Spying On Your Competitors Affiliates – ex. Bebe.com

It’s a lot of work recruiting publishers into your affiliate program. Instead of trying to recruit publishers that aren’t already a member of the affiliate network you currently work in, (in this case, the Google Affiliate Network (GAN)), the let’s focus on the publishers that are.

A few months back, I discovered a great way to locate publishers to recruit that are currently working with and using our competition’s affiliate banner and text links. With this information, I could then focus on recruiting existing GAN publishers that had greater motivation in embedding our ads into their site – since they are already doing so with our competition.

If your competitor is using a 3rd party affiliate management company, you are in luck. Most management companies typically don’t do a thorough job of auditing before publishers are accepted into an affiliate program; and that will work to your advantage . In order to gain the information you will need, all you have to do is create a separate adsense/ affiliate account, have a legitimate website/ blog (not your company’s) and apply to your competitors program.

Once you gain access to your competitors program, it’s easy pickings from here on out. Let’s take a look at Bebe.com’s affiliate program below. (Fig. 1)

First thing you want to do is right click on the image / banner and save it to your desktop. After you have it saved, drag the image over into a Google Image search (Fig. 2). Google will display results where that exact image is being linked from. Those are your target sites for recruitment.

After you have a list of the potential recruit able sites that are linking images, it’s time to focus on the text itself. If you want to see all the sites that are using the text: “petites – a perfect fit! shop now at bebe.com” all you have to do is open up a regular Google search an type in the following: allintext:”petites – a perfect fit! shop now at bebe.com”. You can see in (Fig. 3) all the sites that are using that exact text in their content. Again, note those sites and begin the recruitment process.

Another benefit of having access to your competitors affiliate program is you can see how much they are paying in commission and adjust your commission according. My recommendation is to always offer a slightly higher commission than your competition.

A little math…

If you are currently paying a $20 CPA on non-branded keywords in Adwords, and your competition is paying 5% commission, you have a lot of room to adjust your commission upward. My reasoning is this: if your average order value is $50, at a 5% commission (not including Google fees), you are only paying $2.5 per order. Given that a particular publisher brings in a large percentage of new visits, it’s a no-brainer to raise your commission to say 10%. At that level your CPA will only be $5 and you are a lot more likely to get premium placement on the publishers site; at least more than your competitor that is offering only 5% (given conversion rates/ average order values are relatively the same; savvy, publishers will look at EPC).

On a Side Note…

One of the benefits of managing your affiliate program in-house is that you can manually audit every single publisher that is requesting access. I don’t let in many low-traffic coupon sites these days nor publishers that are not contextually relevant to the products we sell. If a publisher is blogging about stocks and you are an advertiser that sells kids toys, that’s a probably not going to be a good fit; and quite possibly, it just might even be one of your competitors.

Fig.1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

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