Incentivized Traffic and Fake Leads in Pay-Per-Lead Affiliate Program

A couple of weeks ago we launched a new affiliate program. It’s a program for a subscription-based product, with the sales process starting with a free trial. When setting up affiliate programs for such businesses, the rule of thumb is to intertwine two payment models:

  • PPL (pay-per-lead) on each free trial driven in by an affiliate
  • PPS (pay-per-sale) on each trial converted into a paying subscriber

With any pay-per-lead affiliate program there’s always a risk of receiving fake leads, but the beauty of affiliate marketing is that merchants pay only for qualified referrals. With proper affiliate program management, ultimately, all phony  leads result in reversals of affiliate payouts, but how do you prevent these?

One way would be to pay attention to the affiliates’ promotional techniques as you review their profiles at the application stage.

Three Red Flags

Let me return to the story with which I have started this post. A couple of weeks after launching this new affiliate program, we registered a noticeable spike in the leads referred by affiliates.

Spike in affiliate leads

In affiliate marketing, any spike (in traffic, leads, sales, conversion rate, or anything else) should raise a red flag. It may not necessarily indicate fraud, but it does call for additional analysis.

Reacting to the spike, we looked into it a bit more, and found out that all of these leads were referred by one affiliate (red flag #2).

Affiliate marketing leads

We also reached out to the client — for them to look into the quality of these 38 leads. The client replied quickly, notifying us that a large chunk of these were actually fake (red flag #3) with “John Doe” put into the name field, and other sure indicators of phony leads.

Incentives and How They Work

While we were waiting on the client’s response, we studied the affiliate in a bit more detail. It turned out that, regardless of positioning themselves as a monetization platform, they were actually a classic rewards or loyalty affiliate.

Rewards affiliates (sometime also called “incentive affiliates” or “loyalty affiliates”) drive incentivized traffic. This, basically, means that the person referred by such an affiliate is motivated by an incentive. As our friends at BrandVerity explain, incentives may come in an array of forms:

  • Cashback
  • Miles
  • Points
  • Virtual currency
  • Prizes
  • Cash

These incentives are given to the end-user in exchange for the desired action (on the business’ website).

Misaligned Intent

So, what happened in our client’s affiliate program was a fundamental dissonance between the affiliate’s primary technique and the merchant’s ultimate goal.

Different directionsThe “rewards” component of the affiliate’s strategy resulted in misalignment between the end-user’s intent and the the merchant’s intent. As the above description (of the situation) shows, many of the forms were filled out in order to receive the promised incentive, and not because of the lead’s genuine interest in trying out the product.

Bottom line: if you run a pay-per-lead affiliate program, be careful with incentivized traffic. Most of it may be of no good to you.

Should you need any help with anything related to affiliate programs, contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.

The Complete Guide to Content Monetization Platforms

I am obsessed with home improvement shows. I watch them all — Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, Flip or Flop — and have recently started binge watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Online content monetizationI realize I am not alone as there are lots of blogs on the rise regarding home projects, DIY and easy ways to update your home to the recent trends. There are several sites that I follow that provide great tips on how to carry out some home projects and where to buy the necessary material. For these sites, valuable and engaging content is what attracts their readers and keeps bringing them back. We’ve all heard that “content is king” and its true. Content is the core of online marketing and how we talk to an audience and attract traffic to a site. It’s necessary if you want to grow a successful business and is what turns prospective customers into buyers. Customers search the Internet for reviews and information about products to help them make informed buying decisions.

What’s a Content Monetization Platform

As a home improvement blogger, I know that strong content is crucial and that is where I need to focus my time. However, I also want to monetize my site and there are several content monetization platforms that can help. These platforms are, essentially, tools that allow you to benefit from affiliate marketing without having to join individual affiliate programs. Once you’ve integrated with them, they would transform regular links into affiliate links. If sales are generated from these links, commissions will be passed back to the website after taking a percentage. For example, if I write about the latest and greatest Dyson to help upkeep my home, these content monetization tools will change my retail link to an affiliate link so that I can earn money from sales that I refer.

So before I give examples of some of the available monetization platforms, let’s talk about the benefits of using them.

