By Chris Lee
Customer support in the affiliate industry is extremely poor, according to a new study. MoreNiche, the affiliate network for the health and beauty industry whose study raises key concerns about response time and quality, said that of 30 networks surveyed over a six-week period, almost two thirds (60 per cent) failed to respond to support requests within two days, with many failing to offer any response at all.
The networks tested included large networks such as Commission Junction, TradeDoubler and Affilinet as well as industry specific networks such as MarketHealth.
MoreNiche founder Andrew Slack told NMK: “Full support for affiliates is key to the success of any network. Many are new to the process and need help understanding which merchants to promote as well as training on links with SEO and guidance on systems such as voucher codes. Without this critical support affiliates are unable to provide any real value to the network.”
The testing process
Each network was contacted via email and all were asked the same five key questions, which were chosen based on the most popular queries asked by affiliates based on MoreNiche’s experience.
– Can you please suggest a merchant to promote, ideally a hidden gem, one that’s not too saturated or competitive but still has sufficient search volume to be attractive?
– You may have noticed from my question above that I am planning to promote the merchant via SEO [search engine optimisation]. Can you please point me in the direction of a good SEO guide that you’re recommending at the moment? Do you have any training guides showing what SEO is working today? Google seem to change their rules every day!
– One thing that does seem to be working at the moment are vouchers. I see top affiliates seem to be these voucher code sites. Is that something you are seeing? Do you think I should build voucher codes into my strategy?
– How important do you think social and video is playing a part in internet marketing right now? Should I focus my time and resources in this area?
– If I want to work with somebody on my campaign, reviewing my websites, improving my conversions, what would be the best process to follow? Can I email these questions here or do you have someone who specialises in this type of work?
Slack said the response was mixed:
– Five networks responded within 0-1 hour
– Four networks responded within 1-8 hours
– Three networks responded within 8-24 hours
– Two networks responded within 24-48 hours
– One network responded within 48-72 Hours
Half (15 networks) failed to respond to any of the questions at all.
“Most networks have a support policy which claims to provide affiliates with direct contact through various methods – email, phone, Skype and more. They claim to respond to all enquiries within one hour. However, we found that this is not happening, with many taking days if not weeks to reply to a request for help,” Slack warned. “Networks seem happy to help the most experience affiliates and give little support to newer affiliates. With this approach there will be very few newer affiliates pursuing the affiliate marketing channel (put off at the first hurdle) resulting in this otherwise fantastic channel losing top quality marketers to other marketing channels.”
Slack said that good customer support is a key decision making factor for any affiliate looking to join a network. Without this the network will suffer major problems, which has a knock on affect for advertisers, he added.
“The results from our survey make pretty poor reading. I think we need regulated processes for customer support because without this the affiliate industry will slide and results for advertisers will inevitably suffer,” he concluded.
The full report is available at www.moreniche.com