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.

How to Implement an Affiliate Data Feed in ShareASale

Data feeds are an important piece to a successful affiliate program. Keep in mind that not every merchant will be able to utilize data feeds since they are designed specifically for merchants with multiple products. Data feeds are files that include information about a merchant’s products. Information that is included is: SKU, price, image, availability, description, etc. A merchant should include as much information as possible so that affiliates can promote their products effectively. How does a merchant make their data feed available to their affiliates? Today, I am going to outline how ShareASale merchants create and distribute their affiliate data feeds.

Step 1 – Navigate to the Data Feed page

A merchant can either use this link – https://account.shareasale.com/m-productmanagement.cfm or they can get there by clicking the “Creatives” tab and then “data feed”.

Step 2 – Requirements

The merchants can now see how what it will look like once a data feed is loaded. It will list the number of products included in the feed, the last date updated, number of times processed during current month, and the number of updates allowed in the current month. By clicking the “View Your Products” merchants can also view their entire product data feed.

There are specific requirements ShareASale needs merchants to include in their data feeds, but not every piece of information presented in their requirements is necessary. By Clicking the “View Data Feed Requirements” merchant’s will see specifically what needs to be included.

The required fields are designated below with a red arrow.  In the column “Null Value Allowed”, No means the field is required. Merchants will want to fill in as much data as possible even if it is not required. The more the affiliates have the better they can promote the products.

After reviewing the requirements, merchants should download the sample file and use it as their guide. Please note that all column headers must remain in the sheet even if they are not complete. If not, the uploaded it will not be successful.

Step 3 – Upload the Data Feed

The data feed file has been completed based on ShareASale’s requirements, so the final step is to upload it.

Click the green “Upload a New Data Feed” button on https://account.shareasale.com/m-productmanagement.cfm.

Click “Choose File” and then “Upload Data feed”. If there is an error, it will pop up and will need to be addressed. To be safe we ask merchants to reach out to ShareASale directly to ensure the data feed properly loaded.

Merchant’s should be updating their feed as often as new products are introduced, removed, changes in pricing, and availability. Affiliates should be armed with the most up to date information in order to successfully market the products.

How To Use Rakuten’s Deal Dispatcher

If you are an advertiser that runs an affiliate program on Rakuten Affiliate Network, then this post is important to read. With Q4 officially under way, it is time to start planning for the key online shopping days leading up to Christmas. Getting your deals/coupons in front of your affiliates will be critical and I will show you how to do that with a step-by-step guide to using RAN’s Deal Dispatcher tool. The Deal Dispatcher is a monthly newsletter sent to subscribing publishers that allows you to advertise special promotions and even publisher promotions (ex. Commission increases, bonuses, etc.).

Step – 1

Log in to your RAN merchant (advertiser) account. Navigate to and hover over “Messaging” in the top navigation and click “Deal Dispatcher”.

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Step 2 –

Now, this is where the deals (consumer facing or publisher facing) are entered. There are a few things to keep in mind when planning to use RAN’s Deal Dispatcher:

  1. All deals must be entered before the 15th of the month.
  2. You can pay a flat fee and be placed as a “Featured Promotion” To inquire about this just contact your RAN account rep.

It is a very straight forward process to enter and submit deals. The following information must be included:

  1. Promotion Type – use the drop own menu to select the appropriate promotion. The options include: consumer – coupons, consumer – free shipping, consumer – sales/percentage off, publisher – increased commissions/return days, publisher – new creative/link type, just to name a few.
  2. Destination Link –  It could be the homepage or a product specific landing page. The link must properly correspond with the offer being entered.
  3. Promotion Text – there is a 125 character limit, but be as detailed as possible and make sure the deal is worded so that it cannot be interpreted a different way.
  4. Offer – This is the offer going to be used for publishers (aka – terms). Will you be using the baseline offer or create a completely new offer for this promo?
  5. Stat and End Date – make sure to make the deal valid for at least 30 days so that affiliates who may have missed it can still act.

Once everything is filled out, hit “Submit”. If anything is wrong it will let you know what needs to be fixed.

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If you want to see a sample of the Deal Dispatcher you can do so by clicking the “View the most recent Deal Dispatcher” (you must be logged in to your RAN account) link . Below is a screenshot of a recent Deal Dispatcher newsletter.

us-deal-dispatcher-publisher-help-center-rakuten-affiliate-networkThis is just one step in the process to making sure you are optimizing your affiliate program for the upcoming holiday season.

