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...
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:
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:-
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.
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:
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
The affiliate can link to
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.
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"
(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!)