What to Do when One of Your Affiliate Products Dies (and a MDBP update)

In the not so distant past, I noticed the earnings from one of my sites had decreased noticeably. Turns out, the main product it was pimping had ceased being manufactured. Find out what I did to rectify a bad situation every affiliate marketer will eventually have to face.

As affiliate marketers go, I’m actually still pretty hands-on. While I do outsource some of my writing (and a lot of my link building), I try to spend time on each of my sites at least monthly. While there I like to make sure they’re up-to-date (most of my sites run WordPress), and I do a lot of tweaking, split-testing, analyzing my analytics data, and so on. But the drop in earnings in my Amazon account made me come around to this particular site a little earlier than usual.

From looking over my sales stats, I had gleaned that a product I had been pimping via this site, which had previously disappeared from stores, had also disappeared from Amazon. When I did a little checking, I found that it hadn’t truly disappeared, but its prices had gone through the roof. When I logged into my site to approve some comments (I generally do this by hand, for reasons just like this one), I learned that one of my readers had called the company in question, and confirmed for me (and everyone else) that the manufacturer had stopped production on this item.

While there might not be much you can do about the actual event of a product being discontinued, there is a lot you CAN do about reversing your loss of earnings in such a situation. Regardless of whether the company goes out of business, decides a product is no longer financially sound, or even if a product suddenly gets a number of lousy reviews (perhaps because of a redesign), you should be able to use the following strategies to at least stop the bleeding, if not come back faster & better than before.

Don’t give up on your formerly-profitable site!

Even if it’s very narrowly focused on just one or two products, it can still make you money. While your first inclination might be to either dump the domain, or add it to your link farm, I would recommend a different course of action. It may take a little time and research on your part (or not, depending upon how well you know your market), but I promise it will be worthwhile if you just take the following steps.

1. Find out what product is the next-best-thing going

This is where the majority of the research may come in. If you aren’t already involved with the competing products, do some quick analysis. If your product is sold on Amazon, that site is a pretty good place to start. See what comes up in the “What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?” and “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” sections. Also check the reviews of your item. People will often mention how or why they liked a competing product better. Check the relative sales ranks of each of the competing products, and of course the star ratings (or the ratings on the site to which you hope to send them). Make sure the ratings bear out the item’s popularity.

I recommend deciding on just one of these competing products, and proceeding to recommend it highly. You could also select a range of options, but honestly? I think people want to be told what to buy. It’s simpler, and it seems to be converting just fine for me. If you’re already deeply involved in the niche, you could even link them to another site of yours which already has all the information they need to make their purchasing decision. Assuming you aren’t already pushing that product somewhere, though, you’ll next need to…

2. Create a separate page with a writeup about the new item

Let your readers see you’ve done your homework, but don’t be shy about studding it with affiliate links. Compare the discontinued item with the replacement. Ensure that the replacement comes out looking as good as or better than the item it’s replacing. Then hit them with your best calls to action.

But whatever you do? Don’t stop here. Failing to execute the next two steps will cost you dearly.

3. Re-work ALL pages that receive traffic for the original item

This isn’t actually as arduous as it sounds. In fact, I found a simple 2- or 3-point list of actions has worked wonders. Basically, you put an update at the top of the page. Bold it, turn the word “Update” red, or do something similar to call immediate attention to it. In the update, explain that X product has been pulled from the market. However, here are the things you can do about it. And of course stud those calls to action with your affiliate link.

In my case, I said that they would want to check stock (afflink) on the original item, and buy it if the price was still reasonable. I also gave them links to my review of the alternative I was recommending.

4. Most importantly, give them a quick, easy “out” (through an afflink, of course)

In my example, this took the form of a simple link saying “check prices now” on the competing product. This came after the link to my analysis of the competing product. Essentially, I feel that doing it in this order gave them trust that I had done the research and legwork for them, and could confidently recommend this alternative. Of course, in this case I actually had already done this research, since it’s a niche that’s near & dear to my heart. So it was a very simple matter to link to a different page on my site and add a little verbiage comparing it favorably with the original product. But even if you did your research on the fly…that’s probably more research than they’ve ever done on the topic, so you’re still adding value.

