When you see someone publish a review or blog post about a WordPress theme, plugin, or service, the chances are that the author of the article was using an affiliate link.
People want content. Companies want exposure for their products. Websites need to make money.
So I guess you could say everyone gets what they want.
There are some companies in the WordPress world who are so big that they do not rely on affiliates. WooThemes, for example, dropped their affiliate program when they got larger and simply stopped honouring the agreement they had with affiliates (not that I'm bitter!). Those companies, however, are few and far between.
The vast majority of WordPress companies rely heavily on affiliates to drive traffic to their product or service. Unfortunately, many WordPress companies are not doing enough to support affiliates and are expecting affiliates to do all of the work.
Help Me Help You
Many of the frustrations I talked about in my “Eleven Reasons Affiliate Marketing Sucks” article occur with WordPress companies too.
When you promote a WordPress company you will receive a lot of marketing emails, have to deal with ridiculously high payment thresholds, and see affiliate programs change systems and then close.
There are, however, a few things that seem unique to the WordPress world.
Many WordPress companies wrongly assume that you will spend a lot of time promoting their product or service simply because they have an affiliate program. That is simply not the case. It has to be worthwhile for the affiliate.
One mistake I see many WordPress companies make is set their commission rates too low.
I see many companies offering a rate of only 20%. This is a good rate if you are selling a product that retails at over $200, but when the product retails in the $10 to $50 range, a 20% commission is not very enticing. Particularly when the low commission is coupled with a high payment threshold.
If a company sells their product for $30 and offers affiliates a 20% commission with a $100 payment threshold, I would need to generate a whopping 17 sales for the company before I am even paid and generate another 17 to get another payment. That is ridiculous.
Generally speaking, if a product is cheaper, the affiliate commission has to be higher. This is why it is common in the affiliate marketing world to price products and services much higher as it allows them to give a larger commission to the affiliates that are driving traffic.
If a company cannot justify giving a higher commission, they need to ensure they keep payment thresholds low.
Lack of Marketing Material
Many WordPress companies provide nothing more than a tracking code to help promote them.
Seriously, that is all they provide.
Sometimes that is all an affiliate needs, but companies should generally go above and beyond when it comes to marketing material and offer high quality logos, banners, sample emails, and more.
No Access to Product
The main way that myself and other bloggers promote products and services is perform a detailed review of them.
In order to perform a review, I normally request that I am provided one of two things:
- Access to a demo area where I can test the product in question
- A copy of the product
From my point of view, it is sometimes easier to just gain access to a demo area. It means that everything is set up for me to test and I do not have to upload files to my test area and enter license keys etc.
Alternatively, a copy of the product or provision of a sample plan for 30 days will suffice.
The bottom line is that in order to review a product, an affiliate needs to access to it.
However, many WordPress companies do not provide access.
I have contacted dozens of companies over the last months about performing reviews of their products. These reviews can take a long time to complete and help promote their product, but they are reluctant to help.
I have had several companies ask me to purchase the product and then ask for a refund within 30 days. Others have asked that I simply buy the product.
As an affiliate marketer, I really do not want to have to spend hundreds of dollars on products and then have to request a refund later. It complicates my accounts and if the review is not positive a company could simply refuse the refund request.
As a rule, I only buy products I am actually planning to use myself.
Companies need to meet affiliates half way. Long detailed reviews can take days to complete, therefore asking them to jump through hoops in the hope of a commission is asking a little too much.
Although this blog post was partly born out of frustration, I think it is important to say that I have encountered a lot of great people when seeking affiliate partners.
Many WordPress companies just do not have experience of running an affiliate program and are responsive to change. One company, for example, lowered their payment threshold from $100 to $50 when I noted how discouraging high payment thresholds can be for affiliates.
For many, their affiliate program is an afterthought as all of their attention is focused on their product and their customers. This is understandable, though I think it is important to try and see things from the affiliate side too.
If a company wants their affiliate program to be a success, they need to work with their affiliates and provide them with the tools to drive traffic.
Thanks for reading.