One of the key daily duties of an affiliate manager is to look through the list of affiliates that have applied to the affiliate program and either approve or deny those affiliates to the program. There are a few things you can do to help make your approval process easier and lay the groundwork for clear understanding and expectations with your affiliates.
Lay out what you are looking for from an affiliate for approval on your program info page and sign-up page (if allowed). Several networks also send out an email to an affiliate upon application, and as manager, you can customize the email. Even though at that point the affiliate has already applied, I like to also put my expectation in that email as well. This way, if the affiliate knows that they haven’t met expectations with their application, they can still email me with supplemental information.
Also, in that application email, I specify some of the reasons that they might be declined. I offer that if I do decline an affiliate, and they really want to promote the program, please reach out to me via email / phone / IM so I can be made aware of your intention and enthusiasm. It’s VERY rare that I’ve ever “double declined” an affiliate that did reach out to me and let me know how they were planning to promote the program (as long as it was within the program terms). Any affiliate that has the initiative to take an extra step is definitely an affiliate you want on board.
Affiliate managers should always keep the lines of communication open, in fact welcome communication from their affiliates and respond timely to all affiliate inquiries. Any affiliate manager that says they are too busy to answer affiliate emails is full of bologna. This entire job is about communication and relationships.
Re-state in a decline letter some of the major reasons why an affiliate might have been declined, and let the affiliate know that if they are truly motivated and want to promote the program, reach out to you. Managers who shut the door totally on an affiliate, and don’t hear them out and worth less than a cookie stuffer or parasite.
For those affiliates that are approved, lay out your approval emails as a full playbook for the affiliates. Provide clear contact information for yourself. Re-state what the program is all about, and provide tips on how to best market the products and services, give insights into the type of things customers are trying to solve / do with your products and services, and provide links and banners right there in that email to get started.
Successful affiliates might literally be promoting hundreds of programs. They’ve just applied to your program, so you are fresh in their minds, and you’ve approved them. Your approval letter is the single best opportunity to grab their attention right now, so give them everything they need to hit the ground running, and get links up NOW before they move on to another project.
Your approval/decline process is cornerstone for successful affiliate program management, and it’s really not challenging to simply lay out clear ground rules for affiliates, keep open lines of communication, and provide your affiliates with the tools with which they can succeed.