10 Reasons Your Affiliate Program Failed – By Kim Salvino

by Colleen on September 6, 2011


1. You were not competitive. Surely you keep tabs on competitors regarding product development, promotions, etc. Be sure to check their affiliate program out as well. You must be able to meet or beat their offering. Your success will depend upon it.

2. You didn’t ensure the program tracked properly. Have you performed thorough testing? Have you done so after using your chat feature or newsletter signup link? Are cookies intact after you send consumer newsletters? Are there obvious leaks like toll free numbers, site links or (gasp!) AdSense? Are there non-commissionable items? In order to have an accurate view of program performance, you must address instances that cause unaccredited sales.

3. You set unrealistic policies. Be clear and be fair. Place restrictions in your terms of service, and police regularly. Don’t place restrictions that you can’t enforce, such as outranking your brand organically for generic terms.

4. You had unrealistic expectations. If your site isn’t converting well due to your internal efforts, don’t expect affiliates to be the fix. Affiliates send you traffic – it’s your job to convert that traffic to sales/leads. It’s also important to realize that an affiliate program is a marathon, not a sprint. Be in it for the long haul.

5. You didn’t think like an affiliate. Imagine your income depended entirely on information from a third party. That you had to feed, clothe and house yourself and your family based on details offered by an advertiser. Could you do it based on your program setup?

6. You didn’t put someone in charge. Adding affiliate program management to an already over-worked employee is a recipe for disaster. They won’t have the time to communicate effectively, research competitors, work with your network…and your program will suffer without that dedication.

7. You expected the network to do all of the work. The network should do two things right at ALL times – track sales accurately and process affiliate payments. At the end of the day, program success lies with you. A Network Representative does not possess a crystal ball that reveals your conversion rate, promotions or top selling items. Ethical networks will work with you, but YOU still need to be part of the equation.

8. You didn’t communicate. There are a number of affiliate forums, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn and Facebook groups and blogs that share tips and discuss industry updates. If you have questions or need feedback, ASK. Network with affiliates, both joined to your program and not, industry veterans and other affiliate managers to learn best practices.

9. You lacked passion. Do you love what you do? Do you believe in what you sell? Would you buy it/sign up for it/sell it to your Mother? You should. Otherwise, why would anyone else want to do it?

10. You gave up. Don’t just throw in the towel and admit defeat. Every program has an opportunity for improvement. You have to do the work, complete the research and connect with your affiliates.

Kim Salvino is Head of Publishers for the US arm of buy.at.

Download the entire FeedFront issue 15 here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/61379014/FeedFront-Magazine-Issue-15

FeedFront issue 15 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article00date/2011/09

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kay September 7, 2011 at 1:35 am

Great post Kim, I have spent some time this week logged onto a network (not yours) as an affiliate while learning the product data feed ropes. I am astounded how many programs lack some basic things – banners with no call to action or basic IAB a sizes, no product feeds- not utilizing any of the network tools such as aproval emails. .. crazy

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