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ShareASale Review – How to Market a Small Business Effectively

ShareASale Review – How to Market a Small Business Effectively

Would you like to increase sales by about 30%? Would you like to increase sales by 30% for an investment of $650? If you aren’t a marketing wiz, or you don’t have the time and/or budget for an effective marketing plan, does the 30% increase sound even better? If you aren’t necessarily concerned about a sales increase, but want more brand awareness, does $650 sound like a good investment? If any of those sound good, let’s take look at ShareASale.

shareasale

What is ShareASale?

ShareASale is a 15 year old affiliate network. If you aren’t familiar with what an affiliate network is – it’s basically a platform that houses both merchants and advertisers. The merchant provides compensation or commission for any sales that the affiliate (advertiser) sends their way, while the network acts as the go-between. Advertisers range from bloggers, niche sites, product or service databases, etc. Think of it as an evolutionary version of mass mailing programs. Instead of you designing your marketing material, the advertiser does that for you, and you pay them for referrals. Can you see the viral potential yet?

My experience with ShareASale

I have worked with ShareASale as both a merchant, and an affiliate, so I’m fairly familiar with both ends of the platform. As an affiliate, I use this blog and others to promote products, stores, and merchants that I either use, or have used, and have been satisfied with. You can view this post about BidFusion, or this one about Baklavva to get an idea of how an affiliate accomplishes their end of the deal. On average, I send about a few thousand readers per month to the various product or service websites that I promote.

As a merchant, I started using ShareASale in 2013. I have a few bedding sites that I operate, and wasn’t the most knowledgeable in running a website back then. Most of my selling experience online came from eBay and Amazon. Those platforms do most of the advertising for you. And if you have had your own website, then you know what a different game that is. You really do need some marketing know-how to do it alone. And not just marketing knowledge, but also SEO strategy, marketing budget, social media know-how, time, etc.

Ideally, you would need a few marketing associates to get the job done, but naturally new and small businesses don’t always have the budget for that. That is where an affiliate network like Shareasale comes into play. You have a virtual team of sales people working for you, and getting paid on commission.

What can you expect? Obviously every niche is different, so it’s hard to give an exact figure, as there will be a range. With my bedding sites, I had an increase of about 23% in 2014 compared to 2013 when I first started using Shareasale, and about a 29% increase so far in 2015 (with 2 months still left to go).

Obviously you should already have a functional website set up, one that is both for an actual business, and one that looks good. This isn’t a get rich quick scheme, so think long-term here. The top affiliates earn in excess of six figures a month, so the sale generation potential is definitely there if you have a real business, good products or services, and a good offer for affiliates.

Some obvious (or not so obvious) benefits

  • Free backlinks – Anyone who has spent time working on their SEO strategy knows how important backlinks are, as well as how time consuming it is to get them. Every post like this is another backlink to add to your list, which in turn improves the SEO for your own site. Some will be from small and middling bloggers, but others will be from high PR sites.
  • Viral potential – A lot of affiliates promote via social media (which you can filter out if you choose). Nothing increases sales or brand awareness like a campaign going viral. Have your affiliates send your social signals for you.
  • Outsourced Marketing – Great for those who don’t have marketing skills, budget, or time.
  • Low-Risk – Your own marketing plans and campaigns can be costly, especially when they fail. Affiliates remove that risk, as the cost is all on them.
  • Pay as you go – Grow sales, and only pay for quality traffic. Quality = sale generating traffic.

Fee Structure and Cost

One-time Fees:

You will have a one-time network access fee of $550. Along with that, you will need to make an initial deposit of $100, which is then used to pay out any commissions to affiliates for successful sales. This $650 is due up-front, and is the only fee that you will ever have to pay if things don’t work out the way you had expected. There is no contract, and you can cancel at any time, so other than the initial $650, you aren’t locked into anything.

Recurring fees:

There are two types of recurring fees you will basically incur with ShareASale – Transaction Fees and Monthly Minimum Fees. Transaction fee only occur if an Affiliate sale or lead is made (depending on parameters you choose for payouts on a given campaign).

