We now present the second of our 2-part series, "International Anti-Corruption Day Reflections: How Did Your Brand Do?"
Part 1 of the above series was posted on MOUBlog.com on December 10,2011 and dealt with how some brands' corrupt treatment of their employees, affect their profit margin at the end of the month and quarter.
Before we delve into today's discussion re how the corrupt actions of some online retailers and their agents are jeopardizing their brand reputation and profits, let's refresh our memories as to the two (2) definitions of corruption, as discussed in Post 1:
1) Dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery
2) The action of making someone or something morally depraved or the state of being so.
Let's also refresh our memories as to our definition of a brand and what positive associations do for brands.
[A brand is a set of symbols, names, terms, designs and associations (or combinations thereof) that differentiate one seller's products from those of another].
Positive brand associations increase your brand's worth approximately 7-25 times than it would have been, had your products/company not had these positive associations.
We'll now discuss how some online retailers and their agents treat their online business partners, and how they are thus jeopardizing their brand reputation and their profitability, as a result.
Affiliates are the lifeblood for most online brands/retailers.
(Affiliates are usually website owners or bloggers that indirectly sell a company's products and services by placing company ads on their websites and/or blogs).
But there are some online brands/retailers whose brand reputation is being sullied by their employees and marketing contractors who act as affiliate managers on their behalf:
In their affiliate agreements and program details they promise affiliates a certain percentage of sales. But when a sale actually takes place, they pay them 1/10th of what was promised.
The dangerous thing about this practice is that when affiliates complain to the affiliate networks [these link website owners and bloggers to retailers' affiliate managers] they send you right back to unscrupulous affiliate managers who usually don't respond to your complaints.
Now, I've been in online marketing for over sx (6) years and have had the misfortune of interacting with a few unscrupulous affiliate managers.
And let me just say this...word gets around in the affiliate world that they are unscrupulous. No one will touch retailers/brands that they're associated with.
As a result, these managers scurry from affiliate network to affiliate network, whilst causing huge financial losses for the brands/online retailers they represent.
Sometimes retailers (brands) are very much aware of the actions of their unscrupulous affiliate managers, sometimes they are not.
But let me offer a word of advice to online brands/retailers that are realizing decreased Return on Investment(ROI) on their online advertising dollar.
Check your Marketing Department.
Know who performs the affiliate marketing function and/or whom they outsource certain their affiliate marketing functions to.
For some of these people through their actions, are killing your profit margins and your brand reputation, slowly.
With the proliferation of social media (e.g. blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google+), where word gets out re every action your brand takes online, you cannot afford to have affiliate managers who are misrepresenting you by mistreating affiliates.
A word to the wise is sufficient!
The Next Set of Corrupt Online Practitioners: Some SEO Companies
Unfortunately the next set of corrupt online practitioners include some SEO companies.
Search Engine Optimization ( SEO) companies are supposed to increase online brands'/retailers' page rank and bring increased traffic to their site (s).
But is this increased traffic bringing you profitable sales?
Let's examine this some more.
Some SEO companies that make promises re high page rank will get you there, but as soon as Google's search engine algorithm changes, you'll find your page rank dropping not one (1) or two (2), but three (3) places.
[Google is one of the major search engines and has 65.3% of the US search engine market share.
They frequently refine their search engine algorithms to ensure that better quality and more relevant sites attract positions 1-3 in search engine results for certain keywords.
The higher the page rank (PR), the more traffic a site receives].
So, some sites that were once ranked PR 7 are now ranked PR 4 or 3, due to recent Google search algorithm changes.
Because some SEO companies are skimping their partners who contribute to your online brand's page rank.
These skimped partners may be freelancers and/or bloggers - I'll address the skimping of each in turn:
The Skimping of Freelancers
Some SEO companies outsource certain SEO functions to freelancers - a lot of whom are spammers or use spamming software to create "backlinks".
[A backlink is a link placed on blogs and other sites that link back to your site. Quality backlinks increase your page rank].
One very effective way of creating backlinks to your online brand/website is through blogs.
Some spammers claim to create blog backlinks, but what they do is to spam blog comments with pure, unadulterated ads, yep - ads mentioning your brand, but guess what? Because these comments are filled with ads, they get flagged by bloggers as spam.
Any blogger worth his/her salt recognises spam and deletes it from his/her blog comments. Most bloggers blacklist spammers.
So guess what? While these freelancers charge you for them getting you quality backlinks, they're sullying your brand's reputation online by being freelance spammers.
My humble advice?
Only use freelancers with great reputations online. Check their work, carefully.
If they don't do good work, don't us them again and don't recommend them.
Don't let freelance spammers get off, because when you do, your brand and profit margins suffer and you pass this suffering on to other unsuspecting companies who patronize these freelancers.
So if you're experiencing decreased online advertising ROI check the freelancers that you and/or your Marketing Department may be outsourcing to.
Insist that your Marketing Department keep tabs on their work and examine links carefully.
Ensure you're getting value for money...
...Cheap isn't always better. Your brand is your revenue lifeblood- only use quality contractors to market it online.
The Skimping of Bloggers
Bloggers are very important advertising partners for online brands/retailers and guess what?
We simply aren't being paid enough to really advertise your brand.
The better bloggers are usually very knowledgeable about the topics they blog about, they do research and have years of experience that they share on their blogs.
The good ones don't come cheap.
So, when an SEO company or their agents charge $2-3 for blog posts, you know the better bloggers won't bite.
Again, check your Marketing Department to see who they're outsourcing the SEO function to.
Decreased online advertising ROI are a direct result of your SEO providers' actions online, whether these providers are internal to you company or not.
Some of the people who perform your SEO function, are killing your profit margins and brand reputations slowly, but surely.
You need to stop them in their tracks before they destroy your brand and leave you bankrupt.
The above are just a few examples of many, where online brand/retailers are jeopardizing their brand reputation and their profitability, by choosing the wrong and/or corrupt online partners.
Friends, times are hard, competition is great, your brand is the lifeblood of your business, you need to know who you are hiring/contracting to do important functions like online marketing.
To get additional help re choosing the right online marketing partners, please contact us.
We've had over six (6) year's experience with online marketing and know the good and bad eggs in almost every aspect of online marketing:
From affiliate networks to SEO companies, Pay Per Click (PPC) companies, social media companies, blog review sites.
We've interacted with quite a few and done the research on others.
We've been watching some of these companies for years.
When choosing your next online marketing partner, come to us, we'll help prevent you from throwing away (hundreds of) thousands of US dollars on ineffective and unprofitable online advertising.
So, as we reflect on International Anti-Corruption Day...just how did your brand do?