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Affiliate Marketing Basics

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Tracking Sales Online

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Additional resources

25th February '02


Delivered to over 6,000 subscribers.




1. Ten practical tips

2. Are long affiliate URL's costing you sales?

3. What affiliate commission should I offer?

4. This really is your very last chance...

5. UK online retailers marketing guide

6. Be Free roundtable

7. Affiliate Manager job vacancies



In three weeks time I'm attending the AffiliateFORCE/2002 conference in Miami. I still haven't found time to book my hotel, chase my printer for more business cards, arrange my 'penguin suit' for the formal dinner or buy any sun tan lotion! But the pre-event networking is already in full swing, I have many interesting meetings arranged to discuss new ideas and opportunities, which, is exactly what this event is all about.

Maybe I'll see you there?

Neil Durrant



1. Ten practical tips

Ten short, sharp, concise tips to help you maximise your program's





2. Are long affiliate URL's costing you sales?

The average affiliate link can be a beast of a URL. Typically long and unwieldy your affiliate link draws attention to itself for all the wrong reasons causing a number of potential problems:

- In email, a long affiliate link often spans two or more lines making it 'unclickable'.

- An affiliate URL is immediately obvious and can affect a users perception of your recommendation.

- They certainly raise a moderator's red flag if used in a discussion forum, however helpful your post may be!

- There's always a chance that a user can alter the code and circumvent the tracking.

- Impractical for off-line marketing initiatives or for telephone referrals.

In fact, recently I broached this offline marketing issue. Having been invited to write an article for a UK based magazine I wanted to include an affiliate link as a reference to a product I had mentioned. Using a long affiliate URL for this would have been impractical and probably edited out. Instead by using a 'redirect' I was able to provide a manageable URL, kept the magazine happy, provided useful information for its readers and yes when it hits its 40,000+ readers I'll earn a little commission too :-)


-Creating Re-Directs-


Veteran readers of the Affiliate Managers Newsletter may remember a free tool I put together last year. The META refresh creator helps your novice affiliates by-pass the need for HTML knowledge helping them create a simple redirect. You'll still find the tool at:


But, here's a brand new alternative service that provides a number of additional benefits that your affiliates may appreciate.

NameStick provides an advanced domain name forwarding service designed especially for the affiliate industry. While it provides affordable domain name registration and web forwarding, Namestick also provide some added functionality designed to help your affiliates generate more referrals.

One of the main things I like about Namestick is the way it permanently cloaks the affiliate referral link behind the affiliates chosen domain name. For example, here's a domain I have with Namestick:


If you click on the link above it will in fact take you via my affiliate referral code but as you browse through the site my branded domain name 'sticks' in the address bar.

This overcomes all the problems associated with long affiliate URL's.

I think this could be a very useful tool in the hands of your affiliates.

Kevin Wilke, CEO of Namestick, told me that a number of affiliate managers have already recommended the service to their affiliates, "It is a real win-win situation - the affiliate gets better results which means more commissions for them. And the merchant gets a better performing affiliate that drives more sales and maximizes their promotions. Everybody makes more money."

Details at:




3. What affiliate commission should I offer?

Last week, I was asked this same question three times in one day.

In each case my correspondent had an amount in mind but was unsure if it was going to be attractive to potential affiliates.

I can't tell you here what amount is right for your program. But if you're planning commission rates then do consider that your commission should be factored with your sites conversion rates.

Long-term success of any program depends upon loyal affiliate partners

- generous commission checks go a long way to maintaining that loyalty!

Based on assumptions of your average order value, typical conversion rates and proposed commission rates you should be able to identify the value, to your affiliate, for each unique visitor. Reviewing these metrics should help provide a little extra guidance in planning your pay rates. (See the newsletter archive for a more detailed discussion on relevant EPC metrics - http://www.affiliatemarketing.co.uk/june01.htm ).

My book, 'The Practical Guide to Creating and Managing a Profitable Affiliate Program' takes a more detailed look at this subject. Free extracts available at:




4. This really is your very last chance...

In approximately three weeks time almost 200 affiliate industry professionals are going to meet for a 3-day event of learning, networking and schmoozing at AffiliateFORCE/2002.

