Hello, name's Kevin.
My website is a user-generated review site that targets a specific niche. My planned revenue model is a Cost-Per-Aquisition affiliate model. Here's how it would work:
1) Customer searches and reads vendor reviews on my site
2) Customer chooses a vendor and clicks a tracking link to their site
3) If customer purchases their product on their website, I earn an affiliate commission.
My question is: how do I implement the conversion tracking? It seems like affiliate management programs focus on an advertiser building a base of publishers. My model would be different. I am one publisher trying to reach out to a few specific advertisers. However, I can't use an affiliate network because many of these vendors don't already have affiliates. Also, I need to target about 40 specific companies. I'm going to have to contact them directly and make a deal. What would be a credible, safe, and reasonably inexpensive way to do this?
Note: I understand there is a bit of a conflict for my business model. I am earning money from advertisers who I am also publishing reviews for. However, I'm sticking to the principle of maintaining honest reviews for my visitors (not deleting bad reviews to make a vendor look good, for example). If users give bad reviews to a vendor, then so be it. I'll earn more money from the vendors who receive better reviews.
To see an example of a similar business model that works, go to www.softwareadvice.com. I am not affiliated with them at all and in a completely different niche, but they do have a similar model if you want to get an idea of what I'm trying to do.
Thanks to everyone in advance!
Welcome to the forum.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with your business model, in my opinion, provided you make it clear that they are genuine user reviews, and that you don't edit or censor them in any way (except perhaps to ensure they stay within the bounds of decency, etc).
Regarding your specific question about how to implement the conversion tracking, you can only do this by working closely with the merchants. It is up to them to provide this feature. Some may already have the means to do it in place. But, in most cases, I suspect that it would involve them in amending their e-commerce system.
You've then got to consider whether it would be worth their while to do that. True, you'll be sending them business that they might not otherwise get. But they will weigh that against the work involved. If they are using a bought-in e-commerce system, they might not even be able to modify it in this way. (Actually, conversion tracking isn't the issue; rather, it's the ability to share the conversion data with you that will be the problem.)
Personally, if I was in your position, I would look for merchants that already have established affiliate programmes. I've seen several review sites which do that, although of course I don't know how successful they are. (Last week, I bought a kitchen appliance through such a site.)
Hope this helps.
Great answer and I appreciate the advice.
I just wanted to make sure there wasn't something obvious I was missing. My new goal then, is to work closely with these vendors and try to make the process as easy as possible for them to share their conversions with me. If this just won't work, I might amend my business model and use PPC or a different revenue model altogether. Thanks again Mike!
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