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Archived Message:

Open Letter to ClickBank


 
EBookCompiler Background: I am a fan of ClickBank. That said, I would love to see some improvements in their system.

The purpose of this thread is to provide ClickBank with a clear list of suggestions to improve their service, as well as justification of why we think each suggestion is an improvement.

Furthermore, if we as a community can agree on a common list of suggestions, it is likely to be more effective and useful to ClickBank.  I expect there may be some differences of opinion on different ideas among this community, but hopefully we can find some common ground on our suggestions.

NOTE: There is absolutely no guarantee that ClickBank will take our suggestions into account.  We can just hope, and ask nicely!

Please limit discussion to ONLY suggestions, comments on suggestions,  etc. If you have a gripe, or question about ClickBank, take it up with ClickBank directly.

So please comment on my suggestions, propose your own suggestions, etc.  Once the ideas have come together, I will send it to ClickBank.

You are of course free to send your own ideas/comments to ClickBank independently of the thread.

By the way, I fully intend to make ClickBank aware of this discussion - as it is ongoing. They can post if they want. Or they can simply read it.  

Anyway, all EBookFriends, members please be aware that whatever you post, ClickBank may be reading. If ClickBank do decide to visit, they will be invited guest on this forum - so please act accordingly.


Posted on: 4:59 am on September 29, 2003
EBookCompiler Here is my first draft of the open letter.

Please comment with your comments on my suggestions (do you like them, hate them, have better ideas?) or write your own suggestions.

Spotting typographic errors or disclarity welcome too.

Don't worry about merging your comments in (just post the comment, not the whole edited letter), I'll combine the various ideas into a joint 2nd, 3rd draft, as we discuss the ideas...

~~

Dear ClickBank,

We the undersigned, are enthusiastic and active members of your service, both and merchants and affiliates. While we appreciate the current ClickBank service, we are aware that ClickBank is currently considering adding enhancements in future to the service. For this reason, we would like to suggest you consider the following enhancements:-


A. LINK FORMAT ENHANCEMENTS
===========================

1. We would like to retain the current hop link functionality and link format. This is an ideal and simple way for affiliates to participate in ClickBank affiliate programs.

We would like ClickBank to continue to support both versions of the hop link format, namely:

http://hop.clickbank.net/?AFFILIATE/VENDOR

and

http://hop.clickbank.net/hop.cgi?AFFILIATE/VENDOR


2. We would like ClickBank to support an **optional** parameter ("subcode" as part of the AFFILIATE parameter in the hop link. Thus the following options would be additionally supported:-

http://hop.clickbank.net/?AFFILIATE:SUBCODE/VENDOR
and
http://hop.clickbank.net/hop.cgi?AFFILIATE:SUBCODE/VENDOR

The purpose of the subcode is to allow an individual affiliate to track their marketing results for different ways of promoting the same vendor's affiliate program.

Example:

My nickname is "fred", and I link to a vendor called "john". I have three different web sites (or 3 different linking methods from the same web site).

For each of these links, I can insert an identifying subcode (which can be any alphanumeric string that I like), for example:

http://hop.clickbank.net/hop.cgi?fred:website1/john
http://hop.clickbank.net/hop.cgi?fred:website2/john
http://hop.clickbank.net/hop.cgi?fred:bannerad/john

In this case, any sales I make will ALL be recorded under the "fred" affiliate account, however in the report of these affiliate sales, I will be able to tell for each sale, whether the sale resulted from "website1", "website2", or "bannerad".  This could be shown as an additional column in the sales report.

Please note #1: I can also continue to use the traditional hop link formats, in which case, the subcode column in the sales report is left blank for these sales.

Please note #2: We propose also using the subcode tracking in additional reporting functions (see below)


3. We would like vendors to be able to set up more than one home page.

As well as the primary home page (which is where traditional hop links can go), the vendors can set up additional home pages (page 1, 2, 3, etc.)

An affiliate who like to link to one of the vendor's alternate home pages, can do so by adding an additional **optional** parameter to the VENDOR part of the hop link

Thus as well as

http://hop.clickbank.net/?AFFILIATE/VENDOR
http://hop.clickbank.net/hop.cgi?AFFILIATE/VENDOR

The affiliate can link to

http://hop.clickbank.net/?AFFILIATE/VENDOR:PAGE
http://hop.clickbank.net/hop.cgi?AFFILIATE/VENDOR:PAGE

where PAGE is a number.

