Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Shutting Down This Affiliate Program"

If you've read anything about how to do affiliate marketing you have already been told that you should be cloaking your affiliate links. So today I'm not going to give you the standard reasons for cloaking your link. Instead I'm going to share a true story about what happened this morning and tell you when to use the different options available for cloaking your link.

Here's the story:

While reading my email I saw the title of today's tip in the subject line. It was an announcement from 1 of the affiliate programs I'm in and it seems they are changing their affiliate manager software. After the end of this month our old affiliate links won't work.

Because I make money every month from selling their affiliate products through blog postings and comments, I immediately rejoined their affiliate program so I could get my new affiliate links.

Now most would think I would then have edited all the blog articles to change my affiliate links and write off all the links in comments because they would no longer work. But I didn't. You see, I didn't use my affiliate link when I posted or made a comment to the blogs. I had cloaked my affiliate links with redirect files. So all I had to do was change the redirect files and now all those blog articles and comments can still make me money.

This story shows 1 of the under-stated but good reasons to cloak your affiliate links. By having your links in redirect files you can easily change them and keep those links working wherever you've placed them.

But what if you don't have your own web site? Should you still take the time to cloak your affiliate links?

Yes!!! Every affiliate link should be hidden somehow.

Here are 4 options for hiding your affiliate link and how to choose the 1 to use:

  1. Tracking URL - These are the urls created by tracking services and many autoresponder services. They not only cloak your affiliate link but they also count the number of times the link was clicked and are used primarily in emails for testing and tracking. I guess you could post these urls anywhere you wanted however they are usually very long and ugly so putting them in a blog or forum comment or in your author bio for an article isn't recommended.

  2. Redirect file on your web site. This is the best way to go if you have a web site and you are placing your link in blog comments, forum signatures, in article bios, on other sites where you can not access the link to change it and to send in your email to your list.

  3. Redirect services like linkbrander and viralurl. When you are placing your link in all the kinds of places listed in item 2 and you don't have a web site this type of service works well because you still have only 1 thing to change to keep your affiliate link working.

  4. For affiliate links that you are only advertising in places that change frequently (like our classifieds) you can use services like tinyurl and snipurl. If your affiliate link changes you can create a new url to post when the place gets updated.

While hiding your affiliate link is important, keeping your affiliate link working is just as important. So don't waste your time posting and emailing your naked affiliate links. Be prepared. Changes happen and it could be your affiliate links that are affected next time.

To Your Success,

P.S. Please leave a comment and tell me what you thought of this tip.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"A Quick And Easy Way To Save Time"

I've written several articles about spam and how it wastes our time. I even wrote about a mistake I once made that caused me to waste several days.

Well today I want to share something I discovered, tested and found that it really does cut down on the amount of spam you have to delete in your site's email inbox. But before I tell you what it is I must tell you that all the hosting services I use use cPanel for site administration. So if your host uses something else you'll have to look around and see if your host allows you to do what I did.

Most hosting services give you a default email address for your domain when you create your account. And in an earlier tip I recommended that you create your own email address for those emails from your site visitors that you really want to read. By creating your own email address you were then able to separate the valid emails from most of the spam since most spam will end up in your default email inbox. (Your default email inbox will contain all the email sent to your domain except those sent to the email addresses you've created.)

Having most of your spam in an inbox that you know you don't need to read does save some time however you must still go into that inbox and delete them unless you want to re-live my mistake.

Recently I discovered a way to save the time I was wasting deleting all the email in my default inbox and here's how I did it:

  1. Create your valid email addresses. (Hopefully you've already done this but I'll list it again just-in-case.) If you don't know how to do this you can watch the free video provided by DiscoverCPanel.

  2. After you have your email addresses created, go back to your Mail Manager Menu. Below the link for "Add/Remove/Manage Accounts" you'll see a link for "Default Address." Click "Default Address."

  3. You now see the address where all the email that isn't going to the email addresses you've created will go. Below that information is a link "Set Default Address" and you need to click it.

  4. You now see where you can define the name for your default email address but before you do read the "Hint." I've included the important part of the hint here:

    "Hint: You can enter :blackhole: to discard all incoming unrouted mail or :fail: no such address here to bounce it."

  5. Enter this bolded text in the "to" box
    :fail:no such address here
    and click change. (Be sure to include the colons.)

