Over the past decade or so, Google began by helping datafeed affiliates become rock stars but then systematically killed them. Some of our past affiliates with successful product promotions are no longer in the industry—that’s how bad it became. Naturally, an affiliate today shouldn’t bother with datafeeds or running a datafeed-driven website, right? Well, hold on. Don’t be too hasty.
We started managing the Hardware World affiliate program, exclusively on ShareASale, in February 2010. It’s a very low-key program. Simple datafeed. With no coupon field on the site, no coupon or loyalty affiliates are approved in the program. They don’t do paid search for themselves, nor do they allow affiliates to do it. This is a super clean program.
Hardware World saw much of its success in the affiliate channel with datafeed-focused affiliates. The owner could have abandoned the channel, but he believed in the affiliate model and has stayed on with us as a maintenance client. We enjoy building relationships with the DIY and home improvement affiliates in this no-hassle environment. The owner has made improvements to his site and overall selection and we have recently seen 216% growth over this time last year. The program is doing better than ever!
Conversion through the affiliate channel has almost tripled this year. In the month of October, it was 11.19%. Last October, it was 4.37%. How can we account for the increase from last year? What’s different?
- The owner fine-tuned his site. Under-the-hood improvements and updates go a long way.
- One of my nearly mostly dead datafeed affiliates resurrected himself. This affiliate, our number one guy, accounts for 87% of orders. I recently spoke with him on Skype, and he said he doesn’t know what, of the many things he did, was responsible. Google smacked him down, but he just kept trying and the audience finally came back. He has earned tens of thousands of dollars in commissions through us.
Datafeeds Work. Yes, Still.
I can’t share his site; it would be wrong to give away his competitive advantage. But I can tell you that his site is datafeed-driven. He and other datafeed affiliates are using the ShareASale system to their full potential. Read suggestion four on this post by Joe Sousa. He explains how to use the ShareASale Discovery Product Bookmarklet and the Make-A-Page tool. Affiliates in any vertical can dramatically improve their own chances for conversion by learning and using these tools.
It seems that Google killed off datafeed-driven affiliate sites. I’m here to tell you, they didn’t.
If you are a merchant, update your datafeed often, even if you don’t add or delete products regularly. Update the datafeed at least once a month so it looks fresh. If you don’t have a datafeed, think about the possibilities you are missing.
But you’re probably not a merchant. You’re probably an affiliate. And the last thing I want to say to affiliates is this: push us. If you want to use a datafeed with your website, and one of our clients doesn’t have one, or if one our clients has an imperfect one, tell us. It’s important. When we tell our clients that they need to spend time and energy—and money, ultimately—filling out their datafeed and uploading it to ShareASale, they inevitably ask how many affiliates use and ask for updates to the datafeed. We need your voice on this!