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Affiliate Marketing Basics

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Additional resources

Case Study: Creating The Bottom Line Secrets Affiliate Program

11th August 2000 - Exasperating problems!

Dear HelpMates,

During the past week or so, we wanted to send out communications to our affiliates, a la the fundamental teachings of Declan Dunn, Ken Evoy et al. Much to our chagrin, we made some new discoveries about Commission Junction.

Although they employ people like Declan and Glenn Sobel to gain their counsel, CJ does not seem to follow it, even on the basics - yet. They are busy fixing things, but the fundamentals are not there.

1) CJ allows you to take your mass of new affiliates, (966 as Thursday a.m.) and break them up into 'groups.' So, we are able to separate HelpDesk/I-Sales members, FrankelBees, Nancy's Prof-Net members, certain large groups of sites, Womens Forum...banners only sites that are not worth the trouble to cultivate...etc.

However, we cannot send communications JUST to that group. Their e-mail system in CJ lets you correspond with one affiliate - or ALL, nothing in between.

2) OK, so we can't just target our specific groups. Can we at least send them a personalized e-mail with their name in the salutation, as in Dear Betty? (I did a mail merge yesterday using Excel and MS Word - in moments - this is NOT new technology - AND CJ has all the contact info in their database) Nope - although Glenn assured me that it could be done, I saw my account manager run some tests using different codes to see the results...but NADA. Todd and Chris came back to me and said, it's still in the works... This is BASIC stuff. It's the lack of this kind of support that will start making it very appealing to look at Brad Waller's list of affiliate software. The whole idea of using CJ is to save time and money. So far, the extra time and money we have spent trying to get fixes... and trying to find ways around the system literally add up to the thousands...maybe even into 5 digits. Moving on.

3) Having little choice, since I want affiliates to start working on their sites - I had to break down last weekend and send out our first "Doing Everything Right" newsletter. I had to use the CJ interface that did not customize the salutation. Fine. Then I learned - after all the work Nancy and I put in to fine tune the newsletter - the CJ e-mail tool is limited to 4,000 characters. (It doesn't tell you that anywhere until you try to send the letter.) So, I had to

  • refine the newsletter. Then
  • I had to remove the instructions for using the SmartZones and quickly put them up on a back page of my TaxMama site so I could put a link into the newsletter - http://taxmamma.com/BL/CJ-SZ.htm
- oh- this mail only goes into the affiliates' CJ mail box, not to their e-mail. How few people ever read THAT mail. Chris never got back to me on how to, automatically, send this to the affiliates' e-mail?

4) Not having gotten that response from CJ, and hoping to try to actually have affiliates read the newsletter, Nancy Roebke painfully copied and pasted EACH AND EVERY one of over 600 affiliates' names and e-mail addresses into her own computer so she could send the newsletter out by e-mail yesterday. (How convenient is CJ for the basic functions? Please, remind me.)

5) Since CJ doesn't give us a place to provide instructions and tools for our affiliates, BottomLine will be creating a (probably, password-protected) URL for our affiliates to get tips, tools, How-to's, advertising text, etc, - "Increasing Your BottomLine"

Right now, I am getting more and more exasperated by CJ's lack of understanding and response to their clients' needs. I don't know what they are spending that shiny, new $20 Million on, but, if they don't start focusing on the basic tools, they will start losing merchants in droves. Guys, forget the enhancements - provide the things that some simple coding can make available.

By now, we should have been spending all our time 'chatting' with our many affiliates and helping them develop tools and content for their site - we should have been selling. Instead, we're still lost in busy-work.

Your Humble Guide,

Eva Rosenberg