Benefits of Monetization Platforms

1. Time Saving

By using these tools you have access to lots of merchants and you don’t have to individually apply for each of their programs. Plus you don’t have to individually create affiliate links.

2. Ease of Integration

Seamless. You can basically set it up and go about what you do best writing content!

3. Links Look Normal

You post a retailer link and they convert to affiliate links. Click-through rates are better and the links are kept up to date.

4. Higher Payouts

Because they do such a large volume of business, these tools can often negotiate a higher overall commission rate with the advertiser. So even with paying them a percentage, you may still be better off than you would be able to get on your own.

If you have a lot of traffic and product-related content, these tools can help you earn money.

5. Robust Reporting

Their reporting interfaces contain great data on your customers and their purchasing habits.

6. Free to Join!

Whatever you earn is incremental. If you already have some affiliate links on your site, the tools will not overwrite those.

Importance of Disclosures

If you choose to monetize the content you produce, remember of the necessity to stay compliant with the Federal Trade Commission’s disclosure requirements.

Now let’s take a deeper dive into some of these content monetization platforms. In what follows, I’ll review several of them for you.

VigLink

VigLink content monetization platform by Sovrn

VigLink converts your normal outgoing links into affiliate links, and if users make a purchase, you earn a referral commission from it. In a normal scenario, you could be linking to product pages on many sites, and you don’t make money when people buy or download the product. VigLink identifies commercial products mentioned within content monetizes those links. All links will go to the highest paying destination so their technology will route your original product link to whichever retailer will earn you the most! With regards to revenue split, VigLink keeps 25% of the commission and 75% goes back to the website owner. Set up is simple! Copy a line of VigLink Javascript code and paste it into your website’s template and let it go to work. The great thing is that it will find old links on your site and monetize so you don’t have to go back through all your old posts.

There are three main products for VigLink:

  1. VigLink Convert. This takes your unaffiliated merchant links and automatically converts them to monetized links. Add links to products and this will link to a merchant.
  2. VigLink Insert. Insert scans your site for common product terms or merchant mentions and adds an affiliate link.
  3. VigLink Anywhere. With VigLink Anywhere, you can turn any social media link, email link or any other link into a robust, high-powered hyperlink that earns you revenue. This means you can now make money from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and your email list. The opportunities are endless!

Another great feature of VigLink is their dashboard which tracks analytics for your site. You can see what content is popular and what people purchase.

Skimlinks

Skimlinks content monetization platform

A description from their website tells you “If you write about products, we can help you make money from your content. Over 60,000 publishers around the world already trust us to automatically monetize the commerce content they create. Skimlinks aggregates access to 65 affiliate networks (including Awin, CJ, Rakuten, and others), enabling publishers to earn commission from 48,500 merchants around the world, in one place.”

Like VigLink, Skimlinks is also super-easy to install. You add a snippet of code onto your site and all links to merchants in the Skimlinks network become affiliate links. Skimlinks keeps 25% of the commission and 75% goes back to the website owner.

Some of the features of Skimlinks are:

  • Desktop widgets to research revenue-generating products to write about.
  • A comprehensive reporting dashboard.
  • Audience By Skimlinks allows publishers to can gain access to a deeper, broader dataset for better insights on their audience and shopping behaviors.
  • Aggregated product feeds to create your own shop front.
  • URL shorteners so that you can also monetize your social accounts and email.
  • Skimlinks Editor Toolbar Extension. Without navigating away from a merchant’s website, you can see:
    • If a merchant offers a Skimlinks commission rate.
    • What the average commission rate from the last 30 days was.
    • If exclusive commission rates are available.

With this tool you can also:

  1. Find out more details on commission rates and merchants at the click of a button.
  2. Quickly create links for social media and email.
  3. Discover new merchants that offer commission rates.

YieldKit

YieldKit content monetization platform

YieldKit enables publishers to aggregate and optimize their performance marketing via their Yieldkit’s Monetization Platform. Like the others, they automatically convert links, keywords and onsite searches like brand and product mentions into monetizable links from thousands of retailers.

