A ‘Dear John’ Letter to Affiliate Merchants

My dear Affiliate Merchant,

I have been seriously evaluating our relationship, and I’ve concluded you are not offering me what I need to be happy. I feel it is time for me to move on.

Yes, I know it’s hard. We did have some good times together. Remember those 468 x 60 banners you gave me in 1998? They sent people clicking like mad and our sales through the roof! What about the time you gave me that interactive search box? Ahh, those were the days.

But those days are gone. Lately, you have been neglecting my needs. It’s time for me to move on to a new merchant. One who cares about helping me sell.

Your Advertiser

Merchants, have you gotten that letter yet? I can speak for all advertisers when I say if you haven’t, you will soon enough. Unless you start giving us affiliates what we want and need.

If you’re an advertiser like me, you’re pressed for time. On my one site, iquit.org, I strive to update my content every other day. I find I spend most of my valuable time looking for creative pieces that fit with my scheme instead. If I could find what I want and need faster, I could concentrate on building content.

If you’re a merchant, please answer these questions:

  • Have you spent any time at all asking us what we need to sell for you?

  • Shouldn’t our feedback have something to do with what kind of creative you give us?
  • What’s to stop us from going to your competitor (who has better creative pieces) if you continue to ignore our needs?
  • Don’t you love us anymore???

We want more! We want it now! We want it to be effective! Attica! Attica!…Uh, sorry… wrong speech.

What do we need? Here’s a starting point:

  • Better banner ads. Some of your ads are, well, completely ineffective. If they aren’t poorly designed, they’re boring. Get some professional help if you have to, but do something. Also, make sure you give us at least one in every size available. Check the IAB standards and get cracking. It is extremely frustrating to find a merchant that’s perfect for your program, only to learn it offers horrible banner ads.

  • Email campaigns. We don’t have time to take your products and build them into a well-designed email campaign every week, much less every day. You should be doing this for us! We have large databases of opt-in email addresses we could be sending to all the time, with a potential for high earnings.
  • Interactivity. It would be nice to have an occasional advertisement with that extra bit of pizzazz. How about a nice Flash banner or two? What about a video or audio link? Get creative. Help us sell.
  • Page layouts/storefronts. We put in a lot of work making your products look good. Couldn’t you design a few sample tables of different sizes that could act as a guideline or template for effectively presenting your products?
  • Co-branding. If only we could instantly grab your product database and link to it from within our site without having to do it manually, link by link. If we sell more, you’re only going to make more money. Let us in!

What’s Holding Merchants Back?

Andy Rodriguez, the online advertising and affiliate program manager of TigerDirect says it’s a lack of belief in affiliate sales. “Many merchants don’t see the affiliate marketing channel as a viable medium of attracting new customers and generating new business.”

“One of the most significant changes I implemented was to offer full-page, ready-made, affiliate-encoded creatives. These take the guesswork and the creative pressure off the affiliates and lets them do what they do best: generate traffic,” said Rodriguez.

Hats off to you, Andy. Someone cares (sob).

How Can Advertisers Take Action?

You need to communicate with your merchants. I suggest you forward this article to every single one of them. Imagine how they’ll feel when they get thousands of emails containing this message. Maybe they’ll get the point and make a serious effort to give us what we want.

If you use a network such as Commission Junction or LinkShare, I suggest you not only send your merchants an email, but also send the network administrators the same message.

Final Notes

In the end, it appears that until merchants can prove how successful affiliate marketing can be, they will most likely continue to ignore its potential. That means advertisers will be forced-fed the same boring and ineffective creative. Unless we take action. Forward this article! Today!

Are you an advertiser who’s fed up with merchants who ignore your needs? Tell me about it. Are you a merchant who can explain to me why you don’t offer more creative? Please let me know why.

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