Archive for the ‘Bits n bobs’ Category

Affiliate Programs - help or hindrance?

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I’ve been pondering this question for a while now. And I can’t quite come down on one side or the other. Are affiliate programs a help or a hindrance?

We operate a small independent ecommerce shop and are always looking for new ways to bring in traffic and prospective customers.

Don’t put your eggs into one basket

Reading through numerous forum postings we have been told what equates to the age old adage don’t put your eggs into one basket - which equates to don’t rely on free search engine traffic alone. If Google, Yahoo, MSN or whoever is next on the scene suddenly takes a dislike to your site then you can go from traffic aplenty to none in a split second.

So spread your marketing by getting into affiliate programs, where voucher sites, discount code sites, banner ad linking, money off sites, and shopping comparison engines all take hold of your content, images and site data and try to promote you, to make you, and them (through commission), money.

Well, that’s the idea anyway - from a merchant’s perspective.

What is the reality

But what is the reality. What is the goal of the affiliate? What is the goal of the affiliate program? Of course, to make themselves money. But which side are these affiliate programs on? Or are they purely impartial?

Does it matter who gets the commission (affiliate) and the sale (merchant) so long as the affiliate program gets their cut. What practices are deemed out of bounds? Will the affiliate program ‘protect’ the rights of the merchant or those of the affiliate?

Now I’ve been working with an affiliate program for a few years and my personal take on this, is that the affiliate program is more on the side of the affiliate than the merchant. They want the merchant to do a great deal of work to earn the priviledge of appearing on a discount code website.

Special Promotions - customers worth having?

Of course, on top of the standard 15% commission (not including overcharge, set-up fees, monthly fees etc) paid to the affiliate they want you to offer a special offer - 40% off or buy one get one free to grab the customer’s attention.

So for a short period you’ll get plenty of customers who want everything at half-price. But are these customers worth having? Will they, at a drop of a hat, go to another special offer on a competitor site, as soon as your special offer finishes?

You’ve not made money on these customers but are hoping to have built a base who you can sell to in future. But they’re not ‘loyal’ to any brand but to cheapness. Unless you go on being so cheap you’ll be out of business, they won’t use you. Basically, are they customers worth having?

Using your content

I have no problem with affiliates using my content to send me prospective customers. But what I’m wondering is, am I really getting the benefit?

They do their SEO tricks and appear higher than - often eliminating - the originating website from the SERPS. So I lose my free search engine rankings and for my troubles I also have to pay 15% to the guy for appearing higher than me, with my content.

Am I stupid?

OK, so I’ve spread my risk, but for what?

I’m losing customers hand over fist who click on the SERP (where I might have been) and then get taken to a comparison engine who tells the customer that someone else is offering the same product at a lower price / on a special offer / just badly placed so that the customer is less likely to click through to me.

What’s your experience?

I’d like to know how other merchants have used affiliate programs; whether they worked well and brought in repeat customers, or whether the merchant decided to end the program deciding it just did not provide the anticipated spread of risk that they thought on starting out.

What I’m wondering is if there are other baskets where I could put my eggs to much more profitable use?

Who is this Joe the plumber?

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Who is this Joe the plumber? Just been watching the 365th day of coverage of the US election - and I reckon it’s sending me crazy.

Reminds me a little of the Don’t Tell Sid adverts the Tories ran when they sold off the gas in the 80s. That seemed to work as people love the common touch. Either that or they knew they were getting a bargain and bought into it just to make a quick buck.

So will people buy in to Joe the plumber? Maybe we should get a teddy bear called Joe the Plumber - could be a big seller if John McCain gets to be president.

Only problem for us is that we don’t deliver to the US and I’m not sure people in the UK could care less who this average Joe is. By the way, we have our very own average Joe - he’s called Joe Bloggs.

This blogging is all new to me

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

I put it off and put it off but finally I have admitted myself to the new world of blogging.

Talk about getting set in your ways. I’ve been online since 1996 - way back when the first Mosaic browser came out and downloading via ftp and stuff over JANET. But then I got comfy with the easy browsing and bored with learning another half dozen programs a month and said “right, that’s enough for me.”

I’ve been meaning to have a go, but didn’t know what to write, didn’t think I had anything to say. Well fancy that, seems just like every one else was in the same boat.

But now I have a purpose - to inform the world about teddy bears and teddy bear stuff. It’s a bit of publicity for our company, Teddy Bear Friends, but I’m hoping it might become something that can be useful and used by others so I’m welcoming anyone and everyone to take part and see what we can cobble together.

So here goes, and if I start spouting rubbish please tell me.