ShareASale - Fees

ShareASale – Fees

A monthly minimum fee occurs if, in a given month, your account does not generate a minimum of $25 in fees to ShareASale. However, there is a grace period for new merchants. For the first 60 days, you will not incur that monthly minimum fee, and you will only incur a $10 monthly fee thereafter for the first 120 days after activation. Again, you will only incur the monthly minimum fee if you don’t have $25 or more in paid commissions each month.

So in practice, your $650 initial investment buys you 120 days of promotion before you would incur any other fees. Hopefully by then you are generating enough income to negate the monthly fee.

ShareASale

Features of ShareASale

Walk-though webinars – If you’re not the most online-friendly person, don’t worry, you can access webinars that will walk you through the entire setup (which isn’t really that hard anyways).

You can approve or deny any affiliate that you choose – If you don’t want to be associated with a certain blogger, a topic, etc., you have full approval power over any and all affiliates. And if you don’t care, you can just auto-approve.

Full tracking is provided for all traffic and clicks – You get full merchant API. You can track and see which affiliates had clicks, how much time it took for the click to translate into a sale, etc.

Payment processing – This part is a good hassle-free feature. ShareASale takes care of all check processing – You just take care of your business, track all payment expenses.

Affiliate approval – ShareASale vets all affiliates that sign up, and monitors activity as well. Those affiliates who repeatedly violate policies set by merchants are removed from the network.

Affiliate helpdesk – You choose all of your parameters and policies, adn affiliates contact the ShareSale helpdesk with any questions. ShareAsale handles all the “training” for you virtual “staff”.

Ad serving – ShareAsale serves all of your adlinks, banners, buttons, and text links on your behalf. After your initial setup, you have a pretty much hands-off operation.

Datafeed Upload – You can upload any datafeeds that you may have for affiliates to use, at no extra charge to you. This feature is actually very useful if you have a datafeed. Essentially, affiliates would be able to catalog your full list of products on their affiliate site, and just send the traffic to you for the culmination of the sale. It’s like having multiple sites, while just managing one site.

You define commissions and commission rules – The payout is completely up to you. You can pay by per sale, per lead, etc. And you choose the amount each time. You can also setup rules to disallow certain type of clicks or sales. For example – Clicks that come from coupon sites, or sites with a coupon code already embedded.

You can advertise to or recruit affiliates – Let’s say you have a site that sells shoes or clothing. You can recruit all bloggers or advertisers that are in the fashion niche that are not already your affiliates.

Multiple sites – You can set up multiple sites under one account. No need to pay another one time $650 fee.

Response time – In most cases, you can actually be up and live within a day.

Feedback – Affiliates get feedback, just like in eBay or Amazon. So you can manually remove affiliates that don’t suit your profile.

No monthly contract – As mentioned above, you basically get 120 days before you incur any charges if things don’t go as planned. So you can cancel any time.

If you’re  looking for a quick sales fix, ShareASale is probably not for you, as in reality, it does take a few weeks or months to see actual and real results. The $650 initial fee is designed to weed out actual honest merchants and sellers from those looking for a quick fix, or even worse, pop-a-shop adware or fraud providers. But if you think ShareASale is something that could work for you, click the blue link to visit their site and learn more.

Ebay Store Review – BuyDig

Click here for this week’s specials at BuyDig

Ebay Store Review - BuyDig

Ebay Store Review – BuyDig

BuyDig on eBay is a store selling Digital Cameras, Lenses and photographic accessories, Camcorders, MP3 players, Home Theater Components including LCD, Plasma, LED and 3D HD televisions, DVD and Blu Ray players, GPS Navigators, Printers, Scanners, Binoculars, Telescopes, Housewares, Kitchen Appliances, Optics and much more. Click on the blue link above to find out what specials and sales they are currently offering. At the moment, they do have a SAVE WHEN YOU BUNDLE RELATED ITEMS promotion.

