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  1. #1
    Newbie TooLegitToQuit's Avatar
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    Actively recruiting your competitorsí affiliates
    Is going after your competitorís affiliates considered unethical in the affiliate marketing industry or is it just the nature of the business? I have often wondered about this and have not found any specific articles or threads on the issue. If stealing affiliates is acceptable, are there any unsaid rules or guidelines?

  2. #2
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    As an affiliate, I'm all for it. Fight over me, give me better offers Some might say otherwise but I chalk it up to competition. No merchant owns the affiliate.

  3. #3
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooLegitToQuit
    Is going after your competitorís affiliates considered unethical in the affiliate marketing industry or is it just the nature of the business? I have often wondered about this and have not found any specific articles or threads on the issue. If stealing affiliates is acceptable, are there any unsaid rules or guidelines?
    I think if you have a legitimate program and can offer a better deal, go ahead and put it out there. No reason to actively go after a specific competitor's affiliates, just make your program and its terms visible. Affiliates will find it on their own, especially if your competitor isn't performing.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    In the end, affiliates will make up their own minds as to which program to stick with, but I find most are savvy enought to experiment with other programs if they are similar to what they currently use and offer a lot more extras. If two program are similar they usually don't make the effort unless they are unhappy. But to answer your question, I think "stealing" is not the best word to use...you are offering an alternative, you are offering something additional.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  5. #5
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7-days
    ...I think "stealing" is not the best word to use...you are offering an alternative, you are offering something additional.

  6. #6
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I don't consider it unethical at all. It's a prime source for recruiting. You better have a better product, better commissions, faster payments and/or other benefits, though.
    Michael Coley
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  7. #7
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    I often refer to "recruiting competitors' affiliates" as "poaching," but that's really an unfair word to use, since there is nothing unethical or improper about recruiting affiliates who are currently working with a competitor.

    There are some unethical ways to do it, of course -- if you steal or pay someone to steal the competitors' affiliate list, that's wrong. Nor should you use any misrepresentations to try to divert affiliates, and it's usually a bad idea to directly criticize or ridicule your competitors.

    But if you use Google and other tools to identify sites that link to your competitors, or sites which have affiliate links that refer to the competitor's merchant ID within a network, there's nothing wrong with that.

    Of course, be aware that this strategy is going to miss many affiliates, including affiliates who use "link cloaking" or redirects; it will certainly not pick up successful PPC-only affiliates.

    And be careful not to spend too much time chasing the affiliates you find -- probably 95% of them will never have generated a sale for your competitor, and affiliates who haven't earned money from your competitor are both highly resistant AND likely to be ineffective for you also.

    Like any process of identifying and recruiting affiliates, this process can be very, very time-intensive, as you track down contact info and deal with large proportions of "bounced emails" and invalid contact info.

    Finally, be aware that when you recruit your competitors' affiliates, some of them will forward your recruitment email to the competitor (indeed, you'll probably be sending emails to your competitor's own "stealth affiliate" sites).

  8. #8
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Andy Rodriguez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooLegitToQuit
    Is going after your competitorís affiliates considered unethical in the affiliate marketing industry or is it just the nature of the business? I have often wondered about this and have not found any specific articles or threads on the issue. If stealing affiliates is acceptable, are there any unsaid rules or guidelines?
    Totally acceptable, we do it daily with the merchants we represent ...

    Make sure as aothers have said, your total offer is better. Not just commisions, but the entire package.

    It's not stealing, it's called recruiting and may the best merchant's affiliate program win ....
    Andy Rodriguez Consulting, Affiliate Program Management and Consulting Services, Since 2001
    www.andyrodriguez.com | E: abw@andyrodriguez.com | P: (888) 931-ANDY (2639) | Skype: affiliatedoctor | AIM & MSN: AffiliateDoctor | Subscribe To Our ABW Forum Posts | Follow me on Twitter | Join Our Affiliate Programs

  9. #9
    Newbie TooLegitToQuit's Avatar
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    Good points! Thank you for your comments.