Among some of their tools you’ll find:

  1. YieldWidget – a widget is injected over your links. Its small in size and boosts the user’s experience as it is filled with relevant content and detailed information that will greatly increase conversions. It offers an image of the product, a brief description, top 3 places to buy and reviews of the linked product. Offering a few places to buy helps increase the chances of conversion.
  2. YieldNative – a functionality that allows publishers to generate and embed ads exactly the way they and their users like best. Inserting Native ads in content wherever they provide value.
  3. YieldSearch – a technology that detects keywords in user’s search queries in the publisher’s website search box and shows relevant ads embedded on the results page.
  4. Yield Insights allows you to discover what topics are most relevant to users and what topics deliver the highest revenue. Insights can be used to learn more about your audience.

Infolinks

Infolinks content monetization platform

Infolinks is an online advertising platform that enables website owners to make money from their site by displaying relevant ads to their visitors. You can select from a number of ad units that best suit your needs. It’s also super easy to sign up and install: Just enter your website address, add a snippet of code to your site, and get paid. Each advertiser on Infolinks sets their own price and as a publisher, you receive 65% rev share.

Infolinks offers a range of native ads, including:

  1. InArticle: Highly viewable ad which opens once a user engages with the page content.
  2. InFold: This ad unit takes advantage of the power of search and display, delivering ads on a wider scale of traffic. These will appear in right above the fold.
  3. InScreen: An interstitial ad delivering relevant content between page views.
  4. InText: Ads are neatly presented within a page’s text. You can customize the link color, and choose how many will appear on a page.
  5. InTag: This shows the most valuable keywords related to the content of the page. Hover over these words to view the ads.
  6. InFrame: These attractive display banner ads appear alongside your content.

Brandreward

Brandreward content monetization platform

Brandreward was created to help content networks, apps and websites realize the “real value” of their content by easily and effortlessly monetizing through a complete platform solution. It is a full-service platform which allows publishers to instantly find and connect with top brands. Their site states that they work with 30,000 brands across the world. Some of the brands listed are Nordstrom’s, Kate Spade, Target and PetSmart.

Some of the benefits of using Brandreward include:

  • Real-time reporting.
  • Exclusive deals and offers.
  • 85% commission policy for publishers which is higher than the industry standard of 75%.
  • Brandreward has a real-time advertiser system, ensuring publishers have the highest possible commission at the time of each sale and that links are live and commissionable across servers in 3 different countries.
  • SEO friendly.
  • Referral program.  For every successful referral that you send to Brandreward, you will receive 35% of the earnings for the next two years.

digidip

digidip content monetization platform

digidip is another example of a tool that provides an easy solution to monetizing your website. The company started in Germany in 2013 by Sabrina Spielberger, who was a successful blogger. Today they operate in over 50 markets worldwide and provide access to multiple networks and to more than 40,000 advertisers. Some of the advertisers listed are Groupon, Debenhams, Macy’s, Target and Walmart.

They have a lot of the same features as others. They are free to use, saves you time, and easily turns retail links into affiliate links. The difference is that they work on invite only and focus heavily on being ‘premium’. They want to ensure that their publisher network has a high quality and thus creates, not only for the network but also for the associated advertisers, networks and agencies, an additional value. So they have a certain set of guidelines and standards that you need to meet to join.

 

As you can see, there is a variety of content monetization platforms to help you earn money from your website. The key is to make sure that your content is authentic so that your readers continue to return and your audience grows. That’s one of the things makes you a truly valuable partner to any online advertiser. You should partner with brands that are relevant to your audience and deliver value.

I hope that you find this information useful and please contact us or comment below with any questions or feedback.


Disclosure: If you click some of the above links and sign up, we may be compensated for this. Regardless, we only recommend products/services we use personally or believe to be of value.

How to Audit Your Affiliate Program for a Fresh Start to 2019

Whether you have been running an affiliate program for over a decade or just a few months, it is always great to audit your affiliate program to find out where you can improve.

Here are a few areas to audit your program.

General

First, you want to look at very general items, such as, is there a description of your affiliate program on your website? If so, is there a link to the affiliate program description page?

The other areas that we consider to be general include having a competitive compensation and sufficient locking period. We have written about how to determine what your affiliate commission structure should be, so we won’t go into depth here in this post.

