SiteSell's Strange Decision on Affiliate Cookies

Associate Programs Newsletter #522

Ken Evoy has made a surprising, major change to the way SiteSell tracks affiliate cookies.

Now the FIRST AFFILIATE gets the commission, in many cases.

I think it's a bad decision for affiliates.

I'll explain why.

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SiteSell's strange decision on affiliate cookies
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I feel I have to say something about SiteSell's policy change because Ken's affiliate program has been my top earner for about 10 years.

I'll explain why I think it's a bad decision.

Remember what it was like when you first joined an affiliate program? If you're like me, you assumed that all you had to do was send visitors to the merchant and you'd make sales.

I recall, back in 1997 I think it was, emailing an affiliate merchant and saying, "I've sent you 103 visitors. Why haven't I made a sale?"

Gradually we learn that "not all traffic is equal", some affiliates have much higher conversion rates than others, we have to gain the trust of our visitors, enthusiasm sells... and so on.

It takes us a while, but we grow to understand that potential buyers often teeter on the edge, ever so close to making a decision to buy - and then don't because of a niggling doubt.

So we spruce up our websites and work harder. We write product reviews and case studies. We publish first-person testimonials based on our own experience with the product. We discover that it's much easier to make a sale from our newsletter than from a website, because our readers have learned to like our recommendations.

We learn how powerful keyword research can be, not just for targeted traffic and PPC marketing, but also to help us contact potential customers late in the buying cycle, when they're not merely seeking information but are on the verge of buying. We learn it's useful to target keywords like "Product XYZ review" and "buy Product XYZ".

In short, we study, we learn, we become more professional and we make more sales.

That's how affiliate marketing works.

Ken is turning that logic on its head.

He's rewarding affiliates who don't know how to achieve a sale.

How should affiliate merchants decide who deserves the commission?

You can come up with many different scenarios. Here's a good one...

A potential customer is considering buying Product XYZ. He visits various affiliate sites, reads articles and clicks on links. He visits the Product XYZ merchant site but doesn't buy.

Some time later, he lands on the site of a professional affiliate who has written an enthusiastic, detailed review or case study. Suitably warmed up and now enthusiastic, he is in a "ready to buy" frame of mind when he lands on the merchant's site. He buys the product.

In this scenario...


WHO DESERVES THE COMMISSION?

No cookie system is perfect. No cookie system is fair for every case you can imagine. So affiliate merchants are forced to choose the system they think is best for most affiliates.

About 99.9% of affiliate merchants have voted by choosing "last affiliate gets the commission". In just about every affiliate program you see, that's how the system works.

It's not perfect for all cases, but it's the best answer, merchants have decided.

The last affiliate did the work that turned a potential customer into a buyer. He or she deserves the sale.

But Ken is doing the opposite.

In many cases, he's now rewarding the FIRST affiliate to get the click.

He says most people take a long time to research and consider before buying SBI. The median time to sale, from first-exposure to SBI purchase, is 9 months. Some convert in days, some take much longer.

Now in Ken's program, the first affiliate's cookie is fixed for 9 months. (After 9 months, the cookie can be overwritten by another affiliate, and then the cookie belongs to the second affiliate for 9 months, and so on.)

If the potential customer buys any time within those first 9 months, the first affiliate to get a click gets the sale.

This means that the experienced affiliate, who has invested considerable time and money into affiliate marketing, gets nothing.

Ken argues that his affiliate program is unlike others. It's composed of two groups - Internet marketers who promote Internet marketing products, and regular folk, SBI owners who promote SBI in a small, casual way on a site which is likely to be about a totally different topic.

Some SBI owners are upset. They imagine "their" potential sales being nabbed by Internet marketers just before the purchase is made. Ken argues that the situation had become lopsided and he's evening things out.

But what exactly has the first affiliate done to deserve a commission?

In Ken's eyes, the first affiliate has "introduced" the potential customer, which is very important, because like any business, SiteSell wants to keep getting more new customers.

However, to the vast majority of affiliate vendors, a mere "introduction" doesn't deserve a commission. It's the persuasive, enthusiastic affiliate - the closer - who encourages someone to buy who deserves the introduction.

[NEXT DAY UPDATE: I should have worded that last sentence better. As we all know, it's the merchant who is the "closer". The professional affiliate makes the closing of the sale easier by warming up the visitor into a ready-to-buy frame of mind.]


