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Affiliate sales leaks

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Friday March 2, 2007 )

An unfortunate part of being an affiliate is sales leaks; i.e., referrals that you make that you’ll never be paid commissions on. It happens to all of us. This can be caused through a number of factors ranging from merchant dishonesty to cookie blocking by the user or glitches in the tracking software on the merchant’s end.

One type of commission leak I wanted to make a brief mention of is quite simple – phone numbers posted on a merchant’s site. I noticed one of the programs I’m participating starting to generate less revenue all of a sudden. Traffic to the page is the same, nothing else has really changed except for one thing:

The merchant now has a phone number plastered all over their site.

Sometimes this is a non-issue if the person you refer calls the merchant but is still directed to a form on the merchant’s site to sign up or make a purchase. Proper tracking should still happen.

The problem occurs when the merchant accepts an order over the phone as there’s nothing to track. In some cases this is just an oversight on the merchant’s part, but in other cases I’m sad to say this is a purposeful attempt to do affiliates out of commissions.

Check over the affiliate programs you’re signed up with and visit the various merchant sites – if there’s a phone number heavily promoted, ask the merchant how they handle phone sales – do they take orders over the phone? If they state they do, ask them how do they know if an affiliate referred the sale? If they say no and you still suspect they do; call up anonymously and attempt to place an order.

Many affiliates work very hard to generate commissions and for a merchant to treat their sales force in this way on purpose is rather low in my opinion – it’s a form of theft.

Learn more about other issues that can cause affiliate commission leaks

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