Hidden Pitfalls of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing PitfallsOk, you have left that awful job and now are working for yourself. You have jumped on board your new venture which is affiliate marketing. You’re incredibly excited and are working all the hours you possibly can to make this venture a success. You’re monitoring your site and you see that sales are going quite well.

Many of the strategies and things that you put in place have helped your affiliate company sell quite a bit. The end of the month finally arrives and you’re waiting for that first large payment. When you check your account you are slightly disappointed. You did make some money but according to your calculations you should have had more. You check your sales figures again and decide to contact the company. They inform you that some of the items sold were returned so those had to be deducted from your commission.

This is disappointing but it does happen. Companies do not pay out commission on returned goods. No one would expect to be paid a commission on a returned item; however, some less than honest affiliate marketing companies can use this to scam some of your profits. You need to make sure you understand their return policy and how it will affect the amount that you are paid.

Returns and Chargebacks

A return occurs when a customer brings an item back. Chargebacks can also happen when they dispute an amount charged to their credit card. Be sure you keep a close watch on which items are being chargedback or returned. See if there are any patterns that are obvious. If you notice that the orders that are charged back are always very high ticket orders then they could be giving you false information. They are doing this to keep your commission down and keep more of the profit for themselves. Keep a close eye on returns – especially if you think it is happening a little too often.

Trial Periods

Charge backs are also indicative of another more serious problem. If you notice that many of these chargebacks are happening during an initial trial period, or the money-back-guarantee time, then there could be other problems. This is a sign that the product or service that you are promoting isn’t up to customer satisfaction. It could be misleading or just poor quality. However, it will effect your commission and your future as an affiliate marketer. If this seems like it is happening a little too often then again, there could be problems somewhere in the company. You might want to look for another company to work with.

Commissionable vs. Non-Commissionable Items

You also need to be aware of which items are actually commissionable. Make sure you understand which products you will be earning money from to avoid disappointment later. Sometimes the company will offer a selection of products to put on your site, however only some of those items may be commissionable. Be sure to check your terms and conditions carefully.


Another thing to watch for is the tracking cookies and the length of time the company gives you to earn a sale. Most reputable companies will give you at least 30 days; many give 60, 90 or even more. But there is at least one very well known company that gives 0 days on their cookies. What this means is that the customer must buy immediately after clicking the link, or you lose your commission.

Special Conditions

Finally, you also need to make sure that items that are sold don’t have any other conditions attached. Some will only pay a commission if the customer fills in the payment details immediately. If they select an item and continue to shop, you may not receive any commission on that item. You can also loose commission if the customer clicks on any other links before completing the order. If they order 30 of an item you are promoting but click on something else first, then you have lost out on quite a large amount of commission.

Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn money. However, before jumping in head first you need to read your terms and conditions carefully. It may be worth having an attorney look them over for you. You need to be aware of the many pitfalls people can fall into when they go into affiliate marketing. Read and understand your terms to avoid disappointment later.

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