WHY?

If what Ken is doing doesn't seem to make sense, why is he doing it?

To answer that question, you have to ask: Who benefits?

It seems to me that what is happening here is that after 12 years of building SiteSell and SBI by putting his AFFILIATES first - and going to extraordinary lengths to train them, encourage them, provide tools for them and reward them - Ken has switched and is now putting his 40,000 CUSTOMERS first.

That's right. It is SBI owners who are big winners here.

About half of them become SiteSell affiliates. Their main focus is on their SBI sites about candlemaking or forex or vacations in Tuscany or whatever. But they also put "Powered by SBI" affiliate links on their sites, and write "About Us" pages that do a soft sell for SBI.

Then they're disgruntled because usually those techniques don't achieve many sales.

The reason these SBI owners/affiliates don't make many SBI sales is that the people visiting their SBI sites are thinking about candlemaking or forex or taking a vacation, or whatever the topic of the site is. They may be nicely targeted visitors, but they're NOT targeted to buying SBI. However, most people like the idea of owning their own business, so some are tempted to click on an affiliate link and start thinking about buying SBI.

In Ken's world, if that casual introduction results in a sale, it now deserves the commission.

This is a big win for Ken's 40,000 CUSTOMERS - the SBI owners. In exchange for a little one-off work writing "About Us" pages that presell SBI, they're now more likely to achieve sales of SBI because they're introducing it to people who wouldn't otherwise have known about it. These SBI owners may earn enough to pay for their annual subscriptions - or more - making them even happier with their purchase of SBI.

Result: A win-win for Ken and SBI owners.


THE LOSERS...

But if there are winners, there inevitably will be losers. The losers will be the professional affiliates who have been targeting potential buyers when they're almost ready to buy.

They will now have to make sure they're targeting people early in the sales cycle.


HOW TO BE A WINNER...

If you want to be a winner in the SiteSell affiliate program you need to think about who the winners will be.

  • SBI owners/affiliates who make first contact with potential customers.

  • All affiliates who keep finding brand new potential SBI customers. This is the key. Ken is rewarding affiliates who find new customers. Perhaps you need to create some new pages aimed at people who want to build an online business and work from home. It's a growing niche but it's terribly competitive. If you're already an expert in it, lucky you.

  • Persuasive, professional affiliates who achieve sales fast. If they find a brand new potential customer and make a sale immediately, the whole cookie thing won't make any difference to them.

  • Affiliates who make repeat contact with potential customers. From the first click, every time an affiliate persuades a potential customer to click on a link, the 9-month cookie is renewed for another 9 months. So you need to promote SBI in different ways. Find new reasons - new angles - to mention different aspects of the product. Send visitors to different landing pages. Persuade your audience to follow you on Twitter, like you on Facebook and read your newsletter. Each exposure pushes the 9 month deadline back again.

  • Affiliates who sign up new affiliates. When you encourage another affiliate to join the affiliate program, that affiliate is "locked in", yours for life. If the affiliate buys an annual subscription of SBI next month or in 10 years, you earn a $75 commission.



In summary, I think this change is a bad one because it inevitably rewards affiliates who aren't good at achieving sales. It rewards casual mentions and in some cases won't reward professional, powerful pre-selling. Inevitably, while some affiliates win, others will miss out on commissions they would have earned.

I wouldn't be surprised if this change in policy also encourages unethical affiliates to use inaccurate hype just to get the click. If so, more policing of affiliates will be needed.

I'm guessing here - only Ken knows the figures - many affiliates will be OK. For them, everything will even out. Some affiliates will do better, some will do worse.

We're adaptable. We can cope with this.

What we need to do is study who the winners are and make sure we're among them.

In my case, I've been attracting some potential customers late in the buying cycle but I've also been sending first-time visitors to SiteSell. I should be OK, I THINK. We'll see.

SBI is still a superb product. It keeps getting better year after year. So I'll keep promoting it and see what happens.


DON'T IGNORE THIS

If you're an SBI owner and you haven't joined the affiliate program because you thought SBI was off-topic for your site, you may want to re-think that decision. Ken has just made it much easier for you to earn commissions.

If you're a SiteSell affiliate, DON'T ignore this. Don't treat the SiteSell affiliate program as though it's any other program. It's unique. So you have to adapt what you do accordingly.

