Affiliate Marketing & Programs

When An Affiliate Program Is No Longer Working


A month rolls by and you haven’t received your commissions from your affiliate sales. What gives? You’ve probably have experienced a bad deal or two sometime in your experience with affiliate marketing; we’ve all been burned before.

The thing that hits hardest is when an affiliate program dies – your earnings are tied to the programs so when they tank, so do you unless you keep your head on in the game and pay attention to the following tell-tale signs that an affiliate program is meeting an early grave.

Social Media becomes a Dead Channel

It’s never a good sign when a business all but drops their support for social networking sites. You’ve probably been there at least once in your affiliate career: no more Facebook updates, a lonely Twitter feed and nothing new on the affiliate blog.

The social media channels are generally the first to go when an affiliate program goes to the grave; these are small items to manage compared to the bigger part of running a business but these channels are easy to manage and don’t require a lot of time – either the business is getting lazy or something major will be happening on the horizon.

Even if it’s just once in a while, check in with the affiliates you promote to see if they’re remaining active on the social channels; make sure the leads you’re sending them aren’t hitting a brick wall because that becomes a total waste of your time.

The Entire Business Model Changes

Some businesses will change their product overnight and leverage their existing brand and website for new promotions; when this happens, your old promotions are dead in the water.

At this moment in time, nothing matches up; if the affiliate program was courteous than you would have gotten a friendly reminder but this is rarely the case.

When this happens, seek out a new affiliate program to promote immediately else you will be pointing your visitors toward a product that’s misrepresented on your website, conversions will drop and the trust in your website will go with it.

The Dreaded “Late” Affiliate Payout

There’s a rare moment every now and again when a major business begins to tank; often, they take their affiliates down with the ship. Not only do these businesses leave their affiliates out to ruin but they add salt to the wound by failing to pay past payments for their affiliates.

A recent example would be what happened from the collapse and raid of Megaupload. Many third party websites relied on Megaupload for their own affiliate programs so when the big one went down – so did everyone else. Many of the businesses that got caught up in the mix took the money and ran leaving their affiliates wondering what happened.

If you begin to see a lapse in payment than it’s vital that you get on the horn and get your cash out before it gets too late. Once a business gets backed up in payments – it’ll either take forever to get paid or you’re likely to never get paid at all – the affiliate program is dead.

The Affiliate Support goes *Poof*

All great affiliate programs will have a backend that helps new and existing users with getting the most out of their online campaigns through resources like swipe files, banners, tips, tricks and case studies.

The affiliate blog and backend becomes essential for high profile affiliate products but it does require a lot of work to maintain. However, for the work affiliates put into their own promotions it’s to be expected that the parent company offers up the support.

You can start to see a problem, with the affiliate program, when the support dies out. A string of infrequent updates should set off your radar in the beginning. A total lack of feedback from the company you promote for should be the final nail in the coffin.

The Domain Goes Under

This has happened to a few products just recently: uh-oh, the domain expired!

A domain costs all but about $10 a year. There’s no excuse for a company to lapse on paying their domain (or in fact, web hosting) if they’re running a real business. When you see the site is no longer available than it’s time to take your business elsewhere.

The Non-Existent Customer/Affiliate Contact

All legitimate businesses have some form of customer or affiliate contact whether it’s through email, phone or just a simple feedback board. Unfortunately for us, there comes a time when we no longer have our emails supported, phone calls answered and comments responded – this is the beginning of the end for our campaigns.

It’s understandable if a company is so bogged down that they can’t answer every affiliate support query but if you’re sending thousands of leads each month than they better give you some of their time, should they not?

The first sign should be if they’re slowing down on their email support; email doesn’t take up too much time so if they’re dropping the ball here than something must be up. When a business doesn’t answer their phone after multiple attempts than something is definitely lacking. Any other channel that an affiliate business fails to respond on is, of course, indication that the affiliate program is dead.

Don’t even bother with a company that won’t be there and have no emotions about jumping ship to another if you aren’t getting support.

The Program is Getting Greedy

Just a word of warning: some businesses are shady and will steal your affiliate commissions if you aren’t paying attention. For this reason, it’s important to literally track everything.

Some businesses, in the past, have downright played dirty ball by skimming affiliate commissions from people sending them real leads; it’s often hard to track these numbers directly but if you see a sudden drop in earnings than it may be possible that something foul is at play (though, don’t immediately assume this and double check your numbers, of course).

In the event that a business is skimming affiliate commissions – take your business somewhere else; there’s no honor is remaining loyal to a business that is stealing from you. The affiliate program, at this point, is very much dead.

The Product Dries Up

Information and technology doesn’t last forever; the web is ever changing so there’s a big chance that the products and services you promote today could be no longer useful in the future.

This happened recently with Market Samurai. Google introduced a new system to their keyword research tools which basically made it impossible for MS to accurately pull data for their results. Since the tool is based solely around this premise – it really doesn’t become all that valuable anyone.

The same can happen for information. There’s no value in reading an ebook or going through an online course if everything mentioned has been replaced by a new system; if the information hasn’t been updated than the customer gets nothing from what you’re promoting.

The affiliate program often dies when the product dries up; customers no longer want the product because it’s outdated so there’s no real reason for affiliates to promote it.

Final Thoughts

We’ve all been there in this game of affiliate marketing. Some of the programs we subscribe to simply can’t stand the test of time while others may have been shaky from the very beginning. Affiliate programs die all the time if they aren’t properly managed which is why it’s especially important to choose a trusted one from the very beginning.

Be passionate about suggesting great products but don’t have emotions tied to being married to an affiliate program; don’t let your business go down with the sinking ship – when it’s dead, it’s dead – move on and start the process over again. That’s just the way it goes.

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