After you've made this change you will no longer receive any emails that are not sent to the email addresses you've created and you will no longer have to go into your default email inbox to delete unwanted email.

Before I made this change I was receiving between 300 - 2300 spam emails every week for 1 of my hosted accounts and removing them took several minutes. It was so bad I was considering hiring someone just to delete the email in the default inboxes for my hosted accounts since I have several! But now I don't have to :-)

So if you're wasting time deleting spam from your domain's email accounts try doing what I did. Then let us know if it worked for you too by leaving a comment here.

To Your Success,

P.S. BTW, I have 1 hosted account where I never received any spam to my default email address. At HostGator they have turned the default email address feature off because...

"The Default E-Mail/Catch-All feature has been disabled by default due to it contributing large amounts of e-mail flooding from Spam."

So if you're using HostGator you don't need today's tip because you're using a great service that works hard to provide the services you need and to protect you from the things you don't want.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Adware Can Steal Your Sales!

It seems there is always something new to be learned when you're doing internet marketing and today I want to share some things I learned just this week. (Actually I want to rant about it but instead I'll just give you the facts.)

Now you should already know about affiliate commission hijackers and how they can steal your affiliate commissions by replacing your affiliate link with their own when they buy something. And of course you already know that you should be using an affiliate link cloaker when you post or email your affiliate link.

Recently I received some information from that I want to share with you because:
  1. This is something all affiliates need to know.
  2. I know 1 way it's done.
First - The Information
Subject: before you install those cute smileys

I was just on the Warrior Forum browsing through all the posts that I'd missed and I came across one that really struck my eye.

The title was about how your Clickbank commissions get stolen.

Now I know probably 90% of the tricks that are used but something made me click through to see what all the fuss was about and I soon realized that this was not your typical person bypassing an affiliate link or replacing their affiliate id with yours.

Instead, it was something that is NEVER talked about and is very common yet no one, not even Clickbank is able to stop it.

It's adware.

Commonly known as spyware, but adware is cleverly disguised as your cute little avatars, smileys, and even free games.

I can go on and on.

It's estimated 30-50 million computers in the US are silently infected with adware.

Watch this video, it's not my video but I had to show you exactly how this stuff works, watch the video below

Although the video is not the best quality, I hope you took the time to watch it because it shows how some use adware to rob honest and hard working affiliates by stealing their traffic and sales.

Second - How It's Done

Before I give you some information on how it's done let me stress that this is a method that I find totally dishonest and recommend that you never, ever do it.

As you know there are many sites that offer free downloads for things like greeting cards, music, games, smilies, etc. Some, not all, some of these sites embed adware in the code you must download to use the freebies they offer on their site. This adware may cause popups to appear for no reason, change your homepage, change your search engine default, etc.

And while most would think it is always the user of the infected PC who is the 1 to suffer from the ill affects of the adware, that is not always the case.

I recently bought a product from a site with this headline ...


And I must admit I was very curious about how one could legally steal surfers and traffic.

My first clue that this method of getting sales was not totally legal came from the disclaimer as shown below...

And what was contained in this product? It contained the instructions for setting up advertising campaigns on a site that offers free downloads, has adware embedded in the downloads and uses that adware to do what was shown in the video. You can read all about this site on Wikipedia.

Now I am not going to tell you how to set up an advertising campaign on this site nor will I tell you the name of the product I bought because I don't think this type of information is of any real value except to know that it does exist and that it currently affects those affiliates selling big name ClickBank items, those buying Pay Per Click search engine traffic for popular terms and possibly many others. And according to the product I bought, there is no way to know if you're losing traffic or sales to adware users and there is currently no good way to protect yourself.

So what can we do about these affiliate commission hijackers?

  1. Use some good anti-spyware, adware and virus software to keep your machine clean.

  2. Avoid downloads except from trusted sites and if you notice your machine performing strangely after a download - clean your machine immediately.

  3. Do not support this type of unethical business conduct by putting adware on site visitors machines or by supporting a company that does.

Remember. even though the number of people who have downloaded this type of affiliate commission hijacking adware is in the millions, they still account for very little of the total internet traffic. And while you may be losing some of your traffic and sales to these hijackers, you must keep going forward and not spend your time stressing about things you can't control.

To Your Success,

P.S. Please leave a comment and let us know what you think about affiliate commission hijackers or this form of stealing.

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