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Product Owners Hijacking Affiliate Commissions?

Take heed affiliate marketers! I’ve noticed that a few high profile product owners have implemented some practices which could potentially be detrimental to your affiliate marketing efforts.

I’d typically recommend looking for high converting affiliate programs for newer Internet Marketers.

After all, while you’re getting your feet wet, you might like to focus on traffic generation and your marketing efforts (the conversion has a lot to deal with the product owners sales/landing page) and rather than get into the thick of product development immediately, you can sell someone’s product first (ie. affiliate marketing).

So if a product owner has switched their sales pages to an opt-in page, it could have major implications for your marketing efforts.

An opt-in page is designed to help build the product owner’s list.

Ostensibly an opt-in page consists of:

  • A catchy headline
  • 5-7 bullets
  • A form for you to fill in your name and email address

Seems simple.

Here’s an example of an opt-in page, Rick Raddatz’s Wednesday Minute (it’s got a funny video on it).

rick raddatz wednesday minute

A sales page looks like what you’d see at the Secret Blog Weapon sales page. It’s much longer and pushes for the sale (which is what will continue to keep you in Internet Marketing)

Most product owners will direct you to their sales page, as opt-in pages are an extra step and could lower your conversion.

More importantly, if the product owner collects your leads details, and follow up with them with a sequence of autoresponder messages, and the lead buys on the 2nd or maybe the 4th follow up, guess what?

Are you going to get your affiliate commissions?

In some rare instances, you might. But for the majority of products, you won’t.

I’ve been asked “So what can you do?” in these cases.

If you’re a Super Affiliate for that product, you can ask the product owner to create a customized sales page, or ask them to remove the opt-in page altogether.

And even if you don’t have enough sway to influence the product owner, do realize that it’s a free market, there’s an equivalent product in the same category within the same affiliate network. Else go look for products on another network.

It’s a free market, bring your business elsewhere.

17 comments on Product Owners Hijacking Affiliate Commissions?

  1. Imah
    March 26, 2007 at 3:13 pm (4931 days ago)

    I have noticed that too. I just started trying affiliate marketing. After marketing a bunch of products for a few weeks, I tried to review them again to see if they are actually worth working hard promoting.

    I discovered one of the products I am promoting has changed it’s sales letter and now there’s a opt-in form at the top of the sales page.

    I think that will just distract the reader / buyer. I don’t think this is a fair thing to do. Using your affiliates to help build your own list, and not caring whether they make any sales or not.

  2. shokthx
    March 26, 2007 at 8:32 pm (4931 days ago)

    Many affiliate products are going to this lately. I wonder if there is any value in representing these products as an affiliate or if I am really just providing free traffic.
    I wish there were a way to find out if any of these products are really paying affiliates when the buyer joins a list and buys at a somewhat later time.

  3. Jason Bailey
    March 27, 2007 at 3:44 am (4931 days ago)

    This is very true. I used to work for a merchant who worked hard to collect email addresses (because it works!) and if a sale came through that email funnel, than affiliates were not credited with the sale, the email campaign was.

    An alternative a big affiliate has in this case is to also set up a pay per lead type commission. If the merchant insists on email gathering oriented pages, make him pay for every email/signup you send his way instead on a pay per sale basis.

  4. Calvin
    March 27, 2007 at 9:55 am (4931 days ago)

    Having opt-in forms at sales pages is inevitable. Think in terms of the merchant, he would definitely want to capture the leads that come.

    Anyway, the cookie should last for some times so I believe we still get credited for the affiliate sales provided the user does not clear his cookies.

    As for product owners directing visitors straight to the opt-in page, I must admit I’m rather against the idea too. But surprisingly, Ewen Chia actually recorded a higher conversion rate, even for his affiliates when he adopted that style for SAW. Nonetheless, due to displeasure from his affiliates, he has since removed the direct opt-in page.

    Hence, it’s really hard to judge in the short run if your affiliate commissions will be directly affected. Much depends on the merchant’s tracking system and follow ups.

    But one thing for sure, affiliates’ opinions are highly valued, at least for SAW.

