How to Create Affiliate Commission Rules on ShareASale

Do you want your affiliate program to stand out to potential affiliates? Of course you do, so how can it be done? Some programs sell themselves either because they are a recognizable brand, their website converts well, or they offer incentives to their affiliates for hitting specific milestones. Rewarding your affiliates is a key to success, because if they are happy they will continue promoting your program and some may put more effort in. I am going to show you how to set up commission rules in ShareASale so that when affiliates hit certain milestones set up by you they will get a bonus automatically credited to their accounts. You can do this manually, but ShareASale has a great feature that automates the entire process. Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up personalized commission rules in the merchant interface of ShareASale.

Step 1 –  Go to the “Edit Settings” tab under the “My Account” tab

Once you are logged in the merchant interface of ShareASale you need to navigate to the “Edit Settings” section under the “My Account” tab.

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Step 2 – Click “Manage Advanced Commission Structures”

Once in the “Edit Settings” section you will need to locate the “Manage Advanced Commission Structure” link and click it. You will be taken to a new page where you will begin the setup process of your incentive campaigns.

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Step 3 – Decide which incentives you will be enabling

There are a variety of incentives to offer affiliates, some of them include: a first sale bonus, double commission on sales for the first 30 days, a bonus for referring a predefined amount of sales in the first 30 days of being an affiliate, and so on. Be sure to choose ones that will encourage activity immediately upon joining and also make financial sense to you. In the affiliate programs I manage I like to offer all new affiliates a first sale bonus. It shows them that we care about their performance and that it motivates them even after the first sale. We may offer that affiliate other private incentives down the road if performance continues at a high level.

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Step 4 – Setting Up the Commission Rule(s)

For the purpose of this post I will show you how to set up a first sale bonus.

You want to name the rule, so “First Sale Bonus” would be the name.

Next, you want to select the action. Click in the “Commission Action” section and you will be provided a drop-down menu and then select “Bonus a flat amount”.

You will then have to include the amount of the bonus, for this example I put $5.

Once you have the name and action complete you will need to apply conditions to the rule. If it is a first sale bonus you will want to click the “Add Condition” box and click “Performance metric reaches a specific value”, the under “Combined Stats” you will click “number of sales total less than 1 (you will add the 1 manually).

To make things even easier you should tag your affiliates so that setting up the rules become even easier. If you have a brand new program with no sales you will not need to create tags immediately, but if you have an established program generating sales you will need to create tags to make sure only new affiliates are being credited for their first sale.

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Creating commission rules will help automate the bonus process. As noted earlier, there are other options in terms of bonuses, so be sure to review the ones available in ShareASale and choose the ones that will motivate your affiliates. Rewarding your affiliates should be a part of the overall program optimization process, but make financial sense to you, the merchant. Happy affiliates are the best kind and they tend to spread the good word about you to their peers.

How to View ShareASale Newsletter Performance Reports

Your affiliate newsletter has been sent to your affiliates, but how to you find out who is opening it? It is important to analyze such things as the open rate, bounce rate, and the individual affiliates that are reading the newsletter. I will provide a step-by-step guide to finding and reading your affiliate newsletter performance reports.

Step 1 – Locate and Click on the “Send Newsletter” Icon

Once logged in you will need to hover over the “Affiliates” tab and click the “Send Newsletter” icon.

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Step 2 – Click on the “Full Archive Page” Link

After you click on the “Send Newsletter” icon you will need to scroll down and click the “Full Archive Page” link. The link will take you to a page where it will show you all your previous newsletters sent.

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Step 3 – Choose “Report” from Newsletter Archive

This section will show you every single newsletter sent along with other pertinent information including: newsletter ID, the send date, how many affiliate it was sent to, the option to view the newsletter, and report. For the purpose of this post we are going to click on “Report”.

