Review Affiliate Transactions and Keep an Eye Out for 5 Things

Affiliate transaction analysisAs I was performing my daily review of affiliate transactions in a client’s account, I’ve realized that every time I’m doing this, I subconsciously look for specific things. These range from bad to good ones — from red flags to opportunities. Today, I’d like to share with you what I am typically looking for.

1. Violations

While most violations of your affiliate program’s policies will be caught by specific compliance policing tools, your routine review of affiliate transactions may yield additional insights.

If, for instance, your affiliate compensation terms are different for different types of affiliates, look for bypasses. A classic example would be that of an affiliate, who is either paid less or is banned from your affiliate program, using a content monetization platform (or another mediator) to mask themselves.

Coupon affiliate bypass

Above you may find a real-life illustration of the situation where a coupon affiliate (who is supposed to be paid 5%) is, actually, getting a much higher commission by linking indirectly but via a mediator.

2. Inconsistencies

Whether it is a wrong commission rate or anything else that’s inconsistent with the agreement that you have with a specific affiliate, keep an eye out for these as you perform your routine review.

3. Red Flags

Depending on the platform that you use, your review of affiliate-referred transactions may reveal certain red flags.

Below you may find an example of how on ShareASale merchants see an alert when the same IP was used on transactions that have a similar lock date.

Same IP affiliate transaction

Another case would be the below-illustrate spike in conversions (registered on CJ).

Spike in affiliate conversions

As mentioned elsewhere “any spike (in traffic, leads, sales, conversion rate, or anything else) should raise a red flag”. Spikes are not always indicative of violations or affiliate fraud. But they always call for an additional dissection and analysis.

4. Activations

When you see an affiliate’s first conversion come through, it’s a great time to reach out to him/her with personal congratulations and encouragement to press on.

Go out of your way and also analyze how they drove the sale, thinking of what they could  do to drive more action.

…and you better have a  goodfirst-sale/conversion bonus in place too! These are always great in motivating stagnant affiliates to activate.

5. Optimization Opportunities

Finally, as you examine affiliate transactions, ideas on optimization opportunities should also surface. Put yourself in your affiliates’ shoes and think of ways for them to make more money with you.

Here is an illustration of a pretty common scenario (where multiple affiliates touch the same buyer along their shopping journey):

First-touch affiliate

The purple dots represent every affiliate touch, while the green dot stands for the “commissioned click” (or the one for which the last-to-touch affiliate got paid).

Diving deeper (and thank you, ShareASale for the technology to give us these great insights), we noticed that the affiliate who was the first to touch this buyer, has his cookies overwritten much more frequently than he overwrites other affiliates’ cookies (see the donut charts below).

Overwritten affiliate cookies

Moving this particular affiliate to first-click attribution was a common-sense conclusion. Having discussed this with the affiliate, we’ve had the affiliate network “prioritize” this affiliate’s cookies. Now, every time that he introduces a customer, he is the one who gets the commission for that customer, regardless of how many (other) affiliates touch the same customer before he/she buys.

Of course, this is just one optimization idea. You’ll come up with many more if you approach your analysis in a thoughtful and affiliate-friendly manner.

If you need help in anything related to affiliate marketing and/or affiliate program management, hit me up directly.

If you’re an affiliate program manager yourself, do chime in (via the “Comments” section below) to share what your are looking for while reviewing and analyzing your affiliates’ transactions.

How to Remedy Downtimes in Affiliate Tracking: Method of 3 As

Downtimes happen. Unfortunately, they happen to affiliate marketing tracking too. Simply put, these are the times when your affiliate program doesn’t track affiliate-referred conversions (be they sales, leads, subscriptions, or any other actions that you want your affiliates to generate).

Those instances are no fun for affiliates, affiliate networks (whose compensation is often tied to the tracked and recorded performance of the affiliate programs run on it), and affiliate management companies (who are also often paid, at least in part, based on performance).

One of the most frequent scenarios (when affiliate tracking goes down) is connected with merchants revamping their websites, but failing to properly implement the affiliate program’s tracking on the new version of their sites. Not too long ago, this very situation occurred in one of the programs that we had picked up for affiliate program management. Of course, it had to happen right before the weekend, and just in the time for their biggest online sales of the year! On the conversion tracking end, the results looked as follows:

Affiliate tracking downtime

Certainly, the first thing we had to do was tackle the problem, bringing it up to the respective contacts on the merchant’s end and helping them fix it (the weekend certainly didn’t help speed things up).

