Courtesy of mliu92

In affiliate marketing, not every lead results in a commission paid to an affiliate.

The rules of affiliate marketing vary from company to company. Some have more rules than others, and those rules can result in some commissions from sales not being paid to the affiliate who brought in the customer lead. And in some cases, the company doesn’t follow its own rules.

Affiliate Marketing Rules

The entire process of affiliate marketing depends on the leads that are driven to the product company’s site. Once a lead is driven to the site, the link that sent him there lets the company know who drove the lead there and what the sales and commission amounts will be. However, for affiliates who don’t follow the rules, some commissions are never paid. For most companies, this includes using unscrupulous methods to bring in leads. Unethical methods like tricking customers into buying or clicking on links or even violating the law can ruin a business’ reputation and cause it legal trouble. To prevent this, there are methods that affiliate network owners use to discourage it.

In some cases, companies don’t follow their own rules. They simply don’t pay the commissions that an affiliate is owed. Sometimes, a lack of profitability prompts a company to cut down on its commission expenses, keeping affiliates from getting they money they’re owed.

Shaving Leads

Shaving leads refers to taking away some of the leads that are sent to a company by an affiliate. Some companies will set up a different lead system on their end that will take away a certain percentage of your leads. Sometimes, the company shaves your affiliate ID from your links once you have sent a certain number of leads to the site so that your earnings are limited. In some cases, companies have been known to simply subtract a certain amount of sales from an affiliate’s final earnings before the payment is issued.

When any shaving of your commission earnings occurs without any notification and without any rule breaking on the part of the affiliate, this is considered an unethical action. This type of scrubbing is simply to raise profits and commonly occurs when an affiliate is sending a large number of leads to the company.

Shaving can render an affiliate marketing campaign unprofitable for an affiliate, but it is difficult to prove that a network has not paid for legitimate leads. This has made the practice widespread among affiliate networks and has made it an easy way for networks to make up for slow sales periods.

When an affiliate breaks the rules set down for advertising the links, some or all of the affilite’s commissions will be shaved.

Scrubbing Leads

Sending the right traffic to a company’s site is vital to the profitability of an affiliate’s efforts. An affiliate can send an enormous number of leads to a website, but if the conversion rate is poor, a network owner may change the commission structure. This pays out a lower commission rate to affiliates who bring a high volume of traffic with a low conversion rate. High traffic rates can cost the site owner more, and if the leads aren’t converting well, that cost isn’t made up with sales earnings.

An affiliate may be promoting a product poorly, misrepresenting the items or simply communicating poorly. In both cases, these practices can harm the reputation of the company. When leads from an affiliate are not performing well, the company may contact the affiliate directly and ask them not to promote the items anymore. This practice is also considered lead scrubbing.

Both scrubbing and shaving can harm an affiliate’s earnings. In some cases, the practice may be a legitimate way to keep a company’s reputation intact. In others, it is simply a complex form of stealing.