Recently a new merchant we’re working with made the move over to Pepperjam Network (they’re an affiliate network and yes, that’s an affiliate link), which forced us to get familiar with them.

After a few days of working with their backend a bit, I have a few suggestions the honchos over there may want to give some thought to. I could have sent this privately to Pepperjam, but figured other indie affiliate managers might be able to pick up some helpful information from this as well. So, here are five things I’d change if I were part of Pepperjam’s management team:

1. Sex may sell, but it doesn’t inspire confidence

I know sex sells, but when I visit their homepage, it is so obvious to me that they’re attempting to game their “never got a date in high school cause I was managing the AV club but how do you like me now that I’m an affiliate rockstar” constituency.

Oh sure, I’m a woman, which means I must be all in a huff over the “objectification of women”… not. Actually, I’m probably the opposite. My problem with it more is that I don’t want a bimbo managing my affiliate account and I don’t think most other professional affiliate marketers do either.

Deep down, I know the girls featured on the homepage likely aren’t bimbos, but using them in a “sex sells” fashion certainly doesn’t go to show me their qualifications to help me make a lot of money.

There is a reason booth babes come from modeling agencies and that most companies don’t put their cute account reps in tank tops, mini skirts and a pair of four inch fuck me heels. Because while sex may grab my attention, it doesn’t get my confidence. I’d stop showing me how simple you think my mind is and show me how you can benefit my business.

2. Don’t make it hard for me to decline offers I didn’t ask for

I’ve been a member of Pepperjam Network a very short time, but have received over 60 spam messages in the backend from PJ merchants that have zero to do with any site listed in my profile.

If you’re going to let your merchants spam me without any rules regarding their actually needing to be related to my site, that’s fine. Hey, maybe some people like receiving the offers. But you damn well need to give me a way to delete all of that spam at once. Currently, I have to accept or decline each of the 60 plus offers I’ve been randomly sent individually.

Additionally, when I click on the “manage relationships” tab – instead of getting the obvious – a listing of merchants I have relationships with – I am instead first presented with my above mentioned wall of spam offers. I need to then choose the “active” setting from the drop down tab to be shown what I am actually looking for – my current merchants.

I get that you have other merchants that might be of interest to me, but I don’t think this is the way to present them to me. Explain to merchants they should only send offers to affiliates that have sites in their profiles that match their offerings, give me a way to delete all offers I didn’t ask for at once and please show me what I expect to see when I click the “manage relationships” tab.

3. Sorting saves time and increases satisfaction

Pepperjam has a listing of merchants with datafeeds easily accessible (which is awesome) but gives you no way to sort the listing of datafeed merchants to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. I’d appreciate the ability to sort the list by merchant name and product count.

While we’re at it, instead of giving me information that doesn’t mean much to me, like program ID numbers, I’d instead like to see the commission rates of each program, cookie duration and network EPC (and also be able to sort by them).

The easier you make it for me to find datafeed merchants to work with than other networks do, the more likely you’d end up being my first stop when looking for new partners.

4. Don’t assume I know what you do

Pepperjam offers a ton of reports. The problem is that they don’t offer tutorials on what they do and what they’re useful for. They likely have the best SID reporting I’ve seen, but if you don’t know what SID reporting is, you won’t be told either.

While the backend has tons of resources for tools, industry information and motivation, it lacks the obvious – resources for getting the most out of the advanced reporting that Pepperjam offers. “Being better” is great, providing I have the knowledge to understand that you are.

5. Don’t make me want to leave as soon as possible

I get that you guys like your color scheme. It’s an awesome color scheme. But the white text on black background is horrid for those of us who use your site. I’m 31, have perfect vision and I get a headache after about a half hour of using the Pepperjam backend. I can only imagine what it’s like for those without perfect vision or young(ish) eyes.

I don’t wander around your backend and I don’t surf around looking to see who your new merchants are. I don’t even run all the reports I’d like to. All I want to do is get in, get what I need and get out before I start to feel physical pain from your color scheme. Sure, it helps you look different, but there might be a reason no one else looks like you.

It probably seems like I have a lot of complaints, but I actually think Pepperjam is a pretty decent network (if you’re not an affiliate and want to be, you can find their sign up form here and yes, it’s an affiliate link) and they have decent merchants. They still need to improve a few things… but if they do, they’d be a favorite network for me.

Is Pinterest part of your marketing plan?

Check out my recent case study that shows how I generated 234,000+ pins (and counting) to a site with only 45 posts. I give you all the details (with specifics) here.