Policies

This is an important part of the audit that is overlooked in many cases. This is where you will want to outline to your affiliates what they can and cannot do within your affiliate program. This includes (but not limited to):

  • FTC Disclosure
  • Trademarks
  • Coupon Codes
  • Paid Search
  • Domain Names
  • Rules for Loyalty / Incentive Affiliates
  • Rules on Self Referrals
  • Toolbar, Software, and Adware Rules
  • Brand Positioning
  • And more

The reason this section is so important is because these are the rules of your program. If you need to remove someone from your program or even remove commissions, these are the rules that lay out why that may occur.

Creatives

It goes without saying that creatives (banners or texts) are an important aspect of any affiliate program. Ensuring that you have the right size banners, the right call-to-actions, banners that convert and also a diversity of banners are all items to review during your audit.

As with the affiliate compensation part, we have written about affiliate banners and creatives in the past, so you can check out those posts for more in-depth recommendations.

Landing Pages

This portion of your affiliate audit should be done for an overall e-commerce level. It is important to have landing pages that convert. If your landing pages are not converting, then affiliates are not going to promote your offers.

affiliate marketing landing page leak

From an affiliate marketing standpoint, it is crucial that your landing pages do not have any leaks. What do I mean by leaks? A landing page leak would be something that allows the customer to order without the affiliate earning a commission. This could be a phone number within a call-to-action, for example, “Call now to get 10% off”. Also, if there are additional clicks and websites that a customer must go through in order to make a purchase, this could also end up in the affiliate not earning a commission.

Recruitment

Now it’s time to audit your recruitment efforts. These efforts would be broken down into two components, active and passive.

Passive affiliate recruitment is where an affiliate will find you, as opposed to active recruitment, which is where you reach out to an affiliate.

When auditing your passive recruitment efforts, it’s great to start with your in-network program description. Do you have the right amount of keywords and ad copy to entice affiliates to join your program. Find out what keywords your competitors are using within their in-network search and utilize ones that would benefit you as well.

To audit your active recruiting efforts, take a look at your outreach numbers. Are people opening your emails? If yes, are they taking action to the call-to-action within your emails? If not, then it might be time to update your outreach copy.

Audit where you are looking for your affiliates. Have you exhausted all your options in looking at your competitors’ affiliates? If not, that’s a great place to start. If people are already promoting a company within your niche, you may be able to easily activate them and have them start promoting your efforts.

Approving / Denying Affiliates

The first part to audit during this phase is what criteria do you have for accepting / denying affiliates? It is always a great idea to have something documented. If you are the affiliate manager and must take a leave of absence for whatever reason, it is always great to have guidelines for approval / denial for your affiliate program. The “I just know when I see it” approach may not always work. Once you have this criteria, it’s time to look at the emails that are sent to affiliates who are approved or even denied.

Are your approval and denial emails to potential affiliates optimized for the best activation efforts? If not, this is a great time to audit them. When looking at your approval email to affiliates, it is important to include a recap of the affiliate program information (commission rate, locking period, etc.), as well as pre-built links that affiliates can just copy and paste to get started referring traffic.

Affiliate Management

The next part that we are going to look at during your affiliate program audit is your overall affiliate management.  This area is broken down into a few areas.

First, we want to look at segmentation of affiliates. Are you currently segmenting your affiliates into different categories? For example, affiliates who have never referred a sale. This segmentation can be helpful when running activation / incentive campaigns and you want to provide a bonus for people who refer their first sale.

Speaking of incentives, that’s the next part we want to look at during this part of the audit. Are you currently running incentive opportunities for affiliates? If not, now is a great time to plan these out. You can test out performance based payout increases, cash bonuses for first time sales and any other incentive option you can come up with. Get creative!

Program Optimization

Lastly, we want to audit our program to find out where else we can optimize it to be more competitive and more successful. Starting with a competitive intel analysis is always a great idea. This will allow you to see what your competitors are doing with their affiliate program and you may be able to pull a few ideas from them.

During this phase, you might also want to look at the utilization of co-branded landing pages. We have written about the benefits of co-branded affiliate landing pages before, so won’t go into too much detail here, but implementing a landing page with an affiliate’s logo may help increase conversions. If your program is not currently utilizing these types of landing pages, then this audit can help pull this task to the front of your to do list for 2019.

The start of the new year is always a great time to perform an affiliate program audit and find out where you are in order to plan where to go next.

If you have any questions at all, please contact us. Also, please be sure to Like Us on Facebook.

