Mac Musings

Hello Again, MacZone

Dan Knight - 2002.12.16 - Tip Jar

I was gratified to get back from a late lunch on Friday and hear from my youngest son that Christie at MacZone had just left a message on the answering machine, and I should call back right away. An email sent Thursday night brought our plight to her attention, and she wanted to assure me that MacZone had not dropped us from their affiliate program.

About the same time that MacMall was dropping us from their affiliate program, MacZone was switching their affiliate management to Performics. The emails were sent to one of my busier email addresses and lost in the deluge of daily email. (I've since added filters for MacZone and Performics to my email program.) When I searched for Performics, I found them, logged into my account, and posted new links to Zones.com, the parent of MacZones.

We restored MacZone affiliate links to the site Friday evening and are happy to be working with them again. So are several writers, who wrote to share their excellent experiences with MacZones and disappointment about our affiliate problems. This news will make them happy as well.

Commission Junction

Whoever had the idea of handling a bunch of affiliate programs through one central organization had a brilliant idea, and we're overall very impressed with the way Commission Junction handles things. They manage our affiliate programs with Club Mac, Crucial Memory, eBay, and several dozen others.

Commission Junction (CJ) provides useful statistics to help sites choose promising affiliate programs, excellent reports of the success or failure of campaigns on your site, and one-stop management of ad rotations. The whole system is top notch.

They also send almost daily emails about new affiliate programs - and to let users know when an affiliate program has been suspended or dropped completely due to nonpayment of affiliate fees. A first class operation.

MacMall

CJ also provides a web-based mailbox, something I don't even realize is there most of the time. Until last week, I don't think I'd checked it twice.

So guess why we never heard from MacMall? The email was sent to our CJ online mailbox, not to any of the myriad other email addresses we use with our email programs. Affiliate status was suspended on November 20, 2002. The odd thing was, the links to MacMall kept right on working, steering business their way with no compensation to Low End Mac.

When we discovered that little fact last week, we removed all links to MacMall from our site. On Wednesday I sent a note to most of our email lists explaining the situation, and on Friday I posted Good-bye MacMall, Good-bye MacZone explaining the problems with two of our affiliate programs.

On the positive side, MacMall has offered to reinstate our account - but only if we agree not to link to them on Low End Mac. Nearly $60,000 in sales volume through those links over the course of a year, but those are the links MacMall doesn't want.

UPDATE, Dec. 6, 2004: We received an email from MacMall last week inviting us back into their affiliate program. We've added links to them and Club Mac, their sister site. Welcome back! dk

Curiously, we also received an email from Alan Paggao at MacMall (cc'd from a reply to a list member who had written MacMall) claiming that our affiliate status was active. "Lowendmac is one of our Affiliates from Commission Junction." I guess the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing.

Then MacMall throws another wrench in the works - they didn't email us from the macmall.com domain. Get this: They're such avid Mac fans that the emails are sent from pcmall.com addresses! But even checking our mounds of unread email for pcmall.com didn't result in any messages from MacMall.

Ten Strikes

We received another email from Paggao over the weekend which explained MacMall's "10 strikes" rule - ten negative emails about an affiliate and they're out. With 10,000 affiliate sites, they don't see any reason to follow up with personal contact, to ask for the website's side of the issue. Ten strikes and you're out.

I guess years of affiliate status, hundreds of thousands of followed links, and tens of thousands in annual sales aren't part of the equation. Low End Mac is just another site among 10,000; losing $50-60,000 a year in sales is a drop in the bucket compared with the cost of actually working with a website that has a successful affiliate program.

Still, I'd rather work with MacMall than against them. I have had the opportunity to share our side of the story with Alan Paggao and hope MacMall will reinstate our affiliate status. I hope the dozens of emails sent to MacMall (and cc'd to me) will carry more weight with them than ten negative emails. Or even that they just look at the bottom line and see how financially beneficial the relationship has been.

Until then, they will receive no support of any kind from us.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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