How to View and Download ShareASale Performance Reports

In last week’s post I showed you how to access and pull affiliate performance reports on CJ Affiliate By Conversant. This week’s post will be on the same topic, but explore reports on ShareASale. After reading this you will have an understanding of the three (3) types of reports to focus on and what they contain. So without further ado, a step by step guide (with images) on how to pull affiliate program and affiliate performance reports from ShareASale.

Step 1 – Hover over the Reports Tab

Once you login to your merchant account you will see a navigation bar with 5 tabs including: Reports, Affiliates, My Creatives, Tools, and My Account. To access the affiliate reports you need to hover your mouse over Reports. You will see many options, but the three reports we will focus on are 1. Weekly Progress 2. Affiliate Timespan 3. Banner Performance.

ScreenHunter_409 Jan. 29 10.19

Step 2 – Click Weekly Progress

This report gives you a snapshot of the previous two (2) weeks performance broken down daily. You have the option to adjust the start date of the report, length of the report, number of weeks to display, and have it converted into a downloadable CSV file. However, I recommend opening the CSV files using Excel. Here is a post that shows you how to open a pipe-delimited file.

Weekly Progress # 1

The contents of the report include: clicks, gross sales, number of sales, net sales, voids, commission, number of affiliates in program, and number of active affiliates.

SaS Weekly Progress Report

Step 3 – Affiliate Timespan Report

You must hover over the Reports tab and click Affiliate Timespan. This report is similar to the weekly progress report except it provides each affiliate and the number of clicks and sales they generated for a specific time period.  You can customize the report dates, target individual affiliates and download the entire report in a handy CSV file.

Affiliate TimeSpan # 1

The contents of the report include: The affiliate ID and main URL, clicks generated, sales, commissions earned, EPC (Earnings Per 100 Clicks),  and average order value.

Affiliate TimeSpan # 2

 Step 4 – Banner Performance Report

Again, hover your mouse over the Reports tab and select Banner Performance Report. This report gives you vital statistics on the performance of your creatives (banners and text links). You can customize the reporting period to view, view only specific kinds of creatives (i.e. banners) and download it in a CSV file.

Banner Performance #1

The contents of the Banner Performance Report are:  banner id (click on it and it will show you the exact banner/text link), type, the amount of sales it generated along with dollar amount.

Banner Report # 2

As an affiliate manager that manages multiple accounts these reports touched upon are extremely important to review daily and weekly. They provide you current trends, top performing affiliates, and top performing creatives. They provide you all most of the information you will need to effectively manage your ShareASale affiliate program on a day-to-day basis.

How to Access Performance Reports on CJ Affiliate Network

Reports are an extremely essential piece to effectively managing affiliate programs, but knowing what reports to review and how to find them is equally as important. At any given time you (merchant) should know how the affiliate program is performing and what affiliates are driving results. Each affiliate network’s interface is different in how the reports are generated and accessed. I will show you a step by step guide (with images) on how to pull affiliate program and affiliate performance reports from CJ Affiliate by Conversant.

Step 1 – Click the Report Tab

Once you are logged into your CJ Affiliate merchant account, click the Report tab at the top. It is the 5th tab from the left.

CJ 1

 

Step 2 – Select the Performance Report

This is where you select the type of report to view/download. To review overall program statistics select “Program” and to review publisher (affiliate) statistics select “Publisher”.

CJ 2

Step 3 – Select Desired Date Range

You have a plethora of options here. There is a custom option if you want to pull data for specific dates/weeks as well as options for the current month, the last month (and up to the previous 6 months), the last 30 days, the current week, the day before, and the current day.

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Step 4 – Create and Review the Chosen Reports

Once you have selected the report type (program or affiliate) and date range to analyze, click the “Run Report” button and the data you requested will populate below the fold.

CJ 4

 

Step 5 – Download Your Reports

To download your reports simply hit the “download” button and it will allow you to save it as a CSV file on your computer.