How to Recruit Affiliate on Rakuten Affiliate Network

Some of the affiliate networks allow the affiliate manager to recruit affiliates directly from the merchant interface. This is a good way to find targeted affiliates that are already familiar with the network, it is what we call “low hanging fruit”. Once recruited and aboard, the activation process is simpler for everyone involved because the education sometimes needed is not required. Rakuten Affiliate Network has this capability and it should be utilized by all affiliate managers with program on this network. I am going to provide a step-by-step guide to recruiting affiliates on the Rakuten Affiliate Network.

Step # 1 – Go to “Find New Publishers” Page

After you have logged in to the RAN merchant interface you are going to hover over the “Publishers” tab and click “Find New Publishers”.

Step # 2 – Fill in the Criteria of the Desired Affiliates

RAN offers various ways to locate prospective affiliates. You can enter the publishers name, site ID, URL (this is done from the drop down box highlighted in the image below). Also, the above mentioned ways can only be used if you know the information, so there are other ways to locate affiliates without knowing all their information. The most ideal way is to target a group of affiliates based on their category. For example, you could be looking for pet bloggers, fashion/beauty bloggers, etc. All you do is highlight the category and hit “include”. There are also more advanced ways to locate affiliates and they include: the date the joined RAN, active affiliates (sending traffic), platinum publishers (top performing publishers on the network), customer reach (geographic locations), business model (coupon, content/niche, comparison shopping, etc.), and publisher location.

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Step # 3 – Selecting Affiliates to Send an Offer To

The criteria has been entered and now the list is in front of you. Review the potential affiliate prospect list and begin pushing offers. To push offers to affiliates you want to partner with simply “tick” the box in the left column (you can add all affiliates on the page by “ticking” the box in the gray section.  Once the affiliates are selected, scroll to the bottom of the page and hit “Extend Offer”, then “To Selected”. This will allow you to send an offer to only the affiliates selected.

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Step # 4 – Extend the Offer

The process is almost complete. Review the offer(s) shown (there may be more than one, but make sure it is the offer with the correct terms.  Hit “Extend”. That’s it, the process it done. Just rinse and repeat each time you want to recruit affiliates within the Rakuten Affiliate Network.

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A step-by-step guide to recruiting affiliates through RAN is complete, but there is one important item I want to emphasize when recruiting on networks; after the offer is sent always follow up directly with a personal email letting them know an offer was sent and reviewing the terms of the affiliate program. The personal touch will go a long way.

A Guide to Affiliate Program Competitive Intelligence Research

When introducing an affiliate program to your marketing mix it is essential to treat it the same as your other channels (i.e. search, paid search, email, retargeting, etc.) because it is just as important, and in some cases the most important piece to a company’s marketing mix.  Why do I say that? Simple, I have seen many occasions where a company will just throw an affiliate program up on a network without doing any competitive research and they hope for the best. An affiliate program can be a very profitable avenue if set up and managed correctly. Conducting a comprehensive competitive intelligence review is vital and should be done when starting (it should also be done periodically once the program is live)a new affiliate program so that you are competitive and attract the desired affiliates. There are eight (8) main components to a competitive intelligence report and they include: competitor’s name, affiliate platform, CPA, incentives, cookie life, action locking period, ranking, and EPC. I will go over each component in detail to ensure you capture all the necessary information.

#1 – Competitor’s Name

This may seem pretty obvious, but you may discover that they operate under multiple names or have multiple affiliate programs, so getting their name and the URL’s they use for any and all affiliate programs.

#2 – Affiliate Platform

Once you gather the competitors name (s) the next step is to see what platforms or affiliate networks they currently run their affiliate programs on. They may run their program on a major network (CJ Affiliate, ShareASale, Rakuten LinkShare, etc.), but they may also run it on a private software (CAKE, Post Affiliate Pro, HasOffers). A major affiliate network may not be the best place for every merchant, so finding where your competition operates helps in making a platform decision.

#3 – CPA (Cost Per Action)

This is an important component of the intelligence gathering. As a merchant you want to make sure your CPA (or Cost per Lead) is competitive with the competition because affiliates take payout into consideration when promoting merchants and if you are totally off line with the competition it is less likely you will have high quality affiliates promoting your product/service. With that being said, determining the CPA must also make sense financially, not just because the competition is doing it.  Remember if you are on a major network they take a percentage of every sale too, so keep that in the back of your mind when determining payouts.

#4 – Incentives Offered

Does your competition offer incentives to affiliates? If so, take note of them and try and incorporate them into the affiliate strategy. For example, a merchant is offering a $50 first sale bonus, or a tiered commission structure (default is 10%, but based on sales it can increase to 15%). The examples mentioned will also help in determining the CPA for the program, but also helps to increase affiliate activation once approved.

