Value is created through marketing. It is vital that every customer’s exposure to the brand supports the customer concept of value. This is especially true for brands that rely upon “trust”.
If your product is trust, you are selling a feeling. Brands that collect sensitive data like social security numbers, birth dates or addresses, and services like banking or web security software, need trust to survive.
Brands that rely heavily upon trust include financial institutions, personal security tools, and credit monitoring services, and legal services.
Each interaction must create and reinforce brand value while maintaining trust. Affiliate programs pose unique challenges, because interactions take place on websites outside the direct control of the company.
It is vital that, at a minimum, the interactions that take place on these third party sites do not create damage to brand value.
Managers must not mortgage brand equity for short-term exposure or sales.
Here are a few unsavory examples of poor potential customer user experiences on the web that may be encountered in a neglected affiliate program:
1. Potential customer conducts research on a brand and decides to make their first purchase with them. They click to receive a “special” 40% off discount offer and several new windows open in rapid succession – none including the 40% offer as promised.
2. Potential customer is presented with an ad for a well-known software company. They click through and sign up for a free trial. What they didn’t notice was that this was not the official brand page but a trademark abuser and mistakenly signed up at the wrong site. Spam then bombards their inbox. Some even unknowingly sign up for costly services that are then charged on their next phone bill.
The list of brand abuses, as a result of program management neglect, include actions such as cookie stuffing, unauthorized incentive schemes, forced clicks, bait and switch offers, and the very frustrating malware and adware issues.
Although it’s not possible to catch every brand abuse, you should aim to. Use tools to monitor paid search ads, social media mentions, and even coupon feeds. Get to know your publishers and their properties. Check out any surges of impressions or traffic and learn more about what’s behind it.
If you aren’t sure what guidelines you should set for the brand you are managing just ask yourself, is this a positive user experience for a potential customer?
If it’s honest and aligns with the brands message and values, then yes, you should.
Bonnie has been a web marketing professional since 2003. Learn more about her at about.me/bonnierogers
Download the entire FeedFront issue 21 here – http://issuu.com/affiliatesummit/docs/feedfront-21
FeedFront issue 21 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article00date/2012/12