CJ 5

 

There you have it, a step-by-step guide to downloading affiliate program performance reports in CJ Affiliate. If you are a merchant, but do not have your affiliate program on CJ Affiliate don’t worry I will be doing guides for other networks in the coming weeks.

Affiliate Banner Ads: Requirements, Sizes, Examples

Banners are an integral part of any affiliate program, but in some instances merchants do not understand how important they really are. Banners and text links make up an affiliate programs creative inventory that affiliates used to promote merchants products or services. Affiliates use them in a variety of ways and require them in multiple sizes.

When we at AM Navigator either take over management of an existing affiliate program or start one from scratch banners are among the most popular issues/topics we discuss with clients. In a few instances I have seen banners not include a sales message or a call to action; so what is the visitor supposed to do? The key is to make the banners entice the visitor to click and buy. Many merchants are unsure of the protocol for creating affiliate banners, including the key elements to an effective affiliate banner and the sizes they should create. Examples of quality affiliates banners can be found by clicking here.

I will go over the 3 main elements an affiliate banner requires and provide a list of banner sizes (and quantities) that we recommended when running an affiliate program.

All affiliate banners require three elements:

1.       Clear Visual Elements

2.       Concise Message

3.       Call to Action

Without the three above elements the banners will not be attractive to affiliates and they will not convert.

Affiliate banner size recommendations (with recommended quantities):

88×31 px button – 2-5
468×60 px – 2-5
125×125 px – 2-5
120×600 px – 2-5

160×600 px – 2-3
120×240 px – 2-3
234×60 px – 2-3
254×331 px – 2-3
728×90 px – 2-3
250×250 px – 2-3

720×300 px – 1-2
300×100 – 1-2
300×250 px – 1-2
180×150 – 1-2

The banner sizes above are broken into 3 groups based on demand from affiliates. Even though the list includes all the most popular sizes, affiliates may still have special requests for custom sizes, so you must be ready to create additional ones that may include different color schemes and images.

The 88×31 is by far the most popular size among affiliates because it can be used in different ways. It is the most popular with coupon/deal oriented affiliates. We recommend having at least 2 created in different styles.

Affiliate banner creation should be taken seriously and include the 3 elements outlined above and most of the sizes discussed. Without quality banners available to affiliates, the less likely they may be to promote your product/service. Next week I will discuss mistakes to avoid when creating affiliate banners.

Key Affiliate Manager Responsibilities and Time Allocation

A good question came to me from a reader of my “Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day” book. He wrote:

Do you have any page in your book or in your blog where you elaborate on the necessary hours and manpower per task e.g. search, recruit affiliates etc.?

Having thought about it, I realized that even though I have talked about this in my conference presentations, I have never looked at things through this angle in anything that I have written to date. Hence, this blog post.

There are different tasks and activities that affiliate managers are involved in on a daily basis. I like to think of them as 5 pillars of affiliate program management: affiliate recruitment, activation, compliance policing, communication, and program optimization. More in this brief video of mine:


Now “what percentage of time should affiliate managers spend on each of their key responsibilities?” is a question that is worth a delve of its own.

With affiliate programs that AM Navigator manages, we spend between 30 and 60 hours a month on a program. I have done my math and here is how the rough spread of the time devoted to each affiliate program looks:

  • 40% of time is spent on affiliate recruitment;
  • 35% of time – on affiliate activation, education, and support of communication channel (both one-on-one and newsletters);
  • 10% of time – on compliance policing and enforcement;
  • 10% of time – on competitive intelligence and affiliate program optimization (based on what we learn from the intelligence as well as our own successes);
  • 5% of time – on reports.

You may also learn more about the key affiliate program manager responsibilities in/through the following slidedeck (of my presentation at  Affiliate Summit East 2014):


Five Types of Affiliates (with Examples)

You have learned how to recruit affiliates into your program and where to find them, but what is their value to you and how they can help grow your affiliate program? Below are 5 of the most common affiliates and a little bit about them:

1. Coupon Affiliates

They are the most common type of affiliate. They are not a fit for every program, but if you do allow them in your program they can drive qualified traffic to your site through coupons offered through the affiliate program.

