Affiliate marketing is not unlike other Web-based businesses in which participants, especially the marketers who accept responsibility for driving traffic to product/service (‘product’) pages of their merchants. Web-based businesses rely on – among other things – a sustained Internet presence, quality content and, perhaps most importantly, visitors (generally referred to as traffic) to their product pages; and affiliates are often tasked with generating that traffic.
Affiliate marketers accept this responsibility as a condition of an arrangement made with product owners, advertisers and vendors (‘merchants’) pursuant to which they will be paid a commission or flat fee when they have been instrumental in bringing about a sale (or sales) of the merchants’ products. In other words, when the affiliate marketer refers his/her website visitors to a merchant’s product page and any of those visitors purchase a product, the affiliate gets paid.
However, the mechanism (system) set up to automate an affiliate marketing program must be carefully monitored by the merchant; and records of referrals and sales verified by the affiliate in order to sustain a healthy business relationship. This is important because, once an affiliate has signed up for what appears to be a great affiliate program, developed a marketing strategy and is provided with an affiliate ID, affiliate links, product links, banners, and other marketing materials, s/he is still only in the beginning stages.
Once an affiliate thinks s/he has figured everything out, there is usually additional problems to be dealt with, which includes developing an effective marketing strategy. So it is not uncommon for a new affiliate to have established a relationship with one or more merchants and received all the necessary marketing materials and still find him/herself questioning the ineffectiveness of the job s/he is doing.
That having been said we’ve outlined below, some of the most common issues that affect an affiliate marketer’s sales, commissions and leads:
The majority of affiliate merchants utilize cookies for tracking referrals, since a majority of customers do not make purchases on their first visit. These cookies are capable of tracking the activities of potential referrals by creating a “tag” unique to a particular referral which associates that referral with the referring affiliate’s ID; so that if they do purchase at a later date, the referring affiliate will receive credit for the sale.
The durations for these cookies will vary from merchant to merchant, and generally range from thirty days to ninety days; but some last for as short as a single session, while others are known to have lasted last for years. It must be pointed out here, though, that if the visitor flushes his/her cookies on a regular basis, or has cookie blocking software, there is very little to no recourse an affiliate has to receive credit for any purchases made by that visitor.
Multiple payment methods
If you are a new affiliate marketer – or even a seasoned affiliate – and have joined an affiliate program through one of the networks that process payments of product sales on behalf of merchants, it’s not uncommon for merchants to offer several methods of payment. While this is great for customers, it is less than optimum for you as the affiliate, because you’re now dealing with a third party which is given complete control over your earnings; and this can create many conflicts.
So before you begin to advertise any products or services as an affiliate who must deal with, and rely upon, a network to conduct your business effectively and profitable, make sure to always check the merchant’s site carefully; and if you have any doubt, contact that merchant before you proceed any further. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time, energy and advertising resources on any affiliate product just to find out further down the road that you’re not getting paid.
Monitoring your arrangements
Even the most honest of merchants will have problems with their affiliate software at some point in time, so if the merchant’s affiliate program isn’t operating correctly (due to a software glitch, attempted hacking or a number of other reasons for the malfunction) you need to know about this and take steps to protect your commissions. One way you can be made aware of such a problem, is to check cookies and merchant sites regularly for any changes that may affect your pay. That’s it for now. Good luck!