ClubMom Closes Affiliate Program

March 8, 2007

Update, 3/19: The member who had been waiting for credit for a purchase at ClubMom in mid-January and was told on 3/9 that “our system is being upgraded and we are unable to award points to members accounts at this time. Once our systems are operational, your points will be applied, which should be toward the beginning of next month. We appologize for the inconvenience” did receive her points at the end of last week.
Got an email from yesterday from ClubMom saying they’re shutting down their affiliate program (that’s the program that pays webmasters for referring new members, if you’re new to this stuff). They said they’re not actively seeking new members but trying to focus instead on site improvements.
Now, I don’t know what that means exactly. What site has “enough” members? Over the years, I’ve seen this happen often when a program is in trouble. Basically, the affiliate program is shut down because they’re not getting enough return on the new members to justify the cost of paying referrers to bring them in. They have to try to rework the program to better incent members to bring in income for the site (through shopping, completing offers, even clicking banner ads)…or else, sadly, the program sometimes just has to close down.
Last September, the company got a new VP of Business Development, Laura Fortner, whose duties include “overseeing company revenues, strategic partnerships and new customer acquisition efforts.” So this would be a decision that came down from her. Also, I think it’s noteworthy that the ClubMom Corporate Blog hasn’t been updated since last October.
In a press release last May, ClubMom gave their membership number at “more than two million.” The site was founded in 1999. The rewards portion of the site began in 2001.
If I had to guess, I’d estimate that only around a third to a half of a rewards program’s membership are active users. The shopping aspect of ClubMom (ClubMom Rewards) seems to be getting less and less attention on their own site, so I’m willing to bet their participation rate is significantly less. But even giving them the benefit of the doubt, say half of their members are active — that’s just a million members. After 8 years of operation, I’d call that a failure.
Just for comparison’s sake, Ebates boasts “over seven million members.” Upromise claims “over six million” members. MyPoints says they have six million (though during the company’s sale last year, they supposedly had 4.5 million members, with only 1.4 million active members).
Do I predict that ClubMom will shut down? No. But I think this indicates that the rewards portion of their website (and probably their website as a whole) isn’t nearly as profitable as they’d like it to be. You don’t shut down your affiliate program because things are going well. So I guess we just have to wait and see.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Digg Stumbleupon Email

Comments on this entry are closed.