#5 – Cookie Life

Affiliates like to see a longer cookie life, but in reality a majority of affiliate sales occur within the first couple days. If the competition has a 30 day cookie the best bet is to have your cookie length at least 30 days, but can be higher. For an activation tip you can offer select affiliates a cookie life increase if they perform a certain action (i.e. 2 sales in the next 7 days and their cookie will be bumped two-fold ).

#6 – Action Locking Period

This is important for the fact that product returns happen and merchants want to protect themselves from paying commissions on returned merchandise.  ShareASale’ s default locking period is the 20th of the following month in which the transaction took place, where CJ Affiliate’s default is the 10th of the month. However, the locking period can be customized to a merchants return policy. If a private label platform is chosen then the merchant selects the day transactions lock and payments are made.

#7 – Program Ranking

Checking how your competition ranks on a particular networks will show you the amount of success they are having (or not) and if they have an affiliate base that will be substantial in promoting your products/services. As examples, CJ Affiliate uses a 1 – 5 bar system. 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, whereas ShareASale ranks their top 100 merchants.

#8 – EPC (Earnings per 100 Clicks)

This metric is important because it shows merchants if affiliates are actually making money promoting the competitors’ products/services. Merchants with a high EPC shows that affiliates are making money and its offers are effective. On the other hand, merchants with low or no EPC numbers show the offers and program are not performing well and affiliates are not making money. These numbers will help aid in the decision of what platform to choose. One network may have high EPC numbers, and the other may have lower numbers, which means the network with the high numbers has affiliates that cater to that specific market and should be considered.

Creating and managing an affiliate program takes deep competitive intelligence in order to be successful. The eight components of a competitive intelligence report should be compiled and reviewed intensively and then based on the data create an attractive, yet competitive affiliate program that has the chance to be successful for years to come.

Creating Publisher Groups in CJ Affiliate Network

Do you have trouble communicating with your affiliates? Do you have messages for different types of affiliates? Are you unsure of how to send different messages to different affiliates? If you answered yes to any of the three questions I am here to help. I have seen it numerous times when we take over management of affiliate programs for clients and their affiliate database is a complete mess, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are a merchant with your affiliate program on CJ Affiliate I am going to show you how to create groups for your affiliates and how to put them in the appropriate group(s). After you read this article you will have one of the most organized affiliate databases out there.

Step # 1 – Go to “Groups” tab

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After you are logged in to your CJ Affiliate account click the “Publishers” tab and then click the “Groups” tab. This will take you to the page where you will create groups to place your affiliates in.

Step # 2 – Create Affiliate Group

There will be groups already created, but they were done so by CJ Affiliate. To create a new group click the “Create Publisher Group” button to the far right of the screen. A pop-up box will appear next.

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Step # 3 – Name your new publisher group

This is where you name the group. You want to be as clear as possible so in the future you know exactly who is in the group. Once you complete inputting the name click “Save”. Your new group has been created and the next step is filling it with affiliates.

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Step # 4 – Add affiliate to a group

Go to your affiliate list (through “Publishers” – Manage by Program Terms”) and check affiliates that you want to include in your newly created group and then click “Add to Group”.

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After you click “Add to Group” a pop-up window will appear and you will select the group to place the affiliate in from the drop down box. After the group is selected click “Add” and then you are finished.

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That is it. Instead of sending all your affiliates the same message, this functionality allows you to now segment message to specific affiliates. You may have a bonus opportunity for content affiliates, but do not want coupon/deal affiliates to see this, so having groups set up will allow you to send to the audience you want.

Setting Up Affiliate Bonus Campaigns in ShareASale

Are you looking to jump start your affiliate program? Is it new or just not producing the results you want? You are not alone; there are many affiliate programs (new and established) that are looking for ways to increase sales through their affiliate program. It takes a lot of hard work to grow an affiliate program, but if you are a ShareASale merchant they make it easy for you to arm affiliates with the tools they need to be successful.  A popular way to get traction with an affiliate program is offer bonus promotional campaigns. ShareASale offers a simplistic way to set up bonuses (recurring or one-time) with affiliates so you can concentrate on continuing to grow the program. Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up bonus promotional campaigns in ShareASale

Step #1 – Navigate to the Bonus Promotional Campaigns Page

After you logged in to the ShareASale merchant interface, go to “Tools” then go to “More” and click “Setup Bonus Campaigns”. It will take you to – https://account.shareasale.com/m-transactionrules.cfm

Step #2 – Define Your Rules for Bonus Payments

As I mentioned previously, this is a very simple process, but you have to make sure you are careful and review your choices. The first half of the page is where you want to name the rule (so you can identify it), what the threshold is (amount of commissions in a month, sales or clicks), whether it will be a flat dollar amount of a percentage, recurring bonus or one-time, what affiliates are to be included.  This is what makes this tool great, you can include or exclude whoever you want. If you do not want to include coupon affiliates in the bonus, simply do not add them.  A quick tip: if paying bonuses by group or types of affiliates make sure you have groups set up so you do not have to go in and manually remove/add affiliates.