  5. Rachit
    March 27, 2007 at 9:57 am (4931 days ago)

    As a product owner, I have to add my 2 cents here …

    I sell a product on ClickBank. And since CB tracks cookies for 60 days, even if you go through an opt-in page, you’ll still be getting your affiliate commissions. Most affiliate systems work with cookies and I haven’t heard of any opt-in system that swindles affiliates of their commissions.

    As for the opt-in … I’ve done some pretty exhaustive testing on this topic. I noticed no difference in conversion rates with or without optin page. I remember a case study done by Perry Marshall that showed the same thing – his conversion rates were helped immensely by repeated exposure (and the affiliate system ensures affiliates get a good payout)

    Perhaps in a very competitive niche (like “make money online”), this will make a difference … but in most other niches, the thinking is this – if the visitor isn’t even interested enough to invest with their email address for a free report … what are the chances they’ll take out the credit card?

    This is going to be the trend in Internet Marketing … affiliates will be helping product owners build their lists (whether you like it or not). Because successful product owners build lists. If you’re always promoting products with sales pages … take a look back, do you really want to be associated with a one-trick-pony product?

    Work with good marketers and do your best to look past petty politics … at the end of the day, it’s about building a good partnership between affiliates and product owners.

  6. Andrew Wee
    March 27, 2007 at 10:46 am (4931 days ago)

    Calvin,
    If you’re a serious affiliate marketer doing a decent amount of volume, you will be able to tell the difference.

    Regarding the points you mentioned, you might like to check the landing pages for the products you promote to validate the accuracy of your statements.

  7. Andrew Wee
    March 27, 2007 at 10:48 am (4931 days ago)

    Assuming you’re promoting multiple products, you’ll be able to do some data analysis and determine what works best for you.

    It may or may not have an impact, though with more competitive niches, the addition of another layer has some impact.

  8. Andrew Wee
    March 27, 2007 at 10:51 am (4931 days ago)

    What I’ve observed is there’s a disconnect on the part of some product owners.

    Assuming affiliate marketing is a key part of your strategy, you might do better to create a $7 report (check out Jon Leger’s product), and let your affiliates earn $7 per lead (100% commission) while you build your list.

    If you want to build goodwill with your affiliates, you’d want to look at ways to facilitate the conversion.

  9. Andrew Wee
    March 27, 2007 at 10:55 am (4931 days ago)

    Rachit,
    Interesting viewpoint from a product owners perspective.

    As a product owner AND an affiliate marketer, I use a variety of strategies to convert my traffic into transactions.

    The additional layer of an opt-in page on the part of the product owner will disrupt the implementation of some advanced affiliate marketing strategies (which I believe most experienced affiliate marketers would be using).

    A product owner who is serious about affiliate marketing as a business model would do well to track their affiliates progress and create appropriate systems and marketing tools to facilitate that process.

  10. Rachit
    March 27, 2007 at 11:21 am (4931 days ago)

    Great points, all around.

    I guess it’s a little naive of me to think that all product owners think of their affiliates first, and all affiliates think of helping the product owner. Maybe it just boils down to trust …

    I think that a good product owner will take the extra effort to create the systems (like Andrew said) … so that even the experienced affiliates won’t have to spend time on that and still get rewarded.

    Hmmm … all of this is inspiring me to send out an email to my affiliates and keep them more in the loop in the partnership …

  11. Andrew Wee
    March 27, 2007 at 11:46 am (4931 days ago)

    Rachit,
    Thanks for your feedback.

    An affiliate-oriented product owner will generally have a “long tail” product, while one that doesn’t focus on the affiliates will tend to have a shorter tail. It’s a generalization on my part and it probably applies to about 80% of the products out there.

    My take is this:
    If you’re the product owner and you’re doing your own PPC campaign, by all means, channel traffic to an opt-in page, follow up with them with your autoresponder sequence and close the sale.

    If you’re working with affiliates, the opt-in might disrupt the affiliates efforts (who might be using ‘advanced techniques’), so give them a straight sales page. If you want, go as far as a hover, but I’d strongly recommend against using the opt-in as a gatekeeper.

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