Most people don’t read the Terms section. It’s a fact. And affiliate marketers don’t make an exception.
Today I’ll reveal four types of traps that sometimes are included in the Affiliate Terms and seriously jeopardize your commissions.
The most unpleasant consequence of some of these traps is that if you don’t read and understand the Terms, then you’ll not be able to detect the trap and you’ll keep promoting such a program.
Awful. A continuous loss of commissions.
The reasons why such traps are included in the Terms are various. Lack of knowledge, greediness, etc. The reasons aren’t important though.
Trap No.1 – Very Short Cookie Lifetime
If you’re not familiar with the term cookie, that’s a small piece of data sent from the website you promote and stored on the visitor’s computer.
Based on that cookie, the affiliate program software detects the affiliate who referred a certain sale.
If the cookie has expired during the period that passes between the moment the prospect clicks your link and the moment the prospect performs the action you were supposed to be paid for (signup, sale), then you get no commission. Even if it’s you the one who referred that customer.
The worst case I have seen in over 15 years of affiliate marketing comes surprisingly from an email marketing service that is quite popular: Mad Mimi.
Quoting from the Terms of Mad Mimi affiliate program (closed on 30 May 2016):
For a Product sale to be eligible to earn a referral fee, the customer must click through from a Special Link from your site, email, or other communications to the Mad Mimi Site and sign up for the product during that session.
The session ends once someone closes their web browser, navigates away from the Product Site, or otherwise leaves the Product Site without signing up for a product before leaving the site. If they leave the site, come back later on their own, and then purchase a product, you will not earn a commission.
Real case: P.M. – one of my former students – clicked my Mad Mimi affiliate link, tried to sign up, but his Internet connection went down for some seconds. After the connection was back, he went directly to Mad Mimi’s site and signed up. No commissions for me. He didn’t sign up during the first session.
That was an extreme case, but there are way more possible cases when the prospect will sign up later. Usually these prospects won’t come back to your site or email in order to click your affiliate link again.
Trap No.2 – Minimum No. of Affiliate Sales per Month
Quoting from Wix.com Affiliation Program – Terms and Conditions:
5.2. The Minimal Transaction Requirement is the achievement of at least three (3) Affiliation Transactions in each calendar month. […]
5.3. In event an Affiliate does not achieve the Minimal Transaction Requirement, Wix shall have the right, at its sole discretion to discontinue the participation of such Affiliate in the Affiliation Program.
10.3. In no event will Wix pay to an Affiliate any Fees unless and until at least three (3) Conversions have occurred under Affiliate’s account.
See the trap? You refer two customers, go on holiday and when you return you may find in your Inbox an email that says that you’re not good enough and your account is terminated. Lovely, isn’t it?
Trap No.3 – One Time Commissions for Recurring Services
The buying decision comes easier when the prospect has to pay only a one time fee. That’s why selling recurring services is harder. But the reward for your work is usually worth it: recurring commissions.
That’s the standard. Recurring services, recurring commissions.
But it doesn’t happen all the time. Sometimes some smart asses changed it to recurring services, one time commission for the first month only.
That sucks. Even if the commission percentage is high. You work harder and only your partner is happy. That’s not a partnership.
Trap No.4 – First Sale Exception
Quoting from DealGuardian.com Terms and Conditions:
8. […] Affiliate First-Sale Exception:
Affiliates will not receive Commission from their very first sale for each Product they promote. This is to prevent the incentive for Affiliate ‘fraud’ where an Affiliate plays the system by granting themselves an instant discount (in the form of their Affiliate Commission) by purchasing a Product through their own Affiliate link.
The more products you promote, the more money you give away to the sellers of the products you promote. Do the math and you’ll see that you may end up giving away several hundreds of dollars.
Nowadays punishing a lot of innocent people instead of punishing several offenders has become the norm for weak governments and companies that try to hide their reluctance or inability to solve the real problem.
Affiliate Terms Traps – Conclusion
Are these traps legal? While I’m not a lawyer, my opinion is that they are legal. Nobody forces you to enter into such a bad agreement. You accept the Terms when joining the affiliate programs, don’t you?
No room for complaints. You’d better read the Terms before accepting them and investing time and money into promoting an affiliate program.
To your affiliate marketing success!
P.S. Your turn… Have you read the Terms of the affiliate programs you promote?