How to Use CJ’s New Insights Tool

In October 2018, CJ introduced a new data driven feature called, “Insights”. According to CJ:

Insights provides actionable, on-demand data in an intuitive, streamlined, and easy-to-use platform that will help you identify where to take action.

I have been able to use Insights and test out using two of its main features, which include:

  • Trends throughout your program that may help you make changes to your program. For example, you may see a trend of more coupon code sites vs content creator sites.
  • Being able to look at reports compared to another time frame. Previously, CJ reports didn’t allow an easy comparison. You had to look at one time period, record the numbers, then look at the next time period and record those numbers before comparing. Now, comparing time period is much easier.

The CJ Insights tool is still new and is not the Holy Grail of data centers. However, CJ has stated that they are committed to this tool and will continue to roll out new features and enhancements.

Let’s dive into how to use the Insights tool now.

*Please note, your screen may look different.

Where to Find CJ’s Insights Tool

When you first log into your CJ dashboard, you can find the link to the Insights tool at the top of the toolbar. For now, it even has a nice, blue “New” image above it. Just simply click on the Insights link.

Where to find Insights Tool

Default Insights Dashboard

Once logged in, you will be directed to the default Insights dashboard. From here, you will see the following reports:

  • Revenue
  • Publisher Commissions
  • Clicks
  • Actions
  • Average Order Value
  • Return on Ad Spend

Default CJ Insights Dashboard

Selecting Dates to Compare

At the top of the dashboard, you will find the date selection tool. This is where you can select the  time period you want to view vs. the time period that you want to compare to.

If you are running a monthly affiliate marketing dashboard report and need to compare the current month vs the previous month, this is a perfect place to do that.

Dates to Compare CJ Insights

As mentioned above, these are the only reports and features available in the Insights report as of now, but they are already much more valuable than the basic reports within CJ’s current reporting tool in the dashboard.

Expanding Reports

The Insights tool allows you to expand on each of the reports that were listed above. Simply click on the Expand button, and a daily graph will pop up along with the top 8-10 performing Partners, Links, and Websites.

The expansion part of these reports is where you can really pull out granular data as opposed to just looking at the high level graphs to find trends.

These reports are also exportable as a .csv file.

CJ Insights Expanded Look

Why Is The Insights Tool Useful

The Insights tool from CJ can help your reporting (and therefore next plan of action) go to the next level. Being able to compare data easier allows you to find trends that can help you prepare for the next month or quarter. For example, it is much easier to find a trend in the Insights report on a specific day of the week that performs better, than it is with the reporting tool within the dashboard.

Quickly Compare Top Performing Links

With CJ’s new Insight tool, you are able to quickly compare your top performing links. Sure, you could do this with the reporting tool in the dashboard (as we have mentioned this above multiple times), but you will save time by utilizing the Insights Tool.

Let’s use an example of why this will be helpful for you.

As the dedicated affiliate manager, you are working on sending out an affiliate newsletter and you would like to include the top 3-4 performing links. You could run a report over the last 90 days in the reports tool in the dashboard and just grab the 3 with the most sales, but that may be misleading.

For example, one of those links may have had majority of it sales at the very beginning of the 3 month report period and since then has faded away and is not a top performer anymore. This could be because of seasonality, a sale/special that was ran, or a myriad of other reasons.

By utilizing Insights, you can quickly compare two time periods and look at the numbers, as well as graphs to see which are your top performing links. With Insights, you will be able to compare two time periods and see an upward trend for a few links, telling you that those are the 3 links you should include in your newsletter to affiliates.

Data is only powerful when used properly. Make sure to use this data properly.

If you have any questions on how to use the CJ Insights tool or how to utilize the data that you see within the tool, than please contact us right away.

Four Ways To Recruit Affiliates Online

So you’ve built up an online business and you’ve decided that it’s a good time to launch an affiliate marketing program for it. But what do you do next? How do you recruit affiliates (the right ones for your business)? Let’s start with the first steps.

You’ve done your competitive intelligence research, put together your affiliate program, launched it, and now you’re finally ready for affiliates to start promoting your product.

Now comes the tricky part: recruiting affiliate marketers into your program. Where do you start? What are the best ways to recruit affiliates online and get them interested in your program?