But what do you do after the technical part of it is fixed?! Some stay put and act as if nothing happened. This is not what I recommend anyone does!

Years ago, in a book entitled Trust Agents and authored by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, I read about a 3-As Formula for dealing with situations when businesses make mistakes. Chris later outlined it as “The Three As of Business” here.

The 3 As are: Acknowledge, Apologize, and Act.

Here’s how I suggest you apply this formula to remedy downtimes in affiliate tracking:

1. Acknowledge

Don’t sweep it under the rug, but reach out to your affiliates admitting that your affiliate program‘s tracking was broken, explaining why exactly it happened.

2. Apologize

Be sincere in saying “we’re sorry” and show your appreciation for what they do. You want your apology to clearly demonstrate how much you value the relationship you have with your affiliates.

3. Act

Send one-time bonuses to all of your active affiliates, based on assumptions of what they would have earned had the tracking functioned properly. Communicate this to them too.

To summarize, do not just sit there as if nothing had happened! Practice the 3-As approach being open and supportive of your affiliate relationships. Otherwise, there’s a real risk of jeopardizing them, leaving room for all sorts of speculations, unpleasant assumptions, and real damage done to your affiliate program.

World’s Best Affiliate Management Agencies Shortlisted for an Award

The landscape of affiliate management agencies has changed significantly since the time that the concept of such an agency came to life. An affiliate management agency is more often called an “OPM agency” or one that manages affiliate programs on an outsourced basis. Back when I started mine, there was less than a dozen of us worldwide. Today, affiliate management agencies are in the hundreds.

It’s often tough to tell chaff from the wheat, especially with multiple pay-to-play “rankings” scoring high on search engines.

Best affiliate marketing agencyBut there are a number of affiliate marketing industry-specific organizations that hand out “Best OPM” or “Agency of the Year” awards, which are always fun (and helpful) to follow. Among these, there are both platform-specific ones like CJ Excellence Awards, Rakuten Marketing Golden Link Awards, ShareASale/Awin ThinkTank Awards, as well as platform-agnostic ones like Performance Marketing Awards and, of course, Affiliate Summit’s Pinnacle Awards.

Today, the latter have just announced their finalists for this year, and we can see 5 agencies listed in the OPM/Agency of the Year category. These are:

Best affiliate management agencies

I am excited to see my very own AM Navigator in such a fine company. Four of these five affiliate management agencies have been in the business for more than a dozen of years, and there are many people within these shortlisted companies that I consider real thought leaders and dear friends.

Being “the best” in any industry is as much about doing your job well as it is about giving back to the industry. Most of the affiliate marketing agencies on this list are amazing at the latter: educating, inspiring, and evangelizing through all their work. I am honored to have my own agency be up there with these guys!

We wish everyone who was shortlisted (regardless of the category) the best of luck; and looking forward to seeing the winners announced at the upcoming Affiliate Summit in New York!

Incentivized Traffic and Fake Leads in Pay-Per-Lead Affiliate Program

A couple of weeks ago we launched a new affiliate program. It’s a program for a subscription-based product, with the sales process starting with a free trial. When setting up affiliate programs for such businesses, the rule of thumb is to intertwine two payment models:

  • PPL (pay-per-lead) on each free trial driven in by an affiliate
  • PPS (pay-per-sale) on each trial converted into a paying subscriber

With any pay-per-lead affiliate program there’s always a risk of receiving fake leads, but the beauty of affiliate marketing is that merchants pay only for qualified referrals. With proper affiliate program management, ultimately, all phony  leads result in reversals of affiliate payouts, but how do you prevent these?

One way would be to pay attention to the affiliates’ promotional techniques as you review their profiles at the application stage.

Three Red Flags

Let me return to the story with which I have started this post. A couple of weeks after launching this new affiliate program, we registered a noticeable spike in the leads referred by affiliates.

Spike in affiliate leads

In affiliate marketing, any spike (in traffic, leads, sales, conversion rate, or anything else) should raise a red flag. It may not necessarily indicate fraud, but it does call for additional analysis.

Reacting to the spike, we looked into it a bit more, and found out that all of these leads were referred by one affiliate (red flag #2).

