There are few things more annoying than those moments when you've put in a considerable amount of effort, sweat, mental anguish and pain in promoting an affiliate program product just to get cheated out of your hard-earned commission by of all things the affiliate program itself!OUCH! Now that's a low blow indeed! Sure who doesn't know that there are and will always be wily marketers ready to pounce on your affiliate Id and swap it with theirs if you haven't disguised or cloaked it (and no this is not an article promoting affiliate cloaking software...all the ones I have ever bought never ever worked! If you truly want to mask your links for free go to tinyurl.com) But back to the problem on hand...getting conned by the affiliate program itself?
So let's break it down and see how this can happen. Let me add here that just occasionally by the way, such scenarios are the results of a mistake, but more often than not it is done intentionally. The real kicker though is that those websites offering affiliate programs designed to enrich the merchant yet leave you, the affiliate, out in the cold are legally well within their rights; i.e., you can't go blabbing to the web police crying foul play and expect any retribution or justice so the onus is on you to sniff out those sneaky merchants.
Case Of The 7-Day Affiliate Cookie Versus The 15-Day Free Trial!
Huh? A 7-Day cookie yet the merchant is offering a 15-day free trial! Can you see what's wrong with this picture? But just in case you don't, let me clarify things by explaining what cookies are. Simply put, a cookie is a harmless piece of computer code or script that captures harmless information (such as identifying a computer through current and subsequent visits, websites visited and date of visit). This is of importance to you because this is how a merchant can tell that a particular customer who purchased from them was referred by you, thus ensuring you get your commission. The importance of cookies does not stop there.
There're cookies and there are cookies! Cookies are coded to expire after a set period of time. So if a merchant supplies you (the affiliate) with cookies programmed to expire after 120 days, this means that if one of your referrals makes a purchase anytime within those 120 days, you'll get credited for that sale and get paid your commission. Remember, it generally takes at least several instances of exposure to a product before a person is ready to buy! So the longer lasting the cookie, the better...at least from your point of view as an affiliate.
Right, so let's take a closer look at the merchant website that offered a 7-day cookie for its affiliate program yet at the same time offers its visitors a 15-day free trial period of the product. I'm sure you've caught on to the scam now...there's no way that you are going to get any commission because by the time the prospective buyer (who originated from your website through your affiliate link) is ready to purchase once their 15-day free trial is up, the cookie encoded with your affiliate link would have already expired!
So what can you do in such a case? If you really like the product and feel quite strongly about promoting it, you could contact the merchant and inform them that you'd love to promote their product but you happened to notice that they also offered a co-existent 15-day free trial period. Politely point out to them that that 15-day free trial effectively nullifies any possibility of you being able to generate any commissions with a 7-day affiliate-link cookie in place. Then graciously ask if they could extend the cookie duration to a 30-day period which should at least make it possible for you to actually get awarded your rightful commissions.
Nine times out of ten the reply (if you get any at all) is going to be NO unless you are a heavy hitter with an impressive volume of traffic or an extensive subscriber list...and if you also have evidence to backup your claims of heavy-hitter stardom . If, however, you still get a negative response or no response at all then don't waste any more time and simply move on and forget all about promoting that program, unless you are a natural born altruist (a selfless person dedicated to help others at no personal gain).
The Multi-Pay Option Game
This is another sneaky way in which you can be duped out of your rightful commissions, although this is not as deadly effective as the free-trial-period scam. Okay let's consider a scenario in which you're promoting an affiliate product listed at Click Bank (probably the largest online directory listing of digital marketing products available for affiliate promotion). A scenario such as this would have you send visitors from your site to the merchant's website via a link encoded with your Click Bank affiliate Id (the click bank Id is part of the cookie encoded with your affiliate information enabling them to distinguish that it was indeed you who referred the purchaser.)
In an ideal situation, the prospect who you referred would then purchase the product and hey you just got commission! But what if the sneaky merchant gives that prospective buyer another payment option on their landing page, such as payment through PayPal? Your referral might decide hmmmm, lemme use the funds in my PayPal account instead...and just like that your commission is gone! As I pointed out earlier, this method does not cheat you out of your commissions as effectively as the free-trial one above, because in this case you have a 50/50 chance of getting your commission but in the other case you basically have none!
Ba Kiwanuka is the webmaster of http://www.internetbusinessmart.com