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Do You Tailor Your Affiliate Program Messages?

Affiliate-SpamOver the last couple of weeks I’ve had 109 emails through the contact form on my two main blogs that all start with exactly the same words:

“I represent a company that specializes in a new form of Internet advertising that guarantees that you will get a 100% conversion rate on 100% of your website traffic….”

The email then goes on to tell me that this new type of advertising ensures I will get paid for everyone who visits my site…. it’s better than ‘Google ads’….. that they’d like to fill me in on more details and that I should email the person for more information.

I’m so annoyed by these emails that I’m not even going to mention the product on ProBlogger at this point (and I’ve complained to the person behind the company – although with no response).

The fact is that the 109 people who emailed me are not ‘representatives’ of the company in that they are employed by it – they are affiliates hoping to make a commission by getting me to sign up.

Now I don’t have anything against signing up for quality products with affiliate programs to reward the person who puts me onto them – however the last few weeks have illustrated to me just many people are lazy in their internet marketing.

I can just imagine how it happened – the company with the affiliate program probably has a page with some suggested emails that people could send out prospects – those signing up for the affiliate program simply copy and paste the email into my contact form expecting to get rich.

  • The problem is that the emails lack any compelling reason for me to respond to them.
  • They completely lack anything personal.
  • They give no real or useful information.
  • They don’t tell me a story.
  • They are spin.

Couple that with the fact that I’ve had 109 of them and I’ve become deaf to their message, annoyed by the company (and by the people sending them) and I’m further away from being involved in the service than the day it launched. For all I know the service could be good – but I’m completely put off by the marketing of it.

Interestingly a post over at Lost Ball in High Weeds illustrates that it’s not just the small time internet marketer who engages in this type of practice. They received duplicate emails from two well known internet marketers today promoting an affiliate product.

So what can we learn from this. I want to suggest a few things:

1. If you have a product or service that you’re involving affiliates in the promotion of encourage them to do so in their own voice, with their own personality and giving their own testimonial. I know that internet marketers do a lot of testing around what copy works and doesn’t work – but I think people are increasingly becoming suspicious of spin and if your product gets associated with it you can end up doing your brand more harm than good.

You need to understand that while you might product suggested copy that works in your testing – that when put in the hands of people who are just out for a quick buck that it’ll be spammed, reposted and used in ways that don’t do anything to help your brand.

2. If you are promoting an affiliate program, whether it be via an email to your list or on your blog – inject some individuality, creativity and uniqueness into it. Nothing makes me delete and email or skip over a blog post more than reading something that I’ve seen before or reading copy that is obviously spin. Sure – sell me something, but tell me why YOU think it’s relevant to me. Tell me a story of how YOU used the product. Explain to me how I might benefit from it (and not as though you’re speaking to a room of android robots).

Don’t ignore the suggested copy that they give you with the sales pitch (it will have some useful information) – but make it your own, make it personal, make it stand out from the crowd.

You need to understand that you can actually hurt your brand by engaging in ‘copy and paste marketing’. When you post or email something that every other internet marketer and their dog are spamming the web with then your personal brand becomes aligned with the product that you’re promoting. This makes you a less credible, trustworthy and authoritative voice in future.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I just got this same email yesturday. Really misleading about what the ads are.

  2. I agree with you, it so annoying when you see a blog post witch is so obliviously just into “selling” something without any effort to make it at least a bit personal. I find it rude!
    And stupid because once I read ‘copy and paste” post on some blog I’ll never believe it recommendations and critic again. And for blogger it’s wost thing to lose his/her credibility.

  3. Sonia Simone says:

    I got a few of these as well. I consider them straight-up spam and find them offensive.

    And as you point out, it’s very poor marketing. No story. No connection. Unrealistic promise. (100% conversion on 100% of my traffic? Really? Even people who accidentally find me on Google while surfing for compromising photos of Russian ladies? [don't ask]) No relevance. Just an inflated spammy promise floating in the rest of the spam that clogs up my inbox.

    Ptui.

  4. Dean Taplin says:

    I agree. I get a few emails like this, nothing on your scale, but it amazes me how impersonal some of them are. I got one addressed to ‘Dear Editor’. They didn’t even bother to lookup my name in the contact page.

  5. cobb says:

    I got something like that from some new company trying to make “audio Ads”. If I go to a site and I have my speakers turned up real loud and I hear an ad I will close that site immediately. What an awful type of ad. Pretty much the same way I feel about kontera and those types of ads

  6. Christopher says:

    All of my affiliate marketing is on my websites not e-mail so the issue is moot.