Some SBI owners/affiliates are understandably excited by this change. They're excited about the extra sales they see themselves making.

But if there are winners, there HAVE to be losers.

It WON'T all even out in every case.

Ken is pushing you to keep finding new potential customers, and to have repeat contact with the people you find. If you do these things, your commissions should increase.

(That's good advice for ANY affiliate program.)

So login in to the affiliate program, study Ken's whole announcement and his affiliate tips, examine what you're doing and, if necessary, change it so that you're among the winners.

SiteSell still offers a superb product that has changed many thousands of lives for the better, and the company's strong customer loyalty has just become a whole lot stronger.

He's built a multi-million-dollar business by doing things differently.

That's one thing that hasn't changed.


If all this is totally new to you, you can find out more here...

http://www.AssociatePrograms.com/ken


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What do think about SiteSell's decision?
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I'm keen to know what you think about Ken's policy change on affiliate cookies.

Do you agree with me, or have I got it horribly wrong?

Remember, you can always add your comment to any newsletter at

http://www.AssociatePrograms.com


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Personal stuff
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Joanna keeps telling me I should write some personal stuff in this newsletter, but I don't want to make it too long. Maybe next week.

Note to new subscribers: My newsletters are usually MUCH shorter.


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Thought for today: Change
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"Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better." - King Whitney Jr.




All the best

Allan Gardyne


P.S. Remember, you can Like us at Facebook...
http://www.Facebook.com/AssociatePrograms

Thanks!

September 22, 2011

Comments (37)

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 06:49 am

It is disappointing when you put so much work into working out a formula that works on a particular website to have earnings crushed by a decrease in commission rates (fishpond went from 10% to 5% without warning), or the program is deactivated (webjet was great for us), or the tracking that worked ok initially on your website has been tweeked (accidently or on purpose) and no longer tracks the origin of the sale. 

In some ways it is part of the game - you have to go with the flow and move along to the next "thing" to promote when conditions change that are out of your control.

Christopher
Said this on September 22, 2011 At 07:18 am

I don't have any feelings about the cookie issue one way or another but where I would disagree with you is in your assessment that SBI is a good product or worth promoting in the first place.

If you want people to build clunky, ugly, non-user friendly websites, sure, get SBI.

If you want to build a great looking, user friendly, elegant site, there are many far better and cheaper alternatives...

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 08:14 am

Hi Christopher

Thanks for your comment. Your information on SBI may have been true in the early days, but these days you can build all sorts of different types of user-friendly sites elegant or not - with SBI.

Have a look at these examples:
http://makemy.sitesell.com/samples/

However, a more important point is that SBI is much more than a bunch of tools for brainstorming, site-building and marketing a website. It's a complete education in how to create a successful online business, a system that is taught in about 30 universities and colleges around the world.

Kris
Said this on September 22, 2011 At 05:13 pm

Hey Allan, that sitesell link you placed above is blocked by the DIA here in New Zealand. They've been very busy secretly filtering the internet here and most sites filtered are affiliate networks like sitesell. Can still view it through proxy though.

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 07:35 am

If I was a professional SiteSell affiliate, I would be removing ALL my affiliate links right now. If Ken wants to reward his customers - that's his choice. But I wouldn't be working hard to close a sale for someone else to profit from.

I'd be very interested to see just how many new sales Ken gets when the ONLY promotion for them is being done by his customers on their About Me pages.

Of course, there will be plenty of black-hatters who will be able to overwrite the first cookie, so maybe Ken won't see a drop in sales. But he really can't complain when the black-hatters move in, because that's exactly the scenario he's setting up.

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 08:07 am

Allan, I totally agree with you. All the hard work affiliate marketing people do to earn that commission is kind of a slap in the face. To have someone on a totally different topic say "candlemaking" to earn that commission is just not fair. I like your article and love your site, you're very knowledgeable. I've been trying to figure out if I wanted to create an affiliate marketing site or a regular site and just add my affiliate programs within my posts. It's a very competitive business. I would love to hear your input. Keep up the good work. Christina 

My site is called passion for living life ...

My Website

Your thoughts would be appreciated !! 