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Step 4  – Review Data for Specific Newsletters

Here is the data for each newsletter you chose. The rectangle box at the top will have the entire selection of available newsletters that have performance data. I removed all the sensitive information from the image, but you should see a few choices (if you have sent them in the past).

The information provided below provides exact numbers of opens, the open percentage, bounces, the bounce percentage, and the individual affiliates that opened the newsletter. To find out who the affiliates are that opened it simply click the “plus sign” (red square).

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Why are affiliate newsletter open rates and bounce rates important? They help in determining the best method to communicate with affiliates as well as the best times and days. The bounce rate could be a combination of invalid email addresses, mailboxes full, etc. To determine the best day and time to send affiliate newsletters we recommend A/B testing. Send a newsletter out on different days of the week, at different times, with different subject lines. Once you have completed the tests, simply review the data, learning from your successes, and constantly refining how you handle your future mailings.

 

A Step-By-Step Guide to Adding Affiliate Creatives to CJ Affiliate

As I mentioned in my last article on adding creatives to ShareASale, having a nice selection for affiliates to use is essential and optimal. Allowing the affiliates to choose which banners or links to put up will allow them to market your products more effectively. Recently I have set up and launched a number of affiliate programs on CJ Affiliate By Conversant and I thought I would provide a step-by-step guide to uploading creatives to your program on CJ Affiliate.

Step 1 – Locate the Links tab on the Main Navigation Menu of the Merchant Interface.

Once logged in you will need to click on the “Links” tab to begin the process of uploading new creatives (banners/text links) or modifying current creatives.

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Step 2 –  Select “Add New Link”

Click on the “Add New Link” button, a drop down menu will appear and you will then choose which new link (or banner) you want to upload.

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Step 3 – Select Text Link or Banner

As you can see in the image below you have a number of options as it pertains to creatives, but for the purpose of this tutorial we are going to focus our attention on text links and banners only.  Depending on what type of creative you are uploading you will then make the appropriate selection, either text link or banner.

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Step 4 – Uploading Text Links

You will want to give your link a name to differentiate it from others, as well as include the ad copy, a description, relevant keywords for affiliate to search with, a destination URL, and filling in the other fields shown in the image below. Make sure to include as much information about the link as possible in order to get full optimization with your affiliates.

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Step 5 – Uploading Banners

Similar to uploading text links you will want to name the banner, provide a description, include a destination URL, search keywords, and most importantly upload the banner.

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You will want to repeat the same process for each additional banner and text link. Unfortunately, CJ Affiliate does not have a mass banner/link option like ShareASale does, but it is still a straight forward process that is essential in daily affiliate program management.  Whether you have an affiliate program on CJ Affiliate, ShareASale, or another network your creative inventory should be taken seriously and showcased in professional manner.

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.

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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”.

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.

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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.

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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.

The Importance of Affiliate – Affiliate Manager Relationships

The success of any affiliate program is built on the relationship between the affiliates and affiliate manager. What do all successful relationships require? The number one element is trust. The goal of any affiliate – affiliate manager relationship is to not only have the affiliate know you, but trust you and know that they will do as much as possible to help them succeed. Building trust does not happen overnight, but in order to get it there are traits you must show including: dependability, being personable,  being helpful, and understanding their business and what their goals are. Once trust is built the affiliates will be more eager to help you out by sharing things they see from their perspective.

How Affiliate Managers Can Help Affiliates

Communicating with affiliates is the only way to build a solid trustworthy relationship and showing them that you value their efforts will go a long way in their eyes. There are many ways affiliate managers can help affiliates grow their businesses; here are a few of them:

Increase Commissions:

Provide them incentives to have their base commission increased. For example, if affiliate x increases their sales by 20% from the previous month their commission will be increased from 10% to 12% for life. This shows the affiliate that you value their time and effort and want them to succeed. Rewarding them monetarily shows your commitment to them.