Affiliate marketing leads

We also reached out to the client — for them to look into the quality of these 38 leads. The client replied quickly, notifying us that a large chunk of these were actually fake (red flag #3) with “John Doe” put into the name field, and other sure indicators of phony leads.

Incentives and How They Work

While we were waiting on the client’s response, we studied the affiliate in a bit more detail. It turned out that, regardless of positioning themselves as a monetization platform, they were actually a classic rewards or loyalty affiliate.

Rewards affiliates (sometime also called “incentive affiliates” or “loyalty affiliates”) drive incentivized traffic. This, basically, means that the person referred by such an affiliate is motivated by an incentive. As our friends at BrandVerity explain, incentives may come in an array of forms:

  • Cashback
  • Miles
  • Points
  • Virtual currency
  • Prizes
  • Cash

These incentives are given to the end-user in exchange for the desired action (on the business’ website).

Misaligned Intent

So, what happened in our client’s affiliate program was a fundamental dissonance between the affiliate’s primary technique and the merchant’s ultimate goal.

Different directionsThe “rewards” component of the affiliate’s strategy resulted in misalignment between the end-user’s intent and the the merchant’s intent. As the above description (of the situation) shows, many of the forms were filled out in order to receive the promised incentive, and not because of the lead’s genuine interest in trying out the product.

Bottom line: if you run a pay-per-lead affiliate program, be careful with incentivized traffic. Most of it may be of no good to you.

Should you need any help with anything related to affiliate programs, contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.

How to Audit Your Affiliate Program for a Fresh Start to 2019

Whether you have been running an affiliate program for over a decade or just a few months, it is always great to audit your affiliate program to find out where you can improve.

Here are a few areas to audit your program.

General

First, you want to look at very general items, such as, is there a description of your affiliate program on your website? If so, is there a link to the affiliate program description page?

The other areas that we consider to be general include having a competitive compensation and sufficient locking period. We have written about how to determine what your affiliate commission structure should be, so we won’t go into depth here in this post.

Policies

This is an important part of the audit that is overlooked in many cases. This is where you will want to outline to your affiliates what they can and cannot do within your affiliate program. This includes (but not limited to):

  • FTC Disclosure
  • Trademarks
  • Coupon Codes
  • Paid Search
  • Domain Names
  • Rules for Loyalty / Incentive Affiliates
  • Rules on Self Referrals
  • Toolbar, Software, and Adware Rules
  • Brand Positioning
  • And more

The reason this section is so important is because these are the rules of your program. If you need to remove someone from your program or even remove commissions, these are the rules that lay out why that may occur.

Creatives

It goes without saying that creatives (banners or texts) are an important aspect of any affiliate program. Ensuring that you have the right size banners, the right call-to-actions, banners that convert and also a diversity of banners are all items to review during your audit.

As with the affiliate compensation part, we have written about affiliate banners and creatives in the past, so you can check out those posts for more in-depth recommendations.

Landing Pages

This portion of your affiliate audit should be done for an overall e-commerce level. It is important to have landing pages that convert. If your landing pages are not converting, then affiliates are not going to promote your offers.

affiliate marketing landing page leak

From an affiliate marketing standpoint, it is crucial that your landing pages do not have any leaks. What do I mean by leaks? A landing page leak would be something that allows the customer to order without the affiliate earning a commission. This could be a phone number within a call-to-action, for example, “Call now to get 10% off”. Also, if there are additional clicks and websites that a customer must go through in order to make a purchase, this could also end up in the affiliate not earning a commission.

Recruitment

Now it’s time to audit your recruitment efforts. These efforts would be broken down into two components, active and passive.

Passive affiliate recruitment is where an affiliate will find you, as opposed to active recruitment, which is where you reach out to an affiliate.

When auditing your passive recruitment efforts, it’s great to start with your in-network program description. Do you have the right amount of keywords and ad copy to entice affiliates to join your program. Find out what keywords your competitors are using within their in-network search and utilize ones that would benefit you as well.

To audit your active recruiting efforts, take a look at your outreach numbers. Are people opening your emails? If yes, are they taking action to the call-to-action within your emails? If not, then it might be time to update your outreach copy.