In many cases the larger coupon affiliates rank highly for coupon-related terms in the organic search results.

Examples include: RetailMeNot, Savings.com, and GoodSearch.com.

2. Incentivized Traffic Affiliates

This type of affiliates shares a part of the commission (received from merchants/advertisers) with the end user.

The incentive may come in the form of cashback, points, virtual currency, or similar arrangements.

Examples include: Ebates, BigCrumbs.com, Mr. Rebates, and even Bank of America.

3. Content Affiliates

They are blog (or forum) owners that create unique content (their own or UGC) for their visitors. They send traffic to a merchant’s site through banner ads and/or text links embedded in content. They may not have the traffic of coupon affiliates, but they generally have a high conversion rate and provide incremental value to merchants.

4. PPC Affiliates

They are affiliates that run paid search campaigns using Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and other platforms and use affiliate links to monetize their efforts. This type of promotion is high risk for the affiliate, as they have to pay for the ads and there is no guarantee for a return on investment. They can work in conjunction with merchant’s current PPC efforts to ensure they are not bidding on the same sets of keywords, or not competing with the merchant by capping their bids.

5. Comparison Shopping Sites

They are price comparison websites and aggregators. These affiliates provide the end user with a tool to compare prices (or other product characteristics!) across an array of merchants, utilizing advertisers’ product feeds to power their engines (Shopping Comparison Engines, that is).

Examples of comparison shopping affiliates include: TheFind.com, Shopzilla.com, and many others.

Knowing the various types of affiliates will help in determining their potential value to the program and will help in growing your affiliate program. Recruiting the right affiliates will be a step toward success and bringing in the incremental sales volume you desire.

How to Find Affiliates to Recruit Into Affiliate Program

Last month I discussed the importance of affiliate recruitment and the effects it can have on an affiliate program. Today I will be diving into where to find affiliates to recruit.

Each day, as you are going through the applications of potential affiliates, you are thinking where can I find quality affiliates other than coupon affiliates? Many times the quality affiliates or super affiliates will need to be solicited to join your program. Here are 4 popular places and tools used to find affiliates for you affiliate program.

I. Search Engines

Using Google, Bing, and Yahoo to find sites that rank for relevant keywords to your business is a great place to start. For example, if you are a children’s clothing merchant you would search for sites that rank highly for keywords related to children’s clothing. Blogs that create unique content are great targets when using search engines.

II. Tools/Software

There are free tools and also paid tools used in recruitment. Many of the paid tools provide more robust solutions, but the free ones also are a great help. Examples of free tools include: SEO Quake and Backlink Watch. Paid tools include: Linkdex Publisher Discovery, Raven SEO Tools, and AffiliateRecruitment.com. The point of the tools is to find sites that have affiliate links of your competitors and then you can reach out to affiliate promoting your competition and invite them to your program.

III. Social Media

Finding relevant prospects may also be fruitful using social media. Searching the social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn groups, etc) using targeted keywords can present you with prospects with strong social media followings that can promote your product/service through their various channels.

IV. Conferences/Events

Conferences like Affiliate Summit, PubCon, Performance Marketing Insights and others are great places to meet current affiliates and most importantly prospective affiliates. Affiliates are at the conference to learn, but also seek out opportunities to grow their businesses. Don’t be shy at these types of events as you never know who you will meet and how they can positively impact your affiliate program.

Later this week I will discuss different types of affiliates you can recruit into your affiliate program. So stay tuned…

How to View ShareASale Pipe-Delimited File in Excel Columns

“Pipe” symbol is a vertical bar as in | or ¦ but more frequently the former.

A “pipe-delimited file” is a file in which each line of represents a record, and separate fields are divided by the pipe. This symbol then serves as a delimiter (or an indication of “the beginning or end of a data item”).

