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  1. #1
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Those Annoying "Get Active or Else" Emails
    I promised to start a thread about them, so here it is. We already "opined" the SolutionsCatalog email on another thread, but I'm posting it again here so we can have a complete list.

    Dear Valued Affiliate,

    Thank you for your support of the Solutions affiliate program.

    Please note this important change to the Solutions affiliate program that will go into effect January 15, 2007:

    All publishers, other than the top 40, will be deactivated

    Your site was, unfortunately, not in Solutions' list of top 40 publishers and will be deactivated January 15, 2007. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Thank you,
    We all seem to be in agreement on this one. Stupid!

  2. #2
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Here's one I got from a well-known merchant/well-known Affiliate Manager:

    Subject: Important Notice: Your XXXX Account
    Date: Thu, 1 Feb 2007 23:12:13 +0000
    From: XXXX <owner-membermessaging@mx5.cj.com>

    Dear Bill XXXX,

    Looking over our list and checking it twice, we noticed that since
    signing up, you haven't placed any XXXX links on your site. We'd like
    to turn that around and help you start making some money. You've already
    taken the first step by choosing XXXX and signing up, so this should
    be easy! To avoid disruption to your account please place the XXXX
    links on your site today.

    Please let us know if there's anything we can do, we're here to help
    you, contact us anytime...
    So I check my CJ logs and see:

    Totals $3.37 $67.47 2 0 251 3,458 0.073 $0.98
    (3,458 impressions/251 clicks/2 sales for $67.47)

    With impressions, clicks and sales, why does the merchant say "we noticed that since signing up, you haven't placed any XXXX links on your site."

    Where do they get their information from? If not CJ?

    "To avoid disruption to your account please place the XXXX links on your site today."

    While it's cleverly disguised, that is still a deactivation threat!

    The obvious questions are:

    1. Why say I haven't put up links when I have? Do they even bother to check before sending these emails out?

    2. Why threaten to deactivate me, no matter how sublte the threat is?

  3. #3
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    An affiliate manager contacted me thru my site - not a network or ABW - and said we're a good match. While they only carried a handfull of Personalized Products, they were a good fit, so I put up the product links.

    The following month an OPM took over the management, and sent this email:

    "Thank you for being a XXXX affiliate. We noticed that you have not had any activity on your account for the last couple of months. To avoid being deactivated, put links on your site by Monday, November 13th..."

    Jamie [Last Name Removed]
    Affiliate Manager for XXXX and XXXX
    Checked my CJ logs:

    Totals $0.00 $0.00 0 0 58 294 0.197

    They only had a handfull of personalized products, 294 people looked at those product pages, and 58 people registered on my site and clicked thru to the merchant... but no sales.

    So they threaten me???????

    What else am I supposed to do?? Make the sale myself??????? And forward it to the merchant??

    I can't post links to my sites, but this is what's on all my pages that featured this merchant:

    It appears the people who click thru our XXXX links don't actually make a purchase once they get to their site, or feel more comfortable placing the order on the phone, which unfortunately, is not tracked as originating back to us.

    It also appears XXXX feels it's acceptable to threaten their partners with deactivation because of this. We can only hope they treat their customers with a little more dignity and courtesy then their business partners.

    Since OUR customer satisfaction level is dependent on THEIR customer satisfaction level, we have decided to refer our visitors to more professional websites.

    For this reason, we will be deactivating our XXXX links.

    Below are links to 3 other catalog companies that offer similar merchandise, and have a long-standing reputation of treating people with common courtesy and respect:

    Miles Kimball
    Free Shipping on orders over $40 at Miles Kimball

    Walter Drake
    10% OFF orders over $40 at Walter Drake

    Lillian Vernon
    Free Shipping on orders over $50 at Lillian Vernon

  4. #4
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    Do Merchants Pay Extra for Keeping Inactive Affiliates?
    In a number of posts on this topic, folks have said that there is no cost to keep "inactive" affiliates enrolled in a program, but I'm not certain that's true.