  7. Joe says:

    I can see how that would get annoying highly quickly. I actually haven’t had too much luck with affiliate marketing, but I may try to start a campaign sometime soon. I’ll be sure to browse around your archives for tips!

  8. CatherineL says:

    Darren – 109 messages is definitely excessive. And I thought I suffered from spam problems.

    Their claims are just not believable either. What product has 100% conversion rate? It really sounds as though they don’t have a clue what they’re doing at all.

  9. Ben Cook says:

    It’s good to know that I’m not the only one being bombarded by these. Some of them have taken to “I’ve got a new way to monetize your site. Contact me if you’re interested” type emails but always follow up with the same I’m a representative blah blah blah.

    It ticks me off because I’ve already blogged about the service in a very negative light on top of all the things you mentioned about no personalization and the stretching of the truth claiming to be reps. The brand has DEFINITELY been damaged in my mind and each person that sends me the same email takes a hit to their reputation as well.

  10. Rhys says:

    I couldn’t agree more. The only company I’ve ever really promoted in an affiliate sense was Text Link Ads. I was honest (“I’m not goint to retire on the money but it pays for my weekends”) and told an story with it, and I got quite a lot of signups through me, certainly more than many blogs promoting it twice my size.

  11. Man, that’s a lot of email spam. 100% conversion, bet they ‘guarantee it’ too from ‘testing the market’. I’d be soo guilty selling something to someone in this way and I’d be ashamed to market it by email. People have become so adept at clicking delete on messages – if they worked hard at their seo and put original content on a website then I might be inclined to actually read after the second line. Silly people.

  12. James says:

    Maybe they should learn from those male enhancement spammers? My gmail accounts seem to get new versions of that everyday. :(
    How about:
    Boost your blog income and impress your readership with our natural ads system. In just thirty days you’ll be satisfied with the money coming back.

    If you should follow any of this advice,please be extra careful of the spam you model your email after and always rewrite it completely to avoid any copyright infringement.

  13. Derek says:

    This is what I never understood in the marketing business to begin with. Telemarketers are terrible for following a script, and most people now have little love for anybody that isn’t a friend on their phone line. If internet marketing goes the same way, people will soon ignore all types of campaigns… even good ones.

  14. acca says:

    “They completely lack anything personal” – that’s complitely right. And I never even go to site send me that kind of mail.

  15. Some excellent advice here, Darren. This is one of the most pervasive problems holding back the growth of decent business on the “net at the moment.

    I frequently respond to offers that look interesting. Of course I am going to get some email back attempting to make a sale … that’s not an issue. But I do expect that what I will get sent has some grounding in reality and actually provides me information.

    What I frequently get, though, is a virtual ‘pounding’ … mail after mail, often several pages long extolling the virtues of the product and (most annoying) page after page of ‘bonuses’ which I didn’t ask for and often are not related to the product I originally enquired about. Boneheaded thinking.

    The premise that a product can be actually hurt this way is real … I am sure I have deleted many emails about products that might have been valuable to me, simply because I was sick of the abuse. marketers … please … think about what you are sending out!

  16. As if the inbox wasn’t full enough already…

    Hopefully, affiliate programs that use this kind of spamming — I mean marketing — will soon see a decline in the quality of customers they attract, and they’ll either fold or rethink their marketing model. Affiliates are great, of course, as long as they’re not being pushed in your face every three minutes.

    I’m glad you posted this, Darren; hopefully some of those companies will start getting messages instead of giving them.

  17. Frugal Dad says:

    How annoying – I’ve had a couple trickly in here and there, but 109 is simply ridiculous! I’ve discovered through some trial and error that the more vague the request for marketing, the more likely it is to be a small-affiliate or marketer.

  18. ghosts says:

    I get the same thing in my inbox daily. They just don’t want to understand that harassing people this way is not going to make them money.

  19. Dr.Mani says:

    Nice points, Darren. One of the modules in my primer course on affiliate marketing I ran sometime in 2004 focused entirely on writing ‘affiliate reviews’ which would pre-sell visitors and potential partners who would help promote. The key was to differentiate your message from the dozens of other affiliates who would be too ‘lazy’ or ‘inexperienced’ to tweak the templates offered by the merchant/vendor.

    I have a more recent series of posts on my blog about affiliate marketing which may interest readers of Problogger too. The part dealing with affiliate reviews is here:

    http://MoneyPowerWisdom.com/blogging-for-affiliate-profits-part-2/

    All success
    Dr.Mani

  20. Kelvin Kao says:

    I have something to say that’s not exactly Affiliate Marketing but I think it also applies: I like the way Metacafe representatives sent email to video makers. They made it sound real personal. Of course, I have no idea how many people each representative is dealing with, but they made it sound like they are paying personal attention to you. That works much better for me then obvious copy-and-paste emails.

