This article is about effective affiliate marketing strategies – it is being written because I inadvertently stumbled onto an affiliate marketing strategy that I think may be unethical and it gave me pause for thought about the whole game of affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is where you recommend someone else’s product using your affiliate link to link to the sales page of the product. If someone clicks on this link then you get a commission as a reward for your recommendation.
This raises some ethical issues:
- should you reveal that you are getting a commission in return for your recommendation? After all it is hard to be entirely objective if you are being compensated.
- should you reveal the shortfalls of the product as well as the good points – to do so may jeopardise the sale!
- should you only promote if you own and use the product? i.e. that your recommendation is based upon personal use.
- should you only recommend when you can either give a demo or show a result with the product – e.g. in the ‘make money online’ niche, show how you have made money with the product?
- should you compare this product with those of competitors products before giving your final recommendation?
Some affiliates do hold themselves to these standards but unfortunately the majority do not and I include myself in that because I only tick some of the boxes above. It is just too easy to make a recommendation via an affiliate link because you like a product without holding yourself to a higher standard.
Some affiliates also offer a bonus in return for clicking on their affiliate link – sometimes the bonus can seem more attractive than the product they are promoting!
Personally I try to recommend only the products that I like and use. The exception would be new product launches where I trust the vendor and the product is being offered at an attractive launch price – it makes sense to bring these to my customers attention so they can get in at the lowest price if they like what they see.
This brings me to the point of this article.
I inadvertently stumbled upon an affiliate marketing strategy that is very effective but I don’t think I can easily adopt.
Following our last product launch, I have been approached by a number of product creators to promote their product with my list. There is nothing unusual about this and normally I would ask for a copy of the product so I could see if this is something that would benefit the people on my list.
However, one of the buyers of our product went further and tried to create a closer relationship by offering a video testimonial for our product, commenting on social media and generally trying to make friends with us.
I subsequently noticed that he was commenting on every WSO thread, was everywhere on social media, handing out testimonials every where, interviewing people, offering positive encouragement, thanking people by video and writing comments like confetti.
His recent WSO has just gone to WSO of the Day and he has made over 1,000 sales.
Now I don’t believe his product or his experience online would necessarily warrant that success at this stage so I can only speculate that he is using the above as a highly effective marketing strategy for gathering affiliate support.
But is it ethical?
If I was to create a WSO product which set out this strategy and everyone jumped on board then the forums and social media would be filled with bull-shit comments, testimonials and spurious recommendations promoting various products. Activity that could easily influence others to make a buying decision that they might later regret.
(Having said this, product quality or value is difficult to quantify. Most products have some sort of value within them although, in my opinion, many are of poor quality overall.)
All I am saying is that if we all pursued such a strategy in order to get other people to promote our product it would get very tiresome and could devalue our recommendations and the integrity of the marketplace because we would cynically just be saying nice things in the expectation of being rewarded by someone else promoting and recommending our product in return.
I noticed the above marketer following this strategy recently and I inadvertently (yes, it was an inadvertent comment that had no premeditation about it) touched upon his strategy, I received a furious response in return which quite took me aback.
I was really asking him whether he put his success down to buying and commenting on multiple WSO threads and in social media. Prior to that I had mentioned that the reason I had not launched any products recently was that I was looking for a traffic source other than affiliates because I was questioning myself about the integrity of affiliate marketing.
I think that he put the two things together and thought I was questioning his integrity.
His subsequent response makes me think that I touched on a raw nerve and the penny dropped that perhaps I had inadvertently revealed his whole strategy and perhaps he had his own doubts about the integrity of what he was doing which is what elicited his furious response. (I don’t know but it just seems that way to me in retrospect.)
Perhaps my subconscious twigged what was really going on because, as I say, I was shocked by the fury of his response to my comments.
Nevertheless, a policy of creating relationships with other people – helping them and getting help from them in return – is a very effective affiliate marketing strategy. I may have misinterpreted this marketers strategy but it was only his unexpected response that gave me pause for thought.
Having stumbled upon this strategy, whilst I like helping other people, I would find it difficult to implement because I would question my reasons for doing so i.e. the expectation that they would reciprocate in return. Once you take action with this expectation then the integrity of what you are doing is a little questionable in my personal opinion. Perhaps I am being too ‘nice’ about this?
I know that several of my coaching colleagues feel the same way that I do about these issues and they are looking to PPC rather than affiliates for their traffic.
What do you feel about the ethics and integrity of these affiliate marketing strategies – I would love to know your opinion.