    I know that in "the early days," more than six years ago, at least two of the major networks imposed fees based on the number of affiliates enrolled with the merchant's program. One imposed a flat rate "per affiliate," and the other had a tiered system that charged higher rates for larger number of affiliates. I know of one case where a network removed these fees from the contract in order to close a deal.

    My understanding is that many of LinkShare's contracts are "highly negotiated," meaning that the terms may differ from one merchant to another; I have seen some signs that the same may be true for some CJ merchants, though I believe CJ's contracts are more uniform. BeFree's contracts were also "highly negotiated," which probably explains one reason why some merchants have insisted on continuing their BeFree programs instead of switching to CJ.

    I know that in the past, these "highly negotiated" contracts always contained confidentiality clauses, barring merchants from discussing the terms of their contracts.

    As I've often mentioned, I haven't sent any of my clients to LinkShare or CJ in the past five years, so I don't know how these contracts may have evolved, but it would certainly not surprise me to find that there are terms in many contracts that impose extra costs based on the number of enrolled affiliates, especially for "managed" programs where LinkShare or CJ staff take responsibility for recruiting and servicing affiliates. Networks may also charge different fees for such services as forwarding newsletters and notifications to affiliates, based on the number of affiliates enrolled.

    While I certainly agree that "heavy-handed" culling of inactive affiliates is inappropriate, we should recognize that there may be real costs that affiliate managers may pay to keep "inactive" affiliates enrolled in their network -- and they are probably contractually prohibited from discussing these fees.

    There are also "spam filter" issues involved. If a merchant sends an identical newsletter to a large number of affiliates, it's more likely that multiple emails will be going to a single domain (or to domains that share the same spam-screening service), where the duplication would trigger alarms, causing emails to be "tagged" or deleted. Certainly, a merchant with 40 affiliates would be much less likely to trigger such filters than a merchant sending an affiliate newsletter to 4,000 affiliates.


    (For those who recognize that I'm being especially verbose this weekend: I am running a series of "batch" tasks related to datafeeds, so I have lots of short intervals of free time while they run.)

  5. #5
    Speechless OTProf's Avatar
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    Billy --

    This is interesting stuff! I'd guess there is some minor cost of maintenance per X number of affiliates, but probably so low as to dissuade against overt & subtle threats of 'disruption'. Fact is, lot of folks get all pumped up about this stuff and then either drop off the planet (or as in my case) have bursts of productivity from time to time that pay off (and bursts that don't pay off...). Either way, companies should see it as a cost of doing business and either screen better on the front end or take the angle of 'how can we help you?" // "here's some ideas to generate traffic/sales..." Etc.

  6. #6
    Prince of Content Vinny O'Hare's Avatar
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    Billy what I usually do about these are I check to see what keyords they would focus on and buy them all in adwords just so they dont get a sale for a few hours. Its the NY in me
    Vinny O'Hare - OPM - Contact Info email: vinny at teamloxly.com ~ 702-582-6742 Twitter

  7. #7
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    Activation vs Threats... The AM's need to read Michael's thread and also learn the difference. Threats don't motivate, they alienate. Corporate mentality....
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  8. #8
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    I don't remember seeing this much concern about this topic over the past year. I don't know the facts, but I would suspect that the merchants who are trimming ranks are probably the "big" guys with the well known branding?

    If a merchant only has room for 40 affiliates, I can understand why they would limit participation to a top "X" number list. But it makes little sense to have an open program and then try to inspire activity by hinting at or threatening deactivation. Oh well. There are many fish in the sea.

    Alan
    Join the Spicy Aprons Affiliate program on ShareASale Visit us on Facebook www.facebook.com/spicyaprons Follow us on Twitter @Spicyaprons

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ALH - AmeritrustRx
    I don't remember seeing this much concern about this topic over the past year. I don't know the facts, but I would suspect that the merchants who are trimming ranks are probably the "big" guys with the well known branding?