  21. Koka Sexton says:

    emails?!? I have gotten phone calls about this garbage. I had to get my name off a bunch of lists so the calls would stop. Word for the wise. Do not have an active phone number listed under you domain name.

  22. marhgil says:

    hahaha! I think I know what company you’re talking about. Yeah, they actually give affiliates something to copy and paste and send to other prospects. They even give a copy of something you can post on your blog. Well, I’m one of their affiliates and never used any of those. What I did is I make a blog post of my own, tell people what I think about it and asked them to sign-up. So far, it worked for me. :)

  23. Iacomus says:

    Its’ a impersonal form of the comment “come check out my site its great!” and reeks of ponzi scheme. Wouldn’t touch it with a rotten cucumber…

    ~Iacomus

  24. Teli Adlam says:

    I left a comment on Splork’s blog to this effect, but I’m beginning to believe that in the case of product launches, the cookie-cutter e-mails are simply a play against time — each marketer wants his message to be the first one to reach your inbox. Doesn’t make it right by any stretch of the imagination, though.

    In your case, Darren, the affiliates who spammed your contact form were IMO just super lazy. Unfortunately, coming up with something creative requires thought and time — two things that the super lazy affiliate (note, I didn’t say lazy super affiliate) doesn’t necessarily want to invest.

    Great lesson to be learned.

    ~ Teli

  25. Paul Legan says:

    I’m really glad you mentioned this topic! I think some people tend to treat affiliate marketing like a “get rich quick” scheme and that limits their creativity. Personally, I’d feel embarrassed to send a stock email to someone, especially to someone who runs a blog discussing ways to make money online.

  26. Sangesh says:

    Well,
    this is the sad part that you have your emails, feedback form for all in your website. Anyone from anywhere in the world can send you this fake or whatever emails to you. I say that this is an illegal marketing that they are doing, and ppl behind this should be behind bars for disturbing and annoying others.

  27. I honestly can’t get excited about affiliate programs and clicking ads. That is why my blog avoids these topics.
    http://necrofiles.blogspot.com

    I try to implement these things behind the scenes. I want my blog to be entertaining to read. Hopefully that is enough to get people returning. It has worked so far, nearly 40% of my traffic comes from returning viewers and my RSS subscription is growing steadily.

  28. Thats a really good article thanks for sharing

  29. Nick Dalton says:

    This is what you get by default when you have a multi-level affiliate program promising money for nothing…

    The company behind this particular barrage of emails and their service is not really relevant to the discussion, but if you’re interested in an in-depth analysis I wrote a blog post about them a while ago:
    Pay-Per-Play – If It Sounds Too Good…

  30. Bruce says:

    I promoted one “special deal”, but only used the suggested copy as an outline. I already owned the product and found it useful. On the other hand, I paid $100 more for it than the advertised special.

    I would definitely re-write any copy I received to be in my own voice.

  31. This is a great advice esp. to bloggers like me who want some additional income through affiliate marketing. By the way, I wish you could check out this pay per play thing and make your own analysis…thanks!

  32. Bryan Clark says:

    While I can’t say that I can compete with the 109 that you’ve received… I’ve had my fair share of them the last few days as well. I think it started about a week or so ago, and now I get 5 or 6 of them a day.

    I totally agree. When sending out affiliate pitches, make it your own. I’m sure that they have some sales copy that you can just copy and paste to send to your list, but it’s getting on my nerves!

  33. Darren Rowse says:

    I’ve had the same email now from another 6 people today. All from different people. I sent them all to this post :-)

  34. I’ve gotten that email at least as many times between Sugarpants and Famecrawler. Darren, I’m going to answer every single one with the link to your post.

  35. mousewords says:

    I’ve gotten something like this in the comments on my blog, too. The one I got sounded like it had been rewritten from a personal perspective, which is fine; but it was huge and wordy (ha, I should talk, so was my blog). In this age of spam, I mentally discounted it right away because of the size and exclamation points. :-):-)

    When I read through it, it actually sounded like a legitimate opportunity. Just not delivered quite right.

    I would say, if you are writing a proposal, try to make it like a business letter–brief, to the point, and yes, give your personal perspective. Better as a “first impression.”

  36. Well, that just makes me think that I should forget completely about implementing an affiliate program for one of my sites as it could start to turn people off once they start to get more then one copy. Thanks for your insight from the receivers end.

  37. RJT says:

    That’s why didn’t have any visitors coming at my page bec. they are already annoyed by those affiliate contents.