How Not to Increase Sales from Affiliates

There is a good rule in the affiliate space that you should leave your top affiliates be to do what they do best and if they need help they’ll ask for it. And common sense would tell you that if they ask for it, with top ranks in Google for your most competitive generic keywords, you should provide help. But, there are a lot of affiliate managers out there lacking common sense.

On the heels of How Not to Gain New Affiliates, I give you how not to get sales increases from current affiliates…

Tactic One:

When a top affiliate tries to contact you, make sure there is no way possible to do so

I have one large vendor via Commission Junction who lists no contact email address for their program. They also are not crediting me for a portion of my sales, but I have no clue why. I can’t contact the vendor directly, so I’ve tried various channels through Commssion Junction with promises to get the vendor to contact me, with no results. I rank directly underneath them for their brand name in Google. It isn’t like I’m some person making three sales a month wanting to take up their precious time. I rank. For their brand name.

This company takes the time to mail me a damn newsletter through the Commission Junction system every single month telling me about new creatives and special promotions. Here’s an idea… if they want more sales, try providing me with a damn contact address and some support.

They’re not crediting me for some sales, so guess what? Since I can’t get confirmation as to why they aren’t, I’m forced to either stop promoting them as hard or to change the content of that page to convince people that their brand isn’t a great choice and they should go with a competitor who is responding to my emails.

Tactic Two:

Be unresponsive to requests complete with instructions for landing pages that actually convert

I have a site that ranks very well for very generic keywords in a space. The site has multiple vendors and I’m sending traffic to one that converts like shit because they send people looking for a widget to their homepage, which features widgets, whatzits, woozits and whatchamacalits. Once you click on a drop down menu of course, because the homepage is nothing but a big ass brochure.

I have repeatedly asked Performics (the network who handles this vendor) to create me an affiliate link that leads directly to the widgets homepage (I’m not asking for deep links, all I want is a lander to the main widgets section).

My conversion rate with this vendor is less than half what it is with all other vendors. I send them traffic daily and the traffic is from generic keywords. I would like to put more promotion into this vendor and target their brand keywords, but it is wasted effort for me if I can’t convert the visitors into sales.

I can’t get an email for the vendor directly. I sent requests for this in December, and to be fair, received responses from Performics saying they were creating new links and were happy for the input. February is almost over. The only new links for this product created were new banners with the specific product on it, with links that lead (breathe) directly to the homepage.

In case I wasn’t clear… people looking for widgets want to land on a page that screams widgets, not that screams your brand and makes me look for a place to find widgets. Affiliates promote programs heavier when they make it easy for visitors to find and buy widgets.

Tactic Three:

Ignore emails from top affiliates asking for a product that they have sold thousands upon thousands of for you so they can do extensive content on the product

Yes, I can afford to buy this one hundred dollar item. But, considering that I’ve sold thousands of them for you since becoming an affiliate, I think asking for a demo isn’t too big a stretch. I want to create extensive content to target horizontal keywords for your brand that you currently don’t rank for. All I want is for you to send me a demo and answer a few questions about the product. Ignoring my request hurts your bottom line, because I am now writing the content for the vendor who did respond to my request and will be heavily pushing them as a result.

Tactic Four:

Offer a datafeed that isn’t functional, have no clue how to make it functional and drag your heels on making changes to it

I have a site that is ranking in a highly competitive sector. Let me repeat, the ranks are already there. I contacted an affiliate program who offered a datafeed for the sector to be able to pimp the site to the high heavens by taking their datafeed and customizing it in a way that makes it useful in ways other than the generic uses most affiliates would use.

On the assumption that I was dealing with an educated company (after all, they offered a feed), I started to send them immediate traffic from a different site that was sending them quite a bit of sales while working on the main site I originally contacted them for.

The affiliate program was responsive, yet clueless. They didn’t grasp the possibilities their feed could be used for and requests to have items added to the feed (that should have been there in the first place) took weeks at a time to be added. Weeks at a time as I’m sitting on a site that isn’t monetized anywhere near the capacity it could be, ranking on competitive terms.

I’m losing money via their delays and have no choice… I have to locate another affiliate program that understands their feed possibilities and can provide me with a functional one in an appropriate timeframe. Not only will they not get the new sales from the site I contacted them about, I will be taking the sales from the different site they’ve been enjoying when I go.

Tactic Five:

Skim sales, credit them when confronted and make the affiliate chase you down on a repeated basis over the same issue

This is a problem I had with an old affiliate program. Skimming is a part of the game and no one will convince me that all affiliate programs don’t do it in some way, shape or form. But, this one program took it above normal levels to the point that it was blatantly obvious.

Their main site was converting at about a two percent conversion rate. They were receiving traffic from me, as well as several sub affiliates of mine. We were ranking on highly targeted terms and sending a huge amount of traffic with all of us combined. Yet, our conversion rates would slip to well below one percent.

One of us would call the affiliate program up, complain and they would find some “glitch” that caused some sales to be missed, credit them to our accounts and apologize. But, it was a constant occurrence. Finally, one of my sub affiliates got fed up and told the affiliate manager to stop skimming our accounts (I’m using a G rated version of that conversation). The affiliate manager responded by asking him, I swear I’m not making this up, “Skimming? What’s skimming?”

Finally, the tug of war became too much and babysitting this program to make sure they credited our sales became too much of a hassle, even if the money was good. Myself and my sub affiliates all stopped promoting the program, moved focus onto other industries, continued to make money and left this affiliate program holding their… well, something in their hands.

So, to review, there are five things you should do if you would like to keep your sales as low and your affiliates as frustrated as possible:

One: Offer no way for affiliates to get in touch with you and provide no responses to inquiries they do manage to get to you.

Two: Don’t listen to seasoned affiliates when they advise you on landing pages. When they say visitors want to go to a page about widgets when they click on a link for widgets, they clearly are blowing smoke out their asses.

Three: Do not grant the requests of affiliates who have generated six figures or more in sales for you per year for a demo of your product to test it out and create even more sales.

Four: Make sure you have absolutely no idea how to use your datafeed and after an affiliate has granted your request to explain how to make it more functional, be sure to take weeks to get it done.

Five: Skim sales heavily and blatantly and then deny any knowledge of even knowing what skimming is (an affiliate manager not knowing the term skimming is like an accountant not knowing the term audit, but affiliates are idiots, so you should be ok).

If you follow these five tips, you won’t have to worry about dealing with many top affiliates or missing your sales increase quotas from your bosses.

About Rae Hoffman

Rae Hoffman aka "Sugarrae" is an affiliate marketing veteran and the CEO of PushFire, a search marketing agency specializing in SEO audits and link building strategies. She is also the author of the often controversial Sugarrae blog. You can connect with Rae via Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

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