Feedback History

BuyDig has been selling on eBay since 2007. They have earned over 300,000 total positive feedback ratings on eBay, with a 99.2% overall score. So BuyDig has had a very successful and positive selling history on eBay.

BuyDig is an Authorized retailer for all of the products that they carry.

An authorized reseller of an item basically means that they are buying the goods from the manufacturer, and that the manufacturer has authorized the seller to sell those items. They usually also receive some sort of training and product knowledge from the manufacturer.

The majority of products being sold on sites like eBay or Amazon do not come directly from the manufacturer, and they are not authorized sellers. Which basically means that the seller is either buying them from the grey market, or they are buying overstocks or liquidated items from another seller or distributor.

The items that these sellers carry have several drawbacks. The products might be counterfeit, they might not carry the original warranty, they might not correctly work in the country that you will be using it in, etc. With that being said – BuyDig is an authorized dealer, which means that their items are authentic, and do carry the full manufacturer’s warranty. Some items do not carry the full warranty however. For example, open box items usually will not carry the original warrant.

BuyDig on eBay is a fairly large sized store. They carry over 5,000 items from name brand manufacturer’s like Nikon, Ricoh, Canon, Samsung, LG, Sony, Vizio, Audio-Technica, Panasonic, Beats by Dre, Brooklyn Headphone Company, Klipsch, Toshiba, GoPro, Garmin, JVC, and more.

What I like or don’t like

Their storefront is very well organized, and professional looking. You have a graphic store menu, with product categories, as well as a left side text category menu. So it is very easy to navigate, and find what you are looking for.

I do appreciate their attention to detail in their listings though. Each listing has multiple clear and large pictures, so you really get to see in detail what you are buying. Their product descriptions describe the product in details, and provide all of the necessary information, like color, model, package content, etc.

Their excellent feedback really makes you feel secure in shopping from this eBay store. 30 Day return policyAs does their 30-day hassle free returns policy. No need to email back for a return authorization, or deal with with annoying emails back and forth. You just click on return, and send it back. And having a month to do so is quite convenient.

Click here to visit BuyDig

Denon Authorized Amazon Dealer List

Denon Authorized Amazon Dealer List

Denon

Denon Authorized Amazon Dealers

Denon audio products are sold in the United States through authorized dealers selected by Denon. Dealers receive training, and product knowledge, and are chosen for their ability to represent the brand, and to service the products. Denon provides a warranty on products sold only by authorized dealers.

If you purchase a Denon product from an unauthorized dealer, you are not entitled to the Denon warranty coverage, even if the seller claims that you are. These Denon products sold by unauthorized dealers are likely purchased by the seller on the “gray” market and can be pirated goods not produced by Denon, damaged, defective or “B” stock goods. The following is a list of Denon authorized dealers which sell on eBay. Click on the logo to visit the Amazon store page.

Denon Authorized eBay Dealer List

Denon Authorized eBay Dealer List

Denon

Denon Authorized eBay Dealers

Denon audio products are sold in the United States through authorized dealers selected by Denon. Dealers receive training, and product knowledge, and are chosen for their ability to represent the brand, and to service the products. Denon provides a warranty on products sold only by authorized dealers.

If you purchase a Denon product from an unauthorized dealer, you are not entitled to the Denon warranty coverage, even if the seller claims that you are. These Denon products sold by unauthorized dealers are likely purchased by the seller on the “gray” market and can be pirated goods not produced by Denon, damaged, defective or “B” stock goods. The following is a list of Denon authorized dealers which sell on eBay. Click on the logo to visit the eBay store page.

Klipsch Authorized Amazon Dealer List

Klipsch Authorized Amazon Dealer List

Klipsch

Klipsch Authorized Amazon Dealers

Klipsch home audio products are sold in the United States through authorized dealers selected by Klipsch. They have been authorized by Klipsch to sell their products. Klipsch dealers receive training, and product knowledge, and are chosen for their ability to represent the brand, and to service the products. Klipsch provides a warranty on products sold only by authorized dealers.

