The Most Active and Friendliest
Affiliate Marketing Community Online!

“FunnelFlux  Zeydoo

Channel Conflicts with Direct Mail Marketing - How to Deal???

Linda Buquet

I live so much on the pure affiliate marketing side of things that I have not had the issue of cross channel conflicts come up. I'm sure this problem comes up with large retailers, I just have not had to be the one that decides which channel gets credit for the sale. Just got an email asking for advice about this, so thought I would blog it here and post it in the forum to see if some other merchants care to share some solutions.

"Dear Linda, I found you on the XYZ forum and hope you're well. Not sure if you can help, but I?m trying to do some research to understand a problem that?s come up for a client. I?m particularly ignorant about affiliate marketing and I?m really hoping that you might be able to direct me towards some resources that could help me. Basically, the problem is that my client sends out direct mail and each piece of mail has a code that the prospect enters on the home page when they come to purchase/apply. However, the company also has an affiliate program. What seems to be happening is that people receive the direct mail piece, go online and either with a basic search to find the site, or if they?re searching and trying to do some research, they end up on an affiliates site. They then click through to the company site and sign up with the direct mail code. Essentially, my client then ends up paying both the DM and affiliate costs for the same prospect. Do you know if this problem is endemic and if so, what are others doing about it?"

I replied: "I?m sure this comes up with other merchants but Ive never been involved in a conversation or seen anyone discuss it. I just know that there are many other cross channel challenges that can come up too. But I don?t know of a public forum or any articles I can link you to about the subject. I?ll copy your email to my blog and forum and we?ll ses if we can get you some answers. I?m sure others have had this challenge and figured out how to solve it."

Anyone have ideas?


Hi Linda,

Exactly the same topic was discussed in a private merchant forum at another forum site.

I keep it short and just write the fazit of the discussion.

The Fact
It is impossible to determine for sure who is responsible for a sale, the Merchant who has an AdWords Campain running where the Customer clicked on or the Affiliate Site the same customer clicked through earlier. There were a lot of arguements, who did and who did not and how much percent etc. etc. but at the end remains the fact, it can't be determined for certain.

This is an important fact.

The Decsion
Now, If the Merchant decides to kill an Affiliates Cookie or not to pay commission or revert commission when the Customer is clicking a Merchants Ad somewhere else or a Link in the Merchants Newsletter (Welcome Email, Follow up email etc. does not matter). This decision must be made by the Merchant. All kind of reasons must be considered like Marketing Cost, Margins and the Merchants Opinion or Policy.

The Must Do
Now, If the Merchant decides not to pay commission, then it is absolutely crucial, that this is spelled out in the Affiliate Program Agreement between the Merchant and Affiliate. Not in legal jibberish, but in plain and clear language, that an affiliate can understand this restriction / policy and make an educated decision, if it wants to partner with this merchant under those conditions or not. It should also be mentioned outside the Agreement from time to time, such as Affiliate Newsletters and Forums or direct communication with the Affiliate.

The Don't Ever Do
Not doing so could mean, correction, will mean serious trouble when Affiliates find out about it somewhere else. One Merchant in the discussion was able to experience first hand the result of this. It caused serious damage to his Program and If the Merchant's AM would not have been a trusted authority for his affiliates and other AM's for years, the whole program could have fallen appart in a matter of days.

That's it and there is not much to argue about it, except the details of the "Decision" - do it or don't do it and the "How" of the "Must Do" part.



To answer the question in the email you received.

What I wrote in my previous post is also covering "direct mail" and the "direct mail code".

To explain "The Fact"

How does the Merchant know for sure that the Affiliate was not the trigger to actually get the customer to the site, then remember the direct mail, look for it and enter the code? Or how can he be 100% sure that it was the Direct Mail alone that made the customer go to the site and sign-up? Maybe he saw another offer at an affiliate Site which finally convinced the customer to go and signup, meaning both the Affiliate and the Direct Mail are responsible the actually conversion. And another one, how does the Merchant know If the Affiliate Cookie was set before the Customer READ the Direct Mail or after?

You see, a lot of people did a lot of thinking the other week :)


In Affiliate Marketing is the rule, that the Affiliate who's Link was clicked the last before the action is the one that get's the commission, because all previous Affiliate Cookies are overwritten by that click.

This is simply defined like that. An Agreement so to speak everybody, especially the Affiliates Agree to.

The Affiliate that gets the commission can thank all other Affiliates and the Merchant for the help to make the sale happen. It is rarely the case, that the one Affiliate can be credited to 100% for the sale. To make somebody buy is not that easy and a lot of factors play a role in the process.

However, when it comes to BHO's / ParasiteWare which jumps into the process at the end (almost) with the lowest probability to have contributed anything to the sale, then do pretty much all Affiliates and most Merchants disagree with the rule: last Affiliate Click/Cookie gets the commission. You don't have to be an Marketing Export to know that what the "Parasites" do is wrong. Common Sense is enough to figure that out.

Linda Buquet

Thanks Carsten, so much, for weighing in on this.

Oh and you are right about the last click rule being fair EXCEPT when it comes to parasites that swoop in at the last minute and steal a sale they did not earn.