Affiliate Product Launches I Refuse To Promote

I am sure every affiliate goes through the same dilemma, whether they are within the “internet marketing” niche in some way, or even those in other varied niches.
There are so many products and product launches, grabbing attention is difficult.

This guide or checklist is for product owners to think about. Very few of the points raised are a deal-breaker.

Deal Breakers

  • Junk products
  • Don’t fit my primary target audience
  • Poor treatment of customers e.g.
    • Support tickets unanswered
    • Major product issues not addressed in a timely manner
    • Heavily moderated forum – only “happy bunny” threads
  • Poor treatment of affiliates e.g.
    • Lack of or late payment
    • Sneaky changes in payment options bypassing affiliates
    • Change of affiliate system without notification
    • Radical change in deal structure
  • Generally dishonest sales pages
  • Skimming Sales

Major Issues

  • Tracking problems
  • Disappearing accounting data with no explanation – if I made a sale, and then it is refunded, I need a record of it all. I need the numbers to add up
  • I really need SubID tracking to be able to use PPC
  • I love the ability to deep link to content
  • Upsell Hell
  • Viral Hell – (see previous post)
  • Major Sales Page leaks
  • Excessive promotion of 3rd party affiliate products in launch materials – if your free ebook is crammed full of affiliate links that I don’t receive a benefit from, it is effectively the same as if I was sending my traffic to a PPC review landing page using someone else’s affiliate links.
  • Promoting 3rd party offers on a mailing list built with my traffic rather than focusing on the intended launch product during the launch period.
  • Excessive promotion of 3rd party offers in general
  • Teaching some methods I don’t agree with
  • Promoting products I wouldn’t promote due to major issues/deal-breakers
  • Integration marketing – sounds nice in theory, in practice if your added value is a load of free offers from your cronies, that I don’t get a piece of the action on, there is a problem.
  • No way to export SubID data
  • No way to export, or be pushed sales data
  • Elements of Proof – proof used on the sales page that is possibly factually accurate, but misrepresented
    • AWStats for traffic measurement?
    • Your Clickbank / Paypal sales didn’t mention PPC costs, affiliate payouts, established list just from previous product launches in the niche etc.
    • The testimonials are from direct business partners
    • When you tested your sales page for conversion, was it with a very warm house list of buyers? Thought so…

Significant Issues

  • Payment period – if I am paying for traffic, I want to be paid by you before I have to pay my traffic costs.
  • Checks (Cheques) – especially if low value – I can still sorely remember receiving my first cheque from Linkshare, for something like $2.73, that my bank wanted me to pay a $20 fee to cash, and I would receive the money in 6 weeks. I have a better bank now, but offer alternatives.
  • Paypal – whilst I hate the transaction charges, especially currency, in many ways it is easier for accounting
  • No IBAN support – Having to qualify by receiving a number of checks is just adding friction. If an affiliate knows about the benefit of receiving funds directly, they are going to make this worth while. (I am not sure if there are international banking regulations forcing a few checks to establish identity)
  • Private tracking systems – I appreciate the advantages of using Infusionsoft for a publisher with a refined sales funnel, but why do I have to have a separate login and accounting panel for every single program?
  • Customer/2nd Tier/Opt-in For Life That Changes – often caused by changes in affiliate tracking system. Suddenly the residual you were expecting dries up, and you had been ramping up on PPC
  • Pushed Data or API – I want to be able to offer incentives automatically with all affiliate offers that allow it (where there is a transaction), and I don’t want customers to have to wait for it. I know there are solutions by offering the bonus directly on the thank you page, but in some ways that is a little clumsy.

The following might be looked on by many as “par for the course” of big launches

Stealing Sales

Imagine I sent you 100 opt-ins for your product, but you didn’t get any sales. A few weeks later you offer exactly the same product as a bonus if the prospective customer buys an affiliate product.

 

  • It could be looked on that I didn’t do a good enough job in preselling or boosting my offer with bonuses, thus it is your right to enhance your offer of another product with the original product as a bonus and take all the cash.
  • Alternatively I sent you a great prospect who is now a buyer, yet made nothing from my efforts – the lack of initial sales could have been your own value proposition, sales letter, etc, things out of my control.

