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  1. #1
    Member Working Mom's Avatar
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    Another Rant...
    Hey Everybody,

    This time it isn't really anybody's fault but my own. I think that's what has me wanting to rant. Here's the scenario:

    I was (and still am) working with a merchant who handles their affiliate accounts in house. All was going beautifully. Had hammered out a great contract with them, and resulting sales were coming in strong. Then our lead contact person left the company and there was a whole lot of nebulous trouble with things such as proper tracking, crediting of sales etc. But the interim people eventually managed to get things going well enough.

    Then this months sales came in...fully 70% lower than expected. So upon closer investigation, I discovered that they finally hired someone new -whom hitherto I had not heard of, and the special we had been promoting had apparently been taken offline as of January 1. Thus explaining the decline in sales. We were never notified. Naturally all this time my own site and exclusive content article still pushed the previous promotion, totally misleading my own customers. And naturally I wasted a month's worth of PPC on a promotion that no longer exists.

    And the worst part is that it's my fault. All I would've had to do is just click on my own affiliate link within the article periodically to double check that all is well as a matter of habit. It's something I intend to do at least weekly, but seldom do. Now it's cost me.

    Add to that the stress of being six and a half months pregnant - at my age, and already having five kids. Plus I convinced my husband to leave his job to help me run the online business, so what I do or fail to do online totally impacts my family since this is our sole means of support. Not to mention that complaints about this article are probably filled up in my comments inbox, which I haven't even looked at since January began...

    Feeling like a jerk here. Or maybe just feeling incompetent for failing to perform the basic checks and balances that any smart affiliate marketer probably should. How often does everyone else make sure that their links work, and are directing to the proper promotions? Daily? At least this wasn't one of our top five accounts, but it is in the top 10, and losing revenue always feels sickening, even if it isn't a make or break you account.

    Any comments, or similar experiences? Apparently the account will be attempting to reinstate the previous promo - they aren't too pleased at a 70% drop in sales themselves. But the damage has been done more or less.

    Ugghh!!
    [I]Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.[/I] -Galatians 6:9

  2. #2
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    Stop blaming yourself and stressing out over it. You cannot expect to catch all problems before they cost you.

    Anyone doing this for long enough will lose a lot of money because something goes wrong.

    The communication between you and the merchant was off. Not your fault.

    Learn from this and move on. You do a good job and you should be proud of yourself

  3. #3
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    Don't feel down for that. It's happening to everybody. With indies I feel more confident working with the owner of the company. I don't work with indies if I don't represent a big part of their income. That's my way to be sure things will work smoothly. I don't have a good experience working with employees. Most of the time they don't feel responsible.
    I try to check my landing pages quite often. It's not always easy, because you don't want to influence your stats. I've a database of all my redirects and my landing pages, so I can click on them without triggering penalties. I've always in view a dashboard with my daily income, my own live stats, visits, clicks... so I can react fast.
    With all my experience and my tools I made some bad mistakes, too. And costly ones. It's part of a job, nobody's perfect. Waiting one month for the final result is maybe too long.

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador VampireSkunk's Avatar
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    It's really annoying when things like that happen.

    Relax into the bad feelings.

    Welcome them, as best you can.

    Allow them to be.

    Ask yourself:

    Do you think you've punished yourself enough over this?

    (Check inside - answer yes or no...either is good)

    And...could you let go of wanting to punish yourself over this?

    (Check....yes or no...avoid 'maybe' - avoid analysing, weighing up the pros and cons, just say yes if you feel able to or no if you don't...either is good)

    And....would you?

    When?

    Rinse and repeat...several times.

    If you find yourself still holding on to the bad feelings, ask yourself:

    Would you rather continue feeling bad about this or would you rather be free of feeling bad?

    You may think I'm mad but just try it. You may feel a slight shift inside which is enough to allow the whole thing to start unraveling.

    If it works you'll have a clear head to correct the situation.

  5. #5
    Full Member Code Monkey's Avatar
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    Lesson learned... Move on..

    It happens to everyone..
    Stop blaming the parasites, low return days, cookie stuffers, networks, lousy AMs, and TOOLBARS!

  6. #6
    Member Working Mom's Avatar
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    Wow. Thanks for the quick and thorough responses. It has been encouraging to read that this is not an uncommon occurrence even for experienced affiliates. When I first discovered the error, which turned out to be a cascade of errors, I felt like the only veteran affiliate in the world who could make such a rookie mistake.

    Julian, Vampire Skunk & Code Monkey - I hear you. Thanks. Deep breaths, chalk it up to experience & move on and keep moving forward. Wallowing in the pit of despair isn't making me, my merchants or any customers any money or making anyone happier.

    And what a tip from Zeus:
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus
    With indies I feel more confident working with the owner of the company. I don't work with indies if I don't represent a big part of their income. That's my way to be sure things will work smoothly. I don't have a good experience working with employees. Most of the time they don't feel responsible.
    I try to check my landing pages quite often. It's not always easy, because you don't want to influence your stats. I've a database of all my redirects and my landing pages, so I can click on them without triggering penalties. I've always in view a dashboard with my daily income, my own live stats, visits, clicks... so I can react fast.
    With all my experience and my tools I made some bad mistakes, too. And costly ones. It's part of a job, nobody's perfect. Waiting one month for the final result is maybe too long.
    Highlight, underscore, copy paste print and save that one. It ought to go into the affiliate marketers rule book, -if one ever gets written.

    Here's what we've learned today kids:
    1. Make sure you work with the owner in individual accounts
    2. Make sure you're one of their top accounts.
    3. And check your landing pages often - but do it in such a way that you don't mess up your stats.

    Yes, this has been a valuable learning experience - hopefully the fact that I posted this thread about my "not so great marketing savvy" will save somebody else from learning it in the school of hard knocks.

    Incidentally, heard from the new guy at the account this morning. They have their tech people working on resuming the old promotion & landing page now...maybe by the end of the day it'll be like this whole thing is a distant memory... :-)
    [I]Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.[/I] -Galatians 6:9

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    You are being way too hard on yourself!
    Every day you learn...every day.
    And remember, you have a baby growing inside of you. Don't get stressed out!!!
    Dyan Carlson
    ["My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."- The Dalai Lama

  8. #8
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    We've all learned this lesson, most of us "the hard way" (by losing money).

    This is one reason why I suspended all my personal PPC activity when I started working on my "Datafeed Project" last summer; I still have not resumed any PPC activity in my own accounts, because I don't believe it's worth the time needed to monitor the campaigns (compared to using the time to work on my own datafeed tool).

    A couple of years ago, I learned an important signal: if PPC volume increases substantially (relative to other keywords or other merchants), it often means that the item is "out of stock" at other merchants (and possibly YOUR merchant, also), leading to an increase in consumer searches to try to find the item in stock. This is especially true for seasonal items (I found this out while promoting calendar sales -- nearly all ad groups which "more than doubled" in click volume in a short time were associated with products that were out-of-stock at my merchant. (Of course, this is extremely difficult to monitor for "Long Tail" keywords.)

    It's always advisible to monitor your top PPC keywords and check (daily, weekly, or bi-weekly, depending on spend levels) to verify that the links work and that the landing pages haven't changed (special promotion or offer ended, coupon no longer honored, price changed, item out of stock, selection limited, etc.). I don't believe this can ever be fully automated, but certain changes (price change, 404 page, or a redirect on a page that wasn't previously redirected) might be checked via script.

    I hope to eventually identify "automatic" (programmatic) ways to identify 'problems' within a datafeed based on performance measures (e.g. if a merchant's conversion rate drops significantly, this should trigger a manual review). Certainly, I'm going to make sure that when a merchant goes offline (temporarily offline on SAS, deactivated on CJ, or 404 response from automated check of merchant's home page), then any associated PPC activity is automatically paused, product listings for the merchant are no longer served on dynamic pages, and static pages are scheduled for update.

    One problem I'm finding it hard to deal with: merchants who continue to show a clothing item as "in stock" when it's available only in very limited sizes or colors. (Not surprisingly, conversion rates drop significantly for such products, if 50% or 90% of consumers don't find their size.) I haven't yet found any merchants who add designations such as "clearance" or "limited inventory" consistently for such items, but I'm hopeful that some might do so. My "bottom line," so far, has been to simply exclude any merchant from PPC and static pages (but not necessarily from dynamic pages and search results) if the merchant continues to list items as "in stock" when "fewer than all" sizes are available.
    Last edited by markwelch; February 5th, 2009 at 04:12 PM.

  9. #9
    Member Working Mom's Avatar
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    Thanks Guinness,

    They've restored the promotion as of this afternoon. So I don't have to change anything on my end. Just establish the best practice of clinking and checking my own links periodically ;-)

    SIDE NOTE:
    And might I add...every time I see your name, it totally makes me want a nice, cool pint. And I'm actually for the most part, a teetotaler -even when I'm NOT pregnant. Guinness is the only alcoholic beverage that I actually like the taste of...of course I later found out that it has very little alcohol in it in the first place! Nevertheless, no matter how bad the craving is, it simply looks wrong, wrong, wrong for a six or seven months pregnant woman to sit at a bar and down a pint - even if it is only Guinness. Therefore I'll just wait until I deliver...THEN I'll hurry up and celebrate with my long overdue pint!
    [I]Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.[/I] -Galatians 6:9

  10. #10
    Member Working Mom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    We've all learned this lesson, most of us "the hard way" (by losing money).

    A couple of years ago, I learned an important signal: if PPC volume increases substantially (relative to other keywords or other merchants), it often means that the item is "out of stock" at other merchants (and possibly YOUR merchant, also), leading to an increase in consumer searches to try to find the item in stock. This is especially true for seasonal items (I found this out while promoting calendar sales -- nearly all ad groups which "more than doubled" in click volume in a short time were associated with products that were out-of-stock at my merchant.
    Mark, That alone is another one of the can't miss things to know in the affiliate marketing rule book that I wish existed. Never would've even thought of that one until I got burned by it...probably already have and just never realized it. That's definitely an easy one to watch for...Thanks for the heads up.
    [I]Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.[/I] -Galatians 6:9

  11. #11
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    Working Mom - These are what I call "Oops moments", they happen to everyone. But they always seem to teach us something.

    Try to think of it this way:
    I did 1 thing wrong but how many have I done right?.

    I bet the right way out numbers the wrong. Give yourself a break.. and move forward.

  12. #12
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    Thought I'd share one of my Oops Moments with you Working Mom.

    This took place when adding product links had to be done manually. One of my merchants had changed networks so I had to replace all their links. I did that, no problem. This page was promoting the start of the School year. A month later, I kept thinking, wow this merchant sure isn't converting on the new network. Final conclusion, it would have been helpful if I had actually UPLOADED the new webpage with the new network links to my server. Oops...
    Last edited by msladybug; February 5th, 2009 at 06:04 PM. Reason: typo

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador VampireSkunk's Avatar
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    Err...just felt the need to point out - Guinness is not weak in alcohol - it's about 4.3 percent which isn't as strong as German beer but above average for the UK. (Just in case anyone thought it was safe to drink in volume when they're not used to it )

  14. #14
    Member Working Mom's Avatar
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    Thanks VampireSkunk...I always thought it HAD to be pretty low if I could stand it. I suppose it is when compared to regular beer. Light beer in the U.S. usually comes in at 3.5% alcohol. That must be where I got the idea that it was close to a light beer without actually being one. Here's a site that goes through the major beers and their calories, alcohol and carbs... http://www.realbeer.com/edu/health/calories.php

    And yes, I know I'm totally derailing my own thread...but Guinness started it by having a name that triggered an impossible to fulfill pregnancy craving :-)
    [I]Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.[/I] -Galatians 6:9

  15. #15
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    Well let us know when that baby comes and we can toast a pint!!!
    mmmm, Guinness float with Breyer's vanilla bean ice cream.....
    YUM!!!
    Dyan Carlson
    ["My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."- The Dalai Lama

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