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Case Study: Creating The Bottom Line Secrets Affiliate Program

3 July 2000

"In the meantime, I guess, it will be up to me to tell you how to use CJ to your best advantage"

Dear HelpMates,

And speaking of works in process...yesterday, I spent nearly two hours on the phone with Todd Crawford, VP of CJ.com . (During that time, not once did he tell me that the site was going down for maintenance at 6:00 pm - until well past 11:00 pm. my bedtime - so when Rick got home early, we sneaked off on an early date - matinee and dinner. And came back, all refreshed and ready to work on the CJ interface - to find it DOWN!!!! scream!!!)

Other than that, the things I learned are both encouraging and amusing. Let's go through some notes....

If you want to see what I'm talking about with respect to the member pages, join Commission Junction - it's free - and open your browser to here

1) CJ is changing the member interface so merchant partners will be easier for affiliates to find. They have realized that, usually, an affiliate joins via a merchant's program and, when they get to the interface, should immediately see the MERCHANT they have just joined up to sell. Smart move. (Now, you have several clicks before you can find your merchant partners. Try it)

2) As with most affiliate solution providers, the text link URL is often three lines long - waaay too long to properly put into e-mail newsletters or notes to people. I asked Todd for a simple, one-line URL. As it happens...

Todd says CJ should be launching "Track 4" a short URL in the next couple of weeks. They don't want to lose the image tracking capacity of the old URL and this new software will let them retain that. They may even be able to make the URL branded to the merchant's site. BTW - CJ uses multiple servers specifically for tracking, which gets forwarded to the main server, which serves the members area.

3) Something of great concern to us all! Now that CJ is no longer showing the graphics of the links, it's really time-consuming for an affiliate to find links because the visited links don't change color and there is no description of the graphic next to the link so you can't quickly identify what you want or where you've been (e.g. Tower records - Blues, static; Tower - Country, animated, 5 panels) (click on ‘get links' and then select a merchant - see the list of banners? View one. Look at the link again - see? no color change)

All right! They are working on getting the interface to show the graphics again. In the meantime, they will, at least, set the v-link color so we can see our trail.

4) Now this one had us both laughing so hard, we nearly cried. My problem - transferring banners to SmartZones (SM) is not consistent - CJ's interface often doesn't find the SmartZones I've created when I am trying to move a banner to it. Even within the same merchant's banner choices, sometimes, CJ would find my 4th of July SM, other times it would not.

Todd thought about it, then pointed out....when you set up your SmartZone, you specify the size and type of link the zone will contain. So, when you try to paste a banner into the zones, it will only give you choices of SM's you've set up that the banner will fit. Duh!!!!

What it boils down to...? They really need to provide some better tools to explain their new systems to their members. While they have some excellent materials about how to use and market affiliate programs from all the greats in the industry (click on the ‘Learn' tab), there is nothing in there about how to use/set up CJ. But there will be - and their next CJ University in October will focus on exactly that. (Keep your fingers crossed.)

But that's a long way off. In the meantime, I guess, it will be up to me to tell you how to use CJ to your best advantage. Stay tuned.

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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