Sod’s Law and The Art of Affiliate Marketing

Apparently Benjamin Franklin said that there were two certainties in life – death and taxes. However, Benjamin Franklin was writing that in 1789 and wasn’t doing affiliate marketing some 220 years later. If Ben was around today and pursuing a career in creating websites to get to the top of Google so that people will visit then leave to go and buy something somewhere else so as to earn him a few pence, he’d be adding quite a number of additions to his very meagre list of certainties.

1. No Matter What Size Banner You Need The Merchant Won’t Have It!
This is a given for all merchants. If you have a space that’s 120×60 and you wish to feature Merchant X, Merchant X will not have that size banner or button. Go back in a few month’s time looking for a 300×250 and they won’t have that either, but will have a 120×60.

2. If They Do Have Buttons They’ll Have The Wrong Message
If by some miracle (and indeed it should be labeled as such) your merchant does happen to have the right size button, then it’s a guarantee that the button you want for say your Christmas site will only say “Happy Father’s Day”. Come Father’s Day it will say “Christmas Sale”. It’s also a certainty it’ll be deleted within a week of you using it as part of a “banner amnesty” meaning you back to square 1!

3. The Merchant Who Earns You The Least Causes The Most Problems
It is statistically made up that the amount of commission you earn from a merchant is inversely proportional to the amount of grief and hassle they will inflict upon you. “That button shouldn’t be resized” (see 1), “that button is out of date” (see 2), could you spell our name with a small ‘l’ not a capital one even though it breaks with conventional grammar, there’s a comma in the wrong place, could you update the content you wrote 10 years ago as it’s out of date etc.

4. The Merchant Who’s About To Get Canned Starts To Earn
As affiliates we like to give merchants a chance, but eventually there reaches a point where you have to cut and run (see 1, 2, 3). It is an absolute certainty that the day you go to delete links to a merchant that they’ll generate a commission for you. You therefore decide it’s best to give them another chance.

5. Your Website Will Crash One Minute Before You’re About To Leave The House
Websites, like cats and dogs, become aware when you’re about to leave them! This means that it’s a nailed on certainty that just before you’re about to leave the house, go to sleep, go on holiday etc. it will crash.

With the mobile internet site’s have also gotten more canny at when to crash. For example if you’re at an airport and checking your site, it will wait until the minute you’re on the plane to shut down… leaving you sweating for 12 hours on a cross atlantic flight wondering if all’s ok.

6. No Matter How Hard You Try To Be More Efficient You End Up Working More
This is one of the most perplexing mysteries of life in affiliate marketing. No matter how much time and effort you spend in streamlining what you’re doing, you always end up having more to do. Any attempts to do less work will result in catastrophe (see 5).

So, if Benjamin Franklin was an affiliate he’d have at least 6 more items on his certainties list… and there’s probably a heck of a lot more to add too!

5 Comments Sod’s Law and The Art of Affiliate Marketing

  1. Andy August 27, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Excellent article Jason. More truth on one page than there are on the entirety of Wikipedia!
    Merchants take note of 1,2,3

  2. David Fiske August 27, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Agree with all of those!

    Surely there should be a set of standard graphics available (e.g. offers and logos, each in their own range of sizes) that self-update. Some merchants manage this yet as you rightly point out, there are plenty who can’t get this concept.

    I like to set-and-forget with banners and not have to keep going back and updating them.

  3. Rob Scott August 28, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    That is a good list – I might add, for any voucher code affiliates that:

    Just as we receive guidelines that ALL voucher code affiliates must feature start and finish dates etc, almost every voucher code a merchant emails you usually forgets to include one, or both (or sometimes even a working code!).

  4. Andy Sears August 30, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Good article, Im all for self updating banners, how many times I have had to trawl through old banners to find an up to date one, April 2009 and I find te only banner size I want is for Christmas.Housekeeping is the name of the game.

    And as for product feed categories arrhhhhhh

  5. Perp September 1, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    great article, how difficult can it be to keep a standard set of banners updated, surely the networks say to merchants that these are the required sizes of banners? Don’t get me started on product feeds…!

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