The last few weeks every time I check my email there’s an announcement about affiliate programs moving and closing. I grumble about it because it can be a lot of work to change the links. This post isn’t to complain about merchants moving networks because I know sometimes it is for really good reasons. Rather, it’s to give some affiliate perspective on how the affiliate managers can make things easier on the affiliates.
1) Don’t say that the program is “closing.” We start to panic because we aren’t sure if it means that the program is closing totally or if it is really just moving. I know some networks have rules about what merchants can say when the emails come through their system. The easiest thing to say if you can’t say anything about another network is “The Merchant X program is closing on the Y affiliate network.” This at least gives us a clue that there is already a program open on another network or will be soon.
2) Give us at least a 2 week notice. A month is even better if possible. We may need to swap out entire datafeeds, update old blog posts, stop PPC campaigns, or make changes to our databases. When we get multiple emails like this in the same week, it becomes impossible to get all of these changes made in one week.
3) Tell us where you are moving. Get the word out any way that you can without violating network policies. If you can email your top affiliates directly, do that. But also don’t leave out everyone else. Simply posting on your social media at least gives us a chance of finding it if we do a quick search, especially if you are an OPM. When we find out where a program is moving we can start making plans for either changing out the links or dropping the merchant completely if it is a network we don’t work with.
4) Have the new program ready with the basics. I’ve gone in and applied for a lot of newly moved programs only to discover that they didn’t have all of the standard banner sizes loaded into the system or the datafeed ready. Have the basic necessities ready in the new program before affiliates even start applying so that we can move everything over as soon as we get accepted.
5) Approve existing affiliates quickly. Speaking of the application process, make it as quick as possible for affiliates to be able to pull the new links. If a program is closing on one network on Friday, don’t wait until Friday morning to approve existing affiliates. When possible, extend offers to us so we can start pulling links as soon as we accept the terms in the new network.
6) Keep terms the same. It’s incredibly disappointing to see a merchant move to another network and then drop the commission in half. Unless the program itself is in danger, don’t use the move as an opportunity to lowball affiliates.
7) Offer incentives to move. This isn’t a “must” but it is nice when merchants offer something for affiliates to get links moved more quickly. It could be a higher introductory rate on the new network for a few weeks or an exclusive coupon there or anything like that. If an affiliate is dragging their feet on making the switch or unsure whether they even want to spend the time making the changes, an incentive can help.
8) Keep the lines of communication open. More than anything else, let the affiliates know that you are available for questions and respond to emails in a timely fashion. They may not be as familiar with the new network or may have problems applying for the new program. Be patient with us and understand that while you may only be migrating one merchant this month (or even 5), we might be having to switch over 10 or 20.
Do you have any other tips for affiliate managers who are moving their programs? Any pet peeves?