If you purchase a Klipsch product from an unauthorized dealer, you are not entitled to the Klipsch warranty coverage, even if the seller claims that you are. These Klipsch products sold by unauthorized dealers are likely purchased by the seller on the “gray” market and can be pirated goods not produced by Klipsch, damaged, defective or “B” stock goods. The following is a list of authorized dealers which sell on Amazon. Click on the logo to visit the Amazon store page.

Klipsch Authorized eBay Dealer List

Klipsch Authorized eBay Dealer List

Klipsch

Klipsch Authorized eBay Dealers

Klipsch home audio products are sold in the United States through authorized dealers selected by Klipsch. They have been authorized by Klipsch to sell their products. Klipsch dealers receive training, and product knowledge, and are chosen for their ability to represent the brand, and to service the products. Klipsch provides a warranty on products sold only by authorized dealers.

If you purchase a Klipsch product from an unauthorized dealer, you are not entitled to the Klipsch warranty coverage, even if the seller claims that you are. These Klipsch products sold by unauthorized dealers are likely purchased by the seller on the “gray” market and can be pirated goods not produced by Klipsch, damaged, defective or “B” stock goods. The following is a list of authorized dealers which sell on eBay. Click on the logo to visit the eBay store page.

How to Find Good Ebay Sellers

The cheapest online shopping – in this case; eBay – is about a little give and take sometimes. If you want the cheapest price, or the best deals while shopping at home, you have to give up some part of the buying experience. If you want great service, excellent communication, fast shipping, and a flawless product, you should walk into a retail store, and purchase the product at full price.

There is a cost involved with each of those factors mentioned above. It costs money to have a full time customer service team, it costs money to have a fully stocked warehouse of items, and so on. It is extremely hard offer all four of the parts of the shopping experience above, at a discount price. Discount stores are discounted for a reason. They are saving money at some part of the product buying/storing/selling stage, and are able to pass the savings on to you. But this usually comes at a compromise of at least one of the four factors.

That is why negative feedback on eBay is overrated. In my selling experience, I would say that 90% of negative feedback is due to a buyer expecting all four aspects of a great shopping experience, but at a highly discounted price – which again, is hard to deliver. Not all negative feedback is due to a negative experience! Most of the time, 2 or 3 of the factors mentioned above are met, along with a discounted price. But for whatever reason, those who buy online on eBay expect all 4 factors, and a cheap price. With all other things in life; you get what you pay for.

A large amount of sellers on eBay are one (or two) man operations, and the majority are some form of a small business, without the capability or means of providing all four aspects, at cheap or discounted price. They simply can not compete with the big box sellers that way. At the same time, negative feedback – while not a true indicator of a seller’s performance – greatly impacts a seller’s ability to continue selling. So when you leave a negative feedback for a silly reason, you make it harder for that seller or store to continue offering great deals. And if these sellers are wiped out, that leaves us with just the big box stores, selling at full retail price.

So…to find the best deals on eBay, you have to learn how to tune out the silly and frivolous feedback. Look at a seller’s feedback history. Is it above 99%? If so, you probably have found a good seller. Are the negative feedback from buyers claiming that “this seller is the worst seller on eBay”? That is most likely frivolous feedback. Are there multiple claims of buyers not receiving what they ordered with no contact from the seller? That is something to consider.

Try not to insist on “free shipping” as that really isn’t a benefit – something I covered in an earlier post that you can find below. Look at their listing description. Does it look like a 5 year old wrote it, or does it look professional. If it looks like time was put into writing out a clean and/or descriptive listing, that is good. Some people get caught up with a need to find the most creative descriptions. Focus more on a clear and descriptive listing. Bullet points can be enough sometimes. If you see phrases that remind you of listings from 10 or 15 years ago – like “happy bidding” – move on.

