It’s rare I post about merchants changing their commissions, I don’t usually feel strongly enough to complain. After all, merchants have to bear their margins in mind. However, this change from PhotoBox has just been so badly done and has left so many questions I’m afraid I have to make my concerns public.
E-mail Title: Commission change
I have been reviewing your site performances for the month and currently we are paying out more commission than revenue generated.
We won’t be able to operate like this moving forward as it makes no financial sense.
Looking at the sales figures the repeat purchase sales for your site are well below our programme average so I will need to change the commission we currently offer you.
I will be changing your commission as follows:
£2 for new customers orders
12% on repeat orders (was 8%)
I will make the changes on Friday at 1pm
Should you wish to discuss this in more detail please do not hesitate to contact me.
The return mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org so alas my polite reply asking for more information simply bounced back. Not an e-mail address in sight either. This led the already irritated Miss McCubbin to decide to simply blog about it instead of asking Jamie what this decision was based on.
I’m Deeply Concerned About The Implications of This on Programme Integrity.
- To be fair, the site I have the links placed on is a free photo printing type site, so perhaps it does encourage freebie hunters. However, the majority of the traffic I send is general photo printing terms rather than freebie traffic. It is all highly targeted PPC traffic so I know there are no quality issues. Why my traffic is poor has me stumped.
- From my interpretation, they’ve based their decision on the performance in the current month alone? Surely I’ve read that wrong. For a decision of this nature looking at historic performance figures over say 12 months would be a fair metric to use. I’ve only sent them 22 leads this month, how many customers would repurchase within a month anyway? Not really a reasonable data sample on which to base the conclusion that I’m seriously under performing? Actually, even the 226 leads I’ve sent for this whole year isn’t entirely a decent data sample from which to conclude a lack of performance. I’m sure some Photobox affiliates generate that many in a few days.
- Some more information about exactly which metrics of rubbishness my traffic is displaying and how it differs from the “programme average” would have been appreciated too. It might just have given me some insight into how it could improve and made me feel Photobox were being totally transparent in their dealings with me.
- 48 hours notice? That’s just a little quick, isn’t it? Its not the way you’d treat a “mainstream” business partner. I find myself asking the question “why is it OK to treat affiliates this way?” May I be so bold as to suggest that 30 days notice along with an advance e-mail explaining the process and detailed reasons would be a more appropriate way to deal with this.
- Here’s the most important bit – Why is there not a general announcement going out regarding changes to programme terms? It concerns me deeply that rather than creating a transparent set of rules that affiliates can see before they join the programme, this merchant is choosing to create a new set of unpublished performance rules.
- For example, from the information within the e-mail I’m having my lead rate reduced and there is no threshold at which it might be increased again? Is this something that Awin have agreed to? If changes like this are made it should be within the broad terms of the programme, catered for with Awin technology. To have your commission reduced privately with no publicly agreed threshold for increase doesn’t seem terribly fair.
Let me make this very, very clear here – I’m not going to dispute the right of the merchant to make changes to the terms of their programme. The whole point of affiliate marketing is that the merchant should make a profit!
However, if Photobox are going to pursue this policy of assessing what happens after a lead is paid out it should be made absolutely crystal clear within the terms and conditions of their programme. For that matter, if they are finding a lead based renumeration is not working generally, wouldn’t it make more sense to alter the whole programme accordingly?
The overall tone of this e-mail just gets under my skin somehow. Perhaps it is the lack of notice, perhaps it is because it makes it clear Photobox don’t value me at all as an affiliate. There is no “I hope we can find a way to move forward” or “Perhaps you and I could explore ways to improve things”. It’s a case of “Like it or lump it”.
Well Photobox, I’m not a big affiliate of yours. My average 23% conversion rate doesn’t seem to impress you, nor did you seem inclined to check the outside possibility I might be able to increase volume or quality in the future. This year I’ve generated just 226 leads and last year it was only 319. Those sales come from a mini test site I set up and didn’t do a lot with.
I’ll simply say this Photobox. You’ll have 320 less leads in 2009. I’m pulling your links right now. The way this has been actioned has eroded my trust in your business ethics.
I will leave you with this quote from the Photobox programme page on Awin…
“we believe our affiliates are valuable investors our business”