First off, it’s very important to have an attractive offer, commission structure, and cookie life. Remember that you will be compared to other programs and opportunities when a prospective affiliate is deciding to apply into your affiliate program or not. A presence on a popular affiliate network doesn’t hurt either, but what else can you offer at the beginning to grab an affiliate’s attention?

Four Ways to Recruit Affiliates

Complimentary Product or Samples

The most difficult part of recruiting affiliates into your affiliate program is getting their attention in the first place. One way to entice affiliates is to offer them complimentary product or samples to try.

This is especially valuable for content affiliates who could use the product to create a review of what you offer. As a result, they may also choose to create their own images or videos with what you send them.

This may also help their SEO and thus drive more potential buyers to their page. As with most affiliate deals, this is a classic win-win as you’ll then benefit from greater traffic as well.

When sending out complimentary product, do not forget to stay organized. I suggest creating a spreadsheet specifically for this, and keep notes of everything related to product samples in it.

Record the address information for the affiliate and also set a column aside for the tracking info. Use this column to appropriately follow up and confirm that your samples arrived. I would also consider making notes on this sheet of each day you follow up. You can then make sure you’re circling back in a timely manner.

You always want to make sure that affiliates who were sent free product follow through on what they’ve promised you. Ultimately, you are sending free products out not for the sake of sending them, but to activate these publishers in your affiliate program.

Always make sure to get a phone number too when you send out free product to affiliates. This can be useful for delivery purposes. It can also help you connect with the affiliate if they become unreachable by email. This does not happen often and is very unprofessional. Unfortunately, every affiliate manager has a stories about sending product and never hearing from the affiliate again.

Finally, if it isn’t a physical product that you sell, you can still leverage this technique very effectively. You may offer free trials of your service or technology, or create other opportunities for affiliates to “test drive” your product.

Paid Placements

The most expensive way to recruit affiliates online also ends up being one of the most effective. Creating a budget for affiliate recruitment can help onboard new affiliates.

This could end up being the best money you spend on marketing.

Crunch some numbers and determine if you have some cash to spend onboarding key affiliates. It is never a good idea to just start throwing money around at any marketing campaign.

Failure to plan is planning to fail.

Be very selective with who you offer these sign up bonuses to.

If you choose to go this route, I highly recommend having some additional affiliate assets talking about your program. This could simply be a PDF one-pager with some program details and information about your product.

When proposing your offer, do it over the phone if possible so that the affiliate knows you’re serious. Reaching affiliates by phone may be difficult. Make your outreach emails concise and easy to digest to ensure the affiliates read them.

It’s highly unlikely an affiliate will ignore someone who is willing to pay them upfront.

Increase Cookie Life

Increasing an affiliate’s cookie life is an easy way to entice them to join your program. This also doesn’t cost you anything.

Affiliates like a longer cookie because customers may click and then not purchase for weeks or even months later.

A shorter 15 or 30 day cookie could mean sales that affiliates lose out on. This creates an unhappy affiliate.

Lengthening the cookie life for a new affiliate is sure to make them happy and feel special. This is a great way to start off a new relationship. It shows the affiliate that you’re serious about what you’re doing and value building that relationship.

Social Media Shout-outs

Most brands these days have their own blogs and social media pages. One way to recruit affiliates online is to leverage these when initially talking to affiliates.

recruit affiliates social media shoutoutThis could be beneficial for the affiliate to be mentioned on (or through) your social media channels.

An example scenario here could be with a large review site within your niche.

You would like the reviewer affiliate to join your affiliate program and write a review on your product. You already went ahead and sent out free product, but that’s still not enough.

This is where you can offer up your social media pages to convince them to join your program. Coordinate a campaign with the affiliate to post about their branded content on your social media pages.

Doing this accomplishes several things.

First and foremost, it makes the affiliate happy and gives their site added exposure.

Second, since you’re advertising their content to your customers, it makes it more likely that they’ll earn commission from your customers.

Third, it provides third party validation about your product. As consumers, we’re a lot more likely to purchase something if we see others have had a good experience.

Last, it further strengthens that new relationship with the affiliate. We’ve touched on relationships a lot in this post. Strong affiliate-merchant relationships with your affiliates are going to be instrumental in your affiliate program’s growth and sustained success.