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 08:24 am
Hi Christina, Thanks. Our affiliate forum (the link is at te top of the page) would be a good place to discuss your options or to ask for a review of your site. You've made a good start.
Said this on September 22, 2011 At 08:55 am

Most of my affiliate sales have been in areas with much shorter cookie life.

Personally, I am in the habit of deleting my cookies, history, etc. every few days just to keep my computer smooth (I use CCleaner).

Do most people just leave their cookies hanging around for 9 months?  If so, Allan's point is very well taken.

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 09:16 am

Allan,

Just read your article and have to reply. It was 2006 when I heard about SBI. But I don't even remember where that was.

Because I started to investigate and found your site and information that provided everything I needed to make my decission. 

Because of your help and this site I joined SBI back than and now have 4 sites with them and this all came through your site so you got the cookie.

Today it would be that first one that got the cookie and truthfully I can't even remember who that was or any information they provided. It was you that helped me to decide and make the sale.

I am sorry about this, I do not sell or promote SBI because I just am no good at it other then the one page. On the other hand you provide so much information and work I agree you would be the true one that deserved the cookie.

But I do thank you for all the help you have given over the years. I can't provide help but I can provide my support.

Linda

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 09:31 am

Well... in the offline sales world, the opener and the closer usually split the commission.  Perhaps this should be the compromise in this situation.

Donna White
Said this on September 22, 2011 At 09:52 am

Allan,

I totally agree with you on this also.  Earlier, Isobel put it correctly when she said what was wrong with this new policy "working hard to close a sale for someone else to profit from."

There are other affiliate programs that pay the first affiliate such as $2 or $5 on first sale, but the commission is to the last affiliate. 

As a customer, this is what I've learned to do BEFORE I sign up for anything I'm interested in.  I find the person who I want to sign up under and bookmark their site (or I know where it's at) and then I clear my browser's cookies.  I then go and sign up under the person I want to sign up through.  I've always been successful in this. 

Another thing, some affiliates will offer a bonus and in order to get that bonus, the customer is instructed to clear cookies and then sign up through the affiliates link and then email affiliate with info so they can get the bonus.  That's one way of bringing the cookie issue to their attention.

If I join SBI/SiteSell, I will definitely CLEAR MY COOKIES and then come to your blog.  :)

Thanks for all the information you provide.  It is very much appreciated.

Donna :)

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 10:31 am

Allan, you make a good point - I was shocked to see that change in my 5 pillar newsletter. It made me think of something interesting though - what if a site set two cookies - first click, and last click, and split the commission between them? That way both would be rewarded, and affiliates that kept the visitor in their own pipleine would get the full commission.

It woudn't be too hard to program, basically the logic is: 

 -check for a cookie, if not exist, set both first and last cookies. if first cookie exists, set last cookie only. Then when the sale is made they can credit both.

I have been on both sides of this debate, but it was your article that sparked this thought. And it would be fascinating as a product owner to see what the different first and last cookies (and referrer's) are. It could even give more insite into the sales funnel that is working.

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 11:13 am

Hi Allan,

Thank you, as always, for your unwavering support. We understand your concerns about the first-exposure cookie.

The new business brought in by SBI! owners ("SBIers") is, for the most part, business that Internet Marketers ("IMers") would never see. As you have seen from the forums, the response is overwhelmingly positive. I have also spoken to many professional IMers prior to launching this and while I understand your position, everyone else understands the fairness.

The enthusiasm of SBI!'s most passionate supporters, its owners, is currently unfairly penalized by the 5P Program. This happens because their exposure to potential new customers occurs so early in the sales cycle (often to people who don't even realize that they could earn income online or who believe "the Web is a scam").

It's not that they cannot sell or "close". We suggest they do not "close" for two reasons...

1) that type of content is irrelevant to their non-IM content (ex., people searching for candlemaking info) and

2) it is too early in the sales cycle.

Taken together, trying to "close" immediately would do more harm than good.  An honest, credible mention of how a passion became a successful online business is a strong seed planted.

As a result of the new policy, half of those exposures, business that IMers would never have seen at all, will result in a credit to SBIers and half will go to Net marketers. The only solution, to be fair to all, was this 9-month cookie.

All the best,
Erin
Manager, 5 Pillar Affiliate Program

P.S. In the long run, more enthusiastic SBI! owners who bring "the real world" into "net marketing" is good for everyone.  If SBIer-affiliates earn a return on the traffic they send to us, they stay with the program. That results in yet more business that you would not see, and more opportunity to close sales for SBI! AND other products that Net marketing professionals may happen to represent.

