Interview with LinkConnector

Jackie Bates from LinkConnector “sat” down with me and answered ten questions. I’ve been an affiliate for over a decade now and it’s been many years since I’ve worked with an affiliate network. For this piece I “re-signed” up with five of the top networks, and all five agreed to do an interview, however, LinkConnector was the only network to follow through.

Regardless if you are new in the business or you’re a veteran like me, the insights Jackie shares are well worth reading. I give my commentary throughout to give you my view points of Jackie’s answers.

Q: What benefits does an affiliate receive by working with a network vs. working straight with the merchant?

By working with an Affiliate Marketing Network, an affiliate will reap many benefits:

  • The affiliate will not have to negotiate individual merchant contracts. Instead, they will benefit from having access to a large and diverse group of merchant programs with pre-negotiated terms and payouts.

    JW: This is more important than you may realize. I’ve negotiated my fair share of contracts with merchants and most of them have not only been painful, but expensive. Often, you’ll incur thousands of dollars in legal fees before you even start to market the product.

  • The network typically organizes its merchant programs by industry category and makes them searchable by keyword. Finding the best-matched programs should be an easy task for the affiliate.

    JW: For example, if you were going to put together a review site, because they are organized by category, you can find the 3-4 products you need to fill your review site with all with one network. This makes the “admin” side of affiliate/CPA marketing easier.

  • The network provides standardized, reliable tracking across all merchant campaigns. An affiliate can also have custom integration of their tracking system across all campaigns.

    JW: Their tracking is good, as long as you use their image pixel tracker. I found in my testing that if you just used the a href string only and did a redirect or a “bounce,” the tracking would be lost. This is most commonly found in their “naked link” technology. It should be noted that while this is a drawback on how I prefer to drive traffic, Tara McCommons and Susan Bridgers, my contacts at LinkConnector, both went out of their way to work on a solution or workaround with what I wanted to accomplish. It is something Commission Junction has never done for me.

  • The network provides access to a management console with standardized, consolidated reporting across all merchant campaigns.
  • An affiliate receives one convenient check each month for all merchant earnings. The affiliate can depend on regular, predictable payments.

    JW: Getting paid on-time is a must as an affiliate, as often there is a 30-45 day waiting period from when you make the sale to when you get paid. For example, a few years ago when LinkShare had internal problems and affiliate didn’t get paid for a few months put tremendous stress on affiliates. I’ve never experienced an issue getting paid by LinkConnector.

  • The network pushes for fair validation from its merchants and provides fraud control.
  • The network chases down payments on behalf of its affiliates.

    JW: In other words, if the merchant isn’t paying commissions, LinkConnector steps in and ensures it happens. I still have an ongoing issues with a substantial payment Yahoo! owes me through Commission Junction dating back May of 2007.

Q: What are the main “Points of Difference” that separates LinkConnector from the other networks?

One key way LinkConnector differentiates itself from other networks is through its affiliate support. Affiliates are equal partners in the LinkConnector Network. Unlike most other networks, LinkConnector employs a dedicated Affiliate Relations team that provides steadfast support and representation to its affiliates. They negotiate for higher payouts and more competitive terms and provide technical support. LinkConnector also remains dedicated to developing new tools and technologies that enable affiliates to optimize their campaigns and streamline their workload. These include the Affiliate Widget Builder, Affiliate Connections™, and LinkConnector’s Promotions Feed.

JW: I can personally attest to this. Of the five networks I “tested” over the last 30 days, one of the things I did was I started at least one campaign with each network, found a problem (or created one), called for resolution, then stopped marketing the campaign. The support at LinkConnector was the only one of the five who returned every call the same business day (often within an hour) and they are the only network who has followed up with me asking what they can do to get the dead campaign active again.

LinkConnector sets itself apart, further, with its base of Internet Retailer Top 500 Merchants and big industry brands, such as Getty Images, Peapod, PRWeb, and Reunion.com (soon to be MyLife.com). Affiliates will find many top-performing and exclusive offers across a multitude of niches that they will not find in other networks.

