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Maximizing Data Feeds

Posted on 5.06.2007
By Wade D. Schlosser
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Search engine optimization (SEO) is time consuming and becoming increasingly competitive. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be expensive. As large merchants squeeze out the very affiliates they have recruited to sell their products, one of the last great venues for affiliate marketers are product or data feeds. While it’s not an easy task, when developed carefully the rewards are immense – more high-quality visitors ready and willing to spend.

Value to merchants and their affiliates
Data feeds enable merchants to distribute an array of their product catalog to affiliates in a scalable and efficient manner. First, merchants typically build a file containing affiliate links, product pricing and descriptions, coupons and discounts of every product in their catalog. This file is then distributed to each affiliate so they may easily upload the file into a database on their website to drive product specific sales.

For merchants, data feeds are an effective way to distribute product information and links and drive brand recognition. And for affiliates, feeds help display products, thousands of coupons, recent price drops, products search and price comparison
information on their websites.

Current and potential uses
Data feeds are typically used by affiliates to build merchant storefronts on their website. The most common form of data feeds are FTP Download, HTTP or Web services (SOAP/XML). Yyou can find a sample html to cut and paste from http://www.goldencan.com/samplecode.aspx and find other affiliate sites using different methods of data feeds.

Carsten Cumbrowski runs the Internet Marketing and Web Development Resources Portal Cumbrowski.com. He says, “Affiliates have different levels of sophistication and available tools. Some build links manually, some use simple scripts or software and others have a high-end enterprise server at their disposal. Some run their stuff under Windows, others use Linux. The more formats and delivery methods provided the better, and the more affiliates can and will use the feed. feed. Documentation is always king. A description of the feed structure and format takes the guess work out of the feed for the affiliate.”

Best practices for maintaining feeds
The most important aspect of data feeds is displaying accurate and up-to-date information. If you are an affiliate, make sure you keep the most current data feed the merchant has to offer. This requires checking with your merchant partner to know how often the data feed is updated. Knowing the level of affiliate support from your merchant will help greatly before blanketing your entire site with their feeds. Starting slow to test conversion rates and how often feeds are updated is highly recommended.

Where can affiliates/publishers find quality data feeds?
Quality feeds are typically found directly with the merchant, at an affiliate network (i.e. CJ, Shareasale, and AffiliateRevenue) or data feed partner like GgoldenCan or PartnerCentric. PartnerCentric manages over 40 quality programs with many of them using every form of data feed to ensure publishers are getting fresh, relevant information daily.Data feeds are an extremely effective way to display massive amounts of information in an organized fashion to your visitor base. But that doesn’t mean that as an affiliate your part of the job is finished. It is important to pre-sell and drive the most targeted traffic to your site. For some good examples of quality affiliate sites using data feeds, visit CouponCraze.com, reallybigsavings.com and FatWallet.com.

About the Author:
Wade D. Schlosser is a leading expert on Affiliate Marketing. He is a contributing author for Digital Moses Confidential - www.dmconfidential.com, a highly read, publicized online marketing newsletter. Also, he has been a guest on - www.webmasterradio.fm and the Entrepreneur.com Magazine Radio show. Having started managing nationally recognized affiliate programs in the early days of affiliate marketing, Wade is an expert in the industry. Wade is currently the Vice President for AffiliatePrograms.com.
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