Tee
Said this on September 22, 2011 At 11:20 am

What you said makes sense to me... I'm an SBI owner, and my life has changed dramatically (for the better). It's hard to bad mouth anything Ken does, but this is a bit perplexing...

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 11:33 am

Allan,

I honestly don't think you are being fair to the SBI!ers who TRULY do promote SBI! and take their time doing it. One case as you probably know: http://www.outback-australia-travel-secrets.com/about-me.html (not my site, of course and there are PLENTY of others like this page that make killer sales on SBI! AS an SBI!er)

I think folks like her deserve the first cookie and commission for the sale.

You make it sound like ALL SBI!ers don't do any work to promote Sitesell.

Yes, there are sites such as gardening, calligraphy, etc, but SOME of the folks really work hard at their "soft sell" as you call it.

Sometimes that's all folks need.

And there are also some SBI!ers who do NOT use the "Powered By Sitesell" at the end of their sites, and if they DO, so what? It WAS their link that had others interested in Sitesell in the first place.

Or what about the IMer who 'does all the work' to bring in an SBI!er, yet someone clicks on another IMer who has also 'done all the work', yet the second affiliate still gets the comission? They BOTH did hard work, yet the other person would still get the commission.

Ken isn't lacking smarts, he has studied this for years before making this decision.

And just because the majority of Businesses/Merchants decide to award their affiliates ONE way, doesn't mean that everyone must follow suit.

I mean, look at Christopher's comment above. It shows he knows nothing about SBI! There are SO MANY sites now, that without the "Powered by SBI!" logo at the footer, you'd not even know that you were on a Sitesell site! Christopher, if you want a pretty cheap site, good for you. But Ken teaches creating businesses online, not just pretty websites.

Look at Craigslist - that's ONE ugly site, but it gets HOW many visitors per day??

I just didn't like how Allan, you lumped ALL SBI!ers into one group, saying that they don't do any 'hard selling'. If you hung about the forums a bit more, you'd see this is a misconception.

Do I think it's fair that it's now the first cookie and not the last? I don't think that's important. As said, Ken is brilliant, prolific business person, and he knows what he's talking about.

And when he's wrong, he'll admit that, also. This isn't set in stone, it's to see if his idea is correct or not, if it indeed levels the playing field, now that there are two different 'types' of Sitesell affiliates.

I don't see it as rewarding his customers. I mean, the site you land on, is the site you land on, regardless if it's IM or Hostings the Coolest Parties ever.

Affiliates, do your out-of-the-box thinking and show your audience Sitesell FIRST! And keep with them for that time period that it takes to convert.

This doesn't hurt anyone.

Conversely, one could click on a "Powered by SBI!" logo, or a (as you call it) a 'soft sell' page (and these DO work, by the way, just look at their Intro forum and you'll see them saw how they arrived to Sitesell, a lot of the times through sites that they'd no idea would change their lives. So if one person clicks simply the "Powered by..." and thinks about it for a while, and then happens to land on another site that boasts, "Powered By Sitesell", (NEITHER AFFILIATE has done the 'hard work' you mention), yet the cookie used to go to the last person, who simply had a banner, just like the person before them.

There are SO many aspects to it, yes, but please don't lump all SBI!ers into one lazy group of 'non-promoters'.

They have the link, they deserve the comission period.

And don't most star affiliates say, "The Sales page of the merchant should do most of the work"?

So what's wrong with a simple link sending them off to the Sales page that does all the work?

I applaud those who work hard and write reviews, etc.

But I also applaud those who can not only say yes SBI! is terrific, AND look at my online business, it's because of SBI!

Please don't lump them all together.

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 07:08 pm

Hi MJ, Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful post. You make a lot of excellent points.

As I was writing the article, I kept thinking of different aspects and different scenarios I wanted to mention, but I was also trying hard to stop the article from being too darn long.

I didn't intend to imply that SBI owners are lazy. I know a LOT of hard work goes into building a successful business. And there's nothing at all wrong with a simple link that sends people to the merchant's sales page. I use some of them myself. It IS the merchant's job to be the closer.

