Six Common Challenges With Affiliate Marketing – By Joe Swint

by Colleen on November 14, 2014


Working for an Outsourced Program Management Agency (OPM), I speak with companies every day about the obstacles they face with their affiliate program. Here are some of the most common challenges I hear and some tips for overcoming them: feedfront-28-cover-small

Affiliate recruitment
When it comes to recruitment, keep the 80/20 rule in mind (20% of your affiliates will yield 80% of your results, while the remaining 80% will yield 20% of the results.) Nurture all relationships, but put your focus where it does the most good: on the top 20% but also on the types of publishers who work best for you: Mobile? Email? Coupon? Content?

Monitoring compliance
Many of the merchants I speak with don’t realize compliance is a challenge, which is in and of itself a challenge. The good news is that catching violators is fairly simple with the right software. When this issue is resolved, it’s common for an affiliate program to see a sudden drop in revenue. Don’t worry. That revenue isn’t disappearing; it’s being attributed to the correct channel and not costing you an affiliate commission.

Tracking technology
When it comes to tracking, the options are many. Some merchants need a low cost solution and others need robust technology. If you’re trying to find the best of both worlds, you might want to go with a SaaS network. Look into a few of these options if you want to cut costs and improve tracking capabilities.

Coupon affiliates
The main challenge is not being able to determine if you’re paying a commission on a sale you would’ve gotten anyway. The concern is the buyer backs out at the last minute, finds a coupon from an affiliate site, and then makes the purchase. If that’s how you feel, you can offer a lower commission to coupon affiliates. Another solution is to choose a tracking platform that allows you to see the customer journey from beginning to end through all marketing channels and attribute commissions accordingly.

Brand control
What if an affiliate publishes poor quality content that leaves buyers feeling unsure about your product? What if they forget to remove expired coupons or discounts, making the buyer frustrated because they can’t get the offer? If you’re concerned about your brand reputation, you can use software to monitor content quality and other similar issues. Keep in mind even brand-sensitive companies such as Apple have an affiliate program.

Cutting costs
Adjusting affiliate commissions, choosing the right network(s), fixing multiple payouts on a single order, and reversing commissions on affiliates who are trademark bidding or pushing through fraudulent orders are all safe ways to cut costs without losing top line revenue. Research each of these areas.

Merchants large and small can be affected by any of these challenges. Since they are not always obvious, I suggest digging in to each one. A simple adjustment can be a game changer for your affiliate program.

Joe Swint is on the Business Development team at Schaaf-PartnerCentric.

This article appeared in issue 28 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in October 2014.

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