If the vendor has an alternate home page with that number, the link will direct there. If the vendor does not, the link will direct to the vendor's home page.

Please note #1: The PAGE option can also be **optionally** combined with the subcode tracking idea combined above.

Example:

http://hop.clickbank.net/hop.cgi?fred:website2/john:3
or
http://hop.clickbank.net/?fred:website2/john:3

Would link from affiliate "fred" with subcode "website2" to vendor "john"'s third alternate home page.


B. AFFILIATE TRACKING ENHANCEMENT
=================================

4. We would like to see the subcode tracking feature also supported in the sales report as discussed in item 2.


5. We would like ClickBank to consider offer a click-thru report. For each time period (ideally 24 hour time period and real-time, but failing that biweekly similar to your existing sales report), you would offer a new report which contained columns:-

(i) Total number of clicks
(ii) Total number of unique (based on IP) clicks
(iii) Value of sales commissions
(iv) EPC (this commission per unique click multiplied by 100)

Each row in this table would correspond to a particular vendor/subcode combination.  It would be nice to also show subtotals for all subcodes for a particular vendor.


C. ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT ENHANCEMENT
=================================

6. We would like the amount of text that vendors can supply for use in the marketplace etc., to be increased in allowable maximum length.


7. We think all vendors with an affiliate program, should be required or encouraged to provide a 1 paragraph (not one sentence!) text ad for their offerings, that affiliates can use.  ALL CAPS, bad spelling etc., should not be allowed (or discouraged) in these ads.  Ideally vendors should be able to provide a choice of more than one 1 paragraph ad.


8. For vendors, we would like the the alternate home page feature supported as per item 3.


9. For those vendors with an affiliate option and multiple alternate home pages (as per item 3 and item 8), a long text ad (item 7) should be supplied for *each* alternate home page (they can be the same if the vendor chooses).


D. MARKETPLACE ENHANCEMENT
==========================

10. We think it is time to recognize there are fundamentally two ways to use the ClickBank marketplace.

(i) As an affiliate, browsing for products to link to.

(ii) As a customer, shopping for stuff to buy.

We would propose, that these two views be separated out from each other.

For (i) - you must log in to see it, you see the text ads and link formts **as you browse** (not in a new window), all ready to copy and paste. You can of course go to the merchant to check them out. (items 7, 8 and 9 would need to be implemented in this view, if you choose to add them).

For (ii) - you must not be logged in to see it. You see the vendor's descriptions, etc., but all the affiliate info is completely hidden.


11. Both views should offer some sort of search capability.


E. DATA FEED ENHANCEMENT
========================

12. For large affiliates it is essential that they can get all the data in an easy to assimilate format (like a CSV text file or XML feed that we can periodically an automatically download.

The data we need in this is:

(i) The merchant two part description
(ii) Which category the merchant is in
(iii) The commission rate
(iv) The merchant nickname (so we can make hop links)
(v) If you implement the longer-text ad option, and/or the alternate home page option, we would that.

A sample text format might be

"DESC1","DESC2","50%","john",0,"no longer text"
"DESC1","DESC2","50%","john",1,"longer text for alternate home page 1"
"DESC1","DESC2","50%","john",2,"longer text for alternate home page 2"
etc.

(columns are the merchant 2 part description, the % commission rate, the vendor nickname, the vendor home page number (0 for primary home page), and the longer text ad description).

But, frankly, we're not bothered about the format as well it is well-defined and supported in future without constant changes.


F. SIGN UP ENHANCEMENT
======================

13. We are aware that many affiliates are concerned about people signing up for ClickBank when about to make a purchase, and "stealing" commissions that way. We are also aware that ClickBank is concerned about people signing up and using ClickBank's affiliate service in inappropriate ways (e.g. email spam).

While not a total solution, we think the following may help:-

(i) Require affiliates to have a web site

(ii) If possible make affiliate checks account payee only

(iii) Do not allow affiliates to change their address or payee details without ClickBank's consent/review.

The above items, are intended to stop "anonymous" or fake sign ups.

Furthermore, to prevent abuse and commission theft, you could:-

(iv) Do not allow new affiliates to become active for some days after signing up (to prevent signing up just to get commission), and/or until a ClickBank staff member has reviewed their affiliate application.