This is something that is really hard to prove, because there is so much split-testing and list segmentation going on – I might have seen you make the offer only because I am on your buyers list, and that the prospects were sent something else

Solutions?

  • Have products that you only ever offer as upsells or bonuses
  • Extremely complex cooperative tracking

Many respectable marketers do the first option, and have tons of loyal affiliates possibly because of it.
The second option I might eventually have a solution for, it has been a constant gnawing problem in my head for 4 years.

Servers and Launch Material Delivery

This I can break down into 2 phases

  • Primary server stability – I don’t care how much unexpected traffic a launch caused, you should have been able to handle it if you really have the high quality support team in the background.
  • Video delivery – You have no idea how bad Brightcove video delivery is from Europe, and also Ustream recorded sessions. They don’t support the ability to buffer a whole video. Amazon is a little better, certainly from the UK, but in Poland half the time I have to open a browser and go and make a coffee.

Note: Amazon also isn’t an ideal solution for premium membership content – I haven’t seen an Amazon implementation yet that didn’t reveal the download location in the Http headers, though it is possible to secure more effectively, probably requiring an EC2 instance to feed unique expiring links.

Reciprocity, Karma & Great Stuff

There are tons of counter arguments – amazing free value can win against almost any issue. There are a few more I could add, but let me know your “pet peeves” in the comments.

Watch out for another post tomorrow, I won’t be pulling any punches

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Comments

  1. says

    Excellent post Andy… makes a great checklist for anyone wanting to recruit affiliates or looking at what to promote as an affiliate.

  2. says

    This is one of the rare post I actually comment on. Thanks for sharing such valuable information. I am just starting with affiliate marketing and you just gave me plenty to think about. You mentioned many things I wasn’t even aware of. Now I will be much more careful when choosing appropriate affiliate products to promote.

  3. says

    Stealing sales is a serious issue that will turn off any prospective buyer or affiliate company. That checklist is really helpful to clear up any gray areas!

  4. says

    You have raised some very common issues that happen many of the times in business. And situation is even worse if you are freelancer some times you didn’t get the payment for you hard work in promotion.

  5. says

    Andy, you should take breaks more often. You come back with a BANG! Thanks for two outstanding, informative and brutally frank posts. The industry/niche needs it. And in line with it will be my new manifesto, will DM you a link to it on Twitter shortly. Thanks for what you’re doing to “keep it all clean” – for all of us :-)

    All success
    Dr.Mani

  6. says

    Ouch! Until I read this (thanks to Dr Mani for sending me here) I had no idea Brightcove videos took a long time to load in Europe. Just started using them at Success Manifesto 2011 to deliver a series of videos. Was impressed with the instant load speed here in Japan. Thanks to your post my eyes have been opened and I’m going to ask some of my friends in Europe to check my load time. Or (hint) if you could leave feedback here :-)

    Thanks, Kevin

    • says

      Your videos are quite low bandwidth due to dimensions and all the background/foreground framing that reducing what actually changes on the screen frame by frame.

      At the time I was testing again this morning, Brightcove detected my connection as 1600000, which is about right.

      Your videos were running fine, but even 10am in Europe on a Saturday morning, the videos currently being used by Launch Tree were constantly having data rate problems.

      If someone used Brightcove on videos I was paying for, and didn’t provide any download links, I would refund as they are unwatchable for me.

  7. says

    Definitely things that you will need to think about. I can see why you can fail by not paying attention to all of these things when you’re on the producing side of things.

  8. says

    It is getting difficult to distinguish between good vs garbage/useless products there are so many people out there creating a new product

  9. solar panels says

    This is a great checklist.I had bad experience with promoting junk products.

  10. says

    very helpful tips, easy to follow yet very consice. Thanks for this very enlightening tips. Keep posting topics like this, you are helping lot of people like me.