The most common format in which delimiter-separated files are saved is CSV. It may seem a bit strange as “CSV” originally stood for “comma-separated values” but don’t let the file extension’s semantics confuse you here. It is very common that, instead of commas, colons or pipes are used as delimiters.

One of the main reasons why CSV files are widely-used online is because “plain-text makes the data easy to import into any Spreadsheet program or database regardless of what type of computer or software program you are using” [source].

“Easy to import” they say, huh?

However, the reality is that those of us who aren’t too technically savvy, may find the conversion of a CSV file into a digestible Excel format a challenging task… especially when you have to deal with a pipe-delimited original. Don’t despair! It is actually very easy to convert a pipe-delimited CSV into an Microsoft Excel file with columns. Excel will, actually, do all the “magic” for you!

For my example I will use an “Affiliate Timespan” ShareASale report.

Step 1: Generate Pipe-delimited File

If you already have the CSV file you wish to convert into Excel columns, just skip right to the next step.

If you’re doing this on ShareASale, log into your merchant interface, then go to Reports > Affiliate Timespan, and check the box next to “Create Downloadable Text File” (see the image below).

ShareASale Affiliate Timespan Report

Step 2: Open File in Excel

Launch Microsoft Excel, go to File > Open > change “All Excel Files” (to the right of the “File name”) to “All Files,” and find the pipe-delimited file you have just downloaded.

Excel Open All Files

Hit “Open” and Excel’s “Text Import Wizard” will launch.

Step 3: Help Excel to Convert It for You

Keep the 1st step of the Wizard as is (having “Delimited” checked as it is a delimited file that you are working with),  and click “Next.”

But in the 2nd step, pick “Other” and insert the pipe symbol into the blank box to the right of your choice (as shown below). As soon as you do so: Voilà! The preview will already show you the columns you are looking for.

Pipe-Delimited File to Excel Columns

Just click “Finish” and you are all done, and ready to save this file in the format you’ll be able to enjoy a bit better than the original CSV file.

 

The Importance of Affiliate Recruitment

When a company engages in digital marketing activities the main goal is to increase sales and revenue.  When managing an affiliate program it is no different. Growing revenue is not only good for the merchant’s bottom line, but it also helps increase the programs exposure to potential affiliate partners. The higher the EPC and AOV numbers are, the more attractive it will be and the easier it will be to recruit quality affiliates.

Whether you have an established affiliate program or just launched one, getting quality affiliates to join is paramount. Many merchants ask this question: Do I just wait for affiliates to apply to my program? You could, but that is doing a disservice to the program and hurting potential growth.  One of the main pieces to growing an affiliate program is affiliate recruitment. There are two types of affiliate recruitment strategies: passive and active.

Passive recruitment is when an affiliate discovers your affiliate program on their own. On the other hand, active recruitment is when an affiliate discovers your program because of your outreach efforts. When managing your affiliate program you do not want to rely solely on a passive recruitment strategy because you will most likely not get the results desired. If you do passive recruitment you are going to have predominately more coupon/deal affiliates than any other and relying on one type of affiliate is not going to provide the growth and incremental sales numbers you wish to see.

Diversifying your affiliate pool through affiliate recruitment will provide better opportunities for growth.  Engaging in active affiliate recruitment will aid in this facet. Having coupon/deal affiliates in the program is not a bad thing, but including other affiliate types like content, paid search, social media, and datafeed affiliates will help in the growth and sustainability of the program long term. Many of the previously mentioned affiliate types are not going to find you, so you must proactively find them and invite them to your program.

Recruiting the content, paid search, social media and datafeed affiliates is important because they all specialize in different areas of digital marketing and will target different segments of traffic for your brand. Practicing active affiliate recruitment is important for the short-term, but more importantly the long-term.

You may be asking how you find affiliates to join your program? Check back next week for my post where I will be discussing where to find quality affiliates. I will also touch on what each type of affiliate brings to the table in terms of skills and value.

