Dump ’em and focus on real partnerships!

It’s been a couple months since my last post. I hope you’ve enjoyed the summer. I personally, have done a lot of `soul searching’, especially related to this ever-changing business channel we’re all involved with.

Did you read Declan’s ClickZ article last week: “Reports of Affiliate Programs’ Death Are Greatly Exaggerated”? Here’s a link to the full article

Among the great points he made, I’d like to highlight the following:

“Affiliate programs are not dead; they are simply growing up to be business development and partnership channels that pay for performance from partners who qualify.”

“You have to look for the right partners and manage smaller affiliate networks. It is not enough to post your program on every affiliate channel and wait for the masses to sign up. Those days are over, because it is ineffective and random.”

“Smart, effective partners are always hard to find. This is the central focus of today’s successful affiliate programs. Now the affiliate network has to take responsibility for finding and maintaining good partners, instead of expecting the partners to find them.”

Recognizing these trends, LinkProfits is now recommending the following to its clients. (And if this involves dumping your current solution provider, then do it!)

Recommendation #1: Use DirectTrack to provide the infrastructure you need to manage your `partnership channel’. After months of research, this is the solution I choose to recommend for the following reasons:

* They ONLY charge for bandwidth each month, usually around $50. No more paying a solution provider a percentage of your sales or commissions when they don’t deserve it.

* Their system is quite functional. It provides me, the Program Manger, with everything that I need to be effective. Of course, there’s some room for improvement. The difference is, the folks at DirectTrack truly appreciate my suggestions and have been extremely responsive to make the necessary enhancements. (Unlike the big solution providers who move like snails or want to charge their clients for everything.)

* You own your relationships and all your data. Want to email your partners? With DirectTrack, it’s no problem and no charge! Want to call them? Again, no problem. In fact, with one click you can download all your partner data (contact info as well as performance stats).

* DirectTrack also comes with a publisher network: DirectLeads. No, there aren’t 200,000 members, there are actually around 16,000. That’s because DirectLeads has already `screened’ applicants to their network (e.g. no geocities members). As a DirectTrack user, you have the option of promoting to this network or not. It’s $50 if you want to – obviously well worth it.

Another very cool tracking innovation has come from the mind of JB McKee. His new, patent-pending technology related to his “Ultra Links” allows you to realize search engine benefits from your partnership links. Go here to learn more about this solution

Recommendation #2: Invest in partnership outreach. Obviously, this is very self-serving since we are in the outsource program management (OPM) business. But even we have stepped up our investment in this area. We now have four individuals on staff whose entire job is to search the Web for partners for our client’s programs.

One of our clients recently left a major affiliate network solution provider, switched to DirectTrack, and now they have $3,000 per month freed up to invest in optimal program management and partnership cultivation. They simply couldn’t justify the expense any longer. Sure they had 23,000 `affiliates’, but only a small number were
producing partners.

I encourage you to do your own `soul searching’ and don’t be afraid to leave the `friendly confines’ of your overpriced solution provider. It may be the best long term decision you’ll make related to your pay for performance partnership initiatives.

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