Audit where you are looking for your affiliates. Have you exhausted all your options in looking at your competitors’ affiliates? If not, that’s a great place to start. If people are already promoting a company within your niche, you may be able to easily activate them and have them start promoting your efforts.

Approving / Denying Affiliates

The first part to audit during this phase is what criteria do you have for accepting / denying affiliates? It is always a great idea to have something documented. If you are the affiliate manager and must take a leave of absence for whatever reason, it is always great to have guidelines for approval / denial for your affiliate program. The “I just know when I see it” approach may not always work. Once you have this criteria, it’s time to look at the emails that are sent to affiliates who are approved or even denied.

Are your approval and denial emails to potential affiliates optimized for the best activation efforts? If not, this is a great time to audit them. When looking at your approval email to affiliates, it is important to include a recap of the affiliate program information (commission rate, locking period, etc.), as well as pre-built links that affiliates can just copy and paste to get started referring traffic.

Affiliate Management

The next part that we are going to look at during your affiliate program audit is your overall affiliate management.  This area is broken down into a few areas.

First, we want to look at segmentation of affiliates. Are you currently segmenting your affiliates into different categories? For example, affiliates who have never referred a sale. This segmentation can be helpful when running activation / incentive campaigns and you want to provide a bonus for people who refer their first sale.

Speaking of incentives, that’s the next part we want to look at during this part of the audit. Are you currently running incentive opportunities for affiliates? If not, now is a great time to plan these out. You can test out performance based payout increases, cash bonuses for first time sales and any other incentive option you can come up with. Get creative!

Program Optimization

Lastly, we want to audit our program to find out where else we can optimize it to be more competitive and more successful. Starting with a competitive intel analysis is always a great idea. This will allow you to see what your competitors are doing with their affiliate program and you may be able to pull a few ideas from them.

During this phase, you might also want to look at the utilization of co-branded landing pages. We have written about the benefits of co-branded affiliate landing pages before, so won’t go into too much detail here, but implementing a landing page with an affiliate’s logo may help increase conversions. If your program is not currently utilizing these types of landing pages, then this audit can help pull this task to the front of your to do list for 2019.

The start of the new year is always a great time to perform an affiliate program audit and find out where you are in order to plan where to go next.

If you have any questions at all, please contact us. Also, please be sure to Like Us on Facebook.

How to Use CJ’s New Insights Tool

In October 2018, CJ introduced a new data driven feature called, “Insights”. According to CJ:

Insights provides actionable, on-demand data in an intuitive, streamlined, and easy-to-use platform that will help you identify where to take action.

I have been able to use Insights and test out using two of its main features, which include:

  • Trends throughout your program that may help you make changes to your program. For example, you may see a trend of more coupon code sites vs content creator sites.
  • Being able to look at reports compared to another time frame. Previously, CJ reports didn’t allow an easy comparison. You had to look at one time period, record the numbers, then look at the next time period and record those numbers before comparing. Now, comparing time period is much easier.

The CJ Insights tool is still new and is not the Holy Grail of data centers. However, CJ has stated that they are committed to this tool and will continue to roll out new features and enhancements.

Let’s dive into how to use the Insights tool now.

*Please note, your screen may look different.

Where to Find CJ’s Insights Tool

When you first log into your CJ dashboard, you can find the link to the Insights tool at the top of the toolbar. For now, it even has a nice, blue “New” image above it. Just simply click on the Insights link.

Where to find Insights Tool

Default Insights Dashboard

Once logged in, you will be directed to the default Insights dashboard. From here, you will see the following reports:

  • Revenue
  • Publisher Commissions
  • Clicks
  • Actions
  • Average Order Value
  • Return on Ad Spend

Default CJ Insights Dashboard

Selecting Dates to Compare

At the top of the dashboard, you will find the date selection tool. This is where you can select the  time period you want to view vs. the time period that you want to compare to.

If you are running a monthly affiliate marketing dashboard report and need to compare the current month vs the previous month, this is a perfect place to do that.

Dates to Compare CJ Insights

As mentioned above, these are the only reports and features available in the Insights report as of now, but they are already much more valuable than the basic reports within CJ’s current reporting tool in the dashboard.

Expanding Reports

The Insights tool allows you to expand on each of the reports that were listed above. Simply click on the Expand button, and a daily graph will pop up along with the top 8-10 performing Partners, Links, and Websites.

The expansion part of these reports is where you can really pull out granular data as opposed to just looking at the high level graphs to find trends.

These reports are also exportable as a .csv file.

CJ Insights Expanded Look

Why Is The Insights Tool Useful

The Insights tool from CJ can help your reporting (and therefore next plan of action) go to the next level. Being able to compare data easier allows you to find trends that can help you prepare for the next month or quarter. For example, it is much easier to find a trend in the Insights report on a specific day of the week that performs better, than it is with the reporting tool within the dashboard.

Quickly Compare Top Performing Links

With CJ’s new Insight tool, you are able to quickly compare your top performing links. Sure, you could do this with the reporting tool in the dashboard (as we have mentioned this above multiple times), but you will save time by utilizing the Insights Tool.

Let’s use an example of why this will be helpful for you.

As the dedicated affiliate manager, you are working on sending out an affiliate newsletter and you would like to include the top 3-4 performing links. You could run a report over the last 90 days in the reports tool in the dashboard and just grab the 3 with the most sales, but that may be misleading.

For example, one of those links may have had majority of it sales at the very beginning of the 3 month report period and since then has faded away and is not a top performer anymore. This could be because of seasonality, a sale/special that was ran, or a myriad of other reasons.

By utilizing Insights, you can quickly compare two time periods and look at the numbers, as well as graphs to see which are your top performing links. With Insights, you will be able to compare two time periods and see an upward trend for a few links, telling you that those are the 3 links you should include in your newsletter to affiliates.

Data is only powerful when used properly. Make sure to use this data properly.

If you have any questions on how to use the CJ Insights tool or how to utilize the data that you see within the tool, than please contact us right away.

4 Ways to Use Social Media to Recruit New Affiliates

Social media is a great source for starting new relationships, building upon existing ones and, sometimes, even ruining relationships. Luckily, we are in the business of forming and growing long-term great relationships. That’s why I wanted to share these 4 ways to use social media to recruit new affiliates.

Before we get into the 4 different ways, some of these tips can be used across all social media platforms and some are specific to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram specifically.

Hashtags

Using hashtags to find new potential affiliates is such a simple, yet effective way to find new recruits. You can do this on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Pinterest.

Let me provide a quick example.

Let’s say that you are the affiliate manager for a makeup and beauty company and are looking for new affiliates. You could head over to Instagram and search for #makeup. This will most likely bring you thousands of results, but you can start at the top and start making your way through them all.

You have to be able to figure out which posts are spam, but it’s pretty easy to tell.

hashtags for affiliate recruitment

Next, you are going to look at the images and find ones that are posted by people who are sampling makeup or making makeup tutorials for their viewers. Your goal is to focus on people who are not talking about purchasing a product, but focus on those who have an audience that will be willing to purchase something they recommend.

This is the type of person that you want to reach out to on social media. You can reach out to this person in multiple ways now. You could send them a Direct Message on Instagram (or Twitter or Facebook), you could visit their profile and find their email address or a website that may contain an email address.

Once you have the contact information, then start them in your affiliate marketing recruitment funnel.

Twitter Search

Twitter Search is very similar to searching for hashtags, except you don’t have to search for actual hashtags. In this case, you can just search for keyword phrases and look for these phrases within a certain timeframe.

As you can see in the screenshot, there are multiple search factors that you can use to narrow down the exact audience that you want to reach out to.

twitter advanced search for affiliate recruitment

Let me provide an example of using Twitter Search as well.

Let’s say that we are doing affiliate outreach for a mattress brand and you want to find people on Twitter who have been talking about mattresses and or sleep. Simply go to the Advanced Twitter Search page and type “mattress, sleep” in the Any of these words section.

If it is important to you to narrow down a location, you can do this as well. For this example, we will not use location based.

Now, you also want to find people who have recently Tweeted about these keywords so that it’s fresh and relevant during the outreach, so select a time frame under Dates. I would recommend the last 2 weeks.

mattress twitter advanced search affiliate recruitment

You will see a Twitter search results feed with Tweets that include either the keyword mattress or sleep. Now, you are going to do the same thing that you did above in the Hashtag example.

Scroll through the feed looking for people who are reviewing a mattress that they just purchased or maybe someone who has written an article about the benefits of sleep and you feel that your mattress brand would be a perfect match for an affiliate relationship with. Reach out to this person and begin your affiliate recruitment outreach.

Bonus Tip: Share, Like and Retweet their post because it will be fresh in their mind that you did something nice for them.

Community Engagement

This tip may be more of a long-term play than the others mentioned above. The reason is because this one takes time to build a relationship and engage within the communities that are surrounding the affiliate program that you are managing. The two mentioned above are quick searches and allow you to reach out right away.

Community engagement simply means finding the online communities that you potential affiliates belong to and engage with them. Sounds simple right?

It is. It is also very time consuming.

Let me provide an example for this situation as well.

Let’s say that you are the affiliate manager for a company that sells costumes. These aren’t just costumes for Halloween, but also can be used for Cosplay and other events as well.

For this example, I want to focus on the Cosplay niche.

You can find Cosplay Facebook groups or Twitter chats or even Instagram hashtags to follow (utilizing the tips above). Now, the difference here versus the examples up above is that we don’t want to reach out right away. We want to become part of the conversation and the community. Find interesting topics in the cosplay niche and engage in the conversation, share articles or other posts that you feel others will find interesting.

This will help you begin to build relationships with the people in the niche and eventually content creators who have large followings and write about different cosplay events, you know, people who would be great affiliates!

Even better, by engaging with the community, which you can do from a personal account and not the company account, you could build great relationships that can be utilized in other ways. For example, if you are an outsourced affiliate program management agency, then you can leverage the relationships built to get affiliates to join multiple programs that you manage.

No Email, No Problem

This tip is somewhat self-explanatory. If you already have a list of potential affiliates that you want to reach out, but you don’t have any contact information for them from their website, then find them on social media.

If you are able to connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even LinkedIn, then start you affiliate recruitment outreach via these social media channels.

The possibilities are endless on how you can use social media to recruit new affiliates. There are always new social media platforms popping up, but the core sites are always growing and adding new creators.

If you have any additional tips for using social media for affiliate recruitment, I would love to hear them. Please comment below or share this post on social media to start a conversation.

 

Best Affiliate Management Resources

Whether you are an experienced affiliate manager or new to the industry, it is important to know what resources are available to you to help you manage your affiliate programs.

Affiliate Program Management – An Hour a Day

This is not just a shameless plug for the Founder of AM Navigator, but is in fact, one of the best resources available for any affiliate manager. Published back in 2011, the same core principles of daily affiliate management stay the same. This book will walk you through the entire process of launching an affiliate program to daily management.

Affiliate Program Management – An Hour a Day has great reviews, including one from the Founder of Skimlinks

“With clear explanations, plentiful real-world examples, andfantastic resource lists, this book is a comprehensive compendiumof up-to-date knowledge from a leader in the field.”
—Alicia Navarro, cofounder and CEO, Skimlinks

AffStat Report

Although the latest AffStat Report that has been released includes data from 2016, majority of the trends tend to stay the same. The AffStat Report includes data from affiliate managers, as well as affiliates themselves. As an example of one of the great pieces of information in this report is:

Top Factors Driving my Affiliate Program Selections Are:

  1. Product or Service Relevancy
  2. Affiliate Program Reputation
  3. Affiliate Network or Tracking Platform

Other great tidbits include:

  • I’d prefer that affiliate managers contact me via…
  • Programs I’m promoting that offer custom creatives

This data can help you make important decisions in your daily affiliate management.

affiliate marketing webinarsWebinar Trainings

Most webinars will have a recorded version available afterwards, so learning from past webinars is a great way to help become a better affiliate manager and grow your affiliate program(s).

Here are a few that we recommend:

Affiliate Summit

Affiliate Summit is the premiere affiliate marketing conference. The conference is filled with affiliates, affiliate managers, CPA companies, networks and more. There are two primary Affiliate Summits every year, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast. These events typically take place in New York City and Las Vegas respectively.

There are multiple paths you can take while at the summit. There are plenty of training sessions for affiliate managers, but what could be the most important part of Affiliate Summit is the networking app that can be used prior to the event.

This allows you to schedule as many meetings as possible with affiliates who can promote your affiliate program in the future.

P.S. Geno Prussakov, Founder of AM Navigator has spoken at 20 Affiliate Summit conferences, so you may run into him there!

