February 27, 2014 | Debbi A. Ballard | Comments 0
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How Skimlinks Can Simplify Referred Sales

copyright, 2014, Debbi A. Ballard All rights reserved worldwide.

When I was approached by their PR rep to interview Buck Smith, the VP of Sales and Business Development for Skimlinks, at the recent Affiliate Summit held in Las Vegas, I had already been aware of the company. The firm had been recommended by various individuals because of how Skimlinks can simplify referred sales online for affiliate marketers. I wanted to know more so I agreed to the interview.

Many marketers are frustrated with the daily tasks of managing their endeavors due to the ever increasing competitive demands. Hence striving to accomplish something in a simpler faster way makes sense.

However, as I warn my clients…

Never sacrifice functionality for simplicity.

I don’t take a narrow minded view here of “functionality.” So, for example, when it comes to something like developing a functional mlm compensation plan for a client, by functionality I refer to what it is the client wants to accomplish. This addresses issues relating to stimulating retail sales, facilitating customer and networker retention, inherently incentivizing the growth of productive, tightly knit sales downline organizations, and much more. In addition everything must be constructed within legal and financial parameters while addressing other related issues.

Hence many variables must be considered and components must be integrated properly into the compensation plan to make it “functional.” It is by no means an easy task. That’s why our clients come to us for assistance.

Many start-ups that approach my firm asking us to develop an mlm compensation plan stress how they want a simple plan. And at what cost to the company and to its independent networkers? Is management willing to give up having ranks, special bonuses, and other critical components that are important in creating continuous production, loyalty, sustainability, and typically higher incomes for the networkers? And, of course, what impacts the networkers also impacts the bottom line for the company itself.

Hence, clients very quickly rethink their priorities understanding that some complexities are necessary in a functional compensation plan. They realize that sacrificing functionality for simplicity is not in their best interests nor in the best interests of their networkers.

It is interesting to note here that this is an issue many affiliate marketing program managers are grappling with…how to make for a more attractive commission payout (on referred sales, leads or clicks) while still maintaining a simple payout structure similar to that which affiliates are accustomed.

And the ensuing question relates to how to do this while addressing the additional legal issues presented if a multi-tiered payout structure is considered to provide for a greater affiliate income opportunity. In that situation the enhanced structural elements will cause regulators to view the payout as a network marketing or what is also referred to as an mlm (multilevel marketing) compensation plan payout.

But I don’t want to digress.

How Functionality and Simplicity Relates to Skimlinks

Skimlinks has vowed to help marketers simplify their lives…give them the functionality they need in promoting marketing offers online whereby they can earn commissions on referred sales in a simpler, faster manner. So how does Skimlinks purport to do that and do it in a way that it is “functional” addressing the needs and wants of affiliates, merchants and Skimlinks itself?

Merchants have an advantage when affiliates can work with tools that can simplify their work and increase their revenues. Skimlinks provides various tools that help affiliates do just that. When an affiliate is approved by Skimlinks, Buck says that they immediately have access to over 18,000 advertisers offering an impressive array of products. There is no cost to utilize Skimlinks. Installation is easy and a Wordpress plugin is available.

With Skimlinks, any regular product or merchant link can be converted instantly into an affiliate’s existing affiliate link. In addition if there are any references to certain specific products in a post on your blog, those references can be turned into new affiliate links for you automatically when a visitor clicks on them.

You don’t have to worry about securing a lot of different product feeds from the various networks and merchants. Skimlinks gives you all the product feeds in one place. You can utilize Skimlinks’ Product API to search one aggregated product feed. There is also what Skimlinks calls their Link API which is great for mobile apps and for testing your own click actions on your site. It is an option available as an alternative to their javascript.

Via Skimlinks Editor, Buck stated that from your browser you can actually see what each merchant is paying, the purchasing options, and then you can share monetizable links. And Skimlinks makes shortening any links easy as well with their own URL Shortener. Your monetized links can be easily shortened when you tweet, post to Facebook or other sites other than your own, or email. You can also monetize your RSS feeds using Skimlinks.

Reporting? Analytics? You bet. Skimlinks provides reports that give you, among other things, data relating to what products/services your visitors like and the merchants from whom they like to purchase. You’ll also be able to see where those visitors went after they left your site.

So it’s pretty obvious that Skimlinks has a lot of tools that can simplify referred sales for affiliates. But what about the other factors relating to the overall “functionality” of Skimlinks? Are affiliates sacrificing financially for the simplicity offered? Do affiliates really get paid as they should or is the commission less because of the slice taken by Skimlinks as paid to them by the merchants and/or the networks like Commission Junction, Rakuten LinkShare, etc.?

How does the arrangement with the merchants/networks lend itself to the functionality relating to making financial sense for both Skimlinks and the affiliates who use them?

Buck said that in negotiating with the merchants and the networks, they are able to secure higher payouts. Those higher payouts typically allow for the affiliates to receive similar commissions to those which they would have received if they had gone to the merchants or networks directly (while still allowing for additional compensation for Skimlinks itself).

OK. That sounds good.

Now what about disclosures and other legal issues?

Skimlinks does provide important legal information regarding the posting of link disclosures by affiliates needed on their sites, in emails, and when they use monetized links off their sites. This is contained in the Terms of Service posted by Skimlinks.

In addition each network has its own set of terms and conditions in their respective agreements. With Skimlinks you don’t have to sign up as an affiliate with several different networks but instead you can just sign up with Skimlinks and access thousands of products to market. This is something many marketers could find enticing as again, it simplifies things and saves a lot of time.

However it’s important to know exactly what the Skimlinks agreement contains relative to those networks (and to any merchants). Affiliates need to clearly know what they can or cannot do when working with the tools provided. So now you know how Skimlinks can simplify referred sales. But take a deep breath and before you start using this award winning content monetization service, read the agreement and then move forward if you so choose.

In my opinion, Skimlinks is something worth considering if you’re looking to simplify your business and increase profits from your content. They don’t appear to be sacrificing functionality for simplicity and that’s a good thing. Let me know how you do by commenting below.

Debbi A. Ballard was the first to introduce comprehensive marketing and management consulting services for the network marketing industry which is also referred to as multilevel marketing (mlm). Her firm, INLC, has led the way in addressing the crossover issues relative to network marketing and affiliate marketing and has developed proprietary convergence strategies that can create a synergy between those marketing models.

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Filed Under: MLM ArticlesMLM and Affiliate Marketing


About the Author: MLM Consultant, Expert Witness, Author, Blogger, Speaker and CEO of International Network Liaison Corporation...but more importantly, wife, mother, daughter, aunt, cousin and friend.

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