Top 10 Tips To Avoiding Affiliate Program Glitches

Excerpt from Michael Campbell's "Internet Marketing Secrets Newsletter" #17 (May 16, 2002)

When it comes to making money with affiliate programs, tracking the sales and cutting the checks, glitches in the process often happen.  Have you joined some affiliate programs?  Guess what???  Glitch Happens!

1)  It's not tracking the way it should

I'm a big fan of being able to purchase through my own affiliate links.  It's not the discount I care about.  I want to use my credit card in a real time situation and be sure my affiliate sale got tracked.

Don't be surprised, this "fail to track" glitch happens more often than you may realize.  Especially with new affiliate programs, new product releases, even new product releases on established tracking software.

Don't take THEIR word for it, that they put through some test orders.  Usually test orders are done with an artificial credit card number and they do not test every aspect of an ecommerce system.

For example, I announced a product to my readers and sales started going through.  I was getting email confirmations, but when I checked the real time stats they read zero sales.

Several phone calls were required to get things straightened out.  They tried to blame me.  They said it was the way I was redirecting the url.  Lame excuse.  It was their software all the way along and they fessed up to the fact later on.

The sad part is, I had to prove with email confirmations how many sales I actually generated.

Lesson to be learned, don't take their word for it.  Prove it to yourself with a live credit card, before you tell your friends.
2)  You have a custom commission

I'm often given a bigger commission than the average person when it comes to affiliate programs.  It's a nice gesture by the affiliate manager, showing that they realize the value of top affiliates.  Only problem is, not everyone in their office may be in on the deal.

Turns out one manager promised me a big commission and entered it into the system.  A few days later, another manager saw the larger than normal commission, assumed something was wrong and reduced my commission to a normal level.

Hmmm, I complained to the first manager and it was reset back to the higher level. Next time I checked, I was set to ZERO commission.  HUH?

This time I phoned the owner of the company.  Turns out the second manager was never told about the higher commission.  He assumed someone was trying to pull a fast one and set the commission for that affiliate number to zero.

All was not lost though.  An hour later, a check for several hundred missing dollars was headed my way.

Moral of the story, check your stats and get what you are promised.  Make sure they CC everyone in their office about any special deals or commissions.
3)  They reset the counters

This is similar to the glitch above and happens most often with two tier programs.  All sorts of people sign up for the first tier to get the sales commission.  Then, they try to be sneaky and greedy, signing up as an subaffiliate under their own previous number.

That's not how two tier affiliate programs are supposed to work.

One program I belong to did a compete "reset" and nuked everyone not getting the standard 25% commission.  Only problem was, as a super affiliate, I was supposed to get a 50% commission on sales.  I got caught in the reset along with everyone else.

I only noticed because my paycheck was only half as much as usual.  One call to the publisher got everything straightened out and I got a check for the missing commission.

Moral of the story... if commission checks suddenly drop in dollar value, log on to the publisher's tracking system and make sure your commission is what it's supposed to be.
4)  You didn't read the affiliate agreement

How many of you actually read those long affiliate agreements?  We just want to get our links and start selling right?  Well, I got burned for more than $1,200 because I didn't read the agreement.

Turns out that the affiliate program is only open to people living in the USA.  Since I'm in Canada, they refused to pay my commission.

My argument was, if I'm Canada, why on earth did they allow me sign up as an affiliate in the first place?  Their response, you clicked that you agreed to the terms of our affiliate program, why didn't you read it.

Lesson learned, read the affiliate agreement and check the fine print before joining anything.
5)  Dyslexia runs deep

I often have a bit of a problem with numbers.  I'll switch them around without realizing it.  I look at them, read them out loud, then two seconds later write them down backwards.

That's exactly what I did for one major affiliate program I belong to. Instead of recording 4535 into my affiliate code I typed 4353.

I kept getting emails from their system congratulating me for sales but the monthly paycheck was puny.  Something didn't add up.  I should have been getting checks for at least 10 times the amount.

I phoned the publisher and gave them my affiliate number and they asked if I was Bob Smith.  I told them no, my name is Michael Campbell.  They said sorry, but that's Bob's affiliate number.  To quote Homer Simpson.  "Doh!"

After finding out what my affiliate number really was I muttered something about wondering how much money I'd lost.  She quickly remarked that I lost over $2,000 in commission since January.  Double Doh!

