3 E-tailer Mistakes and Affiliate Program Management Parallels

It so happened that over the past few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of online shopping, and while altogether sad/uncomfortable it was interesting to register some of the mistakes online merchants (aka e-tailers) make. As I was watching them commit their mistakes, I couldn’t help but also make parallels with affiliate program management. Today I’d like to bring you the 3 mistakes that I, as a consumer, found most bothersome, and also list the corresponding affiliate management mistakes you want to avoid.

Mistake #1: Failing to Acknowledge Order Receipt — It is not enough for your “thank you” page to confirm the order placement. You also want to email your customer their order confirmation. Simple, isn’t it? Unfortunately, not all merchants do this.

Affiliate Management Parallel: Affiliate application confirmation receipt. Are you confirming those? If so, what exactly does the text of your confirmation say? Do you commit to respond within a certain time period? Ideally you want to do it within the first 24-48 hours after the receipt of the application [more here].

Mistake #2: Canceling an Order Without Notice — This is one of the most irritating ones. When a merchant acts as if that order is only their business, and cancels it without notifying you (either because they ran out of stock, or because your credit card address didn’t match your mailing address, or on any other reason), that spells out one word to the customer: dis·re·spect!

Affiliate Management Parallel: Failing to send out a personalized “affiliate application declined” email. Just as is the case with merchants losing absolutely legit orders when failing to communicate their concerns/circumstances to the consumer (who told them these situations are hopeless?), so it is with merchants declining affiliate applications and failing to notify affiliates of it. Did you know that a missing or an improperly-worded decline email may hinder the development of your affiliate program [more here]?

Mistake #3: Accepting an Order, but Failing to Notify Your Customer That the Item is Out of Stock — I’m sure you’re familiar with such situations. You place your order, the merchant gets their authorization to charge your credit card, but doesn’t ship merchandise, because it is actually not available. They don’t notify you of this, but wait until it’s back in stock, which is when they ship it to you hitting your card weeks (if not months) later. Is it really that hard to keep the customer informed throughout the process?

Affiliate Management Parallel: Accepting affiliates into your program, but failing to motivate them to activate (put up your links), and not equipping them with the tools/links/tips/instructions necessary to start producing for your affiliate program [more here].

As is obvious, all of the above are essentially communication problems. One of my favorite people in business, John Kotter, says that “good communication does not mean that you have to speak in perfectly formed sentences and paragraphs” or “slickness” of speech. “Simple and clear go a long way.” So, if you’re reading this today, realizing that you aren’t simple and clear in one (or more) of the above, it’s time to get that changed!

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  1. Pingback: Bloggers Digest February 2011 « Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog

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