What is wrong with Affiliate Marketing?


If you didn’t already see them there are a number of interesting comments and ideas posted over at Shawn Collins’ Affiliatetip.com, from people in affiliate marketing about what is wrong with the industry and how they believe it can be improved, read comments from; Nicole Russell - Affiliate Managers Need Better Communication Skills , Nishank Khanna - Treat All Affiliates Like Super Stars , James Green - The Red-Headed Stepchild of Marketing , Brian Appel - Affiliate Marketing Needs to Clean House to Move Forward , Mike Allen - Take Things Offline and Gain Trust in Affiliate Marketing and Craig Danuloff - Three Points for Affiliate Program Excellence. 

So what do I think is wrong… many things…

Firstly a lack of knowledge sharing, which is understandable, but ultimately holds people back. If there were more affiliates sharing tips, ideas and ways to do things then we would see more and better affiliates, with better ways of adding value to the transaction chain. Naturally it’s not considered to be in a good affiliates best interest to help train up potential competitors. This leaves the work of training affiliates squarely on the shoulders of the Affiliate Managers, and then it comes down to a time, effort and return equation, of how much time can an AM spend on each new affiliate to get them to get beyond the basics. There are a lot of “Affiliate Manager” Training courses starting up now, perhaps what is needed is more affiliate focused training sessions done in collaboration with merchants and key affiliates, somethingAndy Rodriguez and I were chatting about the other day, especially outside the USA in growing markets such as APAC and Europe.

Secondly a lack of sharing, didn’t I say that already, but this time from Merchants, I often see a lack of trust between merchants and affiliates “How will this person use my content”, “how will they use my product data”, “will they steal my ideas”, “will they create competition to me”, as many others have said, Merchants need to look at affiliates as Sales Partners, not anonymous faces in the crowd.

Next, a lack of sharing… again. and here I know I’m guilty as much as the next person, but there needs to be more sharing between merchants and affiliate managers, sure we all share some ideas but there really as yet is no massive pool of information that everyone can dip into, as well as that always elusive affiliate marketing standards, that ultimately can only exist in an atmosphere of sharing.

Last one for the day, BHO and software based systems need to be moved to a different channel, with Ebates / BuyersPort / SAHS sitting side by side with affilates rather than on top of them everyone can benefit (assuming, where relevant, they clean up their distribution methods of course), but if Ebates really do believe they ‘add’ value and help with conversion then let them do that to the benefit of all marketing channels, and not obliterate the traces of where those sales first came from. Can’t remember if it was Brianor Jeff who first floated that idea, but it’s a good one, but one only the Networks can resolve.