Downtimes happen. Unfortunately, they happen to affiliate marketing tracking too. Simply put, these are the times when your affiliate program doesn’t track affiliate-referred conversions (be they sales, leads, subscriptions, or any other actions that you want your affiliates to generate).
Those instances are no fun for affiliates, affiliate networks (whose compensation is often tied to the tracked and recorded performance of the affiliate programs run on it), and affiliate management companies (who are also often paid, at least in part, based on performance).
One of the most frequent scenarios (when affiliate tracking goes down) is connected with merchants revamping their websites, but failing to properly implement the affiliate program’s tracking on the new version of their sites. Not too long ago, this very situation occurred in one of the programs that we had picked up for affiliate program management. Of course, it had to happen right before the weekend, and just in the time for their biggest online sales of the year! On the conversion tracking end, the results looked as follows:
Certainly, the first thing we had to do was tackle the problem, bringing it up to the respective contacts on the merchant’s end and helping them fix it (the weekend certainly didn’t help speed things up).
But what do you do after the technical part of it is fixed?! Some stay put and act as if nothing happened. This is not what I recommend anyone does!
Years ago, in a book entitled Trust Agents and authored by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, I read about a 3-As Formula for dealing with situations when businesses make mistakes. Chris later outlined it as “The Three As of Business” here.
The 3 As are: Acknowledge, Apologize, and Act.
Here’s how I suggest you apply this formula to remedy downtimes in affiliate tracking:
Don’t sweep it under the rug, but reach out to your affiliates admitting that your affiliate program‘s tracking was broken, explaining why exactly it happened.
Be sincere in saying “we’re sorry” and show your appreciation for what they do. You want your apology to clearly demonstrate how much you value the relationship you have with your affiliates.
Send one-time bonuses to all of your active affiliates, based on assumptions of what they would have earned had the tracking functioned properly. Communicate this to them too.
To summarize, do not just sit there as if nothing had happened! Practice the 3-As approach being open and supportive of your affiliate relationships. Otherwise, there’s a real risk of jeopardizing them, leaving room for all sorts of speculations, unpleasant assumptions, and real damage done to your affiliate program.