LinkConnector also sets itself apart with its focus on quality over quantity. With its in-depth fraud protection systems in place and strict policies concerning fraudulent behavior (for both merchants and affiliates), LinkConnector disengages from mainstream thinking. This philosophy enables LinkConnector to place a strong emphasis on long-term, sustainable relationships.

Q: How does LinkConnector handle fraud and have you seen an increase/decrease over the last six months?

LinkConnector employs a zero tolerance fraud policy—a “one strike and you’re out” policy. LinkConnector removes any merchant or affiliate deemed to be fraudulent from its network entirely (not just the campaigns they were participating in). LinkConnector’s fraud policy is backed by several proprietary technologies, including Front Door Fraud Protection, Source Checker, Click Validation, and Data Pattern Matching.

LinkConnector has seen an increase in fraudulent applicants over the last six months and has responded by tightening up its criteria rules for inclusion in the network. LinkConnector manages all the network applications through its Front Door Fraud Protection (FDFP) system, which prevents affiliates that are likely to commit fraud from entering the network. Currently, FDFP rejects about 60% of all affiliate applicants.

JW: One of the biggest issues with fraud right now is using Craig’s List to hire “secret shoppers” with disposable Visa cards to make purchases online and the affiliate getting the lead payout. I’ll stop the example there as I don’t want to give anyone ideas, but it is good to see a company with a zero tolerance policy with fraud … as it is getting worse it seems.

Q: Do you work with new Affiliates/CPA marketers?

Yes. We welcome the opportunity to work with new affiliate partners.

Q: Do you offer online training for new affiliates?

LinkConnector has an Affiliate Relations team in place to support active affiliates. They address affiliates’ questions and concerns and provide some training on LinkConnector’s interface and technologies. LinkConnector also provides Help documentation inside the interface as a quick reference for its merchants and affiliates. However, at this time, LinkConnector does not offer in-depth online training.

We plan to create a Resource Center, providing tips and access to trusted vendors for affiliates and merchants. This is still in the development phase.

JW: This is one of the weakest areas in LinkConnector. Their help system needs to be upgraded, and having a Resource Center would be a huge plus.

Q: What are a few resources you would recommend for a new affiliate vs. a veteran affiliate?

New affiliates would benefit from these resources:

Forums:
5Star
Affiliates4U
AffSpot
WickedFire

Free Tools, Tips & Articles:
Affiliate Tips
Alexa Rankings
DigitalPoint
Google Trends
Google Webmaster Tools
KeywordSpy – Keyword Research
Market Leap – Search Engine Marketing Tools
SitePoint
Technorati – Blog Tools
Wordtracker – Keyword Research

Affiliate Programs Directory:
AssociatePrograms.com

LinkConnector Tools:
Affiliate Widget Builder
Affiliate Connectionsâ„¢
Coupons & Promotions Feed (inside the LinkConnector interface)

Seasoned affiliates would also benefit from these tools and from staying plugged into the Affiliate Marketing forums, such as those listed above.

Q: What three things would you most recommend to someone just breaking into this business?

Be a marketer. Learn about the merchant products and services you are promoting and find out how to pre-qualify your audience. Also, find products and offers you are passionate about and believe in. This will make learning about them and believing in them a much more enjoyable and smoother process. It will also go a long way in preventing burnout.

Affiliates also must work as professionals if they are to have success with merchants and Affiliate Marketing Networks. This is an understanding most Super Affiliates now embrace.

Affiliates who desire success must weather the blows. Rules will change in PPC search engines, merchants will drop their campaigns or restrict new keywords, and organic search engine rules will change. Affiliates must be able to continuously stay abreast of the latest trends in search engine marketing and affiliate marketing. They must constantly learn, grow, and ride through the bumps.

JW: Great advice. For some reason, CPA and Affiliate marketing at the rep of “just throw up a site, send traffic and make money.” It’s like any other business. It takes skill, perseverance and common sense. Appeal to the prospect with a solution that makes sense to them with an offer they can understand and more often than not, you’ll be successful.

Q: Do you offer exclusive offers or increased incentives for top-tier (5-star) affiliates?

