I’ll admit it, I’m not a big fan of affiliate marketing. Yes, it can be done right, but overall my experience with it has been negative. Let me share 3 warnings if you are considering venturing into this type of Internet marketing.
1) Coupon code harvesting: If you have an e-commerce store, and your shopping cart accepts coupon or promotional codes, be very careful with affiliate programs. Many of the affiliates who join your program may be coupon code harvesting sites. These sites exploit the many people who will be searching for coupon codes when they see that your site accepts them. For example, say a customer is already on your site checking out. They see there is a box for a coupon code. They then run a Google search for ” [your website name here] coupon codes”. Then, your affiliate’s site comes up, which the user clicks on. They then see something like “click here to get your coupon code”. Then user is then redirected to the affiliate link, which gives your affiliate credit for a sale that was already happening. (some of the more honest coupon sites will actually give you a coupon code, but many won’t and are simply ploys to get credit for the sale)
2) Trademark PPC Bidding: Several years ago I setup an affiliate program for a client through an affiliate network that will remain nameless. Shortly after setting up the account, I noticed we were already receiving sales from affiliates. “Great.” I thought, “It must be working!” Later that week, I was surprised to find out that many of these new affiliates were simply running Pay per click ads for our trademark terms. So in other words, they were capitalizing off of people already search for our brand, which was of no value. (especially since we already bid on them and ranked naturally.)
3) SPAM: Affiliate marketers are not always too concerned about the brand reputation of the companies they partner with. For this reason, many affiliates will use less than scrupulous means of distributing their affiliate ads, such as through Email SPAM, pop-ups, or junk spam sites.
Again, I’m not bashing affiliate marketing as a whole. I just wanted throw out a few warnings to anyone considering using the medium. Keep in mind the 80/20 rule applies with affiliate marketing. 80% of your sales will come from your the top 20% of your affiliates. Unfortunately though, the 80% that are not performing can waste a lot of time and resources to manage.
Let me know your thoughts, and whether or not you agree or disagree.