  11. says

    Excellent information Andy and thanks for sharing. I had a situation yesterday where significant commissions were just vaporized to your point of “Disappearing accounting data with no explanation”. As both an affiliate and affiliate manager I see both sides and if more affiliate managers had practical experience we would see better programs. Tracking is essential and when I was told that my commissions were mis-tracked to my account it really gives foundation for more independent tracking systems. Keep up the great posts and I am not giving up on the $$

  12. says

    Awesome post, it would be very useful a list with the best affiliate marketing programs for people like me whom are beginners in the on-line world. Thanks

  13. says

    Great list. I need to do something like this to weed out the products I want to promote on my site. If it is truly about quality content, then it must be about quality products.

    I am curious, what are your thoughts on affiliate products that do not provide cookies? I feel like this is a hindrance because no cookies mean a one shot deal.

  14. says

    I very much enjoyed your list, and thank you for taking the time to put it together. In the deal breakers section “Support tickets unanswered” This is one of, if not the most important thing for a product company to have. So many products do not have the support and help needed and it becomes so frustrating for the buyer. Anyhow thanks again for this detailed list.

  15. says

    Thank you for this excellent guide. You make me remembered my first cheque of $3 from travel biz and it’s impossible for me to to deposit it because my bank would charge me for $20 USD. LOL

    Thanks, Nick

  16. Pimpin87 says

    Skimming is a major issue that is hard to prove… but you know that something is going on when you run the exact same offer on 2 different networks with different conversion rates.

  17. says

    As someone who is just learning about affiliate marketing, this was a good article. It does seem like there’s a lot of, er, “shady” things and products out there. It’s hard for me, as a noobie, to find legit offers and deals (and affiliates).

  18. says

    I’ve had problems with some advertisers on different sites of mine. I usually email them to get it straitened out. Too often though the bad affiliate programs are going to lie, leaving the publisher with no choice but to drop them completely. The good programs always work with their affiliates.

    @Pimpin87 – I just wanted to make it clear to you that different networks can different conversion rates. It doesn’t make it fraud for one network to perform better than the other. It could be the quality and relevancy of how the ads are being displayed. Or it could have to do with how long the advertiser places a cookie for. (some pay only for immediate sales, others for sales up to 90 days out, etc.)

  19. Shawn says

    There really are many good affiliate programs out there, but some are just terrible. The good ones are a ncie way to make some extra cash too. I will stay on the look out for the scammy ones.
    Shawn

  20. Video Production Bir says

    I am just starting with affiliate marketing and this has given me much food for thought.

    Thanks for sharing such valuable information.

  21. says

    Andy – do you have a price range / limit for products/services that you will promote? Do you steer clear of high price tag items even though there is potential for bigger payouts? Any insight on this would be helpful as we are launching our affiliate program soon and I want to be sure I know what challenges I will be facing in recruiting affiliates.

    • says

      Jenny it is a tough call with hard goods. It really depends on other factors such as whether you want affiliates running PPC campaigns, and whether you will be preventing them bidding on certain keywords, allowing open access to your affiliate program without approval, datafeeds etc.
      You will probably be better off talking to your program manager in whichever affiliate network you eventually choose.
      They are likely to offer some sound advice on what their top affiliates will prefer, and the likely consequences/rewards.

  22. Den says

    It’s all about trust – you need to trust your affiliate network, your aff manager and so on.
    You have great example with opt-ins. I could easily send a few hundred people to the merchants landing page and he get all the leads to work on. How many sales will he do later? In my opinion, this is the most difficult part to track.

  23. says

    Great post. There are far too many people around that don’t really seem to care what they’re promoting, as long as they get their commission. Fact is, I’d rather promote a great product and take a low commission because I know I can get it to sell like hot cakes :)

  24. Wolf Hudson says

    This is a good checklist, however I think there is one thing missing, and that is overall conversion often outweighs a lot of negative aspects of an affiliate site. I mean I’ll deal with some leakage, difficult payment options, etc. . . if an affiliate site converts excellent. My point is that its a sliding scale. These factors all weight heavy, however they must be placed in the overall context of profitability of the affiliate.

