"Affiliate Programs to Avoid".
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Affiliate > "Affiliate Programs to Avoid".

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by: Rosalind Gardner
Affiliate Programs to Avoid

Copyright 2003 (c) Rosalind Gardner, All Rights Reserved.

As an affiliate marketer of Internet dating services, I'm always on
the lookout for good quality dating sites and products to offer my
single visitors. Merchants help me out when they let me know
about their new products and affiliate programs.

I was therefore thrilled when one of my friendly affiliate competitors
got in touch to tell me that he'd started his own Internet dating
service and affiliate program.

Having launched a community membership site myself last year,
I could fully appreciate the huge amount of time and money my
friend had invested to develop this new site. He was justifiably
proud of his accomplishment and I was excited by the prospect
of having a product to promote that would benefit everyone -
my customers, my friend and myself.

Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way.

The first stumbling block was the low commission he offered. His
top rate was 30%, with no commissions on recurring sales.

This puzzled me. As an affiliate marketer of dating programs, he
should have been aware that new sites offer at least 50% on
new and recurring sales to entice good affiliates to sign up. If
commissions on recurring sales are not offered, then the rates on
new sales should be increased to between 70 and 100 percent.

In most cases, his affiliate program would have struck out for me
at that point. However, as this was my friend's site, it occurred to
me that perhaps his product was so unique that the potential for
high volume sales might offset the lower commission. Hoping for
the best, I continued my review.

When I got to the site, the first thing I noticed was '6 registered
members' prominently displayed at the top of the homepage.
That normally wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that my
customers are looking for friends and soul mates. If I send them
to a site where there are only six people to meet, they'll likely be
disappointed. Worse, by wasting their time, they lose trust in my
judgement and then I will lose them as customers.

That's not good. My customers are literally my bread and butter.
Giving them what they want and expect is how I stay in business.
Paying for traffic that I send to a merchant site where there is
nothing to buy, will put me out of business.

(This is how a membership site should be structured. When
starting a dating service, the merchant pays for advertising to
bring people to their site. To entice visitors to sign up as members,
he will initially offer his services for fr*ee. When the database is
large enough to attract paying customers, the affiliate program
manager then invites potential affiliates to join their program.)

Although my friend's program had already struck out for my customers
and me, I was still curious, so I kept on looking.

Next I clicked on a link labeled 'Dating Resources'. Expecting to find
Internet dating tips and advice, I found links and banners pointing
to Lavalife, FriendFinder and other affiliated dating sites instead.
When I asked him about placing affiliate programs on his site, my
friend said he simply wanted to supplement his income until the
dating service got *rolling*. I can understand his motivation. However,
what he doesn't understand is the concept of customer 'hijacking'.

As an affiliate, you pay good money to get visitors to your site. You
presell your merchants' products and expect the merchant to honor
their end of the bargain by making the sale and sending your
commission check. You don't pay for the merchant to send YOUR
customers to THEIR affiliated merchants.

I didn't need to look any further. I told my friend that I would hold
off on signing up and why. Fortunately, he understood and has already
alleviated some of the problems I mentioned.

Knowing when NOT to sign up for an affiliate program can sometimes
be a tough call. However, you can simplify the process considerably.
Put yourself inside your customer's head. If the product won't work
for them, the program strikes out. Simple as that. <

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