exactly what it sounds like. It breaks down affiliate transactions within a specific time frame and tells merchants if the transactions are new customers, mobile transactions, or coupon transactions. I will go into detail below on the report and how to access.

Step # 1 – Accessing the Transaction Breakout Report

Once logged in to the ShareASale merchant account, navigate to the “Reports” tab and then “Transaction Breakout” (second row).

Step # 2 –  Adjust Filters to Get Necessary Data

In the image below, the red box on the left has filter options to use. Select the date range you want to review (ShareASale defaults to the past 7 days), a specific affiliate, breakout metric (mobile transactions, new customer transactions, and coupon transactions. The mentioned filters can be ordered by gross sales, number of transactions, commission, or breakout ratio. Hit “Filter” and the results will appear to the right.

Step # 3 – Review Provided Data

As you can see in the image above, over 91% of the transaction during the week were “Non-Mobile”.

Below the graph will be a detailed breakdown publisher by publisher. This example is based on mobile transactions, but some merchants are concerned with the number of new customers being brought in, so when running the report, remember to change the “Breakdown Metric”.

This report is quite valuable. It can show merchants where time and effort should be focused as well as determine if more or less coupons/deals are needed. The report can also assist in affiliate recruitment. How is that? Merchants can determine that they want to spend more time gaining new customers, so reaching out to prospective affiliates that are similar to the ones currently performing in that category. The “Transaction Breakout Report” is not just a bunch of numbers, but a tool to help (or continue) to grow a ShareASale affiliate program.

Optimizing a ShareASale Affiliate Program with Internal Logos

There are numerous ways ShareASale merchants can optimize their program to increase their brands awareness to prospective affiliates. In the past I, have discussed various program optimization tips on ShareASale to help recruit affiliates, but today I am going to outline a free ways to get the word out there about your affiliate program on ShareASale. It is called “Internal Logo Files.”

ShareASale uses merchant’s logos in various places within their interface to help attract affiliates to merchant’s affiliate programs, and now I will describe where those places are and the requirements.

First, to navigate to this section of their interface you will go to “My Account” -> “Internal Logo Files.”  It will bring you to a page that looks similar to this (see below)

Main Logo

ShareASale uses this logo on the merchant details page, or better known as the page where affiliates sign up to an affiliate program. It can be up to 500 x 500 px, but make sure it is not too large and doesn’t overtake the page. Here is an example:

Search Results Logo

This logo is used on the merchant search results page. When affiliates are looking for new merchants to promote a merchant will stand out more with their 88 x 31 logo shown along with vital statistics of the affiliate program. Having a logo there gives a merchant a better opportunity to be seen and seriously considered. Here is an example of a merchant with one and without:

Product Showcase Logo (small)

If a merchant has a data feed their logo will be displayed when affiliates create product showcases for specific products. This logo should be 120 x 90 px. Here is an example:

Product Showcase Logo (Pop-up)

This logo is very similar to the one right above, but it will be shown when an affiliate chooses the pop-up option. It should be 400 x 75 px Here is an example:

ShareASale Merchant Match

This particular logo helps ShareASale to recruit individual affiliates from local marketing events (Meet-Ups), conferences, and other interactions (magazine, email newsletters, etc.) This logo should be 216 x 384 px. Here is an example:

Merchants, there are up to 5 additional ways to spread the word about your programs via logos within the ShareASale interface (free of charge). It is highly recommended to take advantage of as many of them as possible because you never know what you could be missing out on.

How to Book a ShareASale Featured Program Placement

Are you a merchant with an affiliate program, but struggling to find quality affiliate to promote your brand? If so, you are not alone. One of the biggest struggles is to recruit quality affiliates. If you are a ShareASale merchant then most likely you tend to see an influx of coupon affiliates applying, but the more valuable affiliates are out there, but may need to discovered. What your affiliate program may need is additional exposure to those affiliates. ShareASale offers different ways, through paid placements to reach affiliates that may be a fit for your program. To help in this I am going to show you how to purchase and set up a ShareASale Featured Program of your Category placement. This particular placement displays a logo and description of your affiliate program at the top of the individual category page for which you belong.

Step 1 – Navigating to the Featured Program of your Category Placement

You will start by navigating to the “TOOLS” menu option, followed by “PROGRAM BOOST”. This will take you to the section where you will make the purchase.

Step 2 – Purchasing the Featured Program of the Category Placement

There will be multiple placement options, but you will scroll down and click the “BUY PROGRAM” button for the Featured Program of your Category. The next screen will be to select a month to have the placement run. To the right will be a list of the next 12 months. The green represents “available” and the pink represents “booked”. Click on the month you want to run the placement and click “CONFIRM DATES & PAY”. You will then be asked how you want to pay for it. It can be done from the current ShareASale balance (given there is enough to cover the $300) or credit card.

Step 3 – Setting up the Featured Program of the Category

Now the fun part! Navigate back to the Program Boost page. You will see a tab labeled “MY PROGRAMS”, click that and it will have the placement just purchased. There you will be able to edit the text and add the image needed.

To start creating the placement, click “EDIT”.

You will be brought to a screen that look like the image below. There are four (4) tabs. In the “EDIT TEXT” tab you will place a description of the program along with up to five (5) bullet points highlighting your affiliate program.

To add the banner image, click the “EDIT IMAGE” tab. The image should be in either JPG, GIF, or PNG form and be 350 px wide and 230 px tall. Once the image is loaded click the “PREVIEW & SAVE CHANGES” tab.

This is the final step. Review everything from the text to the banner. If there are any changes needed make them as soon as possible, but you do have up until the day before to modify the placement. Once all is good, click “COMMIT” and you are finished.

Creating brand awareness is a critical piece to a successful affiliate program, but also aids in attracting quality affiliates. For $300 the Featured Program of your Category can get you in front of highly influential affiliates and help take your program to the next level.