This post contains affiliate links. Because this is an affiliate marketing blog, so, #duh. This means I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post.
I found out this week that an affiliate program that *just* launched (as in, since ThinkTank) has decided to close. I was really excited about this program because they rent out tuxedos and send 'em right to your door — which is pretty effing awesome. I have also worked with this company on a direct campaign before, and they're pretty rad, so I was thrilled to be able to promote them through the affiliate space and be able to build a relationship that way. But, alas, they've decided to shutter their program in ShareASale, and it wasn't until I noticed they were temporarily offline and reached out to their affiliate manager to see what was up that I learned of their closing.
*Insert sound of record screeching here*
Yep, that's right. I had to take the time to notice the program was offline, email my affiliate manager and wait for a response to find out what was up.
Hey affiliate managers and OPMs? Don't do that.
Right off the bat, I was able to pinpoint at least three reasons why this whole thing was a mess:
1. I only knew about the program's existence because I met with the OPM at ThinkTank. The program launched in March of this year. February through May are prime wedding planning months, and would have been an ideal time to promote this merchant. ThinkTank wasn't until mid-May.
2. I did not once receive any sort of newsletter or communication about the program, despite it being the perfect fit for The Broke-Ass Bride. I am part of well over 100 affiliate programs across six networks. If I don't see your program's name pop up in my email inbox from time to time, I will probably forget about it.
3. There has been no forewarning of the program closing from its OPM. No one likes to advertise a company for free. No one likes having to find out that they've been doing just that out of sheer dumb (bad) luck.
These three points, among a number of others (inconsistent program uptime history, no follow up about joining the program after the ThinkTank meeting, talking to no less than three members of the management team and never knowing who was really managing the program) are symptoms of a poorly run program.
ShareASale recently posted on this same subject, and I'm going to hammer it home:
It's important to keep your affiliates in the loop, regardless if the news is good or bad. But especially if it's bad.
In another example, one of my OPMs has shared in the Facebook group and the affiliate marketer's group I'm in about one of his merchants being bought by another company and how the transition has basically broken all network links and created a shitstorm for him. Despite this mess, he's doing things right by communicating the issue to his affiliates immediately and keeping them posted as things progress. He is intent on doing right by not only his client from whom he earns money — his merchant — but by his affiliates, who help drive sales for his client.
Because affiliates matter.
And he knows this. He knows that if he doesn't communicate any issues, he could at the very least have some very angry affiliates on his hands and potentially lose them to a competitor — and tarnish the reputation of the business he has worked so hard to build. And that would suck.
So, AMs and OPMs, please do your affiliates, your merchants and yourselves a huge favor, and take advantage of that nifty little email tool you use on the regs. Email your affiliates about any changes to the program — whether it's an update to the Terms and Conditions, commission structure adjustments or anything that will have an impact on your affiliates. If we have the right tools (in this case, knowledge) then we can do what we do best, which is promote your program accordingly. If you don't communicate, you're only hurting yourself and your client — which could potentially suck super hard for you.
As a final note:
Bloggers tend to approach affiliate marketing with trepidation as is. When things are switched up in a program without any sort of communication — whether that be a change to the program's management, the program closing or just really shitty communication all around –then bloggers will start to jump ship, and that hurts affiliate marketing as a whole.