Before resorting to stowaway tactics you might just be able to still get on board. Officially the pre-booked cabins are full. However, if you telephone conference organiser Herby Olschewski right now on +1 786 374 4900 then he'll contact the cruise company direct and try to organise last minute accommodation for you.




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Affiliate Directories?

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Visit http://www.affiliate-announce.com




5. UK online retailers marketing guide

If you're based outside the UK please forgive this slightly off-topic item!

My new report written specifically for the UK-based SME online retailer includes topics such as:

- Buying traffic from the UK search engines at a *profit*

- Top Google.co.uk search results for any keyword - Guaranteed!

- How to sell slow moving inventory with the online auctions

- Are banners really dead?

(Do you know where you can buy UK targeted banners for just 20p per


Get your free copy at:




6. Be Free roundtable

Last month Be Free organised a roundtable event bringing together both merchants and affiliates. Although this was hosted in the UK the feedback serves as useful insight and reminders as to affiliates expectations towards your program.

During the meeting, a guest speaker from the affiliate community introduced some interesting ideas that merchants should consider to keep their affiliate partners positive and motivated about marketing or "retailing" their business. Key points raised included:

- Why do merchants set non-competitive commission rates? Just like any business situation, the basic principles of selling apply. There is zero motivation to sell a product if better commissions can be earned by selling an alternative. Merchants need to constantly revise their offers to ensure they keep affiliate sites loyal to their brand.

- Merchants need to treat affiliate partners like any proper business partner. Sales, marketing and company information should be provided as appropriate. Affiliate sites can use this material when communicating to their own user base and generate even more awareness for the merchant's product.

- Why do merchants offer poor quality banners lacking impact? More effort is required from a merchant to ensure they are offering a variety of well-designed promotional banners.

- Why can't merchants enhance deep linking? Merchants need to provide affiliates with the capability to drive buyers directly to the specific product or service on offer. Otherwise, the impact of the promotion is quickly lost and there is less chance that the browser will actually buy at all.

- Why are cookie periods set for short periods? Cookies enable affiliates to be rewarded for sales made on return visits and are invaluable for considered purchases. Merchants need to recognize the importance of setting more appropriate cookie periods as it will help to build a better relationship with their affiliates and they will work even harder to drive more revenue.

Both affiliates and merchants praised Be Free's roundtable event and I understand similar events are being planned for April.



Team Affiliate Outsourced Management

My Affiliate Program launches new

outsourced program management service:





7. Affiliate Manager job vacancies

Here's a round up of the latest affiliate job vacancies. If you have a position you would like featured here please email the details to:




Affiliate Marketing Assistant, AllPosters.com. Profitable online retailer in Oakland is looking for a team player to provide marketing support for our Affiliates Program. We have an immediate opening for a recent college graduate with the desire to learn about online marketing and retail. This is an entry-level, full-time position that entails growth in a fast-paced environment where innovation, creativity, and results are valued.



Affiliate Manager, Reis, Inc. Manage Reis's unique Affiliate Program that provides Real Estate web sites with referral income and rights to re-distribute Reis's proprietary syndicated market research. Grow the affiliate network...




Coordinator, Affiliate Program, ENGENYOUS Technologies, Inc Promotions The Affiliate Program/Promotions Coordinator, will be responsible for contacting, convincing and enrolling sites in various traffic building programs. In addition, he/she will design and...




Birthday Express, has a opening for the position of Affiliate Coordinator. An ideal candidate for this position would be a self-motivated, independent, and dependable person, who is willing to put 110% in to get the job done correctly and efficiently. Ideally this person will have some technical experience and interest in working primarily on the Internet and corresponding through email, but more importantly this person will know how to prioritize, organize, and initiate projects in a timely manner. Birthday Express is located in Kirkland, WA.

E-mail resume to JulieD@BDXP.com.




Need help to create, launch or manage your Affiliate Program? Perhaps you have a specific problem or affiliate related project you need to outsource? Discover how I can help you:


All the best,

Neil Durrant





PS. Looking to recruit those elusive 'super affiliates'? Discover a shortcut to locating your ideal prospects: