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Case Study: Creating The Bottom Line Secrets Affiliate Program

June 20, 2000 - A lesson from Virtualis - Relationship building

I just got my Virtualis' Steps to Success Newsletter. For those of you who want instant gratification, it looks like Chris Lyman and Heather Anderson will be conducting a "He Said, She Said" website critique on Saturday afternoon at the Affiliate Force seminar in L.A. on July 29th.

They've invited you to "Come on down and place YOUR website in the hot seat!" The Saturday afternoon sessions are a FREE open house. (For some, that beats submitting it here and waiting for days to get feedback ...or weeks to get posted.)

Going through Virtualis' discussion boards, someone asked about a business plan. One member submitted this URL with a pretty decent set of tools and resources for businesses www.webupright.com/business.html (as long as I am collecting the info, I thought I'd share it with you.)

One of the reasons that I am so interested in reading through Virtualis newsletters is that they do such a good job of encouraging participation from their members. They have an active bulletin board for their resellers to get help. But it's also used to complain about company policy and to ask for changes in the products and pricing structure. This fascinates me - this open exchange of criticism and resolution. Their newsletter has links to several of the threads to encourage more discussion and interaction.

Their newsletter contains several calls to action - there is a sales contest running through the month of June, with bonuses made for sales taking place this month. The newsletter contains a countdown reminding people how many days are left.

To get people involved in their sites and sales, they have a continuous series of educational chats - for each level of expertise. They have devoted extensive resources and staff time to provide the educational information and tools to keep their resellers (VRs) up to date. They even provide an opt-in reminder service (you can spam yourself ).

It's interesting to watch the dynamics - very much like a family.

Trying to replicate this level of service for your own affiliate program may be a little difficult. You don't have the staff and resources to do all that. But building the relationship with selected affiliates will enable you to focus your attention on people who can help your business grow. As you grow, you can hire the staff to provide the attention to less active affiliates.

Actually, that was one of the areas of discussion by one of the Affiliate Solutions panels. Should you devote your attention to, say, 10% of your top affiliates and ignore the rest? The overall consensus was that, as new affiliates join your program, you must do all you can to encourage them and get them active (each had their own suggestions on how). However, if, within 30 days they have not put up links, have not made any sales, or shown any interest in actively working your site...leave them be. Some of the speakers even had different newsletters for their top performers and their regular affiliates. And some, those with very large affiliate bases (200,000 or more) even stopped sending newsletters altogether to those folks who show no activity at all.

Time is a resource. Probably your most precious one. Use it well.

Your Humble Guide,

Eva Rosenberg

This case study is reproduced with kind permission of TaxMama, sometimes known as Eva Rosenberg, moderator of the I-Helpdesk & WebReview Newsletter. Week by week, Eva has shared her experiences of creating this new program with her newsletter, creating an excellent real world example of starting an affiliate program.

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