FeedFront

FeedFront Magazine is simply known as the affiliate marketing magazine and is completely free. The magazine is available in print edition quarterly. Founded by the same founders of Affiliate Summit, Missy Ward and Shawn Collins, the magazine is filled with articles from affiliate managers, affiliates, networks, and more.

Interested in writing for FeedFront? They accept proposals to write as well.

Check out the most recent print edition of FeedFront April 2018.

Affiliate Marketing on LinkedIn Learning

This affiliate marketing course on LinkedIn Learning from Geno Prussakov is a little over 1 hour and covers the following:

  • Affiliate Marketing Basics
  • Affiliate Program Setup
  • Program Launch
  • Affiliate Program Management
    • Recruiting (both Passive and Active)
    • Activation
    • Compliance
    • Communication
    • And more

This course is perfect for anyone, no matter where you may lay on the affiliate marketing experience level.

Affiliate Program Management Blog from AM Navigator

AM Navigator is an outsourced affiliate program management agency founded in 2006 by Geno Prussakov and manages some of the top affiliate programs. The AM Navigator blog, specifically the affiliate program management blog category, is a great source of up-to-date information for anyone seeking to learn more about affiliate program management.

Do you have any other resources for affiliate managers? If so, please share them in the comments below.

20 Top Affiliate Marketing OPMs Mysteriously Don’t Rank

OPM — Outsourced Program Manager — a person or company responsible for the management of an affiliate program and performing the management (of the program) on an outsourced basis.

I know, I am biased as I run an OPM agency myself. But even if you take this factor into consideration, nothing can justify why, month after month, rankings of affiliate marketing companies mysteriously consistently omit some of the world’s top-notch OPM companies. Or most of them, to be frank.

If you are looking for an OPM, you must consider all the quality options available out there.

Here are the ones that somehow never “rank” but are, in fact, recognized by the affiliate marketing industry as some of the best in class (the list is not meant to be a ranking of any sorts, but represents an alphabetical list of OPMs):

  1. Acceleration Partners
  2. Adam Riemer Marketing
  3. All Inclusive Marketing
  4. AM Navigator
  5. AMWSO
  6. Clique Affiliate Marketing
  7. eAccountableOPM
  8. ebove & beyond
  9. Greg Hoffman Consulting
  10. Hamrick.biz
  11. iAffiliateManagement
  12. JackMarketing
  13. JEBCommerce
  14. Lab6Media
  15. Robbins Interactive
  16. Schaaf-PartnerCentric
  17. SmarterChaos
  18. Snow Consulting
  19. Team Loxly

Next time when you look at a ranking of “top affiliate marketing companies,” look through a couple more lists before you conclude that your picture is truly complete.

Meaning of Postback: Affiliate Marketing Program Context

When setting up an affiliate program, one of the key decisions an advertiser/merchant has to make is what tracking method to use.

Most present-day affiliate programs rely on a pixel embedded into the confirmation/”thank you” page. This (somewhat of an industry default method) is meant to close the loop between the initial end user click on an affiliate link and the end user’s reaching the thank-you-for-your-business page. The affiliate commission is then triggered by (and credited upon) the pixel firing at the moment the customer reaches their confirmation page.

Postback tracking, on the other hand, represents a slightly more technically sophisticated of a method of crediting affiliates for the business they refer. Its essence is grounded in server-to-server posting, whereby instead of relying on the pixel firing, the conversion record (and consequential affiliate commission crediting) is triggered by the advertiser’s server passing the necessary data to the affiliate program’s platform’s server.

Server-to-server affiliate postback

Let me give you a real-life example. We have a client who employs two affiliate payment models within the same affiliate program: PPL (pay-per-lead) and PPS (pay-per-sale). The affiliate program is run on an affiliate network which supports both pixel-based tracking, and postback tracking. The advertiser in question is paying affiliates $X per lead when a referred user signs up for a free account, and (on top of the PPL amount) Y% of the sale amount, should the lead convert into a paying customer. For the PPL part this affiliate program relies on pixel firing on the confirmation page, whereas the PPS payout is posted (to the affiliate network’s server) by the advertiser once/if the sale occurs.

While implementation of postback requires a higher level of technical expertise (than the simpler-to-integrate pixel-based tracking), it’s a method that is widely supported by affiliate platforms of all types: including all types of affiliate networks and affiliate software for in-house-based affiliate tracking/programs.