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Signing up is only the beginningBy Glenn Sobel

Wouldn't it be great if merchants paid you just to sign up for their affiliate programs? Then you could just surf the net for every program you can find and sign up for all of them. You wouldn't even have to waste your time building a banner farm since you already made your money.

Sounds great, right? Too bad it doesn't work that way.

Okay, since we all know it doesn't, why are so many people signing up for programs that they never even put a link on their site to? Although detailed statistics are hard to come by, it appears that there may be as many as 50% or more of affiliate program sign-ups that never even generate an impression let alone a click through.

What does this tell us? I guess the over- generalized answer is that affiliates are either too lazy to follow through on their new affiliations, or they are not taking the time to think through what they have done until they have completed the sign up and then changed their minds.

Remember, I said that is the "over-generalized answer." It's the obvious "jump to conclusion" response, but I doubt it's the completely accurate answer. What else could it be, you ask?

I know my merchant friends won't like this, but I put a lot of the blame on them. Why? Because they have a real problem with the following areas:

1. When their site is confusing and their method of delivering affiliate links is difficult or impossible to follow, affiliates give up in frustration and move on to the next one.

2. When merchants use deceptive or misleading promo materials to get you to sign up, they lose you when you complete the process and realize you've been had.

3. When merchants don't let the affiliate see the type of materials offered (banners, buttons, text promo, etc.) until after they sign up, disappointment in these materials can lead to a loss of interest.

I have seen too many programs that try to keep important elements secret until after you complete your sign-up, only to find that once you know everything you should have known in advance you no longer want to promote their product or service.

So what is the solution to the problem? Here are my recommendations:

1. Show and tell EVERYTHING to affiliates that they need to know BEFORE you ask them to register.

2. Don't misrepresent the opportunity while you try to hide the dirty truth in the small print of the affiliate agreement.

3. Encourage potential affiliates to think through how they will benefit from, and promote, your program before they sign up.

4. Make sure your site is easy to use and make it as easy as possible for affiliates to get their special links whenever it's convenient for them. THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!

5. Respond to affiliate inquiries in a timely and complete fashion. Failure to do so causes most quality affiliates to write you off as unworthy.

As someone in a position to see the effects of affiliates who sign up for programs and never do anything beyond that, I can tell you it's a frustrating waste of time for us all. It's a total lose-lose situation.

Affiliates are wasting their time and becoming negative on the income potential of these programs. Emails are flying all over the place, statistics are being distorted, unrealistic expectations are created, all for nothing.

So instead of blaming each other, let's get our houses in order and start focusing our efforts on what we came here for, making money!

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This article is copyright Glenn Sobel (1999) and is reprinted here by permission of the author.

Glenn is the owner of AffiliateAdvisor.com, an information and resource site for affiliates and merchants. He is available for consulting onaffiliate programs and domain names.

No republication of this article is permitted unless it is done in its entirety including the title, credit block above and this rights block. Resale rights NOT included. Please notify Mr. Sobel at YourWebURL@aol.com.