Ironically, in our house, the words Affiliate Marketing have now become “dirty words”. Why? – Because there is no secure consistency with affiliate programs. That is a very broad statement – I know, but let me explain further.
Some affiliate programs are worthy, because you’re being paid by a strong and healthy company – but alas, there is a problem with these so-called “secure” and profitable affiliate programs, and that is competition.
There is great deal of powerful competition out there in the pool of good affiliate marketers with powerfully developed web sites, and the way it works in the affiliate marketing game is “the race for the cookie”. This competition for the elusive cookie, is why the top end affiliates make all the cake, while the lower level webmasters make peanuts.
There are other problems with affiliate programs which we will discuss in a countdown format.
Affiliate Problem #5: Merchant Campaign Changes and Shutdowns
The ultimate dream for those of us who work online, is to make money in auto-pilot without hardly ever having to go look at our web sites or blogs. This is the dream, but never the true reality. We have to do upkeep, add content, pictures, updates, theme changes, etc. etc.
Generally speaking though, it can be ALMOST an autopilot income stream if you avoid AFFILIATE PROGRAMS! With affiliate programs, you have to always be vigilant in checking to see if you are getting ripped off by some merchant, checking to see if one of their campaigns has expired, checking to see if they have closed down their affiliate program all together.
We had a merchant that owed us over $12,000 in affiliate commissions for one month of work. They reneged on their payment, and after months of negotiating and pestering, we got our money back. This changed the affiliate marketing model we used for the next two years, and now we rarely take part on any affiliate program now.
Often affiliate programs just shutdown and if you are not on the ball, you could be sending traffic to the merchant’s web site for free. Also, you have lost the stream of income, and now have to replace it!
Affiliate Problem #4: Conversion Levels Are Too Low for ROI
So often the landing page(s) at the merchant’s web site is faulty or weak in conversion percentages. The percentage of visitors that actually pull out a credit card and take action can be very low if the merchant doesn’t know what they are doing.
Another thing is complete lack of control of the merchant’s landing page, or buying page. Many times you will have a campaign running sending traffic to a merchant’s landing page, and you’re making some kind of the profit – then the merchant changes their landing page to a lousy, low conversion page. Often you’ll lose a lot of money in PPC traffic before you find out their landing page is lousy.
Affiliate Problem #3: The Commission Levels Are Too Low for ROI
Commission levels often look good for many affiliate programs, but when see how much traffic you need to get or BUY, it often doesn’t pay to play. Your ROI (return on investment) really lags when you are driving traffic to your site (or blog) using PPC (pay per click). You need to spend allot of money before converting a visitor.
We’ve tried MANY different landing pages, and screens to convince visitors to buy, and even with the best tested landing page, you still have trouble converting enough paid for visitors to make a decent ROI.
Affiliate Problem #2: The Race for the Cookie
As any experienced affiliate marketer knows, the cookie you leave on the shopper’s computer is the trick to making a profit online. At one time our online business made over $800 a day from affiliate commissions, and it was fantastic. The ONLY reason we made so much money from that particular affiliate program was because our site(s) were winning the race to the cookie.
Now, to win the race to the affiliate cookie you better be right at the top of the search results for your most lucrative keywords, and there are two ways to do that – one, be in the top three search result positions in the natural/organic results, or top of the paid for PPC (pay per click) results. It’s either a ton of PPC money, or many years of diligent work for natural results.
If you are in the top results for your most lucrative keywords then you will no question make a bundle, but that is not the case for you is it. If you were doing that well, you wouldn’t be on this page. You would be counting your money.
If you don’t know what a computer/browser cookie is, you need to read this page on Wikipedia first. To save you the long read, I’ll explain it in very simple terms.
An HTTP cookie is nothing more than a tracking tool. It works like this…….when you visit a webmaster’s web site, and click on a link or banner that takes you to a merchant’s web site, there is a cookie placed on the shoppers computer tracking the fact that YOU GOT TO THE MERCHANT’S WEB SITE FROM THAT PARTICULAR WEBMASTER’S SITE.
This way if you decide to buy something on the merchant’s web site, that webmaster will be given the credit for the sale, and get paid the affiliate commission for the sale.
Affiliate Problem #1: Shady Merchants
So after 6 years of making our living completely from Internet traffic, my wife and I have experienced full well the ups and downs of the affiliate marketing game. The race for the cookie is not even the biggest problem with online affiliate marketing – the biggest problem is shady (dishonest) merchants.
We (my wife and I) tracked all of our traffic to web sites, and noticed that the amount of credit we got for our traffic to merchant web sites was stupidly light. The ratio of commissions/conversions to the amount of traffic was way out of balance. Finally, we got fed up and did some serious tracking using some very sophisticated software. We soon realized that these merchants were lying through their teeth, and not crediting us for our conversions. We tested 10 different merchants from 3 different affiliate junction sites (like CJ) and 8 out 10 merchants were not crediting us for all of conversions.
We now don’t believe that these companies can be trusted to pay you the commissions you have actually earned. They only pay out a percentage of commissions and they set that percentage based on how greedy they are. It’s fixed. Period. Don’t believe that, try it for 5 years and tell us your findings.