Major Affiliate Communication Failure

Posted on10 CommentsCategoriesAffiliate Program Management

Earlier this morning I tweeted something out (and received an quick reaction from an affiliate):

Immediately people started emailing me for the details. So, here is the text that I was referring to (names removed; we’re trying to learn from the mistakes of others, and not point fingers):

Dear Affiliates

for many months [Name of merchant here] has not allowed any coupon or incentive web sites yet we are still getting affiliate transacations from coupon web site violaters. Please will all coupon affiliates remove themseves from our program?

[Name of business owner here]

I guess, I miscalculated the mistakes. Taking into account the fact that the first sentence doesn’t start with a capital “F” — am I the only one who appreciates the irony of starting this announcement/notification with such a letter? — as well as the unnecessary capitalization of “affiliates” in the address, and the lack of comma after it, that makes a total of 6 spelling and grammatical mistakes. But the number is irrelevant. Misspellings and punctuation errors that we see above are nothing compared to the bigger error committed by this merchant — incorrect overall approach to affiliates. Yes, an “error”, not a “mistake”. Orlando Aloysius Battista was known for saying that “An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” Unfortunately, this is not the first instance this particular merchant sends out such strange-looking emails.

At least 3 major things were done wrong here:

  1. Failed on the individualized consideration front — Note the lack of personal address (which is possible using the shortcodes on the affiliate network they’re on), as well as lack of targeting (the email was sent to all affiliates in the program; not just those who own coupon websites).
  2. Accused affiliates of violating rules that aren’t even in place — Note how couponers are called “coupon web site violaters” [spelling of last word retained as in the original]. Well, let me tell you: (a) promotion via coupon websites is neither prohibited in the merchant’s program description, nor in their Terms of Service agreement, (b) this affiliate program is operating on an auto-approval of affiliate applications (hence, it’s inevitable that you’ll get coupon-oriented sites joining you), and (c) the merchant has a 20% OFF coupon (with an expiration set at “Never”) among the creatives they offer to their affiliates.
  3. Ignored two of the more important P’s: proofreading and preview — …and this really helped magnify the above two points.

Have I missed anything else?

10 thoughts on “Major Affiliate Communication Failure

  1. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I saw this email come through this morning. I had already removed them from my site but was still in the program. I was actually on the phone with an OPM when it came in and I read it to him. We both had a good laugh over the MANY things that were wrong with it. Aside from just looking incredibly unprofessional, I couldn’t understand why they would send this out months after sending out a similar one. Makes me wonder if they are even paying attention to who the “violaters” are and if they are doing anything about them or just keep sending out these emails hoping that they will just go away. It’s hard to have any confidence at all in an affiliate program when you see emails like this come from them.

    1. You have a very good point there, Tricia: some merchants seem to think that sending out warnings, or even prohibiting something in the TOS (which this merchant didn’t do) will safeguard them from “violaters”. 🙂 In reality, however, program agreements and other preventive measures/rule are only the first step. Once you have those in place, you want to actively police and enforce compliance. And definitely not by simply sending out emails similar to the above-quoted one…

  2. Unfortunately, I see mistakes like that a lot in this industry. There are so many mistakes in writing creative copy, sometimes I don’t use ads because I don’t know basic information – is a promotion a % off or a $ amount off? When is the expiration date? Why is a promo that expired last year still in the network? Drives me crazy.

      1. Geno, you wrote about writing mistakes in emails. I meant to expand this to include errors in creative copy. Rereading my original comment, I can see how I didn’t connect the two well. I was thinking, if someone doesn’t proofread emails, then they probably don’t proofread creative copy either. Errors in both are bad for merchant-affiliate relations, right?
        To me, errors in email communication and errors in creative copy are similar.

        I don’t want to spam your blog. You have the right to block my comments if you want to.

        1. Carl, I hear you now. My original post, however, was on much more than the spelling/grammatical mistakes. As I wrote, “misspellings and punctuation errors that we see above are nothing compared to the bigger error committed by this merchant — incorrect overall approach to affiliates”.

  3. I hope someone points this post to said merchant.

    1. Use “Dear !!FIRSTNAME!!,” – check.
    2. Clear T&C agreement & manual approval – check & check.
    3. Preview & proofread – check (another pair of eyes wouldn’t hurt here though).
    4. First laugh of the day – check 😀

  4. …and you are right on the money with that short code, Kush! While on other networks it may be {RECIPIENT_NAME} or some other format, since this particular merchant is on ShareASale, it should be !!FIRSTNAME!! in his case.

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