As a longtime outsourced affiliate manager, I’ve had the pleasure of managing and consulting with many companies about their affiliate programs. It never fails to surprise me that sometimes even the largest brands forget that the details can be so very important to the success of their affiliate programs.
One mistake I see many affiliate programs make is using the default network contact emails. First impressions mean a lot when it comes to application emails and, while not every network allows for customization, when it’s available you should take advantage of it.
There are three emails that are affiliate facing that you should customize: the application response, the approval, and the decline.
Auto approval is often touted as a time saver, however not vetting your affiliates opens the lid to a Pandora’s Box of potential hazards. Fraud, trademark bid violations, tax ramifications, FTC repercussions, etc. I guarantee these will take a lot more of your time than processing approvals manually.
Often, when I review underperforming programs, one of the glaring oversights is creatives. Programs often will only provide a single kind of creative, like text links. Sometimes, programs will provide banners, but they are in an array of non-standard sizes.
Quality is a common issue, as well as outdated holiday links. Review your creatives for sizing, consistency, typos and relevancy, and don’t restrict your affiliates by the one-type-fits all strategy.
Programs with datafeeds should ensure they are updated regularly and reviewed from an affiliate perspective, even if you have automated the process. I would encourage you to download your own feed as an affiliate to see what they actually see.
You might be unpleasantly surprised to find out that a database table has changed and your feed is now pulling an enormous image for your thumbnail.
Another slipup I commonly see is a complete absence of communication from managers. I’m not a fan of sending a newsletter just to send one, but if you haven’t emailed your affiliates in six months (or years), now is the time to start. Provide your affiliates with useful and actionable content, not just marketing fluff.
Managers should also keep tabs on the financial pulse of their programs. Maintaining a positive escrow balance is vital as many networks will shut off your program and automatically notify your affiliates exactly why the program is offline. If this is the only communication they are receiving about your program, affiliates are not going to stick around.
Finally, one of the most overlooked items I’ve seen is the affiliate agreement. Don’t rely on just the network agreements, as they fail to take into consideration social media, coupons, PPC policies, loyalty and rebate programs, FTC guidelines, tax nexus, and so much more.
Providing a clear and concise affiliate agreement will make enforcing compliance easier and lets affiliates see you are serious about the channel.
Reviewing your program for these seven simple, but often forgotten, things and correcting them can generate great rewards in your program down the line.
Karen is the CEO of the affiliate management agency GTOManagement.com and loves rehabilitating affiliate programs.
Download the entire FeedFront issue 21 here – http://issuu.com/affiliatesummit/docs/feedfront-21
FeedFront issue 21 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article00date/2012/12