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Step #2 (cont.) – Define Your Rules for Bonus Payments

Continuing down the page and finishing up the set up process, next choose the date you wish to start (and end) the campaign. This is important because the bonuses will only be paid within the period you select and it cannot go back in time and credit affiliates. If you do wish to go back and credit affiliates you can “Post a Manual Transaction”, but that is a topic for a different day.  You can restrict affiliates based on their join date (when they were approved in the program) or you can simply select their affiliate ID from the box and they will be excluded. There are multiple ways to customize this tool to ensure you have the best bonus campaign available with who you want to participate.

Once all the fields are complete, hit the “Set Commission Rules” box and it will be saved and activated on the date you input as the start date.

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Activating affiliates in your affiliate program is a must (new or existing program). With ShareASale’ s “Bonus Promotional Campaigns” tool it allows you to fully customize an activation campaign based on the metrics you choose, and they best part of it is that ShareASale handles everything. With all the time you will save you now can focus on recruiting new affiliates and growing the program to new levels.

Top 5 ShareASale Affiliate Program Setup Mistakes

As an Outsourced Program Manager (OPM), I manage accounts in a variety of verticals and on all the major affiliate networks, but merchants seem to encounter the same issues when setting up their affiliate program on their own. Whenever we (AM Navigator) get a new client (with an affiliate program) we perform an audit to determine what needs to be fixed in order promote the affiliate program in the proper light and there seems to be the same items most (not all) merchants either neglect or complete partially. This post will cover the top 5 items merchants on the ShareASale affiliate network neglect to include or complete partially when setting up their affiliate program.

#1 – Program Agreement (AKA Terms of Serivce)

This document is probably the most important as it is the “rules” by which affiliates need to follow. Important points to include are:

  • PPC (Pay-Per-Click) guidelines – Be specific on what words are off limits and what words can be used.
  • FTC policy
  • Coupon policy (if applicable)
  • Fraud policy

#2 – Emails sent to affiliates during the sign-up process

This is another piece that many merchants do not capitalize on. The 3 emails affiliates receive from ShareASale on the merchant’s behalf are:

  • Apply Email – This is sent to an affiliate once they apply to join a merchants affiliate program. This should tell the affiliate that their application is being reviewed and they will be contacted within 24 hours with a decision.
  • Decline Email – This is similar to the apply email. It only gets sent to affiliates that merchants reject from their program, but in fairness to the affiliate it should include reasons why they may have been declined and give them an opportunity to contact the program manager and/or re-apply .
  • Approval Email – Merchants get this one wrong the most of the three (3). This email should include information about the program (description of the company and main selling points of the affiliate program), PPC guidelines (like outlined in the program agreement), links for them to use immediately (have the code available for them to simply copy and paste), and contact information for the affiliate manager.

#3 – 88×31 Logo

You may be asking yourself, a logo? The 88×31 button banner is important because it is one of the most popiular sizes affiliates use, but it also provides additional exposure when affiliates are looking for merchants to promote. In the merchant search section affiliates view potential matches and a logo is included with many of them and it helps to “convert” the prospect into an affiliate. A simple logo can be the difference.

#4 – Banners

I have seen merchants have over 50 banners available and then I have seen a few that have 5. There is no “magic number” for banners, but having the most popular sizes available is critical. Merchants need to provide sizes that affiliates can use. I have seen obscure sizes and then the most popular sizes are missing and I scratch my head, but here is a link to the most popular banner sizes.

#5 – Newsletters

Last, but certainly not least, newsletters. A good majority of merchants I have done audits for either send newsletters out infrequently or not at all. The latter is most common. How are merchants supposed to communicate with affiliates? The newsletters should be sent out bi-weekly, but at the very least monthly. They should include any news about the program, coupons/deals, links to creatives, and contact information.

I could have gone on forever, but I gave the top 5 items many merchants either neglect or do halfhearted when setting up their affiliate programs. Every aspect of an affiliate program should be completed fully, no matter how relevant a merchant thinks it is. Affiliate managers jobs are to “WOW” affiliates and get them to promote their products/services and having a fully integrated and set up program is the first impression to all.