  10. #10
    Outsourced Program Manager Stephanie Harris's Avatar
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    I would say that competition is what keeps us on our toes. Knowing that at any time there are other merchants and AMs who could be offering our affiliates better terms, commissions, etc., makes us bring our " A-Game" every day. In a perfect world there would be room for everyone, even merchants in the same vertical, to be represented by affiliates. But in the cases where its a choice between one and the other, it is part of the affiliate marketing world to recruit recruit recruit.
    Stephanie Harris
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  11. #11
    Member geoffmarcy's Avatar
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    Publishers are always free to work with who they choose. They tend to go where the trust is (relationship), and where the value is ($$$).

    I know for advertisers/merchants, it's a bit more contractual when it comes to being on a network. For example, doesn't LinkShare require exclusivity with its merchants for a defined time horizon (like a year)?
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  12. #12
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    Wish I have more time to "steal"..I mean "recruit" other merchant's affiliates. It's always a delicate balancing act for an AM. Overall, I do some recruitment but can't really disclose it.

  13. #13
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Hey, it's one of the few ego boosts I get besides a check (a cheap thrill is better than no thrill at all).

    Sometimes this is the only way I find out about new merchant programs that don't announce on ABW.
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  14. #14
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    It is no different than trying to sell someone a product. If you can show them better features and a lower price then its a deal. In this case its better products, price points, coupons, commissions, conversion.

    It only becomes unethical if you lie about your offering, us negative comments about your competitors, etc.

  15. #15
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    I think that competing with other merchants for the affiliates is just fine.

    However, I would add that it would also be unethical to offer a higher bonus or special offer or bonus just to get them away from the competitor and then reduce the commissions later after they have put all the work into building a site or pages around your program.

    Oh wait, that is what they do with free agent athletes all the time.
    So, let me add, without telling them that is the deal up front.

    Many stores offer a form of signing bonus, or CAB, to get your links up.

    In the end, though, it will be your response time, how you run your program and as Andy said, the entire package you offer that will keep them. Offering more and then not backing it up will only lead those same free agents to jump to "the next best thing" when it comes along.

  16. #16
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Campbell
    However, I would add that it would also be unethical to offer a higher bonus or special offer or bonus just to get them away from the competitor and then reduce the commissions later after they have put all the work into building a site or pages around your program.
    That's not really unethical, just stupid. If an affiliate would replace your competitors links for higher payment, don't you think they would swap them back if you dropped the rates? The knife cuts both ways.
    Michael Coley
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  17. #17
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    I think we are saying the same thing, Michael

    The point was that offering something better just to get someone in the program without providing a good program would be wasting their money

  18. #18
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    Legit - you have a right to compete for affiliates. That's the nature of the free enterprise system. As long as your recruitment method does not include wrongfully defaming your competitors there is nothing unethical about competing for affiliates. You have to compete in order to grow,

    Your sentiment in asking is well intended and very nice of you, but in business competing is part of growth.

    And like Trust said, affiliates benefit too - so the door is open for everyone to win. Good luck to you.

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

  19. #19
    Newbie TooLegitToQuit's Avatar
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    Thanks Alan! I am still a little wet behind the ears compared to you veterans. I guess I just need to remember the saying, ďItís nothing personal, itís just business.Ē

  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager PingoPrepaidCallingCards's Avatar
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    interesting thread....your getting me motivated to go recruit
    Brian Hawkins AM @ [URL=http://www.pingo.com/affiliate.do]Pingo[/URL] Earn up to $35 CPA for a [URL=http://www.pingo.com/p/onedollar/onedollar.html]$1 trial offer[/URL]!
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  21. #21
    Affiliate Network Rep Danny K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick

    It only becomes unethical if you lie ....., us negative comments about your competitors, etc.

    That's a really good point. I think you never know when that would turn someone off.
    Danny K. - Network Administrator, Digital River- oneNetworkDirect.com, Email: dkautt@digitalriver.com

  22. #22
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    Separate from recruiting affiliates, it's also a good idea to look up your competitors in the search engines to see who links to them or where their ads appear, not to steal business partners, but to evaluate whether you should be on those same sites.

    Sort of like the shoe stores being in the mall together...

  23. #23
    Newbie TooLegitToQuit's Avatar
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    hmmmmmmmmmmmm shoes

  24. #24
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    ...also, do a periodic search on your keywords and see who turns up before you do.

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