Seven common affiliate program mistakes

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You’ve seen the benefits of affiliate marketing and have decided to set up an affiliate program.

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But if you aren’t seeing the results you were hoping for, there are probably a few potential key affiliate program mistakes to consider.

Here we’ll explore areas where you could be going wrong and some quick changes to make your affiliate program really work for you.

1. Your website

Your website is the most important aspect of your business from an online perspective. In a digital-driven world, this is likely to be what your potential affiliates will look at first. Therefore, you need to ensure it works for you, not against you. Affiliates want to ensure the places they’re recommending to their audience align with their own brand standards, just as advertisers want their publishers to align with theirs.

There are some vital elements to clean up or look at when considering how your potential affiliates and potential clients are viewing your website. 

Is it poorly designed?

This can be a sensitive subject for many business owners, as they have probably invested considerable time, effort and money to develop their website. Even so, websites aren’t always created with the end-user in mind or with a great deal of user experience (UX) integrated into the overall design.

If a website layout is confusing or complicated it can immediately turn visitors away. If a user finds it difficult to source the information they are looking for in a few quick clicks, they’re also likely to leave and head to another competitor. Try to get in the mind of your audience and ask yourself what questions they’ll have when they arrive at your website; go about answering those as quickly and with as few clicks as possible.

It’s also important to note that studies have shown using too many different colors and excessive amounts of ‘fancy’ page elements like animations can confuse website visitors and have them leave the page too.

Does it have a slow page load speed?

It’s easy to test your page load speed online as there are an abundance of free tools to be found. John Mueller of Google confirmed in 2019 that page speed is definitely a factor in website rankings with the major search engine.

It’s generally accepted that a page should load in two seconds or less, however, Google aims for half a second. You can test your own page’s speeds with Google’s PageSpeed tool. Compressing or downsizing images on your site, minimizing animation, plugins and complicated design elements, and optimizing your website code are all great ways to improve your page load speed.

Does it have deleted pages that deliver a ‘404 – Page Not Found’ errors?

The chances are potential clients find these errors very frustrating. Go through your website and look for these broken links and page not found errors. Minimize and remove them wherever possible. You may need to create some redirects if you know the link in question is being pointed to by other websites.

Does it lack the ability to convert visitors into buyers?

When you take a look at your own website metrics, is it converting visitors into buyers? If the answer is no, then that most likely won’t miraculously change just by partnering with a great publisher. 

Taking a serious look at your digital sales funnel, particularly if you are an e-commerce business, should be high on your priority list. Use your website data to assess where the customer is falling out of the funnel and ask yourself (or even others) what could be done at that point to improve the process.

Does it have other ads such as Google Adsense?

Knowing that your website is monetarily benefiting from Adsense, thanks to the leads or customers provided to you by a publisher in an affiliate program, can give off the wrong impression. 

For certain large commerce sites, these ad placements are an essential revenue stream and will be overlooked by a new affiliate. But for smaller sites, this approach has the potential to be a sticking point for new publishers.

2. Clear terms and conditions for affiliates

Having a well-written agreement for new publishers to digest is really vital. Even if they don’t always agree with your outlined terms, affiliates have far more confidence in clear boundaries.

Things you should take into consideration when creating your program and then express to your potential affiliates are:

  • Trademark
  • Paid search
  • Content plagiarism
  • Coupons
  • Commissions and rewards

3. Don’t dictate to your affiliates

Though your business is your priority, it’s important to remember that your affiliates are business people just like yourself. They have the skills and knowledge to drive affiliate sales, however, they also have a lot of choices of who to work with.

They are not your employees, they are your partners and you should treat them as such. Of course, you should set expectations and rules but avoid telling them what to do or how to do it. Remember that their expertise is why you’ve partnered with them in the first place. Work with them to achieve a common goal and offer rewards and incentives along the way.

4. Make content available

Thinking that once you’ve got a publisher on board your affiliate program your end of the work is done is a sure-fire way to see your program fail. You should try to provide your affiliates with as much high-quality promotional material possible for them to help you drive sales. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Text links
  • Banners of all sizes
  • Coupons
  • Content and text samples
  • Good quality images
  • Videos, both with and without an audio element

5. Affiliate commissions

There’s no way to scoot around the obvious fact that commissions are a big part of what keeps publishers focused and motivated to drive sales to your business. As such, you should always be as clear and efficient as possible when it comes to affiliate commissions. Avoid setting unrealistic lock dates, delaying payments to your affiliates, lowering commissions or voiding commissions and transactions.

6. Communication

In business, as in any good relationship, communication is key to ensure continued success for everyone involved.

Your affiliates are real people. They, like you, are busy working on and in their businesses. It pays to get to know them, treat them as business associates and not your sales-driving robots. Try to periodically reach out with interesting communications - the more personable you can be with this, the better. Don’t continue to call or email if you’re not receiving a response,  this may lead to them leaving your affiliate program all together. 

Always answer any questions your affiliates may have promptly and efficiently. Make an effort to help, even if their question is a little outside of the box, to show that you care about their business too.

It’s a display of respect for the publisher that you advise them of any changes as early as possible. This includes if you are discontinuing a product or launching a new one. Make sure to give your affiliates the ‘heads up’ so they can readjust their promotions and feel like they are valued in your business.

Some affiliates will be better performers than others, and that’s ok. Don’t fall into the trap of only working with those that drive the most sales, encourage all of them. Likewise, if it becomes clear that an affiliate has become inactive, contact them to try to understand why and where they could use assistance, instead of terminating the contract immediately.

7. Program management and monitoring

An affiliate program mistake we see at Awin all too frequently is the ‘set and forget’ approach. It’s really important to continually check in on your affiliate programs and individual publishers. While affiliates are business owners like you, you should always keep tabs on their progress and weed out anyone who isn’t working best for your brand.

Don’t use automated messaging for approving or disapproving affiliate applications. Ensuring you have a personal touch in this process creates more trust and lets you know who your affiliates are and how they will promote your product.

It’s also smart to give rejected affiliates the chance to apply again; everyone has room for improvement over time and you could miss a great partnership opportunity if you cast everyone aside permanently.

When you have partnered with publishers, watch what they choose to do with your content to ensure it aligns with your brand and values. If you deem that a partnership isn’t working for your brand as you’d hoped, you’ll need to have a discussion with the publisher in question. Always allow affiliates the chance to explain their point of view. 

If it happens that you can’t reach common ground and you believe there has been a violation of the terms laid out in your affiliate program conditions, it’s vital you have collected evidence of this. Using an affiliate network like Awin has many advantages, as we will do all we can to help you resolve the issue.

Make your affiliate program work for you

All affiliate programs are different, even those under the same brand or working with the same publishers, therefore they should be treated as such. Using a trusted platform like Awin’s allows you to see up-to-date data and make changes where necessary. If a program isn’t working as you’d hoped, take some time to consider the above points and decide where you can make the most appropriate changes for your program and your business’ success.

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