Having an affiliate program for your product helps in more sales; this is a well-known fact among all the progressive companies. However, the challenge is to create a self-hosted affiliate program or use an affiliate network like Commission Junction, ShareASale, Rakuten or any other.
As a growing company, once you decide to work with an affiliate network, it contributes a lot to your success. If you are the affiliate manager of a program, you understand the importance of putting up policies, things not to do & bids that are not allowed while doing PPC. In a nutshell, you set rules that preserve the integrity of your brand & at the same time doesn’t stop genuine marketers to promote you.
An affiliate network should enable brands to connect with right affiliates and empower both of them to generate more revenue & enabling affiliates to sell more. However, if an affiliate network starts imposing restrictions without the knowledge of the brand, this affects the overall sales of the brand in a longer run & let the competitor with more friendly affiliate program win. When you considering this scenario, you should consider only the sales brands are getting based on their “affiliate network & affiliates.”
This article is an experience of me as being a GoDaddy affiliate from past 8 years. At the same time, I’m also an affiliate of closest GoDaddy competitor “NameCheap” using another affiliate network ShareASale.
“ShoutMeLoud” gets about 1.5 million+ page views & month & sends a considerable amount of traffic to web hosting & domain sites. Being one of the top 5K Global Alexa site & online from past eight years, we understand what a quality product is & what it meant to establish a brand.
As an end user, we all know that NameCheap & GoDaddy goes neck to neck when it comes to domain name business. When GoDaddy is remarkable with their pricing, NameCheap is popular for their simplicity. As an affiliate, for me to recommend either of them is almost the same.
However, this post is not about NameCheap Vs. GoDaddy, rather it’s a rant from an affiliate on how GoDaddy is losing affiliates even after using world class affiliate network like Commission Junction & what they can do to fix the problem.
How Commission Junction is not the best Affiliate Network for GoDaddy Affiliate program:
ShoutMeLoud is all about “becoming your own boss.” The first time when I mentioned about “GoDaddy Affiliate program” they had their in-house affiliate program. I had to change my affiliate links again when they switched from in-house to popular affiliate network “ShareASale” & “TradeDoubler.”
Since I used Affiliate link cloaking, it was easier for me to update the link with one click rather than updating 200+ blog posts & editing my eBooks. NameCheap affiliate program is run by the ShareASale affiliate network.
After a while, GoDaddy shut down their affiliate program with ShareASale/Trade Doubler & moved to Commission Junction. Now, all the affiliate marketers who are part of this industry for a while knows about Commission Junction (CJ) affiliate network and as well as how important Affiliate link cloaking is.
If not, this video explains in detail on how Link cloaking helps in affiliate marketing:
What I’m going to share is for affiliate managers & brands who planning to use an affiliate network for running their affiliate program. What I’m going to share is not on the paper but would help you to understand & pick the right company based on not what is written on paper rather on how the network itself bridge the gap between Affiliates & brands.
My experience with Commission Junction Network Compliance team:
Before I share how this thing started, let me share my stats from Commission Junction for GoDaddy affiliate program.
In one-year, ShoutMeLoud helped GoDaddy to earn about $10K+ & at the same time I earned close to $2k. Not bad, right?
More than this, we bridge the information gap between GoDaddy & end user with our tutorials & impromptu mentions.
This all sounds like a win-win for both the brand, affiliate & end user. (ShoutMeLoud was promoting GoDaddy offer which let users get new domain for as low as $1.16)
Is int it?
Well, it is for GoDaddy or any other progressive company until they are losing revenue & an affiliate like me.
Few days back, (8th March 2017) I got this email from Commission Junction network compliance team:
CJ is currently investigating your account and has the following inquiries regarding your promotional methods:
You need to end the redirects and stick with regular URLs without redirection.
Please reply to this inquiry within 5 days of the mailing date.
Failure to respond shall be deemed an admission of liability and acceptance of this letter as 15 days notice of termination and may result in CJ exercising its right to terminate the CJ Publisher Service Agreement 15 days from the date of this written notice or sooner.
Please note that current or pending payout(s) may be placed on hold pending notification from you and CJ’s confirmation of your full compliance.
Network Compliance CJ Affiliate,
A Conversant Company.
As someone who makes his living online, losing an Affiliate network access is scary. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to lose an old age affiliate network like Commission Junction & I wrote back to them letting them know about my promotional techniques. One thing was for sure, in past 9 years ShoutMeLoud or any blog in ShoutDreams network never deceived its readers to sell a product.
So this was my reply:
Thanks for writing & let me share details of the promotions.
ShoutMeLoud.com is an award winning blog & it’s online from past 8 years. We get over 1.5 million page views (organic) & have an audience base of more than 1 million.
All the promotion is done with the help of content marketing only. We are promoting Godaddy affiliate links on
- ShoutMeLoud.com using blog posts (Link)(Link)
- On our eBooks
My all promotion techniques are legal. Along with ShoutMeLoud, Godaddy is also listed on our other blogs:
I’m also an advocate of Commission junction & have written about it many times on my blog as well & have provided a great number of affiliates to CJ in past 3-4 years.
Kindly let me know what’s the matter & I would try to resolve it. Since using direct affiliate link would require me to edit almost 50+ blog posts & edit ebooks.
I’m here to help you with anything or any details you need.
Kindly let me know how to proceed
I was hoping they would understand & this is what their response after 2 days of waiting.
It is just the redirect URLs that you need to end and replace with the tracking code that we supply through your publisher account. The layout and such of this page, for example, is fine …
… but the link URL to GoDaddy is what needs to be changed so that the redirection is removed.
