The Ethics Of Warrior Forum Affiliate Marketing
A much more time sensitive post than usual, and one which I suspect will generate some discussion (if you want to join into the conversation, you'll find the comment box at the end of the post).
I've seen a lot of discussion recently asking just what is it acceptable to do to generate WSO sales?
There are some (very old school) Warriors who insist that WSOs simply shouldn't have affiliates, with the claim being that these violate the rule that a WSO must be a better offer than is available to the general public (presumably, the act of promotion means that it is then being offered to the general public).
I don't see that as a serious concern, but it does demonstrate the changing landscape of the Warrior Forum.
The Automation Of WSOs
I raise the question of ethics in the context of a WordPress plugin, designed to help WSO affiliates, which was sold as a Warrior Special Offer for a couple of days, before being suddenly banned.
The plugin automated the process of requesting affiliate links for WSOs, then posting adverts for the WSOs on a blog.
As I already have a blog where I post occasional details of WSOs at wso.im, I grabbed a copy of the plugin to test, as I know did plenty of other Warriors – and, as it was working well, I even notified people about it.
Clearly, this process crossed a unwritten line about what was acceptable for WSO affiliates somewhere, as the WSO was suddenly closed. The reasoning for this isn't clear, although I've read the thoughts on a few other people.
This post is really my thoughts of the pros and cons that I can see towards a plugin like this. The ethical boundary is where the question lies.
Pros For The Plugin
Many of the best pieces of software help to automate a task that can be completed by hand.
In this case, there are already many sites which archive WSOs and provide affiliate opportunities to buy them.
I'd been looking for a solution like this for my own site, so this opportunity stood out as particularly timely.
The very nature that the WSO had been approved meant that it had been checked by Warrior Forum moderators and deemed suitable.
There was no deceptive sales copy for this plugin – it made it very obvious right at the start of the copy what the plugin was for, and what it did.
Increased WSO Traffic
Certainly, as someone who creates WSOs myself, I'm always very keen to see people promote my WSOs and drive traffic to them.
I'd look at any plugin which makes it easier for affiliates to promote for me as being a good thing.
Cons Against The Plugin
Increased Traffic To Warrior+Plus
I expect that the additional affiliates, and the regular requests to Warrior+Plus put a strain on that system.
Now, considering the very large sums of affiliate money that flow directly through Warrior+Plus every day, I suspect that problem could be easily solved.
Additional sales to affiliates would only be a good thing for Warrior+Plus, due to all the cross-sells and upsells present during the sales process.
Reuse Of Content From WSOs
There are issues with copying sales copy from WSOs and including them on another page.
Although many sites already do this, and many sellers are happy so long as this is promoting their products, this is a breach of copyright.
The Whole Issue Of Automation
It could be argued that automated requests go against the spirit of the Warrior+Plus affiliate programme.
The ethos of Warrior+Plus is that all affiliates are personally selected and approved. Loosing this may cause confidence to be lost in that system.
The Way Forward
I suspect that one of the biggest problems was simply that the plugin creator hadn't directly discussed his aspirations with the Warrior Forum and Warrior+Plus owners before releasing the plugin.
This was likely an attempt to rush a solution to market. The plugin is one of those type of tools where you do need to have people on your side, even if you're not directly breaking any rules.
Certainly, the plugin solved one inherent problem with Warrior+Plus – the difficulty of attempting to get affiliate links for and promote a larger number of products. Often Warrior+Plus can be slow for both customers and affiliates, and with its ever increasing use, this situation will only get worse.
I'm sure there is scope for a plugin which could automatically create affiliate posts with embedded links and content ready to be edited. Some sort of search mechanism, to decide which topics to create posts on, would also be useful.
There are still many questions about how automated is considered allowable…
- Is there is a limit about how many WSOs can be promoted at one time? For instance, is it acceptable to request affiliate links merely to tweet about every WSO?
- Can affiliate links be requested 'on spec' (as I often do, as I like to keep my options open)?
- Should you only request links for products that you're going to seriously promote?
When paying a monthly fee to access a closed affiliate programme, some of these issues do need to be addressed.
Over To You
Where do you think the ethical line is drawn? Have I missed any obvious considerations?
I welcome comments, thoughts and ideas.