What are affiliate mailers?
Affiliate mailers collect email addresses and then rent access to those addresses out to 3rd parties. There are a wide range of vendors that fall into the affiliate category. Some vendors compile lists through co-registration, others compile lists themselves through website opt-ins and some affiliate vendors fulfill mailing requests by hiring affiliates. There are, of course, some senders in the affiliate space that don’t even pretend to send opt-in mail, they just buy, compile or harvest addresses and blast mail to those addresses.
What do recipients and receivers think about affiliate email?
ISPs and spam filter companies really do not like affiliate mailers. This is for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that their end-users don’t like it. As ISPs and filtering companies want to keep their users happy, they block the mail that’s generating complaints and other negative feedback. Instead of improving their practices, these senders go to extreme lengths to bypass filters.
What are the risks of hiring affiliate mailers to drive traffic?
The ability of ISPs and filtering companies to block affiliate mail is increasing. What’s more, many of these blocks are also targeting the companies buying the services of affiliate mailers. This is particularly evident at Gmail, who have publicly stated that they don’t support affiliate mail and that using affiliate mailers may affect delivery of the affiliate customer.
Affiliate marketing programs reward third-parties for bringing visitors to your site. Unfortunately, these programs are attractive to hard-core spammers and can potentially do more harm than good. Please note the following:
- If your brand becomes associated with affiliate marketing spam, it can affect the mail sent by you and your other affiliates.
- It is your responsibility to monitor your affiliates and remove them if they send spam.
Since mid to early 2013, I have seen an increase in filtering of affiliate email. This filtering is not just affecting the third parties, but is also affecting the companies purchasing their services. Some of this is filtering directly by the mailbox provider, but the spam filtering companies, like affiliates emailers.
This is affecting the entire industry. The challenge of getting email delivered is even driving some 3rd party vendors out of the industry, and driving others into using black-hat techniques to get their mail to the inbox.
How do I stop my affiliates from spamming?
There are no tried and true way to stop affiliates from sending spam. Many of the affiliate mailers know exactly what to say in order to convince customers that they’re not spamming. But they often are spamming behind the scenes. There are a couple things senders can do to minimize the risks of hiring an affiliate spammer.
- Hire companies that collect addresses directly, do not hire companies that rely on compiled or purchased lists.
- Sign up to receive mail from your vendor before contracting them to send your mail.
- Don’t hire companies that won’t tell you their sending IP addresses.
- Don’t hire companies that won’t tell you the domains they use in email.
- Don’t hire companies that hide domains behind domains by proxy.
Is affiliate mail cost effective?
Overall, I’m seeing more and more problems in corporate and opt-in that can be traced back to my clients hiring affiliate mailers. More and more clients are coming to me to try and sort out delivery issues, particularly at gmail, that don’t relate specifically to the mail my clients’ are sending. Instead, it’s their affiliates that seem to be the problem.
I don’t actually think that affiliate mail is going away. But I do think the overall industry is going to have to change to deal with the new filtering schemes used by Gmail. Either that or senders are going to have to give up on getting to the Gmail inbox. g