Plugin and Broken Links Could Kill Your Affiliate Business

money-goneThose who have been following my Facebook page posts already have some inkling as to the content of this post. (That’s a hint for those of you who haven’t clicked that ‘Like’ button yet. :-) )

Last Thursday, I logged into Commission Junction to get some links and then left the browser page open.

A few hours later, when I refreshed the Commission Junction interface, the resulting page notified me that my account had been deactivated.

Huh?

WHAT?

I tried to log in several more times, but returned to the same page each and every time.

So, I phoned Commission Junction.

As I’m not one of their Super Duper affiliates with a representative or special number to call, I got a ‘we’re too busy to talk to you‘ recording, So, I left a message.

After doing that, I logged into their Support Desk and wrote another message, the reply to which was ‘we’ll get back to you within 72 hours‘.

Being a Thursday, I didn’t expect to hear anything back until Monday at the earliest.

No such luck.

I phoned again on Monday afternoon and an actual person got on the line. Quickly detailing my issue adding a few minor assertions to having been a publisher in their network for more than a decade, the CJ rep was cold as ice. She simply directed me to Network Quality, which corresponds ONLY via email.

Great.

So, I sent another email to the address she’d given me and received yet another automated response stating that they’d get back to me within 72 hours.

FABULOUS!

Thank goodness I was ONLY writing a book in which I planned to extol the virtues of the Commission Junction network!

Duh!

At that point, I called out to my friends on Facebook for help… which came immediately. One suggested a ‘big gun’ tactic, which despite knowing my piddly ass CJ commissions did NOT warrant, I tried anyway.

The tactic worked and I was back online the next day.

So, what was the problem?

Well, their network quality people asserted that I was sending ‘forced clicks‘.

Say WHAT? and Who ME? I don’t even KNOW how to generate ‘forced clicks’.

As it turned out, a plugin and a a couple of bad links were responsible.

The plugin was the ‘Broken Links checker’ an issue that I dealt with immediately back in January when CJ contacted me about the issue.

The bad links were the 2nd issue. They turned out to be a merchant’s OLD links that I’d forgotten to change when then moved from their proprietary affiliate program to CJ. In the latter case, the merchant conveniently made sure that all their old links redirected to CJ, but somehow those links didn’t work with CJ’s network quality people. Not to mention that I wasn’t getting PAID for sending that traffic.

Another issue was that I wasn’t getting CJ’s emails.

I received the notice about the plugin back in January which I dealt with and responded to immediately, but for some reason didn’t receive (or notice) the 2nd ‘warning’.

Based on those two instances, I can only guess that my account was targeted as being a ‘bad affiliate‘.

So, with nothing more than a 2nd warning and no reply on my part, my account was deactivated.

My thoughts on the whole matter?

Basically, I understand why Commission Junction is so quick to get rid of bad affiliates. REALLY bad affiliates who scam the system place a major strain on the whole industry, so the CJ approach tends to be ‘guilty until proven innocent’.

If I hadn’t gotten in touch with the powers that be (who were EVER so nice to me, despite my being a very average affiliate), no one in Network Quality would have bothered to source my best email address, my account would have been down the tubes with about $150 in commissions just for the last month.

In as much as that is chump change to me, I could have said “goodbye and good riddance” without another though, but I GET that $150 is represents SO much money to so many of you.

So, I persisted.

Instead of opening a new account as others suggested I do. I persisted. Besides, changing those links was going to be too big a hassle.

Too, instead of just giving up and joining the ‘I hate CJ’ coaltion as suggested by others, I persisted.
Hey, even if you’re making only $100 per month with them, that’s $1200 per year… or a lot of beer.

So, the lesson is ‘be persistent’!!!

If you are upfront, honest and listen to their instructions – CJ will respond… eventually. Perhaps not as quickly as you would like, but waiting may be a better option than losing commissions and doing all the work to replace merchants and links.

Comments, questions or suggestions? Please leave a comment below!

Cheers,

sig-ros

Comments

  1. says

    Hi,

    I agree with you to persist in all we do but at times “some big Guys” deliberately make things hard for the small fries.

    There is a big marketer who promised to install a site for me If i host with Hostgator through his link. I did and he never fulfilled his promise.

    I sent several emails to him as a virtue of being persistent and he never bulged. Eventually I closed the account because I cannot imagine him getting commission from my dough when he did not do his part.

    This issue may not be related to the problem with CJ but is shows some people will just not bulge no matter how you persist.

    Mom, what is ‘big gun’ tactic,

  2. Bentley says

    Wow, Rosalind! I’m really impressed with your level of patience and restraint.
    I had a run in with CJ support a little while back and thought I was going to lose my mind. While I’m not sure I’d I’m part of the “I hate CJ Coalition” just yet, I have to say that I am extremely disappointed with their level of support these days.

    I especially loved when they kept saying, “since we have not heard from you 72 hours we will be closing down this support ticket” (not the exact wording but you get the idea) over and over again even though I WAS responding to their emails! LoL
    Almost seemed like some sort of sanity-testing prank designed by bored support interns. :-)

    Anyway, as you’ve pointed out, the key is not to get bent out of shape (too much) about these things, and to stay focused on the bigger picture. Support hassles aside, there are still plenty of benefits to using CJ, and I’m sure I myself will continue to do so.

    B.