Yes. While LinkConnector does not require exclusivity of its merchants, many merchants do choose to work exclusively with LinkConnector, or run exclusive campaigns, coupons, or payouts with LinkConnector. While these campaigns are open to all affiliates, LinkConnector Affiliates that earn in the top percentage will have their own personal affiliate managers. These dedicated managers will advocate on behalf of their affiliates and negotiate for increased payouts and improved terms. Top performing affiliates may also benefit from more frequent payments and exclusive tools like the real-time reporting console.

JW: Take it from me, when you are testing, having real-time reporting is a must.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the top 2-3 reasons affiliates fail?

Affiliates that try to game the system will ensure they are not long term players. By not adhering to merchant search engine marketing guidelines (e.g., bidding on restricted keywords), or generating fraudulent lead traffic, for example, affiliates will find themselves ousted out of merchant programs and affiliate networks.

Affiliates also must treat their affiliate programs as they would a ‘real job’. They must do extensive research, learning all caveats of the industry, and continue to do so. Without this constantly refreshing knowledge base to draw on, affiliates will be defenseless in a quickly evolving industry.

Also, affiliates must put their affiliate managers to work for them. By not doing so, they will leave opportunities on the table and will work harder for fewer results.

Q: Have you seen any notable changes with the current recession in the CPA space?

CPA, in terms of lead generation, is only one portion of our business, and recent changes have not been significant. The effect of the recession on CPA in terms of Pay-for-Performance Marketing or Affiliate Marketing, has also been small from what we have observed. While some merchants have been forced to place more stringent budget caps on their affiliate efforts, for the most part, we have found that the Pay-for-Performance model has effectively safeguarded against the poor economy.

Also, with a volatile economy, more consumers may be going online to shop around and seek out coupons and better deals. This market has created an exceptional opportunity for couponing affiliate marketers. Coupons are essential marketing tools for merchants to provide their affiliates with in this economy.

To mitigate risk in this economic climate, it is also important to establish high quality, trusted partnerships between merchants, affiliates, and the network. This in turn establishes sustainable relationships—the type that will last through any economic condition.

JW: Personally, I have seen a SIGNIFICANT difference in conversion rates over the last three months, but mostly in the month of February. Any product over $79.00 had taken a HUGE hit in terms of conversion – even with “no risk” offers or coupons. Prospects are clicking, but they aren’t buying. Many affiliates are seeing their margins getting squeezed. If the trend continues in March, there could be a huge change in the market as many affiliates will drop out.

I want to personally thank Jackie from LinkConnector for taking the time and giving us more insight in the CPA/Affiliate space from the Network’s perspective. I highly recommend joining the LinkConnector network by clicking the link below. Yes, it is an affiliate link and any money made from this Blog post will be donated to charity.

Join the LinkConnector Network

Comments

  1. says

    Man your stuff is good, West!

    We have been making a modest to good living online(it goes up and down quite radically…(believe it or not, it is UP right now..go figure!), with our wood biz for the past 6 years. (While the manufacturing is obviously offline as our products are physical, ALL our marketing is exclusively online)

    I have never ever purchased a single thing from you, probably because your “FREE” stuff is so damn good I don’t need to buy anything!

    I get more out of your free stuff, including things like this blog post and the free cpa email course, than I have ever pulled out of the multitudes of ebooks and courses I’ve purchased over the last 5 years!(Some pretty big ticket stuff too!)

    So…maybe you better think about moving “the free line”…BACK THE OTHER WAY! And go give Jenkins a smack for setting a bad example! (And teaching it!)LOL!

    Anyway, Thankyou!

    Michael Rytter
    “Just Google My Name!”

  2. Debi says

    Thanks to Jackie for providing this info and to you, Jerry, for your quite useful additional comments/insights.

    BTW, am I just Friday-punchy or is that “Wall, Aaron” anchor text for seobook.com in your blogroll pretty darn funny?

    Thanks, again, for the info and for the laugh, too!

