This blindness is one of the more fascinating aspects of e-mail marketing. I can't remember if I've told this story or not in this column, so forgive me if I'm repeating myself. We once had a brand purchase our e-mail tracking system. It was a brand that used a number of different affiliates to send out their offer. When the client took a look at themselves in the system, they could see all the affiliates they were working with, and there was their second- best-performing affiliate, just like it should be.
However, when they looked at it from a different angle -- from the viewpoint of the affiliate itself -- they found that there were 59 other brands in their market sector that were receiving more of the affiliate's inventory than they were. 59 other brands' offers were sent out more often than their brand. And this was their second-best-performing list! How could this be?
When they contacted the affiliate, they were told this simple story: The reason they didn't receive more inventory was that the affiliate didn't like the creative the brand was supplying, plus the company paid less than the other brands. The brand immediate rectified the situation, adjusting the creative and upping the payout. They soon rose to the top of the affiliates' available offers and increased their return on investment.
But without some way of monitoring the situation, these things happen all the time. As far as the brand was concerned, the affiliate was working well for them. As far as the affiliate was concerned, they had 59 better brands they were sending offers out for, so why contact the brand about their low payout and lousy creative. Because they were both running in the dark, both brand and affiliate were missing out on a better opportunity.