Affiliates – How to select merchants that result in referrals – its not about the royalty

Background Intro

I am LeahG artist an online marketer. I have been dabbling with affiliate marketing for the best part of ten years. I have been sponsored to write a review of one of the merchants I feature frequently on this site. I am happy to do so as I am genuinely impressed by their associate program (as provided via ShareaSale).

As it happens, I have been ‘raving’ about their affiliate program already via my social network sites. Doing so formally is thus nothing more for me than doing what has already been done, but better.

The merchant I am thus ‘raving’ about once more is Zazzle  world leader in print-on-demand products.

Referral Commission – 15% per Sale

Gifts Made by You - Shop Now on Zazzle.com

If you are unfamiliar with Zazzle’s services visit their site and have a look around. It is professional and populated by thousands upon thousands of designers ready and willing to tweak and create unique niche gifts for every buyers need.

Zazzle have a no-quibble money-back guarantee and are constantly updating and improving their online customization tools and mobile device access. They are also ALWAYS adding new customizable products to their inventory. Their aim is to create a world where there isn’t anything you can’t ‘customize’ online via their site. It’s a worthy ambition, do you agree?

If you’re not convinced about the product and service they offer check out some  product reviews left by happy buyers. Zazzle product pages feature reviews for all their products – visit any page and see for yourself. You can ensure as an affiliate you only promote those products that have great ratings. There are plenty of those! 🙂

Readers of this blog are aware that I feature Zazzle Designers and their wares daily (unless I have an off-day) and am committed to their success as much as I am my own. I have a Zazzle Face Book group and I both help and seek help from a wide network of fellow Zazzlers with the end goal – being successful.

My affiliate philosophy

I promote various merchants via this site, all carefully sourced. I chose them not by their reward system or their helpful initiatives but by how suitable their products or services are for my reader. My reader being those seeking unique gift ideas.

This doesn’t mean however that I haven’t noticed which merchants have the better affiliate programs! I have and those that are committed to their affiliates generally ensure we have what we need to promote them successfully.

I am signed up for a couple of marketing network sites and to-date I have had the most success with ‘Share-a-Sale’. Share-a-sale feature a number of Top Brand merchants which for me is a sign of reliability and quality regarding the service Share-a-Sale offers.

As an affiliate I want the following from the merchants I promote:

For the buyer: Quality niche products, service and timely world-wide delivery – value for money.

For me as an affiliate: Timely Seasonal Banner Ads (attractive -variable sizes)
Special Offers for my readers – great sales, money off coupons
Links that work!

Some merchants go that extra mile and email me regularly with ideas and suggestions for promotions and they include the links I will need (with my referral ID included) and the suggested link text. This is massively helpful.

It is imperative as an affiliate that you believe in the products and services that you promote and that they are trusted merchants. If that isn’t the case, it will come back to bite you in the ass, as quite simply you will not make any referrals and worse, you may gain a reputation for promoting spam sites. Commit yourself to your reader and commit yourself to quality offerings for that reader and you are on the right track. Everything you do should be backed up by your conscience.

I favor Zazzle’s associate program operated via Share-a-Sale and not just because I made sales in the first fortnight from displaying their banner ads.

Those of you who already promote Zazzle products via the Zazzle associate system offered by zazzle itself will be curious as to what the differences are between that system of referral and that operated via Share-a-Sale.

The differences that I enjoy :

  • My very own affiliate Manager – easy access via email
  • Pre-warning of any promotions and sales with link details (as noted above) and sample text.
  • Greater number of Banner Ads to choose from – Sales Banners
  • Ability to build a store page in minutes – hand picking the products to display from multiple designers

Share-a-Sales ‘build a store page’ feature allows you to mix merchants items on a single page. The layout can be tweaked to suit your own needs as can the content of the product displays. It takes a while to get used to it but with trial and error, you will win out.

Edit: I have been reminded of a glitch re the shop page which I will query with ShareaSale and feedback the response. When adding a shop page to a wordpress site or blogger (I don’t know if others are affected) when going back to edit a published page, if you go to the ‘visual’ view the code changes to single column items. I get around this by ensuring when I publish I do so via the ‘text’ version of the edit window. This way when I return to edit the page it takes me back to the ‘text’ version and the ShareaSale code is unaffected.

What could make it better?

I feel Zazzle need to have more products in their Share-a-Sale data feed to pull up when making shop pages. Given the mammoth variety Zazzle have, this is not an easy task and I appreciate that.

I’d also like to see a ‘cookie’ of equal duration to that offered via their own Zazzle Associate program.  I have queried the cookie matter and am awaiting a reply. 

This concludes my review, if you have questions or suggestion please leave them in comments below.

UPDATE: GOOD NEWS!! The cookie length for BOTH programs Zazzle operates IS 45 days. It is a ‘glitch’ that means the cookie length shows as ‘zero’ in the program details at SharesASale but I have been assured it is 45 days for both sites.

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Some of Zazzle’s customizable items – check out the variety