What bothers me is that affiliates do whatever action is rewarded. There's now huge incentive for affiliates to try to rely on simple, teaser links or quick hype, in the hope that someone else will make the sale for them with the next 9 months. To me, that's a scary thought.

Think about what the renewal of the 9-month cookies will mean. You need to keep getting your visitors re-cookied. So what will affiliates do? I expect we'll see more affiliates using cheap gimmicks just to get the click.

Sara Harp
Said this on September 22, 2011 At 12:23 pm

Hi Allan, I've been a fan of yours since 2000 and I'm sooo glad to see you are writing your newsletters yourself again.  No offense to Jay but yours are much more interesting and Joanna is right, more personal stuff please.  You used to do that so it was like hearing from a friend; your house on stilts to your health problems, it made you real.  As for SBI, I agree that Ken is on the wrong track here.  I did finally join as an affiliate and bought the product, but all the information about how to do it was so overwhelming I dropped out.  If I had stayed in and this change happened and I had put my heart and soul into marketing and someone else got the commission, I would have been outraged.  On the other hand, nothing can be done about this so one has to decide: keep going or move on.  That's life.  I'll be interested in hearing how you make out yourself.  I wish you the best.

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 01:08 pm

I can certainly see how this would be a divided issue. It mostly will all come down to which side of the situation one is on...."SBI customers" or the "professional affiliate".  I suspect that those 40,000 customers have been like a gold dredge for the professional affiliate for many years. A potential new SBI user hears about SBI via the customers candle making site, then they go do a Google search on SBI, then become over-written (cookied) by the professional affiliate that concentrates solely on affiliate marketing topics. 

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 02:36 pm

Allan... This is not really related to this article, though I think your comments are spot on. I just wanted to say how happy I am to see you back at the helm of your newsletter. Yours is one of the first I ever subscribed to on the Web, way back a decade or more ago. I had stopped reading a few months ago after getting tired of reading your other writers. They just weren't you. I only opened this latest newsletter because of the headline about SBI.

I'll be a faithful reader once again, now that your particular brand of knowledge, wisdom & experience is back on display! :)

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 02:45 pm

Allan,

I have been reading your newsletter for almost as long as I have been an SBI site owner (5 1/2 years).  I take a lot of your advice to heart and have followed up on your advice in more than one instance.

I am one of those people who takes a lot of time to research a product or concept before I move forward with it. Personally, I think Ken is right in his decision to give the first affiliate a 9 month window.  It is my belief that many people wouldn't research a site or offer if it wasn't for the first place they heard about it.  For this reason, I think that initial affiliate should get something for that "introduction".  Maybe a split would be better, I don't know.

In the long run, we need to remember that it is Ken's company, so he gets to do what he thinks is best.

Dave
Said this on September 22, 2011 At 02:59 pm

Here's the best strategy for hard working pre-selling SBI affiliates:  "QUIT!"  Spend your time elsewhere.  And I'm sure Ken anticipates this. What he is really saying to SBI affiliates is:  "I don't need you any more, but thanks for building SBI."  

Now the best strategy for SBI content is pointing out it's flaws (there is a lot) and selling something else.

Tibor
Said this on September 22, 2011 At 03:54 pm

Hi Allan, I'm totally new to the whole affiliate-biz; and I'm also new to your newsletter. Today you wrote about SBI - so I went to Ken's website - but I don't really compute if SBI! is a ONE-TIME-PAYMENT or a subscription? - As I understand it's a HOST, a DOMAIN - an all in one solution... - Is that correct? (I must admit that the sites don't look very elegant to me too - even the latest ones, sorry...) Christopher says that there are far better and even cheaper solutions - does anyone know their names? 

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 06:24 pm

Hi Tibor, SBI is a whole suite of tools all in one place - brainstorming, site-building, web hosting, blog building, newsletter publishing, etc. A domain name you choose is included.

There's a whole lot more, for example, a Link Fix It! tool which automatically emails you and tells you when you have a broken link on your site. I love that. Everyone hates broken links.

A newcomer wouldn't use all of the tools right from the start. It's quite amazing how much you get for $1 a day. And, as well as all that, you get a top-class education system on how to research and build a profitable online business.

As an alternative, WordPress is wonderful - free - tool for building a blog or website. But it doesn't provide you with a business-building education.