Affiliate Text Links vs. Banners – The Great Debate

I am asked regularly by clients what types of links are best for their affiliate program and I give the same answer, it depends. What do I mean it depends? Every affiliate promotes a merchant differently. For example, some use text links embedded within content, while others prefer banner ads to help convert traffic from their site. I would never say go with one over the other, as both are essential to the growth of an affiliate program, but I would do an analysis of your current creative inventory and see what links and banners are being used more frequently and supply your affiliates accordingly. If you are thinking of starting an affiliate program then I would say have both text links and the most popular banner sizes available for affiliates.

Rakuten Marketing conducted a link performance report across the Rakuten Affiliate Network from October 2013 – June 2014 to see what types of links are most effective for merchants. Please note that this data is specific to Rakuten Affiliate Network and could vary depending on the network.

The report from Rakuten Marketing provided the percentage of sales by link type and the percentage of sales by banner size. They found that 51% of sales occurred using a text link and another 22% using banner links. Does this mean you should not offer any banners or even decrease the amount in your creative inventory? Absolutely not! Offering affiliates a selection of the most popular banners will do, but be prepared to create additional banners if an affiliate requests a size not currently available.

Sales by Link Type

According to Rakuten Marketing, over 56% of all sales from banner links resided from two sizes in particular. The 88×31 (28.1%) and 120×60 (28%) were by far the most popular for affiliates and also generated the most sales. Both the 88×31 and 120×60 banners are popular among coupon and deal oriented affiliates as are text links, but text links are also very popular among content affiliates.

Sales by Banner Size

When deciding how to stock your creative inventory it is wise to provide the most popular banner sizes (88×31, 120×60, 125×125, 300×250) and create text links that include your brand name and all coupons/deals and popular keywords associated with your brand. By equipping your affiliates with the most popular creatives it will save time creating banners that will never be used by affiliates.

Affiliate Coupon Landing Pages: Why They Are Important?

Creating a comprehensive coupon strategy is a great way to increase conversions and overall revenue for your affiliate program;. However, many times merchants ignore a major piece to their coupon strategy — landing pages.

You would be surprised on how many merchants do not employ this tactic (even clients of ours). It does require some additional coding and design work, but the benefits can be tremendous. Many merchants who create landing pages for their affiliate coupons have seen a spike in conversions and that equals more revenue.

Why are landing pages for each coupon so important? Besides providing higher conversions and revenue, it provides the customer all the details related to the promotion and allows them to redeem the coupon all in one place. With that being said, there are four (4) main components to an effective affiliate coupon landing page and they include:

1.       Emphasizes the specifics of the coupon/deal

If there are multiple pieces to the coupon (i.e. a percentage off and free shipping) then it must be spelled out here. Being transparent is important and explaining what the customer gets (in terms of a discount) and needs to do should be highlighted in this section.

2.       Informs the customer of any restrictions associated with the coupon/deal

This is one of the most important pieces to an effective coupon landing page. Providing all restrictions associated with the coupon (i.e. cannot be combined with other offers, not valid on certain brands, etc.) will limit the amount of customer service inquiries received and put the customers mind at ease knowing they are getting the discount on the products they are purchasing.

3.       Clearly illustrates how the customer can redeem the coupon/deal

This may seem like a common sense task, but it is necessary. Walk the customers hand through the process so that they feel comfortable. This part should tell the customer if they need a coupon code and where it should be input during the checkout process. If no code is needed then it should say that discount will be subtracted from total in cart upon checkout. Any piece of information that will be vital to a customer should be included.

4.       Contains a clear and concise call to action

Having the specifics of the coupon, restrictions, and instructions are all great and beneficial, but having a call to action should be considered just as important. Having a button to “Redeem Coupon” or “See Details” should be showcased prominently on the page so the customer can act immediately. There should be no confusion on what the customer should do once on the page.

Creating effective coupon landing pages are essential to any coupon strategy. As a merchant if you are not doing it, then you may be losing out on opportunities to enhance your affiliate program and getting quality affiliates to join too. Beat your competition to the punch and start building those landing pages.