Exclusive Deals/Promotions:

Affiliates want to differentiate themselves from their competition just as merchants do, so, whenever possible/applicable, providing them with exclusive deals and/or promotions gives them the edge to convert more sales. It may also be the difference in them not promoting a competitor’s product or services. For example, a mommy blogger wants to promote nursing bras on her site; therefore, an exclusive deal (e.g. 20% off [product category here]) is created, but is available to only her blog and her audience.

Custom Creatives and Coupons:

Creating custom banners and coupons is similar to exclusive deals and promotions, but involves designing banners and/or coupon codes for the affiliate to use in their marketing efforts. For example, the mommy blogger (referenced above) affiliate would like a 468×60 customized banner with an exclusive code for the nursing bra sale, so as affiliate manager a banner is created using the color scheme of her site with an exclusive code (e.g. MOMMY20) only her audience has access to. The little things go a long way in building a healthy relationship with affiliates.

The affiliate knows their audience and understands what it takes to convert sales, therefore, as an affiliate manager being personable and helpful will assist in solidifying the relationship and making it mutually beneficial to both parties.

How Affiliates Can Help Affiliate Mangers

Relationships are a two way street and the affiliate – affiliate manager is no different. Once trust is built, the affiliate manager can rely on the affiliates to help improve the program and make it optimal for other affiliates as well. Here are two ways an affiliate can help an affiliate manager:

Feedback on What is Currently Working:

The affiliates are in the trenches daily and they see things that affiliate managers may not, so having a solid relationship can be advantageous in determining what promotions work best, what banners are most effective, and where the business may be trending in the future. In ways they can be considered consultants. They have invested time and money into promoting a merchants product, so they want to ensure the program is fully optimized for their success.

Suggested Improvement to Merchants Website:

This is very important to any successful affiliate program, but cannot occur without the element of trust. For example, the affiliate may be seeing a lot of clicks but no conversions and then they look at the merchant’s site and see a potential issue(s) that may be causing the conversion problem. It could be a variety of things causing the issue, but without the affiliates feedback it would continue to be a problem and cause a strain on the relationship and potentially hinder the success of the entire program.

Building a solid affiliate – affiliate manager relationship begins with trust. It takes time to earn trust, but showing affiliates that you are serious about their success will go a long way, whether it be increasing their commission or creating customized banners for their site.  Ultimately, the hard work from both parties will pay off in a successful and profitable affiliate program.

Should Affiliate Programs Be Managed or Optimized?

A webinar announcement that was circulated earlier today by Impact Radius started as follows:

Are you managing your performance-based marketing program when you should be optimizing it?

Great question, and as a speaker on this upcoming webinar I’d like to take an opportunity to touch upon this question in my today’s blog post.

During the webinar, together with the legendary Todd Crawford, we will discuss numerous subjects starting from tracking-related questions (such as deduplication, cookie duration, and others) and on to reporting issues. We don’t have to agree on everything to have a fruitful conversation, and one of the things that I would argue today is that program optimization and program management aren’t, in fact, mutually exclusive.

In my understanding, affiliate program management should be approached with several key tasks in mind. Initially outlined in my “Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day” book but also dissected in my recent Affiliate Summit presentation [see my slide deck here], I like to view these tasks as 5 central pillars of a healthy approach to affiliate program management. They are: affiliate recruitment, affiliate activation, compliance policing, communication, and … yes, optimization.

There are numerous ways one may optimize his/her affiliate program’s performance. The 3 key approaches that we have seen yield continuous fruit are:

  1. Replicate your own successes
  2. Employ best practices
  3. Spy on your competition

Working in the above-listed directions equips merchants with knowledge which, when used to craft practical strategy, results in building highly agile (and, therefore, competitive) affiliate programs.

However, as mentioned earlier, when it comes to management versus optimization, it should not perceived as an “either… or…” question, but a “both… and…” situation. Affiliate program optimization is management, or, to be precise, one of the five key components of a holistic approach to affiliate program management.

Of course, the “Comments” area below is wide open for your input/thoughts on the subject.