What do you need? A tool or someone who shows you step by step what to do? When you think of it that way, the answer is pretty obvious.

Tibor
Said this on September 23, 2011 At 04:35 am

Hi Allan - Thanx a lot for your help. I'm thinking about to buy SBI - can I buy it via your site so you'll make a commission? (Probably I'll prefer the MONTHLY payments for to start - as I understand it's a subscription and not a one-time-payment...) regards, Tibor.

Said this on September 23, 2011 At 07:09 am

Hi Tibor, You certainly can! Use this link to SBI...

http://www.AssociatePrograms.com/buildit

Thank you!

Said this on October 19, 2011 At 06:25 pm

Hi Allan,

I just read your info. on Sitesell's strange decision on affiliate cookies. I also was reading all of the "Comments" (31). When I came down to comment 28-29, I was thinking about joining SBI & I like the monthly payment plan. I plan on signing up this weekend under your site that was given in comment 29.

Thanks for your insight,

Mary Whitfield

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 05:02 pm

well interesting. I have been putting it out there pretty extensively for nearly11 months.no sale over 3000 visites to one website http://detkhobut-sitebuildit.blogspot.com

I have even asked sbi about how to track all the visitors because no optin box.As you say relying on cookies.Some of the comments here about the drab look of the site.Other people have said the same thing to me.I picked SBI because it was in the top 10 affiliate sites.I have just started to try and push it a bit more.I will carry on and see what happens.

michael

Kris
Said this on September 22, 2011 At 05:22 pm

I can see your point. But the introduction to a product is very important and does warrant some recognition. Without it, the customer wouldn't be researching further and cookie-last advocates wouldn't be able to piggy-back on the lead from that introduction. So without the introduction in the first place, those that promote by grabbing the sale as it nears closure would make nothing. This change in the program has got me interested in marketing Ken's product.

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 05:29 pm

Hi Allan,

I'm in the same boat as you (IMer with high # of sales) and when I first heard about this, I honestly wasn't too bothered by it. But your point is well taken on who is really benefiting the most from this change and that is SiteSell. 

Successful SBI! affiliates like us will have to ensure we are the first one to grab the cookie (more links, more sales pages, mentions, etc.)  SBI! owners are now going to be more motivated when they get that first or 2nd sale.  As a result, they ramp up their promotion efforts as well. So at the end of the day, SiteSell benefits because of more promotion all around.

My CTR, which usually hovers around 5% is already dropping so I'm starting to see a slight negative impact.  Only time will tell.  But like you, I tend to catch a lot of people at the beginning of the buying cycle so I'm not too worried. Thanks for the post.

Said this on September 22, 2011 At 05:50 pm

Allan I can understand your disappointment about this situation and I think that you have made a very fair assessment of it.

As one of the potential 'winners' in the new arrangement I am pleased that I may now make some earnings from my efforts both online and off, although if it's at your expense I'm sorry.

A fairer way may have been to split commissions between the 'finder' and the 'closer' but I think that Ken said that idea proved to be extremely difficult to implement.

Said this on September 26, 2011 At 02:05 pm

Simply amazing!

People who are so concerned about being robbed of a commission because after all your hard work, why should someone else get the commission?

Please. You need to do a better job of selling me on this or you won't be making any commissions with anyone.

First of all, the "lock in" program is still there. For those of you who haven't dusted off your 5 pillar affiliate training, you're allowed to lock in up to 100 email addresses of those so called prospects you've been working on for at least 90 days and that lock-in over-rides any other cookie.

Second, I could make the same argument of un-fairness as an affiliate product owner on lifetime commissions. Can you really look at me in the eye and tell me in year 2- ? you do anything to earn your renewal commission? Here I'll help you out. No; and neither do I. It's the draw of lifetime commissions that keep me with SBI!'s affiliate program. Oh, and guess what? If my prospect becomes a client and 2 years later buys another website, I get another commission. I'm sure I did a lot of work to earn that one.

Finally, do you really think some "scuba diving in Jamaica" SBI! website is going to outsell a IM affiliate. Do you really think people who are looking for scuba diving are going to rush over and get an SBI! website. If you look at the stats, you'll discover an average of about 2.5 sales per year of SBI! affiliates not in the IM industry.

