Coping With SSS: Seven Seconds to Seducing Affiliates

Coping With SSS: Seven Seconds to Seducing Affiliates
› › ›   Affiliate Marketing


BY Jason Ciment | May 24, 2002


I'm sitting in the hospital in a state of surreal shock as I look upon my newly hatched third daughter. Among the thoughts and questions swirling around in my brain is this one: How am I going to pay for yet another wedding? The thought frustrates me because it gets me thinking about my affiliates, whose work is supposed to help me pay for that wedding — as well as tuition, cars, and dolls. Oh, and let's not forget makeup and dresses. In short, I need to get my affiliates to act so I can afford my (and my daughters') future.

Here is what I'm doing now, which seems like it would make sense but doesn't seem to be working like I thought it would:

  • I send out my messages in a timely manner.
  • I send out my messages on the right day of the week (Tuesday, by the way).
  • I test different subjects and different content styles.
  • I even try different colors.

Red, black, blue, or white, the emails I send aren't seeing the light.

My affiliate conversion rate isn't satisfying my needs. Why? After speaking to a number of affiliates, I've come up with a list of five possible reasons, and I would like to propose some rather pedestrian, yet effective, solutions.

Obstacle No. 1: Clutter

The growing number of unrequested emails (spam) combined with a mixture of time-sensitive and not-so-time-sensitive emails are causing a deluge of clutter in people's inboxes. It's gotten to the point where the recipient's email pipeline is quite possibly days behind schedule. Between figuring out what needs to be dealt with now and what can be postponed, invariably the recipients of my communications are just missing, if not ignoring, my messages.

If I don't want my email to stagnate in people's inboxes or just eventually get deleted because they become irrelevant, then I've got to figure out a way to wave a virtual big red flag that says: "Stop and look at this message! It's important and you need to do what it says right now, or else…"

Obstacle No. 2: Attention Span

With the recipient receiving an average of 10 emails per work hour, taking intermittent phone calls, and conducting face-to-face conversations — not to mention actually doing work — the constant demand on a person's attention has produced a new disease called SSS, or Seven Seconds to Seduce. If you can't get your message across to the affiliate in seven seconds or less, the odds are that your message will get tossed.

Obstacle No. 3: Apathy

Even if you succeed at getting through the clutter and engaging the recipient within the SSS time frame, you've got to have a message compelling enough to trigger a response immediately. Because affiliates are constantly bombarded with "get rich quick" affiliate promotions that don't seem to be making them rich, they have become dubious about the whole affiliate program concept. To overcome their apathy, you've got to come at them with your guns drawn and taunting them to act right now. They need to fear missing out by not running your promotion, or else they'll just ignore you — and not just now but possibly in the future, too.

Before you get excited with this new understanding of the importance of getting through their defenses and getting them primed to act, there are two more obstacles to clear before you produce significant affiliate-derived revenues.

Obstacle No. 4: Money

Will your offer make the affiliates more than enough money to compensate them for taking the time to act and promote your offer?

Obstacle No. 5: Long-Term Commitment

If the affiliates don't get the financial results they expected (or even if they do), will you be able to ignite their interest again when promoting future offers?

These last two obstacles are probably the most important of the five. That's because they relate to the bottom line. You can bypass the first three obstacles with phone calls to some top affiliates (because calling everyone isn't practical), but if the money potential isn't there then your affiliates won't produce.

Some Effective Solutions

So here are a few suggestions to ensure affiliates not only anticipate your message but also act on it immediately.

  • Give affiliates a plug-and-play way to make money instantly. Always remember my golden rule — people online want to be treated like children (a polite way of saying people are morons). Make your promotions so easy to implement affiliates don't have to figure out what to do:

    • Give them canned sales letters.
    • Give them ad copy that is "copy and paste."
    • Give them ready-to-go affiliate-coded links.
  • Give affiliates bonus commissions to get them excited to be up and running now:

    • Try double commissions for the first month.
    • Try double commissions on the first x number of sales.
  • Don't over-communicate; make a big impact:

    • Try my new SSS email format, which has a maximum of two paragraphs.
    • Include a link to a Web page with all the affiliate-coded content they need to run your promotion.
  • Worry about them making money:

    • Always ask them what you can do to help them.
    • Give them resources to help them be successful in general — not just with your promotions.
  • Treat your affiliates like partners you work with, instead of peons you take advantage of. Make them feel valuable:

    • Ask them for advice. Engage them in dialogue.
    • Give them 30 days of online training.
    • Give them seven consecutive days of best-practices ideas.

If you can think of any more ideas, please share them with me. I've got a few weddings to plan for. I need all the help I can get.

Jason Ciment is CEO of MagMall, which he founded 1997. He designed, programmed, and developed the fully interactive java and perl-based magazine subscription Web site that has more than 10,000 individual and corporate partners. He has also worked with manufacturing companies such as Liz Claiborne and Jones New York to maintain quality standards and prompt order fulfillment.

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