Million Dollar Blog Project Update

So, what’s been happening in my corner of the Million Dollar Blog Project (MDBP)? Not much actually. I know I’m not the only affiliate marketer who suffers from ADOS (that’s Attention Deficit…Oooh, Shiny! for the uninitiated). Despite being as distractable as a squirrel on acid, though, it’s not really my lack of focus that’s been dragging me down. It’s more along the lines of my other old friend, analysis paralysis. I *thought* I knew what site was going to be my new blog. But when I lit into it, I realized it would fare much better as a silo’d site. So I decided I would choose another new project to participate in the MDBP with. After all, if there’s one thing I don’t suffer from, it’s a lack of projects, and I know another of my soon-to-be-created sites would fare much better as a blog.

Then I finally saw that in order to participate on the official MDBP that I’d have to link to my accountability journal (which would be here) as well as my site. Since that sort of violates my rule about letting anyone know what sites the IM Koala is behind, I came to a sort of impasse. I say “sort of” because I had pretty much assumed from the start that this would be the case. But that isn’t helping me decide what site to use as my MDBP blog. I’ve narrowed it down to two, though; a diet site, and a recipe site. That’s progress, right? Although honestly, I think they would both look better silo’d as well. Sigh. I think I can do it with the diet site, though. I just hate the MDBP’s requirement that it be in true blog (i.e. reverse chronological) format. I’m thinking it’ll probably wind up being a blog that also happens to have a lot of reference pages. Which happen to be silo’d. :)

Whatever the case, though, I did decide on an update schedule – every month on the 15th. Not only will it spice up the middle of the month for all the people who follow site reports that largely come out at the beginning of the month, but it will give me the push I need to make my decision on which site to use by the 15th of this month. Then by the 15th of November, I’ll have updates about what I’ve accomplished and how the site is actually faring. The good news is I’ll have a built-in audience (yes, it pays to move into niches where you already have a social connection with people), and I’ll be able to help a lot of people as well. So hopefully it will be a win-win-win situation!

Are you participating in the Million Dollar Blog Project? If so, please leave a link to your accountability journal in the comments!

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  1. Michelle,

    It is definitely important to keep on top of old affiliate products for this reason. I would also say that you should follow this method for Affiliate programs that are still alive but really “underpreforming” .

    After all sometimes traffic may slow simply because there are newer products that are simply cheaper and better than what you may have been recommending as the “best years before.
    Steve@Earn Money Online recently posted..71 Web Copywriting “Hidden Gems” (or How to Create the ULTIMATE Copywriting Swipe File)My Profile

    • Michelle says:

      Good point! I really only noticed it because this product was a huge percentage of my sales for that site. I do occasionally swap out underperforming products as well, but I’ll admit I’m a little lazy on that front.

      During routine maintenance, I also notice similar things that need to be updated as well. For example, one of the retailers I push switched networks, and I failed to catch all of the links on my first pass. I eventually found the rest, but it does make me wonder how many other such broken links my sites have. It makes me envy Adsense publishers who have only one source to worry about…until they get dumped from Adsense, that is!

  2. Hamish says:

    Hi Michelle,

    Great post. Especially at this time of year, you need to be checking your Amazon products on a regular basis. As you say, it’s not just whether or not it’s still on sale – price swings can make a big difference to where you should be focusing your effort.

    New competition, or trending fads can also make a big difference. the Amazon bestsellers list is a good tool. I look for anything that’s been in the top 100 items for less than 30 days once a month. It can help you to find some rising stars.

    BTW – I like your header image. Very compelling somehow :)
    Hamish recently posted..Kindle 4 – Is It Amazon’s Ace In The Hole?My Profile

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Hamish, thanks for stopping by! May I ask how you found me?

      As for the image…I don’t know if you have this saying in the UK, but over here, the “business end” of a gun is the barrel. It was a bit of a play on words, as well as an image unlike any I’ve ever seen on another site about blogging, so I went with it!

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