So suck it up and quit acting like a bunch of crybabies who want to take their football and go home when there was no anouncement of a cut in commissions or reduction in lifetime earnings and if you don't want to promote SBI! just forward them to me.  :-)

P.S. For those who might think I'm a kool-aid drinker, only 2 of my 11 websites are SBI! sites.

Mad Guy

Said this on September 29, 2011 At 11:18 pm

Allan,

Very fascinating article.  I have been a sitesell affiliate since their only product was the MYSS Book and I saw the creation of SBI and even used it to build a website. Fantastic tool but I have never made a sale of SBI despite having over 2000 First-Time visitors.

I am also a member of Dan Ho's affiliate article writers and I have made money writing articles using Dan's program and methods. The potential I see for this change with sitesell is using article marketing to promote SBI. This should attract new customers and potentially get the click since you can aim your article marketing efforts toward the people early in the process of researching how to make money online. We will see how it works out.

Warren
Said this on November 29, 2011 At 09:27 pm

Hi Allan,

I was just re-reading this article. You say affiliates get paid  $75 when they sell an SBI subscription. That's only true for sales of yearly subscriptions.

As I understand it, if someone buys the monthly subscription the first month's payment is a first time purchase and the affiliate gets around $7.50. The second and ongoing monthly payments are repeat purchases, and the repeat purchases commissions accumulate until the affiliate gets a TVI over $40.

The TVI is basically the dollar value of first  time sales. The percentage of the repeat sales commissions an affiliate gets paid is on a sliding scale up to a TVI of $500 when they get paid 100% of repeat sale commissions.

Two new monthly subscriptions push the TVI over the $40 when the affiliate gets 10% of the recurring commissions they have been accumulating, and their accumulated commissions resets to zero.

So the small time affiliate is screwed again if they are only selling monthly subscriptions. They receive a small fraction of the $75 that Sitesell talks about.

It seems affiliates need to be promoting yearly subscriptions rather than monthly, and I'd be interested in your thoughts on the best ways to do that.

And, I do agree with your thoughts about the policy change on affiliate cookies, and thanks for all your insightful articles.

Said this on November 29, 2011 At 11:33 pm

Hi Warren, Good point on my description of the $75 commissions. I was trying to simplify a complex topic. I've added the words "annual subscription" to the sentence, but, as you know, what I've said is still only a tiny fraction of the company's policy on SBI commissions.

Because the SBI commissions policy is complex, it's easy to generate a lot of different examples of what affiliates might or might not earn. I'd prefer to describe my own experience.

I remember when monthly commissions were introduced, I was disappointed because I thought Ken was weakening his "SBI is something really special" message. However, over-all sales and commissions actually increased, because it's much easier to sell the lower priced monthly option.

If you want to aim for annual subscriptions, here are a few ideas...

One thing you could try is to tell your readers that when you make a decent sized commitment, you're much more likely to give it everything you have. And therefore, much more likely to succeed in building a business. If you just put down $30 for one month, you might find it all too tempting to give up too soon, before you know whether you could have succeeded.

You can build a serious business in one month. Think big!

Imagine if you bought a $100,000 business. You'd treat it really seriously, do sound research, keep accurate records, and certainly wouldn't goof off at the slightest excuse. So I recommend you get an annual SBI subscription and treat it as though you've paid $100,000 for it. You just got yourself a fantastic bargain!

Warren
Said this on November 30, 2011 At 12:43 am
Thanks Allan, I was thinking along the lines you've suggested for promoting annual subscriptions. It's good to have it confirmed though. Your experience with the monthly subscriptions is interesting and I do feel a lot better and more optimistic about promoting Site Build It now.
Changis
Said this on January 19, 2012 At 12:06 pm

Wow!

What an honest exchange of ideas and viewpoints. That's all the more reason why we need to protect the internet from those who would like to censor it for their own benefit.

Freedom of  "internet speech" and exchange of ideas is good for everyone. Keeping it respectful is even better.

Thanks for your insightful comments Allan and keep them coming.

Best wishes.

Said this on January 19, 2012 At 09:42 pm
Hi Changis, Thanks. Yes, I'm all for free speech and free exchange of ideas.

SOPA is seriously flawed - ludicrously heavy-handed and badly conceived. As Paul Myers says, it's like using a flamethrower to kill fleas on a dog. Something needs to be done to stop digital thieves, but SOPA isn't the right answer.

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