 

 

The Best Online Deals & Free Shipping

Hey guys, Vic here…

Just wanted to take a moment to discuss the “myth” of free shipping. A lot of people consider free shipping to be a staple of online shopping. They have to have free shipping if they’re going to buy online. They think that the best deals always include free shipping. And let’s face it – if you’re shopping at home online, paying for shipping can get annoying. However, if you are looking for the cheapest online shopping and free shipping just don’t go together.

cheapest online shopping sites - free shippingI have been selling on eBay and Amazon for over 10 years now, and so today I’d like to tell you that free shipping isn’t actually free. I know, I know…this may come as a shock to some people. But free shipping is not free. Someone has to pay for it. FedEx and UPS certainly don’t offer free shipping. They charge me every time I ship a package. The US Postal service doesn’t ship for free either!

So who pays for the shipping?

Well, as a seller, if I paid for the shipping, I wouldn’t last very long in business. So that counts me/the seller out. Ebay and Amazon don’t pay for the shipping, as they too are running a business. Who’s left? Well, that leaves you, the buyer, to pay for the shipping.

So even when you are receiving “free shipping”, you are actually still paying for the shipping. And it gets worse! Not only do you pay for shipping, but you also pay a higher price than you would have if you had just bought the item without free shipping included.

Shopping sites and online boutiques have a business to run, as I mentioned above. So they have to cover their costs, and add a profit on top. Shipping is a cost. We as sellers wouldn’t last for more than a few months if we actually paid for the shipping.

Free shipping only benefits eBay & Amazon, not you the buyer. When you see “free shipping”, that means that the cost of shipping is included in the purchase price. So when you are getting an item shipped for free, that item will often cost more than the same item with calculated shipping. Why? Because items with free shipping have one flat price. The seller doesn’t know what zip code you will be purchasing from. So they have to charge you the highest rate that it could possibly cost to ensure a profitable sale.

For example, if you are shipping from Los Angeles, a 2 lb package shipping to a city away, would cost about $5.50. That same package shipped to New York will cost about $11. So….if that seller in Los Angeles wants to offer free shipping, AND ensure a profit for each sale, he/she has to add $11 on top of their starting price. So if you live near Los Angeles, you could have had the item for $5.50 in shipping, but you wanted it shipped for free, so you are paying $6 more so that you can get it for “free”. Not the best deal if you ask me.

$6 might not be much, but if that was a large package, it would cost roughly $25-30 more. The lesson as always….free shipping = more expensive shipping.

So what is a work around? Look for sellers that are local, or at least within a few states away, and look for those that charge calculated shipping. If they only offer free shipping, ask what the cost would be if they charged you for shipping and the item price separately. You’d be amazed at how much you can save by just asking that question.

 

Shopping Online – A unique history behind it

Reviews for those shopping online!

After buying and selling on ebay for over 16 years, I thought it’s time to share some of my acquired knowledge. I love to buy online, search for the best deals, and scour shopping sites.

Time and time again, I have found that eBay stores offer the best deals, at reasonable prices, with exceptional customer service. So here, I have decided to offer store reviews, advise general ebay tips, and share some daily deals that I find on my own.

What kind of stores?

My reviews will span all sorts of stores, from health and beauty, to home and garden to electronics. From luxury item sellers, to thrift-stores, no store is too big or too small for an honest review!

What will you review?

With over 16 years of dedication to ebay and its many individual stores, I have come to learn what it takes to be successful as an ebay store.  I can tell when a store is being operated honestly, and when a store is more about making a fast dollar.

These reviews aren’t meant to provide positive or negative feedback. Ebay users already take care of that for us. This project is aimed to appreciate and highlight the stores that are more about making money. This project was created to find and share the stores that, are run honestly, have products that are interesting, and to bring light to the unique personality of each store.

The cheapest online shopping sites. The investigation begins…

Is there really a secret?

 

Yes, but not really. Finding the cheapest online shopping sites isn’t as hard as you think it might be. Online shopping is about finding the right stores, the right online boutiques, and checking back often to find new updates and deals.

Whether you are looking for wholesale clothing, online fashion, or just the best deals, eBay stores are my preferred destination when I want to buy online.

Let’s investigate further…