    If a merchant only has room for 40 affiliates, I can understand why they would limit participation to a top "X" number list. But it makes little sense to have an open program and then try to inspire activity by hinting at or threatening deactivation. Oh well. There are many fish in the sea.

    Alan
    No Alan, it isn't just big brands. It is becoming the "fashionable" thing to do. Instead of bragging they have large numbers of affiliates, suddenly merchants want smaller numbers that they think they have more control over.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    Where I am not clear on how this would be a "trend" is that I am not aware of the actual number of merchants who are doing this compared to the total number of merchants offering affiliate programs. Out of the thousands of merchants offering programs, I suspect that there is only a small % of them who use a "produce or you're out" philosophy. So I don't see it as a trend at this point. It's certainly an annoyance to those who are affected by such a practice, but to be a trend, it would need to be more prolific. Any thoughts gang?
    Join the Spicy Aprons Affiliate program on ShareASale Visit us on Facebook www.facebook.com/spicyaprons Follow us on Twitter @Spicyaprons

  11. #11
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    It's hard to gather stats because we all have different business models. I've thousand of affiliations, I don't make money with everybody and I don't even have links for many but I'm getting very, very few deactivation notices for non performance. Nethertheless, at least half of these emails are "Get Active or Else" I hate that. Usually, I'm faster than them to push the deactivate button.

    These kind of emails are pretty new. I don't remember such threats a few years ago.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ALH - AmeritrustRx
    Where I am not clear on how this would be a "trend" is that I am not aware of the actual number of merchants who are doing this compared to the total number of merchants offering affiliate programs. Out of the thousands of merchants offering programs, I suspect that there is only a small % of them who use a "produce or you're out" philosophy. So I don't see it as a trend at this point. It's certainly an annoyance to those who are affected by such a practice, but to be a trend, it would need to be more prolific. Any thoughts gang?
    Alan, if you were an affiliate in many programs and were getting the emails yourself you would see the trend. It is a definite trend... and as an AM I can also tell you it is a corporate trend.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  13. #13
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    We should include Scooter's PacSun email here also:

    Dear Affiliate,

    We had a great year and lots of affiliates made some pretty good commissions but we have noticed that you haven't made any in the last 3 months.

    Last year we introduced a new commission and incentive structure that made it easier for affiliates to reach higher incentive thresholds and earn more. We have also increased the number of referrals from 1 to unlimited, so you get commissions on every order.

    To make all this possible, we have keep our affiliate base clean and expire the relationship with non-performing publishers. We see that you might perform well on other programs and maybe just didnít have the time to promote our business. So we would like to offer you a new chance to stay in our program, promote our business and start earning commissions.

    Please start promoting our business with some of the banners or text links below. We will be revisiting your stats in 3 months to see if there were any improvements. We usually remove from the program affiliates that don't perform in a 6 month period.

    And please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.

    Please feel free to contact me with your questions or suggestions.

    Thanks for your continuous support.
    "We will be revisiting your stats in 3 months to see if there were any improvements. We usually remove from the program affiliates that don't perform in a 6 month period."

    Yep - that's a deactivation threat.

    "So we would like to offer you a new chance to stay in our program..."

    TWO threats in the same email

  14. #14
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    I'm reposting the Lehman's email here for a chuckle:

    We just wanted to send a reminder to all of our current affillates. We are restructuring our program and have a specific goal in mind. This means that many of you will receive notices that your status has been set to expire. It is nothing personal, we just have very specific program terms that we want our advertisers to adhere to. We are trying to limit the number of affilliates to a number that we can interact and correspond with. Over the holidays, we did a Year End Clearance. For this, we created a custom banner for the use of CJ Affilliates. We are disappointed to report that none of the current affilliates used this link. As we get our program under control, hopefully we will be able to have more coordinated efforts between Lehman's and our advertisers.
    Not even a veiled threat. They only want a few affilliates, and most of us will be axed.

