Some merchants are just too busy (or is it too lazy?) to do affiliate marketing the right way. From the setup of their affiliate program [see my yesterday’s post] throughout the very life of it, some merchants just refuse to pay attention to important things… And, at the end of the day, they are the ones that reap the negative outcomes of such attitude.
I will not talk about adware and other types of unethical affiliates today. Neither will I talk about improper affiliate program management styles. What I want to blog about here is something that may seem insignificant to some, but it has proven to be a cause of an end of a promising affiliate program. I won’t mention the merchant’s name, but, in my practice, this scenario has repeated itself more than once, and with different merchants too. Some made the right conclusions, but this particular one has been too “busy” to learn/change.
The question is one of the merchant remembering to clear their browser’s cookies if they are clicking affiliate links and also using the same machine to key-in customer orders received through other marketing channels. Yes, something as harmless as this (in comparison with all the other things I write about) can bury an affiliate program. Upon looking over my correspondence with this particular merchant I see that over 7 months I have been explaining to them that when they click an affiliate link one day, and then place through a non-affiliate-referred order on the same machine a few days later, the commission gets credited to the account of the affiliate whose link was clicked last, and there is nothing strange about this. This is how the tracking system works, and to avoid situations like these, you, as a merchant, want to clear your browser’s cookies. I have even put together a separate “how to” page on How to Clear Browser’s Cookies providing step-by-step instructions on how to do it both in Firefox and Internet Explorer… But some merchants are just too lazy to learn! Over the course of 7 months I have been receiving e-mails that read:
I am very concerned… I want to make sure the last six weeks of transactions are confirmed as legitimate referrals from you. This is very alarming. I would like you to look over manually and make sure we are paying on actual referrals as I do not understand how this error could have happened…
A friend ordered this [Details of Transaction]. [Name of Employee] took this manual yet it went in as an affiliate-referred order.
I just placed this order online for my friend. Can you explain why it
went through here? This is so strange…
And every time I patiently explained that it is the cookie that is set on the company machine that is triggering it, and pointed to the instructions on how to clear them. You will be surprised to see the replies I got from this merchant. Here are just a few of them:
Many just do not know how to do this…
I know, but ignoring the instructions won’t fix the issue. It is exactly because many “do not know how to do this” that I have put together this page — to make it easier for you to learn “how to do this”. The whole process takes less than a few minutes.
Unfortunately, the merchant has just never found the time (and we’re talking 1-2 minutes!!) to learn. As a result, the current affiliate program’s reversal rate had gone over the 60% mark, and it is just not looking like they care.
Too busy, or too lazy, the main concern is not about the choice of adjective to use here. The main point is this: merchants should never ignore their affiliate program, thinking that things that require their involvement will just work out somehow on their own. Your affiliate program is your marketing campaign. Run it like one! If you do not have the time to treat it seriously, it can lead to all kids of negative consequences for your company and your brand (just like any loosely managed marketing campaign will).