  3. says

    Hi Ros,

    I am not the biggest CJ affiliate but most of the time I have good response from them. Some times you just hit everybody on a bad day. But it might be a question of the boss needing tp remind the staff who pays their wages. What they forget is it is a numbers game.

    If 2 affiliate earning $100.00 were to leave the program no biggie
    If 20 affiliates earning $100.00 were to leave the program their clients might notice.
    If 200 affiliates earning $100.00 were to leave the program their clients might be concerned.
    If 2000 affiliates earning $100.00 were to leave the program their clients would start leaving them.

    Its an electronic age and I am certain some one could come up with a plug-in that will allow a rapid affiliate link replacement, that will bring back the service element. (Any one writes one it was my idea so send me a copy ;-) )

    Nick

  4. James says

    Hello Rose,

    I have gotten the same thing from CJ as a publisher they then reactivated my account but with out the commission I have earned $250. I have not been a CJ publisher since.

    I have also had issues with them on the merchant side. To be honest they have so many low quality publishers it that it is actually the worst network on that side as well. They have affiliates in that network that just has basic blogger sites or wordpress blogs with the hello dolly post that waste hours in my week. So they saying cleaning the quality of there publisher is 100% BS

    My preferred network is Linkshare, PepperJam, Share A Sale.

  5. says

    Hi Ros,

    Can you elborate a little more on what the broken link checker plugin was doing that was causing trouble for you? I use this plugin myself, and want to know what to watch out for.

    Thanks so much,

    Jonathan

  6. says

    Hi Ros,

    I quit worrying about CJ several years ago after they deactivated my account for “insufficient activity”. Out of all the affiliate aggregators that we are a member of, they are the ONLY ones to ever do that. Everyone has to start somewhere, and if they think they are so important that they don’t need the beginners of the world. I have news for them… we don’t need them, either. I learned that by going through SkimLinks, we still have access to all their accounts, plus over 17,000 others, so if CJ thinks they are the only game in town, and can treat their affiliates with such imputence and lousy customer service, they can take a long walk on a short pier! I’m really surprised that “anyone” uses them anymore, they are so hard to deal with! For being a company that deals with professional marketers, they sure have a lot to learn about how to handle customer service!

    By the way, you probably don’t remember us, but my wife and met you at Ken McCarthy’s “System” seminar, in Chicago in May of ’05.

    Best wishes.

  7. says

    So the broken link checker was a bad plugin?

    Keeping up with a site is hard enough! But if you don’t have a way to check your links, you’re fighting a losing battle. Thank God SBI has one built in… but even then, they still miss some.

    Btw, what is the ‘big gun’ tactic? I’ve never heard of that one before.

    All the best,
    Carolyn

    PS I am getting ready to start a new site using WP. Can you suggest some resources. It’s still confusing to me at this point cause I’ve been using a different system. Thanks Ros!

  8. says

    Hi Rosalind,

    What was the issue with the Broken Link Checker plugin?

    That wasn’t clear from your post.

    As I use it, and I saw you previously recommended it, it would be good to know…

    Thanks,

    Paul

  9. Nicholas says

    First-rate education on what to do in such a situation – made an enjoyable read by some well placed humor. Thanks

  10. says

    I’d like to know about broken link checker too. Should we uninstall it? Would a plugin like Pretty Links cause a problem?

  11. says

    Thanks Rosalinda, I see your post here is attracting people to do the things that you are recommending, I am as well learning from you. I enjoy reading this post, i love the way you present your ideas. Keep it up.

  12. ozora says

    Hi Rosalind, I want to ask about domain name. For example, I already find primary keyword for domain name, just say ADC. But after I check, domain name ADC for com, net or org not available. What do you do, find another keyword or domain name, just for com, net or org? OR I find another TLD like pw (the new and cheap one) because ADC on dot pw available?

    • says

      Hi Ozora,

      Basically, .com is the only extension I would choose.

      I cover the topic of domain name selection in much greater detail both in my book and membership site.

      Cheers,
      Ros

  13. says

    Nice testimony Rosalind. Yes persistent matters, and this is the requirement of the determination.:) . Sometimes it really happens when we are so much disappointed with the odd things happening, the option is quitting and junk the confusing scenario. I can relate to your experience. Thanks for sharing this post.

  14. says

    I just had a learning experience with broken plugins. I am using latest version of WP3.6. My hosting company had server errors as well. Some plugins were up to date some were not. I had to go through the tedious task of getting my site back up as well as the hosting company getting their servers correct. To make a long story short, most of my plugins had to be deactivated and some later versions, if available, updated. I was also told by hosting company to contact some of my existing plugins developers and make sure they are aware of the latest version. My advice in all of this: keep on top of your WordPress site even if the developers aren’t. All the best WordPress users!

  15. says

    Jonathan, Carolyn, Paul, and Rebecca, answering your questions about the Broken Link Checker plugin…

    It’s not a “bad” plugin – you just need to know to be careful how you use it. I interviewed Ros recently for an article I was writing on the best free wordpress plugins in 2013. She was very helpful. Here’s a quote:

    “I’ve discovered that some plugins should be used with caution, such as the Broken Link Checker,” Ros says. “It was sending so many ‘empty clicks’ to Commission Junction merchants that they sent me a warning letter to suspend its use. Now I use it sparingly and deactivate the plugin when not in use.”

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