There is a popular belief that affiliate marketing is evil, and it’s easy to see why. You sign up for people’s newsletters with the promise of great tips and information, only to be bombarded by frequent emails that are nothing more than “buy this” or “try that.” You see non-stop tweets about product after product. You know that at the rate this person is advertising new products, there is not way that they have had time to actually use them, so why are they recommending them in the first place.
The above and following are examples of what I consider bad affiliate marketing behavior which has led to more and more people thinking of affiliate marketing as a bad thing. Let’s delve into these, and what changes need to be made to bring a little trust into the land of affiliate marketing.
One thing to note before I get into this. I am not a salesperson. I’m sure some of these techniques are the way to go to make more sales, but I have never been a good salesperson or a fan of popular sales techniques in general. I’d like to think that this site will cater to those who feel the same.
1. Multiple Emails a Day
I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of getting 3+ emails in one day from one mailing list. And yes, it happens with subject lines such as “24 hours left to buy,” “12 hours left to buy,” “one hour left,” and so on. I realize this probably works in pressuring people to buy something based on a last call sale or doors closing offer, but it just feels too pushy.
My preferred method is to email once about a deal and then tweet any last minute countdowns. Chances are, more people are subscribed to you on Twitter than via email anyway.
2. Products, Products, and Nothing but Products
Do you ever feel like you sign up for informative newsletters, but then end up with nothing but offers to buy something? Me too! And those are the mailing lists that end up getting filtered into my favorite “Subscriptions FFS” (FFS = for free stuff) Gmail label. I know that newsletters take time, but it seems like they would encourage more of your subscribers to open their email if they know they are getting something informative as well.
3. Text Only
I’m a visual person. I like things to be neat but also a bit with a bit of design flair. Hence, the text only short emails that I get on many of my mailing lists all look the same, no matter who sent them. A simple newsletter setup, even if it’s all text with one logo at the top (which will still work out great if people have the images disabled or are on a mobile browser) will give your email a better branding and make it stand out better than everyone else’s emails.
4. Not Explaining the Product
Imagine that, after the initial followup email to a new mailing list subscriber, the next email they received from you was this.
I would like everyone to assume that their subscribers have never heard of the product before sending an email in the mailing list. In said product offer email, it would be nice to see a basic description of what the product is, who created it, who it is ideally suited for (beginning level SEOs, intermediate bloggers, real estate article marketing specialists, etc.), and a link to a personal review of the product (I know that’s probably asking for a lot, but still would be nice).
5. Using the Copy
If you are subscribed to several newsletters, you will eventually see who takes the time to do some custom writing for their subscribers vs. those who copies and pastes out of the product’s affiliate resources. The same can be said about blog posts – if you Google product name review you’ll notice that many posts look and feel very similar. You’ll even see some posts that include a lot of images straight off of the sales page of the product itself.
Instead of using copy that’s already out there, why not just evaluate the product and put your thoughts about it in your own words. Writing a real review will go a long way in building your readers’ trust.
Why Do These Techniques Work?
Whether or not you like them, these techniques do work. One reason is because it goes back to sales techniques – I’m sure that the sales copy does excite many buyers, and multiple reminders will eventually make someone cave in. Combined with a huge subscriber list, you are bound to get sales every time.
Giving Credit When Due
So how can you encourage better affiliate marketing practices? One way is to gives the sales to the people who actually convince you to buy something. I know that when I have purchased products, it hasn’t been because of the generic sales pitch I received from about six people on various mailing lists. It has been because of someone who wrote a great review of the product, in their own words. The kind of review that is genuine because the person actually believes in the product.
Now how do you give that person credit for the sale? Many affiliate programs track sales with cookies. Just clear your browser’s cookies, then click on the affiliate link from the review that encouraged you to buy the product. Otherwise, you may have clicked on the product link from one person to the sales page, searched for and found a great review by someone else which actually encouraged you to buy it, and then end up giving the sale credit to the first person who didn’t provide you with the information that you wanted and essentially was not the one that really closed the sale.
This will ultimately encourage better affiliate marketing as you will motivate the people who take the time to only genuinely promote useful products to continue on that path, and lower the sales of the people who just take five seconds to paste sales copy to their mailing list which will lead them to (hopefully) changing their ways as well.
Your Thoughts on Affiliate Marketing Bad Behaviors
Are there any other affiliate marketing strategies that wear on your nerves, as well as good solutions to them? Please share your thoughts in the comments!