(v) Do not allow affiliates to earn commission on their own purchases. We realize that there may be difficulty in reconciling credit card addresses with affiliate payee addresses, so a simple measure to stop most commission thefts of this type, would be to use some form of basic address filtering based on a combination of country and ZIP code.

For example, you could not allow affiliates to earn commission on affiliate sales that EITHER match their own country and zip (as in account payee info) for 30 days after becoming active, OR until the affiliate has made at least on sale to a different country/zip combination.

Z. THINGS WE DO NOT WANT
========================

We do NOT want to see any of the following changes:-

(i) We do NOT want the existing hop link format abandoned or depreciated

(ii) We do NOT want to set up individual relationships between merchants and affiliates (e.g. each merchant approving each affiliate), as this creates a massive burden in terms of administration (e.g. between an affiliate of all 1500 merchants - would have a lot of work to do!)


Posted on: 3:25 am on September 30, 2003
77quotes I agree totally with the improvements suggested - especially sections "A" and "B".

I'd like to also suggest a search feature in the ClickBank Marketplace.  It's difficult to find what you're looking for as it is.  A search feature would enable someone to find what they're looking for easier instead of having to wade through page after page of a large category.  There have been times that I've given up trying to find something just because it was taking so long to go through so many pages.  

In addition to a search feature, a site map of the ClickBank website would be useful, with links to everything on one page.

Also, would there be any way to have notification of a new affiliate?  We get email notification each time a sale is made - it would be nice to know how many affiliates we have as well.  

If the vendors could have an "affiliate list" as well as a "customer list" it would be helpful to both the vendors and the affiliates.  The vendors could let the affiliates know when something was changed or updated with the product, the website, the price, the free bonuses, or whatever might make a difference in the affiliates promotions of that vendors products.  

Vendors shouldn't email excessively to affiliates - just notify them of something new or of changes made.

Lynn


Posted on: 6:56 pm on September 30, 2003
harv Sunil,

Item 7) Instead of providing ads there could simply
be a link to a merchant's affiliate sign up page
which would allow an affiliate to register under the
merchant's own system if he has one and to see the
full range of promotional material.


Item 13.1  Require affiliates to have a web site

I don't agree with this


Item 13.5 Do not allow affiliates to earn commission
on their own purchases.

I don't agree: as a merchant I would like the option
to let my affiliates do this

Harvey

-----------------------------
http://www.clickbankguide.com



Posted on: 11:50 pm on September 30, 2003
equilibria I basically agree with Sunil's requirements although I am not totally convinced of the following:

a) That affiliates need to have a web site

b) That WORKING affiliates (not one time purchaser/affiliates) should not be able to purchase a product through their own hoplink

Additionally, I, as a VENDOR would like to see the following:

a) I do not like the CURRENT (new) account viewing options. I don't mind being able to view daily activity, but I don't like having to add up all the days to see what my biweekly totals are. I think there should be two options of viewing your account AT THE MINIMUM... i.e., Daily and biweekly totals... It would be easy to implement the biweekly total feature in addition to the daily total feature.

b) Without the biweekly stats available, I now have to go through each daily stats of the current period to find someone's ClickBank receipt number. Most customer's do not seem to know what day they made their purchase. I was simply using my browser's search function to locate the receipt number... Easy when two weeks of stats are readily available. With the new system, I would have to use the drop down menu to look at each day's stats and THEN use the search function. Way too much work and time spent to do this.
--Why not implement a search function so that vendors can simply enter one of the following:

ClickBank receipt number
Customer's name
Customer's email address

In order to verify a customer's purchase. We personally get over 30 emails a day from people (who did NOT purchase our eBook) who say they purchased our eBook and had problems downloading it. These emails of course get mixed in with the emails of legitimate customers needing assistance HOWEVER, we must first verify each purchase before assisting. The new system, makes verification of purchases take a lot more time when a simple search function could make this an easy task.

c) It seems that past biweekly stats are no longer linked... So there is the same problem as above... Implementing some kind of search function would make purchase verifications easy.

d) I am not so sure that affiliates should have access to VENDOR'S customers name and email addresses... In the past, I have had affiliates email the customer some kind of thank you email as well as continuing email... The customer almost always comes complaining to us... The vendor.

e) Through ClickBank, we, as vendors should have access to affiliate's contact information... Name and email address at the minimum if they are making sales for us. That way we can make them aware of any changes that are forthcoming with our products and or web sites... Or possibly... even new upcoming products that the affiliate might want to get involved in SINCE they are already involved in our current product.

