Associate Programs Newsletter #464
This week one of our sites was hacked.
However, the hacker was smart enough to only change one tiny, yet devastating thing. Our most profitable affiliate link.
This link has made over 100k in commissions in the last year. The hacker must have had an idea about this as it was the only link changed. They ran the link through a proxy cloak and onward to the merchant and has so far been undetectable.
This guy probably thinks he’s pretty smart. Really he’s just a common thief. No better than someone who breaks into your house and steals your TV.
Unfortunately, there is a strange psychological disconnect that happens online that makes people think they can do stuff like this and it will have few consequences.
This is why we see so many bottom feeders in the Internet marketing world. This is a very serious issue that not only impacts people individually, but it has created major problems for the industry as a whole.
Now here is a more difficult thing to consider. We may not be hacking sites and stealing affiliate commissions. However, many of us are doing things online that probably doesn’t match our OFFLINE moral and ethical positions.
For most of us, it doesn’t start out that way. One telling characteristic of a newbie selling online is that their sales message lacks persuasion.
Over time, we gather lots of techniques to learn how to be more persuasive and get better conversion rates. We find that including elements like testimonials, proof, hitting on people’s emotional triggers and dressed up NLP helps increase the conversion rates. Then we discover that through $4.95 trials and continuity we can get more money per customer over time.
Now, I’m not saying that the principles are inherently wrong. We just need to be careful we don’t lose our moral compass in the process.
Unfortunately as time goes by, we become more focused on the numbers and less on the people behind the numbers. We forget that these are real people with real (sometimes huge) problems that are many times looking for solutions.
I’ve had a number of people who purchased a course (that in turn recommended our software) and shared with me that if the stuff in the course didn’t work, they were basically screwed.
They had literally spent the last of their money to get their life back on track after having major setbacks earlier.
It made me really sad, as I knew deep down (which is why I refunded them) that it probably wasn’t going to work out well.
Focusing too much on the numbers takes away the people who are behind the numbers.
I once read that a motor company puts the value of a human life at $200k. So whether or not they should do a recall becomes a calculation, and the value of a human life a denominator.
Unfortunately, within parts of the affiliate industry, people push this even further. Affiliates are only working with a slither of profit so they have to be even sharper, especially when buying traffic.
If you can increase your conversion rates, you can take something from being unprofitable and make it insanely profitable. There is a tipping point where you can just buy more and more traffic as a result.
However, this might mean you need to push things. It might start out that you get a few friends to make up some testimonials for you. The next thing you know you’re running a 2-step teeth whitening (fake) blog with a completely fabricated story and doctored photos pushing people into a double dosage of forced continuity.
Six weeks later customers find they’ve paid $600 for some teeth whitening toothpaste and a mouth guard that doesn’t do jack.
I reckon that most affiliates who are running things this way would admit that it’s not right. In psychology there is a term called “Cognitive Dissonance”. It’s when you have two competing motivations in your mind and you have to resolve them somehow. In this case it’s morals vs. cash.
As a way of resolving their cognitive dissonance, they justify it by saying if they were naive enough to believe it, they deserve to pay through the nose.
To make matters worse, their peers are supportive of their behavior, in the same way that drug users support one another.
In some cases, I’ve been speaking with affiliate managers from big CPA networks about how after the FTC crackdown the flogs have just moved to international traffic (like in Australia where I live).
They asked me why I wasn’t doing the same. I was shocked. Even the people that pay are pushing the same fractured ethics.
Thankfully the noose is tightening with greater regulation from government groups and credit card companies pushing for higher ethical positions.
Nonetheless, I believe it’s important to figure out what your moral and ethical position is. Ask yourself the hard questions like:
– Am I OK not telling the whole truth (testimonials or proof)?
– Am I OK to recommend products that aren’t very good?
– Am I OK to sell products that aren’t very good?
How about harder questions like:
– Am I OK to sell to people who don’t need it?
– Am I OK to sell to people who can’t afford it?
– Will I make the sale at any cost?
Thankfully, with social media helping ethical and positively contributing companies to the top, the tables are starting to turn.
I firmly believe that it's far more difficult to build a long lasting and sustainable business if you're constantly jumping from loophole to loophole and not providing real value, honesty and integrity.
In my mind that even goes for the “IM Guru” approach where you go from product launch to product launch.
Now I’m not saying that most guru products are scams at all.
However, something doesn’t sit quite right with their snatch and grab approach. That means only selling limited copies and once the product is launched they are immediately looking for the next product to launch (while leaving the last one in the dust).
Sure, it’s a good cashflow hit, but they’ve got to keep reinventing over and again. Plus, there is very little option for selling the business later where you can get many years worth of revenue in one hit.
The kind of people that I respect the most are the ones building a solid evergreen business in a subject area they are passionate about.
Sure, good cash flow is nice, but that is bread and butter stuff. What I REALLY want to do is build businesses I'm proud of and leave some sort of positive legacy.
How about you?
I'd love to hear your comments below.
Thought for today: Integrity is the essence..
“Integrity is the essence of everything successful.”
– Richard Buckminster Fuller
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All the best