    Now check out what they say in their CJ merchant description:

    We would encourage you to visit our Web site and our newsletter at to determine if you'd like to link to our site. We think that Lehmans.com is a rare source for the fun and functional -- but we need your help to get the word out!
    So do they want our help or not?????

  15. #15
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    Over the holidays, we did a Year End Clearance. For this, we created a custom banner for the use of CJ Affilliates. We are disappointed to report that none of the current affilliates used this link.
    I like this one. If NONE of their affiliates used this link, the problem is more likely with them not with their affiliates.
    But, it's easier to blame the affiliates than to understand why they have such a poor management.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lehman's AM
    > "* * * we [Lehman's] created a custom banner for the use of CJ Affilliates. We are disappointed to report that none of the current affilliates used this link. As we get our program under control, hopefully we will be able to have more coordinated efforts between Lehman's and our advertisers." <
    So Lehman's is viewing the affiliate channel as a tool for distributing specific messages via banners? What affiliates will agree to the level of control they are seeking, in exchange for a share of sales from only one channel?

    Some obvious questions: did Lehman's also run this same "year end clearance" banner on a CPM basis, and what results did they see from the banner elsewhere? Did the banner provide a clear incentive to action (if it just said something like "Year End Clearance - up to 50% off" then it was just echoing every other retailer). Did the banner convey an "online only" message, or did it promote a sale that was happening in retail stores also? How much advance notice were affiliates given about the sale and this banner, and how long was the sale? Very few affiliates, even those who effectively integrate banner promotions into their sites, are interested in short-term campaigns.

    I don't like to work with "multi-channel" retailers (whose online campaigns are intended in part to draw customers to their local retail stores). I work almost entirely with "online-only" merchants. I promote merchants by listing specific products on a niche web site related to those products, and by doing product-specific PPC campaigns.

    I've been working with banners for more than 10 years, and in 2006 and 2007 they are almost completely ineffective as a tool for affiliate marketing -- though a product-specific banner can be effective when used in the right context (e.g. "pre-order Harry Potter" or "buy a 42-inch plasma TV for $999").
    Last edited by markwelch; February 10th, 2007 at 06:33 PM.

  17. #17
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    "So I don't see it as a trend at this point. It's certainly an annoyance to those who are affected by such a practice, but to be a trend, it would need to be more prolific. Any thoughts gang?"

    I'm signed up to many, many merchants. This has always been going on. I guess the main problem is the cost of email thru the networks? If that's it, work on sending them outside of the network. Someone posted what some are charging and it's ridiculous.

  18. #18
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    Someone posted what some are charging and it's ridiculous.
    It does get expenive at certain networks...

    Yet, I'm not sure the problem stems from the "cost of email thru the networks". Whether the network charges you for it, or not, they normally give you an option of choosing who to send the e-mail to, and who to leave out (naturally, you do not pay for those left out).

    G.

  19. #19
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Kay

    I can't post links to my sites, but this is what's on all my pages that featured this merchant:
    It appears the people who click thru our XXXX links don't actually make a purchase once they get to their site, or feel more comfortable placing the order on the phone, which unfortunately, is not tracked as originating back to us.

    It also appears XXXX feels it's acceptable to threaten their partners with deactivation because of this. We can only hope they treat their customers with a little more dignity and courtesy then their business partners.

    Since OUR customer satisfaction level is dependent on THEIR customer satisfaction level, we have decided to refer our visitors to more professional websites.

    For this reason, we will be deactivating our XXXX links.

