Internet Marketing Professional

Set up, set upon and sent out into the world of Affiliate Marketing

Posted on: July 10, 2007

Everyone who’s ever set an affiliate program live will know that the most difficult part of the process is not the endless to-ing and fro-ing about the terms and conditions, PPC bid rights (who can bid on what and where), etc. Intead most time is spent developing tagging and testing of affiliate links. This theoretically can take a couple days, but alas I have never had that joyous experience of a quick set up and testing period. Rather, they have gone on for at minimum a week – something will always go wrong, shockingly an implementation error – which in all honesty you’d expect more from a web agency (always far worse when you have two agencies working on a camapign if you have your web development agency also running your affiliate things go far better) who should understand how all this jazz works. Nevertheless, this is a problem and it does drag on and on until it’s right – endless testing and re-testing trying to figure out why it doesn’t work. In my experience, it’s the non-session test sales that don’t seem to work and usually the website people don’t get why this is an issue – can you hear me grinding my teeth? You can lead a developer to water…

So, understandably if it comes to pass that for one reason or another the decision has to be made as to whether or not we should close a program down on one network and re-launch on another, I become a bit hesitant and in all honesty begin to cringe a bit – ok a lot. I’ve had some bad experiences with tracking problems (known to a few of us as shhhhhhhh problems), and the thought of moving a perfectly functioning and performing program from one network to another fills me with dread. What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, besides the obvious tracking problems that can arise and fill my days with much hair pulling, there are other factors as well.

Factor number one: taking a perfectly functioning program in mid-run is kind of like suddenly stopping mid-marathon – you lose momentum, rhythm, you feel rather sickly, and it takes a long time to get back into the swing of things. Affiliates will have to be informed, and more importantly convinced to switch their links over to the new network and continue promoting the program. There are two problems that may arise here – the affiliates involved may lose confidence in the program and more importantly in the agency or merchant managing the program. A second problem is that there may be a number of affiliates who bring in one or a few sales a month which on their own isn’t fantastically amazing, but collectively are important and make a big difference to the performance of the program. These affiliates may not see the point in taking the time and effort to switch their links over to the new network and could drop the program altogether.

Factor number two: some affiliates – big and smaller – may not like the new network that’s been chosen for the program. Don’t knock this point – while affiliates like to spend time on profitable programs, they are independent and can chose to take up or drop a program – and if they’ve had bad dealings with a particular network, or have fallen out of love with them, affiliates may chose not to promote a program. This is such an important point, that many merchants tend to have their programs running on a couple networks.
Factor number three: transitioning the program from the current network to the new network seamlessly and with minimal impact on sales and revenue generation. This is a lot easier said than done – first and foremost is setting up the new network’s tags on the merchant’s confirmation page and test to make sure they work. You’ve also got to ensure that the new tags don’t interfere with the existing ones and in essence causing all hell to break loose. This is definitely not an exaggeration – I speak from great and insane experience that this can and will happen. Then you’ve got to try to migrate the affiliates over to the new network – this is no easy feat either. The issues that may arise from this could include a drop in sales and revenue while affiliates spend the time changing their links and testing, and potentially the loss of some affiliates in the transition – whether they’re the big hitters or smaller sales generating affiliates, losing productive affiliates will impact terribly on a program.

And so there ends the counting and listing of all the issues and problems that swirl around my head when I consider what can and will happen when programs switch networks, etc. I’ve only had to shut down a program on a network and open it on a new one in the case of a badly performing network – so I am understandably apprehensive about the above. Whatever the reasons that force you to face a similar situation, at least I’ve hopefully armed you with a list of all the things that could and probably will go wrong. It isn’t all doom and gloom though – it’s dealable and doable, and just requires a little foresight and planning. But it isn’t something that should be taken lightly – consider the impact on your program, on other programs on the fallen network, and most importantly the impact on your client’s business.

This is a guest article written by Miss Kerry Kasim, of Equator Internet Marketing

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