Last week we looked at some common errors by affiliate program managers, especially by people new to the affiliate channel, so this week we’ll expand on that, starting with a couple of affiliate partner favorites, leaks and up to date creative.
Leaks!What harm can it possibly cause you think to have a few outbound links on your site that lead to like minded web sites or sites that support the product that you are selling. Nice big promo for your buddies web site perhaps. These are something an affiliate really hates to see. An affiliate focuses on sending your targeted traffic for you to convert in sales on your site, they are not sending you traffic to send to some other site. Why? Because they don’t get paid for sales that occur on those other sites. Apart from that should you really be having outbound links on your business site if your aim is make sales? Affiliates want to work with merchants that are 100% focuses on monetizing the traffic that comes to their sites, if your site is not doing so, then affiliates won’t consider you to be serious about your business, never mind their business!
Fresh Content; As part of every new client launch at AMWSO we take time to review a number of core competitors, what they are doing, their commission set up and their creative. Much like an affiliate does when considering which program to use on their sites. The number of times we come across programs that are hosting out dated banners is pretty amazing. Banners wishing consumers a Happy New Year…in 2011. Core banners that are focused on events that happened six months ago, or coupon banners for coupons that have expired. There’s no excuse for creatives to be out of date. If you’re not keeping your creative fresh then affiliates will certainly worry about how well you are doing or how much care and attention you give to the channel. This also applies to your data feed if you have one. If you have a large data feed it ought to be updated in a daily basis to ensure that all the product availability data is as near to perfect as can be, if you inventory moves slower, or perhaps never changes, update it once a week anyway. Affiliates will note how old the data is and even if your data never changes, a feed dated 8 months old, still looks old, as the affiliates may not be aware that your stock never changes.
Your PPC Policy;Last week we discussed the program Terms and Conditions, and your PPC policy should be part of that. However as PPC has become such an integral part of many affiliates business model it can be very useful to have a separate document that deals with just PPC.There are a lot of things to consider when reviewing your PPC policy, enough for a new article, but in short here are the core things to consider;
- Do you allow affiliates to do PPC in the first place.
- Are they allowed to link direct to your site, or must they link to their own sites.
- Are they allowed to bid on your company or product trademarks.
- Can they use your company name in a PPC ad.
- If you allow PPC, then on all PPC platforms or only specific ones.
- What about overseas PPC ads, especially if you ship globally.
- Will you provide an approved PPC keyword list.
- Can they bid on misspellings of your trademark(s).
- What are the consequences if someone ignores your PPC policy.
You need to ensure each of these areas is covered very clearly so that there is no room for debate. If you decide to allow some specific affiliates leeway in various areas then make sure they sign an updated agreement regarding that leeway so they are very clear on what you are allowing them to do.
And finally for today, and again an area that could easily merit its own article.
Language Challenges; Even if you run an affiliate program that focuses on US or UK or Australia based sales only, you will attract affiliates from around the world that want to promote your program. First remember that just because the affiliate happens to be from France, does not mean their web site targets French people. Take time to check, most affiliates targeting the US market have US centric sites. And what if that site is in French, well you may need to check a little deeper, it may well be targeting French expats living in the US. Do your job, don’t just make assumptions. When dealing with communications from and to affiliates from overseas take time to make sure you fully understand what they may be asking and don’t get too wrapped up in the fact that it might not be up to your native English standards, consider what the aim of the communication is, not necessarily what was written. When you reply, keep things simple, use bullets not long sentences and make sure what you’ve written is not going to confuse the affiliate. It’s also easy to forget that not everyone who lives in your country has lived their very long, their languages skills may not be perfect, but don’t disrespect or ignore an affiliate on the basis of their writing skills, they might be a master of programming and you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot by doing so. Follow up, view their sites and check (and fully understand) what they need before deciding if they are a partner you want to be working with.
I hope these few topics we’ve covered have been helpful. Drop us a line if you’d like us to expand upon any of them and their relation to affiliate marketing in future articles.