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  1. #1
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    Should I feel insulted (aff app declined, insulting language)
    I received the following email advising me that my application to a specific SAS affiliate program had been declined:
    We are sorry but at this time it appears that your website does not
    meet the standards we are looking for to participate in the
    (company name) affiliate program.

    However - do not despair.

    This does not mean NO permanently. This means no right now. If you'd
    like to build a site that is more in line with our product line then
    we would be more than happy to review your site again.

    Regard,
    (company name) Affiliate Manager
    I went back to the merchant site, and to their lengthy "program agreement" appended to their SAS program description, and I could find no indication of any "standards" or basis for declining sites. If they had said something like, "we only accept web sites that are specifically about buying widgets," or some other specific guidelines about site content or design that they want, the message would not be a problem for me.

    I'm not questioning anyone's right to reject me as an affiliate, or to judge my web sites when considering my application; but this actually felt a little bit personal to me -- like saying that I don't really know what I'm doing, but I should come back if I figure out this business.

    Am I over-reacting?

  2. #2
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    so how close were you to their product line, relatively?

  3. #3
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    I think you are overreacting. PM me if you like It is a new merchant that may not have worded that email well.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  4. #4
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    Herb asked: > "so how close were you to their product line, relatively?" <

    Not close at all. I don't have a current site that pertains to the widgets they sell. I changed which site was the "primary" site in my SAS profile this week, so I'm not sure which of two sites was shown as primary when the application was submitted -- one is a directory site that has nothing to do with their products, the other is my home page where I added an explanation specifically for SAS merchants to understand a little bit about my current project.

    I think my reaction was to the phrase "your website does not meet the standards we are looking for" as this feels like a "slam" on my skills as a web site creator, and the ability of my sites to drive product sales.

    If all they meant was "we don't accept sites that aren't clearly related to our product line," then I think they could word the first paragraph more artfully -- in fairness, that's partially the conclusion I reached from the closing paragraph ("If you'd like to build a site that is more in line with our product line...").

    Let's focus on two separate questions:

    (1) Am I being too thin-skinned, or defensive? (I probably am.)

    (2) Should the AM change the language of their "decline" message?

    In my role as an affiliate manager, I have followed the advice I've read here on ABW -- I've accepted "almost everyone." So maybe when I shift back into my "affiliate" role, I am just being less tolerant of AMs who have higher standards.
    Last edited by markwelch; February 9th, 2007 at 11:26 PM.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    If it is that paragraph in the smaller font at the top of the page it is possible that it was missed. I just went reading and missed it until I read the page a 2nd time around.
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  6. #6
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    If it's something you really want to promote, email them and let them know how you plan on promoting them.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
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  7. #7
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    Patrick wrote: > "If it is that paragraph in the smaller font at the top of the page it is possible that it was missed. I just went reading and missed it until I read the page a 2nd time around." <

    Patrick is referring to my home page with this comment, and he is correct that the language aimed at SAS merchants is in a smaller font in a gray box at the upper right corner of the page.

    Perhaps the merchant in question saw my home page (which is basically a resume promoting my internet-marketing consulting practice), and thought that I was proposing to post links to the merchant on that home page (which contains no advertising). I would have hoped the merchant would actually read the first paragraph of text and consider whether I was proposing something so bizarre, but perhaps I'm expecting too much.

  8. #8
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    MichaelColey wrote: > "If it's something you really want to promote, email them and let them know how you plan on promoting them." <

    I didn't have any specific feelings about this merchant's products, nor about the product niche -- it was one of more than a dozen niches that I put on my list to experiment with. There are several other merchants who offer similar products, mostly paying the same or higher commissions.

    Getting rejected isn't bothering me (I don't think), but the specific language used is what somehow "triggered" a moment of anger.

  9. #9
    http and a telephoto
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    I think that you were too thin skinned and I think that the email is poorly worded. I have actually discussed this with the merchant, as I said, they are new. But they did not mean to be insulting, just didn't see how you were going to promote them.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  10. #10
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    I got a very snippy personal refusal from an SAS merchant (the owner), weeks after applying, saying I was REFUSED, but feel free to re-apply when I change the content of my site.

    I figured they must have just looked at the main site in my SAS profile and not any others, because I have a site that's exactly about the niche she's in. I sent her an email back, with a specific URL on the site (which is totally about that niche), and asked her what exactly about the content does she suggest I change - just as snippy back. I also told her that if it's the Adsense on the pages, that'll stay until the LS merchants on the pages get rid of the parasites in their programs.

    A few weeks later I got a blank email with ACCEPTED as the subject, but I still haven't put her links up.

    The "tone of voice" in some emails is what gets to me.

  11. #11
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    I'm generally pretty thin skinned when I get turned down as well. I know the merchant only ever looks at whatever single domain is listed as primary, and since I'm not into malls, it'll rarely fit. I also know that I've been doing this for a very long time and can bring value to any program I feel like bringing value to, so I tend to get annoyed at programs that treat me like I don't deserve the honor of promoting them.

    Then again, count to 10 and shake your head at their loss. Move on to another program. No harm in letting the first know that they made a mistake in a level-headed manner, but no need to work with them either.

    There are plenty of other programs out there. I think I could even recommend one if you're keen for a new niche with little to no competition...
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  12. #12
    Yup, Sure ... now let me check ... Cagles Mill's Avatar
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    This situation reminds me of when I sent a resume to Sears' home office in Chicago back around '87. I had been an Asst. Mgr. for Wal-Mart for over 3 years, but really hated working for them. So I had decided to see if I could interest Sears in my retail management skills. Well, I got a reply back from Sears and I don't remember the exact wording, but it pretty much ran along the lines that Wal-Mart didn't know anything about retailing, but if I could get some "real" retail management experience under my belt then they would be happy to talk with me about the possibility of a job.

    You all remember Sears, right?! They used to be the #1 retailer back in the days before Wal-Mart came along.

    I certainly wouldn't worry about what the SAS merchant thought of me. I would just figure, "Heh, it's their loss".
    Rick M.
    I would rather have a bottle in front of me, than have a frontal lobotomy!
    Does your bubblegum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?

  13. #13
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Welsh
    Am I over-reacting?
    Well, you apparently haven't secretly wished death upon the company for rejecting you as an affiliate. So I'd say you're reacting mildly! I just probably wouldn't make a thread about it, or email, even if I was fuming. I'd be too busy making pages for their competition.

    Regardless of the wording, I tend to take application rejections very badly.

    "your website does not meet the standards we are looking for"
    LOL those are the words of a newb, alright!!

    Give 'em 6 months to see what the REAL average website is like. Most sites never rank anywhere, not even in Gigablast, so they have no idea of what the TRUE level of (non)quality out there is!

    What they're doing now is like judging all paintings based on what they've seen in the Louvre. Google similarly gives a very INaccurate idea of what is actually an "average" site. Once they see all the stuff that didn't even make it to the basement of the "museum," they should get more realistic standards. For now they've probably got a mental image of Amazon or someplace like that as The Standard, and so are reject-crazy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cagles Mill
    Well, I got a reply back from Sears and I don't remember the exact wording, but it pretty much ran along the lines that Wal-Mart didn't know anything about retailing, but if I could get some "real" retail management experience under my belt then they would be happy to talk with me about the possibility of a job.
    Wa ha ha!

    Too bad Wal-Mart is so awful when it comes to how they treat empl*yees, though. If they did as good of a job at that as they do at retailing, they'd be a real champion.

  14. #14
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    Herb asked: > "so how close were you to their product line, relatively?" <

    Not close at all. I don't have a current site that pertains to the widgets they sell. I changed which site was the "primary" site in my SAS profile this week, so I'm not sure which of two sites was shown as primary when the application was submitted -- one is a directory site that has nothing to do with their products, the other is my home page...
    Mark, more than likely it was your edited out - just so others don't see and feel it is ok to list affiliate websites. website. This is what I see in your profile, and this is what came to me throughout the day yesterday when you were applying for my clients' datafeeds.

    More than likely, they (the merchant that has declined your application) went to that homepage of yours. And I am 99.9% certain that your understanding of what happened next is correct. You wrote:

    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    Perhaps the merchant in question saw my home page (which is basically a resume promoting my internet-marketing consulting practice), and thought that I was proposing to post links to the merchant on that home page (which contains no advertising). I would have hoped the merchant would actually read the first paragraph of text and consider whether I was proposing something so bizarre, but perhaps I'm expecting too much.
    E-mail them to point the AM to that "gray box" that was either not given proper attention, or was missed altogether. They may well change their mind after you talk to them.

    I think, the above situation can be used to make motions, asking networks that listen to affiliates here at ABW to add a "comments" box for affiliates to fill in while applying for a merchant's affiliate program. You know how you can add a comment while applying for a merchant datafeed at ShareASale? Something like that. It should help both affiliates and merchants to avoid situations like the one encountered by Mark.

    Geno
    Last edited by Brian - ShareASale; February 10th, 2007 at 12:33 PM. Reason: Removing link to affiliate site... for consistancy.

  15. #15
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    No way was "standards" the proper word to use in that email.

    "website does not meet the standards we are looking for to participate" is saying that it's lousy quality and not good enough. Unless it really is a crummy, ugly, sub-standard quality piece of crap, the only appropriate response to that email is an Italian handshake.

  16. #16
    Advocate mellie's Avatar
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    I think if a merchant is going to send a letter of decline they should take a moment to add a couple lines. First, indicate what site(s) they looked at so it doesn't remain a mystery what they are basing their decision on.

    The second item will depend. If you as a merchant just don't like or want the affiliate, just say thank you for applying. If you like what you see but don't see how it fits let the affiliate know you'd be interested in hearing from them or ask them what they have planned.

    This will not take a lot of time. A merchant doesn't need to give a list of reasons, just tell us what site(s) you looked at. With that information we'll know whether to follow up.

    The letter you received would've annoyed me a bit. Instead of "standards" they should use "criteria"
    Melanie
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  17. #17
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    "isn't a match" can be more accurate in some cases, and not only covers a fairly broad spectrum of reasons, it's saying basically the same thing, for any number of reasons, but with tact.

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    From reading ABW for the short period of time that I have I always thought that affiliates needed merchants, and merchants needed affiliates. It was a two way street and both needed to work together.

    Some of the posts in this thread almost feel like 'I am god, F that merchant, I don't need them and their crap'.

    "website does not meet the standards we are looking for to participate" does not mean in the least that a website was crummy. It means "standards". Period. If the standard was 'all affiliate websites must have a blue background' then that is all it is. To me it speaks nothing of quality of the content or the intent. Saying "your website is poorly put together and does not look good at all' is saying a website is crummy. Oh here is another one - what if the website did not meet section 508 standards, some of the W3C standards ? It can easily mean a variety of things.

    I agree that some more explanation was in order as to what something was rejected.
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  19. #19
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    Let's focus on two separate questions:

    (1) Am I being too thin-skinned, or defensive? (I probably am.)

    (2) Should the AM change the language of their "decline" message?

    In my role as an affiliate manager, I have followed the advice I've read here on ABW --I've accepted "almost everyone." So maybe when I shift back into my "affiliate" role, I am just being less tolerant of AMs who have higher standards.
    1-)I think you're too defensive. A merchant has the right to don't accept an affiliate. How can you please everybody? So many verticals, so many ways to promote a merchant. I don't feel offended at all if I'm not accepted by a merchant. Most of the time I don't even try to know why. Because, it's not happening often (not enough in my own opinion) and I've so many projects, I'll need more than one life time to finish it all. I'm not a work addict.

    2-)Most of the time the "decline" message is a template written years ago maybe by somebody else. I'm not picky, I'm pretty sure I'm not reading it all the way. For me the answer should be black or white, yes or no, everything else is subjective and a waste of time (IMHO) Once again I never feel offended by the answer (especially if it's no). I know what I've done, what I'm worth. I'm not feeling down if an affiliate manager don't accept one of my sites. He must have his own reasons and it's his prerogative. I accept it. Maybe, I would have been more offensive years ago but as an affiliate we have such an incredible choice.

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    Geno also brings up a good point for the network. The networks appear to be like most places nowadays - they want to help keep both parties anonymous so there are some tools given for communication. One of the tools that could be added is the ability for an affiliate to add a site name also when sending a request as opposed to having one site name in the profile.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrick24601
    One of the tools that could be added is the ability for an affiliate to add a site name also when sending a request as opposed to having one site name in the profile.
    Yep. It's a problem with the networks. If the site listed in your profile sell wine by example, you shouldn't be accepted by merchants selling loans or other financial products. (At least if they take the time to check your profile or your site)
    With CJ and SaS, you can at least, list all your sites (or some). It doesn't work anymore with LinkShare.

  22. #22
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrick24601
    One of the tools that could be added is the ability for an affiliate to add a site name also when sending a request as opposed to having one site name in the profile.
    + the field for general comments (e.g.: "I am planning on promoting your website via PPC campaigns")

  23. #23
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    Okay, now that I've had a chance to sleep on it, I have to agree that I was over-reacting. While I think the "standards" language was "not artful" (and the AM has now said that language will be changed), I also agree that I shouldn't have taken it personally.

    Normally, I don't follow up at all on "declines," unless there is a good reason (e.g. I have a very specific plan and the merchant feels like a good fit to me). At my current stage, I am not investing a huge amount of time in any specific niche or merchant, so I simply dump boilerplate rejections into a separate folder.

    To the AM's credit, I have now been approved into the affiliate program in question, but now comes another "non-artful" issue for me:
    (CompanyName) Commission Table
    8% - $0 - $1000 in sales
    12% - $1001 * $2000
    15% - $2001 - $5000

    In addition we will offer individual custom commission rates for those affiliate that can generate sales in excess of $5000 per month. It is very achievable. If you work hard and earn it I can promise we will work something out.
    The percentage gaps between these tiers are pretty large (although the sales levels don't seem unreasonable if you believe in the "tier" concept), and the text paragraph makes clear that "even higher" rates are offered. There was another discussion thread here on ABW about "big-step tiers" this past week: see the last two posts under http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread...ighlight=tiers

    Given that this is a new program (with no datafeed posted yet), I'm not inspired by the tier structure. In fact, while the 8% posted rate was not very attractive, seeing these higher tiers makes me even LESS likely to work with the merchant (because I'm being told I'll be paid less than others).

    (The issue: if I send $500 in sales, why are each of my transactions worth less than each transaction sent by someone who sends $1,000 in sales? I could understand if the tiers were based on something reasonable, such as 'average transaction size' or 'sales of higher-markup items' -- these would be measures that indicate a higher profitability for the merchant, and thus would justify a higher affiliate commission.)

    My response, of course, is going to be "please bump me up to 15% on all sales, and please consider bumping me to 20% so I will be inclined to conduct my PPC tests using your products instead of your competitors' products."

  24. #24
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Mark,

    My only advice is to "show them something". Even if it is only one month where you generate $500 in sales... give them something to look at, show them the quality of your traffic, etc... and THEN go to them if you feel you need more commission, etc...

    While it may not be the most productive month overall at the base 8% rate, it will give the merchant the information that they need to say "Yeah, this is somebody we want to work with further, etc..."

    While I am not personally a huge giant fan of "tiered" commission structures...the above is typically what we hear from merchants who utilize them. They often get requests for things like commission bumps, among other things - and just want to know that they are spending their time efficiently ...

    Again, this isn't really a personal opinion, but advice that comes kinda indirectly through merchant feedback, etc....
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  25. #25
    Full Member jollygoodpirate's Avatar
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    I don't feel you are overeacting... they said your site is "not good enough" which is a reflection of you and your work. If they "mean" something else, they should "say" something else.

    However, I agree that you could be creating sites for the competition... in the mean time.

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