Moral of the story, if it seems like you are not getting a paycheck relative to the efforts you are putting in, check your affiliate codes and numbers to be sure they are correct.  One simple typo can cost you thousands of dollars.
6)  They can run but they can't hide 

One way to check the relative health of any affiliate program is to look at the numbers on the paychecks they send you.  This is the check ID number.  Every bank check has one.  It's usually in the upper right hand corner.

Sneaky, huh?  You know exactly how many checks they cut and how much effort you are putting in.  You can use that as a barometer and gage the success of the affiliate program.

If you are making only $100 a month and putting in an average effort, chances are everyone else is getting a similar amount.  If they're cutting only 10 checks a month, it might mean the product is a dud or has a very low conversion ratio.  If they're cutting hundreds of checks a month, the product is a hot seller.

For example, let's say last month you received check number 6250.  (You do record them don't you?)  This month your check number is 6273.  That means, this affiliate program cut a mere 23 checks this month for its entire affiliate force.

Lesson learned...  Fewer checks means the program is highly specialized, or it's pathetic, or they're trying to pull a fast one by not paying affiliates.  Unless it's one of those multi tier programs (explained below), you might be better off focusing your efforts elsewhere.
7)  It's a life time -  multi tier affiliate program

There are about 10 people on the internet who are fans of life time multi tier commissions.  They are the ones that got to announce the product in the first place.

Think about it. If you see ads plastered everywhere saying you'll get lifetime commissions, they really Really REALLY want you to join.  That's because if you - or anyone you sign up - ever buy anything from that program, the original person gets most or all of the commission, not you.

Lesson learned, unless you are first to announce a multi tier life time program and have a big mailing list, be very careful you're not making someone else rich with your advertising efforts.
8)  Getting the runaround

Be sure the checks are signed and dated or you may as well be getting checks from space aliens.  Double check everything, before you try to deposit the checks in the bank.

This was a favorite tactic of an affiliate program that was having financial difficulty.  Eventually they went out of business owing me a lot of money.

They'd "forget" to sign the check.  Then they'd send next month's check, but not a replacement for the original one that wasn't signed.  Grrrrr!

Finally, two months later I'd get a replacement.  Then they'd "forget" to send a check for the current month, or make it out to the wrong name.  It was a sorry song and dance.

Lesson learned, if you're getting the run around, run away to a different program.  Life's to short and precious to waste your time being a bill collector for money that you've rightly earned.
9)  They shut it off without telling you

Almost every day I get notices from Commission Junction about companies that get discontinued from the program.  Hmmm, strange how some of these companies have a habit of "running out of money" just in time for the long weekend.

Four days go by with no commission and I'm left wondering if they'll ever come back.  Well, at least gives notices.

A few of the smaller internet marketing programs I've promoted in the past were shut off without notice.  I was linking to dead air space and didn't know it until one of you pointed it out to me.  Thank you.

Lesson... if you have a lot of sites and a lot of pages, test for link rot at least once a month.  You may have dead links and frustrated users, when you could have been making money instead.
10)  What you're linking to sucks ;-)

Not really a glitch but a very common mistake.

After reading Clickin' it Rich and learning how much money was to be made from selling professional music gear, a client of mine decided (without consulting me) to put up several sites on ukuleles.  Yes, that four string thing kids play in grade two.

Yeesh!  She thought that, because no one could spell it, she could optimize pages for typos, as well as correct spellings.  Good idea, wrong product.

A ukulele is not professional music gear!  I told her to put up sites dealing with reverb units and digital recorders.  $1000 items that earn $100 commission per sale, not $40 ukuleles that pay $4 commission.

She thought that maybe the digital gear would be damaged in shipping.

Dude! Professional music gear is meant to go on the road, be bashed about by burly roadies and have beer spilled on it nightly.  Shipping in a cushioned package is the best it will ever get treated.

Moral of the story, make sure what you're linking to doesn't suck and has big enough commissions to warrant doing the work - building web sites - in the first place.

That's a wrap for this issue.  If you keep your eyes peeled for the top 10 affiliate glitches, you'll make a lot more money from your online business.

Now that you know what to look out for, here is an excellent affiliate revenue generator.  When you link to my new ebook Clickin' it Rich you'll make over $17.00 US per sale.  Join us!  I've provided a special page, just for you:
All my best,

Michael Campbell

Author of Nothing but 'Net and Clickin' it Rich
Copyright 2002 Dynamic Media Corporation

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