    I’ve made more money on scarcity with poorly set up affiliate program than I have with expert data, tracking, etc. of oversaturated niches. Just my 2 cents

  25. says

    This is an awesome checklist. Choosing the wrong affiliate product to promote is the biggest mistake most new marketers make. Even if a product converts well sometimes the negatives will still outweigh the sales. Id rather make 6 sales and get paid on them on time then make 20 and never see a paycheck because of some bad program management. Thanks for the info and God bless!

  26. says

    re: stealing sales, it’s unfortunate that it’s easy for companies to steal leads, but can you ever know what %age are stolen? if there were an “assist” tracking (like ysm does) that would be ideal but not probable. cookies are over-written or max commission durations cut short. blah blah blah…
    i’m working on creating a product which is why i tweeted this and bookmarked it. i agree junk products is #1 for a lot of affiliates as deal breakers. curious how you would rate a product like acai berry pills that has good customer service, aff service, tracking, and payout schedule?
    i.e. would love to see your check list of “junk” products!

    • says

      I suppose with many “offers” from the CPA networks, you are being paid per lead, thus the advertisers profit from backend sales, even as affiliate promotions are factored into the price.

      What you describe for lead stealing I would collectively group under skimming.

      With Acai… hmm, a real tough call – I would be happy promoting it by PPC for keywords like “buy acai” – it isn’t an illegal substance.
      The remainder is the gray zone – it depends on the sales page and health claims, though it isn’t something I have researched.

      Real junk products are those that just don’t do what they say, or are significantly flawed to make them unusable for practical purposes.

      • says

        appreciate all the feedback. i hope product developers find this article, it really is a great list and wonderful food for thought.

  27. says

    @ms danielle

    Acai – good customer service? Not sure about that when a search for acai on complaintsboard.com shows almost 10,000 complaints (many of which have dozens of comments which are also complaints) and almost every CPA offer for Acai has pushed the weight loss angle of which there is no proof whatsoever. Although the complaints about the hidden negative option (recurring monthly billing of up to $100 monthly) FAR outnumber those about the product not being effective as a weight loss aid.

  28. cures for insomnia says

    It’s good that you have some ethics like this. So many people just sell – doesn’t matter what it is as long as they get money from it. And that’s a good way to lose trust from followers and subscribers. A few people I bought things from have since promoted junk and now I don’t believe anything they say.

  29. says

    Very good read. Those marketers who are new to affiliate marketing should find your article very useful. It’s important to promote what you like, besides if there is demand for these products too.

  30. says

    Thanks Andy really good read. I think that this is powerful stuff for us product owners too. We can learn how to keep our Affiliates happy… And keep them making money

  31. says

    Well, Andy that pretty much sums it up doesn't it, or does it?

    Some great material in thier for product owners to improve upon, not to mention affiliate pit falls to avoid. Great stuff!

    Two things I would say…

    1. If your affiliates are using sneaky tactics (you know what I mean, there are plenty and I won't go into them) don't be afraid to “let them know” sort of speak and…

    2. Keep your radar open to what they are saying, they are “marketers” and will have a counter argument to this EVEN BEFORE you thought of it and will slide it into thier sales pitches.

    3. O.K. I said two, but hey, I'm a marketer at heart! Ask your self BEFORE listening to the pitch “do I really need this?”

    Nothing other than that.

    Thank You Andy, Great Post

  32. says

    Well, Andy that pretty much sums it up doesn't it, or does it?

    Some great material in thier for product owners to improve upon, not to mention affiliate pit falls to avoid. Great stuff!

    Two things I would say…

    1. If your affiliates are using sneaky tactics (you know what I mean, there are plenty and I won't go into them) don't be afraid to “let them know” sort of speak and…

    2. Keep your radar open to what they are saying, they are “marketers” and will have a counter argument to this EVEN BEFORE you thought of it and will slide it into thier sales pitches.

    3. O.K. I said two, but hey, I'm a marketer at heart! Ask your self BEFORE listening to the pitch “do I really need this?”

    Nothing other than that.

    Thank You Andy, Great Post

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