Thanks for the forum...

M A T T

(Edited by equilibria at 9:53 am on Oct. 1, 2003)


Posted on: 9:50 am on October 1, 2003
bigweb Dear Clickbank.  Please implement the recurring sales feature into your system as soon as possible.  This will be a tremendous feature for companies like mine that sell web hosting services.  It will also be a huge money making opportunity for Clickbank.  I would pay a premium for that service. Please issue a press release with your best estimate of when this feature will be available.

Posted on: 10:12 pm on October 1, 2003
kthack I would like to see a shopping cart environment where I can have all my e-products available on one page where customers can pick and choose which ones they would like.

I would like to see a discount code option available so I can run specials or sales if I choose to.

I would like to receive a list of all my affiliates along with their URLs and email addresses so I that I can stay in contact with them and help them make more money as an affiliate.

Thank you!


Posted on: 10:31 pm on October 1, 2003
WebTrev Three ideas - one already mentioned:

A)     Recurring sales feature. (Prior poster BigWeb mentioned this for web hosting accounts, I want it for membership sites.)

B)     Longer cookies. Raise from 90 days to 365 days, please. (And what other tracking methods are used where a visitor has disabled cookies?)

C)     Minor format change to the emailed Sale Notifications to vendors- please add whether the sale was a direct sale or an affiliate sale. Possibly in the format:
        Current:      [X8CAB7F3/vendor]
        Suggested: [X8CAB7F3/affiliate/vendor]
It is somewhat inefficient having to log into the account after every sale to check whether the sale was via an affiliate or not, and therefore whether the commission deduction applied to the sale or not.

Otherwise, Clickbank, keep up the good work. You're a great group.

Trevor Johnson.


Posted on: 12:34 am on October 2, 2003
homestead Dear Clickbank,

I just have two wishes;

(1) A better looking, professionally designed Clickbank Market Place.
(2) The recurring sales feature that was promised many months ago.


Posted on: 10:23 pm on October 2, 2003
JRSnottingham Dear Clickbank

I think you can see from the seriousness and deep thought behind these postings just how important your company is, and how much we want you and us to succeed.  Your business has been very good for us, and we recognise that you want to move it forward, not least to reduce fraud and ensure that vendors and affiliates want to be associated with you.

Some key points for any change: it must be run in parallel with the current system for at least 18months if it is not completely backward compatible. The suggestions of Sunil above, all of which are sensible and useful, are compatible - the ideal situation.  

One thread here I hope you will take on board is the strengthening of vendor's management of affiliates.  It is a mutually beneficial arrangement, and vendors need to be able to manage their affiliates and contact them.  I appreciate you may have some concerns about spamming and privacy of email addresses, but this is a business, and vendors must have some access.  

all the best

John


Posted on: 6:54 pm on October 3, 2003
WebTrev Let me add on more to my wish list mentioned above....

* Direct deposit of checks to bank accounts (including offshore), or optionally PayPal accounts.


Posted on: 6:18 am on October 4, 2003
CBGuide Hello,

the letter below, other than the technical differences, echos exactly what we wrote to ClickBank over 6 months ago when they notified us of their proposal.

Indeed, they say it took a year to write Kount. I am confident any competent programmer could write a far better system in a weekend.  In fact there are many out there right now they could use off the shelf.

Recent announcements from ClickBank have been that stats page changes were necessitated by the "record sales" of late, when in fact surveys on our site populated by the top players at CB would tend to indicat the opposite, as big numbers affiliates and vendors scramble to find better handlers than ClickBank.

I would expect that ClickBank sees in the neighbourhood of $2 to 4k/day based on the data our system collects from sales originating within our system by our membership of over 3,000 operators alone.  

What this equates to in operating revenue, even as a tiny slive of the total ClickBank income pie, is truly staggering.

Surely a team of even basement programmers can build a far better one for less than the cost of an economy car.

When they do, the line up will be waiting.

Cheers,

Ron Davies
www.1stPromotion.com
www.CBGuide.com


Posted on: 9:38 pm on October 18, 2003

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