This week and last week I got a series of emails from Affiliates trying to push bad practices on my clients and pretending like they were/are good things. Luckily my clients are smarter than that and are not falling for it. What’s sad is that many companies do fall for these and don’t have guidance to help them learn about these types of Affiliates and the negative things that may happen by working with them. When they do finally figure it out, they usually shut down their programs (which hurts legit Affiliates) and they give the Affiliate Industry a bad name.
The first one is a an Affiliate who runs what I consider to be a sub Affiliate Network. I am not going to go into details or out them, you’ll have to figure it out on your own. I unfortunately cannot post the actual email from the second one because they included a privacy disclosure in the bottom. They are writing to merchants whose programs they tried to join or did join and asking the merchants to allow them to try brand bidding with coupon extensions and to build dedicated pages with coupon codes to the merchant’s name and brand.
Here is why letting people bid on trademark + coupon, brand + coupon codes, brand.com + discounts and letting Affiliates build these dedicated pages is bad for your business.
1. Bidding on your actual trademark is bad enough because they will never send you a new customer. These are people that already know about you because they are current customers, saw an ad you placed or found you from another Affiliate since they are already going to you by searching for your trademark. Bidding on your trademark or brand bidding plus an extension is worse because more than likely a majority of these people see a coupon code box, leave your site to find one and that is when the cookie is set. You did the work to bring them in and close the sale. Anyone can show a coupon and close it. They are adding no value. This gives your customers away to a coupon site so they can tag them, overwrite another channel or Affiliates’ cookie and take credit for sales that they never sent, earned or added value to. Do not fall for this crap! It is what gives our industry a bad name and should not be allowed to happen.
2. This Affiliate was never approved into the program I am managing. They were not approved in and were sending a general email to everyone and actually said in the email that they were already an Affiliate.
3. Our Terms and Conditions and our PPC Guidelines in Share a Sale specifically prohibit this. They obviously didn’t even do any work to see who prohibits this and who doesn’t to get rid of the merchant’s in their spam list. If they aren’t going to read the terms and conditions, and they didn’t even check to see if they were actually in our program, why would they follow any other restrictions or guidelines? This is a huge red flag for me.
4. Paid search should not be brand bidding. Brand bidding is stealing and being a thief. There are very few situations where it could be beneficial and for my client, it would not benefit them at all the way they are asking for. If they wanted to add value with PPC, they would bid on non trademark terms and not go after people who are already in my client’s shopping cart.
5. They may refrain from bidding on overall trademarks which is better for them. The regular trademark could be someone just looking at the store who saw your ad. Bidding on the extensions above are going after people who are ready to check out. The conversion rates should probably be higher, the cost per click will still be cheap and they can generate a ton of sales they didn’t earn since the people are probably already checking out and doing a quick search for a coupon code. I bet their conversion rate will skyrocket as well.
6. They want to build a page dedicated to the merchant. Although it is nice to have this page, unless they place no index tags to keep that page from being indexed, the goal of the page will probably be to optimize for trademark or store name + coupons or coupon codes. If they will not add no index tags and the page ranks, they are again going after your coupon code box and poaching sales. You should optimize your own sites to do this so you don’t let other channels and Affiliates’ cookies get overwritten, have to pay out commissions, network fees, discounts from coupon codes, etc… on sales that were not referred to you anyways.
These types of scam emails are coming out more regularly now and you need to watch out for them. They sound good to some people, but they are just ways for some Affiliates to in my opinion rip you off. I am not going to say who the Affiliates are since the point isn’t outing someone. The point is to help you know what to look out for and be able to make an educated decision on if this could be good for you or hurt you.