    Below are links to 3 other catalog companies that offer similar merchandise, and have a long-standing reputation of treating people with common courtesy and respect:

    Miles Kimball
    Free Shipping on orders over $40 at Miles Kimball

    Walter Drake
    10% OFF orders over $40 at Walter Drake

    Lillian Vernon
    Free Shipping on orders over $50 at Lillian Vernon
    AHA! So you DO know what to do with a lousy merchant!
    Now, please quit pretending that I should be nice to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Loxly
    No Alan, it isn't just big brands. It is becoming the "fashionable" thing to do. Instead of bragging they have large numbers of affiliates, suddenly merchants want smaller numbers that they think they have more control over.
    Those merchants' attitude is anathema to affiliates, who wouldn't BE affiliates if they were willing to be "controlled." May all their programs close due to lack of affiliates, and be flamed on their way out.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leader
    Those merchants' attitude is anathema to affiliates, who wouldn't BE affiliates if they were willing to be "controlled."
    Exactly.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    OK, this is the last straw for me. I just received this from an affiliate manager. Those of you who don't know me probably don't understand, but if you're an affiliate manager.....you really, really have to annoy me to make me feel the way I do now. You can take a long time answering my emails, you name it...I go out of my way to be a nice guy and am always giving people second chances, etc. I probably tolerate a lot of stuff that most of you may not. I've always tried to be very understanding with affiliate managers and not get mad when maybe others would. I always send them links to the pages where I've put their links and ask them for any comments or suggestions they have. I email them at holidays wishing them well. Really am a nice guy to them. I'm not a confrontational person at all. Don't really think it's a very good excuse. but I've got a cold so maybe I'm just in a bad mood. If it weren't for the kick in the pants remark...probably would've just let it go...but when I have put their links on my site, posted their coupons, etc. ..just don't think I really need to hear that. So.....how would the rest of you take this email??

    "If you are receiving this email, you are listed as inactive in our system with xxxxxxxx. We have thousands of affiliates to control and we take great pride in being organized and in contact with each one of them. In order to do that, we need you to get your links live and active with traffic coming from your site.

    Right now, you show no click throughs as of today and you have pulled in no revenue because of that.

    We want you to succeed with xxxxxxxx but we need your help to get our relationship started.

    However, as of now, you have 30 days to get us up and running on your sites with xxxxxx links.

    If you cannot comply, we will have to remove you from the program and you will have to reapply when you are ready for us again.

    I apologize for doing this, but we have many affiliates to control and without a little kick in the pants, we would be turning our wheels.

    Note: Please email me back if you think we have this wrong for some reason.

    Hope to hear from you soon,"

    I emailed her back and explained that maybe I was just having a bad day. cos I didn't feel so hot. Have only had a few clicks for that site and was in December, so she is right if she's only referring to this year. Do have impressions if they mean anything and had a sale for a site on that same page last week. But like I said....I'm not any biggie affiliate. I am in the process of learning about parasites, etc. and determining which sites are best for me to focus on. So...this site I hadn't determined yet and it's not at the top of the page or anything.

    Anyway...did write back and said if she didn't want me as an affiliate to just come out and say that. I didn't appreciate the "I apologize for doing this, but we have many affiliates to control and without a little kick in the pants, we would be turning our wheels."

    remark and if it was meant to initmidate me it did the opposite. Would you guys have done the same or am I just having a bad day and was the wrong time for the email?

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Wow, that is a bit firm. Sounds more like you forgot to pay your phone bill!
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador JudiMoore's Avatar
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    I apologize for doing this, but we have many affiliates to control and without a little kick in the pants, we would be turning our wheels.
    This seems like a perfect way to decide who to drop and who to try and work with. I have hundreds of things I would like to get under control, but I haven't kicked anybody in the pants - ever! So they wouldn't be a fit for anything I'm trying to accomplish.

  24. #24
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    Was just about to post that one, it was from Babyage.

    "but we have many affiliates to control and without a little kick in the pants"

    Sounds like a parent. Not mine, I was an

  25. #25
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    I apologize for doing this, but we have many affiliates to control and without a little kick in the pants, we would be turning our wheels.
    OMG.... that AM is the one that needs a kick in the pants!!!!
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

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