Affiliate Managers: Your Top 5 Affiliate Program Mistakes
1. Competing With Your Affiliates
This is by far the worst mistake made by companies that offer affiliate programs. I often see companies for products I am trying to promote compete with me in the search engine rankings and pay per click advertising programs.
Why companies invest money and resources in competing with their affiliates is beyond me. By competing with me, you’re trying to put me out of business. Have marketing directors ever thought of it in that way? Because if you succeed, you will no longer have an affiliate network to speak of.
The money would be better spent on supporting your affiliate network by creating a better product, providing more referral statistics, higher commission payouts, faster support, and more, fresh promotional creative.
2. Not Providing Your Affiliates With Useful, Real-Time Statistics
All marketers rely on statistics to measure the effectiveness of any marketing campaign. Yet most affiliate programs only provide their affiliates with basic statistics such as number of visitors sent, number of sales, and commission earned. These statistics aren’t much help to affiliates who want to measure the effectiveness of a particular pay per click campaign.
Affiliate managers – please consider providing these useful statistics so that I can market your products effectively:
- Archive of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly statistics and by date range.
- Commission earned, broken down by product or service, and how the customer was referred to the site.
- Daily email update of all affiliate statistics.
- Instant email notification of a new affiliate.
- Instant email notification of a new free trial sign up.
- Instant email notification of a new sale and all relevant statistics. I love getting new sales notification emails!
- Number of free trial downloads or subscriptions.
- Number of returns and all relevant statistics.
- Affiliate links with trackable IDs, so that affiliates can tell exactly which site, or ad campaign is sending the referrals and sales.
- Unique clicks – which refers to the unique number of visitors referred – in addition to raw clicks – which refers to the total number of click throughs.
- A list of top performing affiliate statistics, so that affiliates can compare how they’re doing and which areas they can improve on.
- Include the most important statistics at the top of the email and subject line. There’s nothing worse than having to scroll down to see what the referral purchased or how much commission I have made.
The following only apply if the affiliate program offers more than one level of commissions.
- Commission earned as a result of referrals sent by 2nd-tier affiliates.
- Commission earned, broken down by commission level.
- Number of 2nd-tier affiliates referred.
3. Not Compensating Your Affiliates Fairly For Their Hard Work
The #1 incentive for any affiliate is cold hard cash. So tell your marketing director to fire the search engine optimization firm and advertising department, and redirect the resources to paying your affiliates a higher commission rate.
4. Not Providing Enough Fresh Promotional Creative.
Most affiliate managers seem to give their promotional creative little thought. All they offer is a handful of 468×60 banners, buttons and text links. What happens is that affiliates end up using the same ads on hundreds, even thousands of web sites.
Affiliate managers – what about these promotional creatives?
- Articles and tips with embedded affiliate links
- Classified ads
- Customer testimonials
- Direct email ads
- Email signatures
- Newsletter ads
- pay per click ads
- Pop-up/under ads
- Product photographs
- Product reviews
- Product screenshots
- Rich-media ads
- Staff interviews
Different ads perform better on different sites. And ads generally have a life span of a carton of milk. So offer your affiliates a greater variety of ads, more often.
5. Not Providing Fast, Quality Support For Your Affiliates.
Don’t make your affiliates wait longer for an email reply than it takes to send a letter by snail-mail post.
Don’t outsource your affiliate support work if you can afford not to. If you have to outsource, then you must take your time and concentration to train your support staff so that they understand the ins and outs of your products and affiliate program. Do this with outlined bullet point processes. I’m often dumbfounded by affiliate support staff who can’t give me answers to simple questions.