CJ Affiliate, a Conversant Company
Since it doesn’t make sense to argue with a network & rather comply with their policies, I removed the link & emailed them to understand if this is a network wide change or from an affiliate. Since I have written earlier about Commission junction, it’s important for a young affiliate marketer to know & comply with the rule of a network.
Here is what my reply was:
Godaddy.com & not using affiliate link by CJ.
However, I have few queries if you could help me with this:
- 1) Have you changed any policy recently regarding link cloaking? Or is this one just for this case?
- 2) If this one is asked by GoDaddy team or (Affiliatemanager.com)?
Kindly let me know as it would be helpful.
Here is what Commission Junction response was:
It is still redirecting to GoDaddy. This is a general rule, not specific to just you and not specific to GoDaddy. It is a network rule.
Not sure what got into the head of the person dealing with this, he/she asked why I’m using link cloaking & this is what I replied:
I’m really glad that you asked me the right question & let me share why I use such cloaked link rather than the direct affiliate link.
I have been blogging since December 2008 & I create only quality content that is of utmost value for my readers. I create such cloaked link because most of the brand keep switching their affiliate program & it’s technically impossible for me to go back & edit all content & change the tracking link. With Cloaked link, it makes it easier for me to manage things when a program changes their affiliate network or update their links.
When I use such tracking link, when a program changes their affiliate program, I just need to edit the cloaked link & change the reference.
For example, in our case it’s GoDaddy. Since inception, they were running their in-house affiliate program & later they switched to ShareASale, Affiliate Window & now they are on CJ & Zanox.
GoDaddy is one of hundred other service/programs we use/promote at ShoutMeLoud & for a moment put yourself in my shoes as an affiliate & see how difficult it is to find all old posts (We have over 5000+ quality posts + eBooks + more than 50K newsletter subscriber ) & update the link manually.
If you go through my content on ShoutMeLoud.com or other blogs of ShoutDreams network, (WPSutra.com, ShoutMeHindi.com), you would realize we publish only high-quality content.
Even after 8+ years of blogging we only have 3000+ blog posts because we spend a lot of time updating old content so that they keep adding value even in today’s time.
I’m sharing all this with you to let you know our mission statement & how we work. I truly, hope you understand the purpose of us using cloaked link here.
Somehow they replied within hours & this time it sounded more like they understood why I was using link cloaking & they were reaching out after another affiliate reached out to them:
I took a breath of relief, and I realized now we are on the same page. The next day they again emailed for ending the redirects & I asked them to speak over the phone.
Now, let me tell you they offered worse customer care service & never called. They didn’t even bother to understand the affiliate perspective & didn’t replied back. I thought probably they understood I removed the redirection & that’s it.
However, my joy lasted not more than 72 hours as they reached out again & asked to remove the link cloaking for another GoDaddy affiliate link which is redirected to their another offer.
I know GoDaddy is linked on many important posts of ShoutMeloud & this is why they are getting close to 2K high-quality visits from ShoutMeLoud with over 3% conversion ratio on an average.
My point of asking Commission Junction network compliance team to let them understand the value of this traffic, win-win partnership between GoDaddy & ShoutMeLoud & more importantly not every publisher is the same.
However, Commission Junction team never bothered to listen to their affiliate & went on imposing what they felt is right. As an affiliate network they are not losing anything, as a brand GoDaddy definitely lost the confidence of an end user, and as an affiliate, I lost some money/month.
The takeaway for brands, Affiliate Managers & Affiliates:
Affiliate marketing is all about doing more business. Unlike traditional marketing, here an individual helps to connect target consumer to brand. Affiliate network role is to facilitate the environment for building better relations between a brand and an affiliate.
Here are few takeaways from this experience:
- A brand or an affiliate manager using affiliate network should timely survey their affiliates to understand their needs and problem. At times without the knowledge of the brand, network create a bad impression and make both brand and affiliate lose the relation.
- A world class brand shouldn’t limit themselves to only one network. They should work with more than one network to give ample choice to affiliates for connecting with them.
- In a scenario like this, an affiliate should reach out to brand or the affiliate management network to let them know about the issue and as them to also offer their affiliate program using more user-friendly ad network.
- An affiliate network should understand that all affiliates are not the same. Rules are laid down to stop anyone from misusing the platform. However, it should be friendly & rules should be reluctant enough to facilitate a business environment. After all “No Two Snowflakes the Same.”
For long, I held myself to write this important piece of article for brands, affiliate managers & affiliates to understand what happens behind the scene when an affiliate network without the knowledge of the brand, make them lose a brand advocate.
For me what I’m losing in revenue is not even close to 1% of my total monthly revenue, however, it is sad that just because of the poor choice of affiliate network by a fastest growing brand like GoDaddy, they lost a brand advocate. And just because an affliate network didn’t took the effort to connect with an affiliate, it affected relation of brand & affiliate.
This is a great learning point for other brands to learn from mistakes of GoDaddy or similar brand, who trust on age-old Affiliate network to do the right thing. At times, affiliate network imposes rules that are not as favorable in today’s age to work with brands. By the end, the affiliate either move to next best product to promote or work with other networks.
In either cases, the loss is for the brands & the affiliates. Affiliate Network/marketplace has a little to lose. As a brand affiliate manager it’s important to work with brands that are friendly to both parties rather than understand the perspective of either party.
Here are some of the new age affiliate networks which offer a better environment for brands & affiliate marketers to work together:
Do let me know if you ever experience similar issue with an affiliate network or a program? What happened & what all you did to compentiate with your loses? Did you move to alternative or used another affiliate network? Let us know your experience in the comment section below.