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Affiliate Tracking Within IntelliMerchant
Merchant is the name of the software system which powers
Catalog, Inc.'s services. This page is a description of
of the software's features; particularly ones which relate to the benefits received by users of the separately priced Affiliate Program Module.
Merchant's optional Affiliate module supports the catalog owner's affiliate operations by integrating the catalog with affiliate enrollment, banner provisioning, and commission calculation.
By integrating your affiliate program with your catalog through
Merchant you can trace a customer
all the way back to the banner which initially attracted the customer to your site -- even if the sale is weeks or months after they register! You now have a tool which allows you to objectively determine the true value provided by each of your third-party affiliates. Just as importantly, the revenue producing results of each of your banner graphic images can be easily measured -- even when the same image is in use by multiple affiliates. Being able to measure
is the key to making profitable decisions.
The affiliate module is not limited to monitoring just external commission seeking referrors, it can be used to track
of your referral sources. For example, you can easily and effectively measure the sales impact of purchased advertising, response to email solicitations you send out, click-throughs from banners and links on your own site, activity generated from link exchanges, and traffic received from listings in professional directories.
In addition to tracking referrals
your site, you can use
Merchant to track referrals that you send
your site! This gives you a powerful tool to monitor affiliate programs that you belong to as well as measuring the cost vs. benefit from web-ring participations, link exchanges, and the like.
Merchant dynamically serves your banners to viewers. What this means is that the affiliate does not have a copy of your banner image on their server but rather when a consumer visits the affiliate's page, your banner is delivered directly from
Merchant's server. Consequently, when you change an image (e.g., a different item is put on sale, seasonal change) it is immediately seen by consumers; you do not have to go through the hassle of emailing the new image to all of your affiliates and waiting for them to get around to modifying their HTML pages. It also protects you from alterations made to your image (e.g., cropping, grafitti) by the affiliate. Importantly, with
Merchant's banner tracking feature, you can easily test different images and messages, determine which ones generate results, and quickly switch all of your affiliates to proven response producers.
Affiliate Support Features
The Affiliate module of
automatic replacement of banners in use by affiliates
automatic banner HTML generation retrievable by the affiliate
affiliate self-enrollment facility
click-through tracking by banner
click-through tracking by location on the affiliate's site
extensive commission calculation abilities:
customer purchase (first-only or perpetual)
minimum/maximum commission per sale
commission rates which depend on purchase size
flat amount or percentage of purchase size commissions
transaction activity reports
affiliate-specific commission schedules
email broadcast to affiliates facility
userid/password protected administration site for use by affiliates
transaction activity reports available to affiliates
Prospective affiliates enroll themselves by completing an online sign-up form unique to your catalog. They are provided with userid/password protected access to an administration site where they can generate link HTML from your banners, view their commission transaction history, change their account information (e.g., email address, contact name) and review your affiliate program policies.
Merchant provides you the option to display a link on the affiliate enrollment page which leads to your own page describing the benefits, incentive plan, and other aspects of your affiliate program.
From their administration site, enrolled affiliates can view your banners at any time and select the ones suitable for their site.
Merchant will generate the HTML for the selected banners so that all the affiliate is required to do is cut and paste it into their site. The HTML is generated such that click-throughs are traced to the affiliate, the specific banner, and to a specific location on the affiliate's site.
'banner' is used generically. It does not have to be an image; it can consist of only a text link.
You may store a virtually unlimited number of banners in
When you set up each banner you:
(optionally) provide an image which is viewed on your affiliates' pages (multiple banners can use the same image)
designate start/stop dates controlling when the banner is visible
direct that the click-through go to one of:
your catalog's welcome page
a particular product's 'buy me' page
a category listing in your catalog
any URL you designate
When an affiliate requests one of your banners, the HTML that is is generated for inclusion on their site includes coding which allows
Merchant to track which banner the consumer clicked on. The counts by banner are available to you in the Affiliate Transaction activity report. The HTML that the affiliate receives causes their site to display an image delivered from
Merchant's banner server.
An important point to understand is that your affiliates do not receive copies of your banner's image. Instead, the HTML which is generated for them contains a code which
them to your banner. As such, when you change the image of a banner the new image is immediately seen by viewers of your affiliates' pages without requiring the affiliate to change their HTML or receive a copy of the new image. Similarly you can change the
of the consumer's click-through for a particular banner even AFTER the affiliate has put your link on their site. This lets you easily direct prospective customers to the particular items which you wish to emphasize at any point in time. IntelliMerchant puts
in control of your marketing campaigns.
Merchant allows you to set up a number of affiliate commission schedules. You set up a schedule to control commission calculation aspects such as the rate you will pay for click-throughs, the rate paid for customer registrations, and the calculations for purchase-based commissions. You then assign a schedule to an affiliate after they enroll. You can change a particular affiliate to a different schedule at any time.
The power of using
is that when you change your commission plan you only have to change the rates one time on the schedule to immediately affect all of the affiliates which are assigned to the schedule. The catalog owner then designates the schedule that a particular affiliate uses. As such
Merchant is able to manage separately negotiated affiliate incentive arrangements.
Merchant will track click-throughs, customer registrations, and customer purchases to the originating affiliate. Incentive commissions can be computed based upon any or all of these numbers and
Merchant can be used to record the transactions which the affiliate has been paid for. This information is available to the affiliate via their administration pages.
Affiliate commission schedules can include an amount based upon sales made to referred customers.
If an affiliate commission schedule pays a commission based upon sales made to referred customers you also designate whether a commission is paid on only the first purchase by a customer or on
purchases by a customer.
A sales commission may include two components, a fixed amount per sale and an amount which depends upon the size of the order (i.e., different size orders generate different commission amounts). The 'size' of the order can be either line items or purchase price. The commission amount for each size of order can be either a flat amount or a percentage of the purchase price. You can set the commission schedule such that each sale earns a minimum and maximum size commission.
Merchant will properly credit sales commissions even when the customer's first purchase is days or months after they register.
Merchant makes it easy to implement your negotiated affiliate commission agreements as they pertain to calculations of sales commissions on existing customer's purchases.
Purchase-based commissions are recorded when you accept the customer's order. As such, affiliates will not receive commissions on orders that you subsequently reject. Furthermore,
Merchant will adjust the affiliate's account to reflect changes you make to a customer's order when the affiliate has received a commisson on the order. The commission will be recalculated (using the same rates in effect as when the order was first accepted) with the net difference posted to the affiliate's account.
You can enter a transaction directly into the affiliate's account in order to adjust it for any reason.
Transaction Activity Reports
Both you and your affiliates are able to produce reports detailing activity in the affiliate's account. These reports show the number of click-throughs received (including banner and page location on the affiliate's site), customer sign-ups, commission amounts earned and paid, and account adjustments. These reports are also downloadable in a comma-delimited file suitable for spreadsheet analysis.
Email broadcast facility
You can email a message to some or all of your affiliates.
Merchant allows you to easily identify specific affiliates compose the message and then send it. There is a 'test' feature available whereby you can send the message to yourself only so that you can preview the message as it will be seen by the affiliates.
Affiliate Program Policies
You may create one or more policies (e.g., minimum payment size, payment schedules, etc.). Links to these policies will appear on the affiliate's administration menu.
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