  3. Website Traffic says

    This is one of the best interview/articles you have put out. Someone needs to get the ball rolling with monitoring these networks. Some of them don’t even reply. It’s disappointing when CJ send yet another email informing you that a merchant is no longer viable. It’s just another banner/text link to take down or put up again when the affiliate advertiser rights their account. There is so much stuff that needs attention in the affiliate network arena. I like the word stuff (covers so much).
    Ray

  4. says

    That is one of the most comprehensive overview/reviews of an affiliate network that I’ve read so far. It’s encouraging to know that LinkConnector is reliable. I’m new to all of this, but already have experienced frustration with how some of the other networks conduct business. One of them – I forget which one – will cancel your account if you unsubscribe from their e-mail newsletter. And, as you can imagine, it’s a highly annoying newsletter that is sent out far too frequently. Ridiculous.

  5. says

    Michael, thanks for the good laugh. I don’t make my living selling information or products, so I don’t really look at where the “free” line is. I’m an affiliate and SEO first. :-) Glad you’re getting good use of my blog info, but the stuff in the SEO Revolution back office is ten times better….

  6. says

    Wow, you just saved us readers/subscribers a lot of time. Interesting about CJ.com; I have been disappointed with other aspects of their service for awhile.

    I will definitely focus more on LinkConnector. Could you explain a little more about naked links? I still don’t get what they do (or don’t do?).

    Thanks again; what you share is SO valuable.

  7. Lou says

    Guess, Jerry, that’s what you are and Perry Marshall wrote about recently – TRUST.
    Besides, you snowboard and that’s where the ultimate comes to light =)).

    Thank you Jerry for the meaty and filling lesson.

    Lou

  8. jeff says

    Thanks again, Jerry, for another informative article. Are you going to provide more details about your experiences with the other networks in the next email?

    I hear lots of people advising new affiliates to stay away from the CJ and go with the smaller networks like Link Share, Share A Sale and others.

    With so much junk and crap programs out there, let me tell you again how much I appreciate your emails, site and what you do the affilate community.

  9. Tiddledeewinks says

    I am trying to learn more about affiliate marketing. I have not made any money yet. Been doing it about a year on my Squidoo lenses!

  10. Tony says

    The AdWords Quality Score (QS) factor is really coming into play these days when advertisers have to be extremely careful regarding budget & spend management. What do you think?

  11. Michael says

    Great article about Callen’s linkconnector. Seems like a good bizop to start in the near future.

  12. Spammer says

    Great post! I?m looking for an easy but lucrative affiliate program to get the hang of since I?m new to affiliate marketing. Is this a good choice to begin my affiliate marketing endeavors with?

    • says

      Mr. Spammer,

      It is interesting that you are “looking for an easy but lucrative affiliate program” when you spammed my blog promoting your garbage affiliate offers.

  13. Marjory Becze says

    I was googling for affiliate programs to add to my portfolio and came upon your site. It looks like you have some helpful information here, I’ve subscribed to your rss feed and will put you in my favorites folder. Thanks for inspiring me.

  14. Elizebeth Sinkiewicz says

    Almost everyone that makesan incomeon the internet (even the millionaires) do so through affiliate marketing. Being successful in affiliate marketing involves applyingthe formula that makes other affiliate marketers successful. For instance, autoblogging. Autoblogging is one of the least well-known forms of making money on the internetfor quite some time… primarily because it’s quite difficult to make a good auto-blog. Yet, when done right, it can provide you with a lifetime of passive income with the only real work required being the setting up process. Video Marketing, and several other marketing strategies are all designed to drive traffic to your site, can be incorporated organicly in order to raise the position your site appears in the SERPs when any one searches for a term related to your site. And yet, even this can be totally automated.

  15. Manan says

    Hello,

    Linkconnector don’t take any responsibility for your payment. Its support staff is very irresponsible and lazy. I can’t get my check after 3 months while check has validilty of 3 months. When i contacted to LC, they told me to charge $32 for chcek reissue fees. Is it my fault if i don’t get check via postal service. Linkconnector network haven’t any record or tracking for issued check to their Affiliates. Simply, rusbbish service and rubbish support.

    • Jerry West says

      I’ve never had an issue with getting paid by LC. Regardless, if you have a bitch session to hold, hold it on your site. Posting your sob story on a blog post done many years ago is trollish behavior, which is why I removed your link. Be a grown up and resolve this directly with them. There are plenty of other affiliate networks to work with and I am sure they would prefer that you did.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

     

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>