Good luck with all your recruiting efforts.

Feel free to email us or comment below with any comments or questions.

We would love to hear from you!

 

4 Ways to Use Social Media to Recruit New Affiliates

Social media is a great source for starting new relationships, building upon existing ones and, sometimes, even ruining relationships. Luckily, we are in the business of forming and growing long-term great relationships. That’s why I wanted to share these 4 ways to use social media to recruit new affiliates.

Before we get into the 4 different ways, some of these tips can be used across all social media platforms and some are specific to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram specifically.

Hashtags

Using hashtags to find new potential affiliates is such a simple, yet effective way to find new recruits. You can do this on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Pinterest.

Let me provide a quick example.

Let’s say that you are the affiliate manager for a makeup and beauty company and are looking for new affiliates. You could head over to Instagram and search for #makeup. This will most likely bring you thousands of results, but you can start at the top and start making your way through them all.

You have to be able to figure out which posts are spam, but it’s pretty easy to tell.

hashtags for affiliate recruitment

Next, you are going to look at the images and find ones that are posted by people who are sampling makeup or making makeup tutorials for their viewers. Your goal is to focus on people who are not talking about purchasing a product, but focus on those who have an audience that will be willing to purchase something they recommend.

This is the type of person that you want to reach out to on social media. You can reach out to this person in multiple ways now. You could send them a Direct Message on Instagram (or Twitter or Facebook), you could visit their profile and find their email address or a website that may contain an email address.

Once you have the contact information, then start them in your affiliate marketing recruitment funnel.

Twitter Search

Twitter Search is very similar to searching for hashtags, except you don’t have to search for actual hashtags. In this case, you can just search for keyword phrases and look for these phrases within a certain timeframe.

As you can see in the screenshot, there are multiple search factors that you can use to narrow down the exact audience that you want to reach out to.

twitter advanced search for affiliate recruitment

Let me provide an example of using Twitter Search as well.

Let’s say that we are doing affiliate outreach for a mattress brand and you want to find people on Twitter who have been talking about mattresses and or sleep. Simply go to the Advanced Twitter Search page and type “mattress, sleep” in the Any of these words section.

If it is important to you to narrow down a location, you can do this as well. For this example, we will not use location based.

Now, you also want to find people who have recently Tweeted about these keywords so that it’s fresh and relevant during the outreach, so select a time frame under Dates. I would recommend the last 2 weeks.

mattress twitter advanced search affiliate recruitment

You will see a Twitter search results feed with Tweets that include either the keyword mattress or sleep. Now, you are going to do the same thing that you did above in the Hashtag example.

Scroll through the feed looking for people who are reviewing a mattress that they just purchased or maybe someone who has written an article about the benefits of sleep and you feel that your mattress brand would be a perfect match for an affiliate relationship with. Reach out to this person and begin your affiliate recruitment outreach.

Bonus Tip: Share, Like and Retweet their post because it will be fresh in their mind that you did something nice for them.

Community Engagement

This tip may be more of a long-term play than the others mentioned above. The reason is because this one takes time to build a relationship and engage within the communities that are surrounding the affiliate program that you are managing. The two mentioned above are quick searches and allow you to reach out right away.

Community engagement simply means finding the online communities that you potential affiliates belong to and engage with them. Sounds simple right?

It is. It is also very time consuming.

Let me provide an example for this situation as well.

Let’s say that you are the affiliate manager for a company that sells costumes. These aren’t just costumes for Halloween, but also can be used for Cosplay and other events as well.

For this example, I want to focus on the Cosplay niche.

You can find Cosplay Facebook groups or Twitter chats or even Instagram hashtags to follow (utilizing the tips above). Now, the difference here versus the examples up above is that we don’t want to reach out right away. We want to become part of the conversation and the community. Find interesting topics in the cosplay niche and engage in the conversation, share articles or other posts that you feel others will find interesting.

This will help you begin to build relationships with the people in the niche and eventually content creators who have large followings and write about different cosplay events, you know, people who would be great affiliates!

Even better, by engaging with the community, which you can do from a personal account and not the company account, you could build great relationships that can be utilized in other ways. For example, if you are an outsourced affiliate program management agency, then you can leverage the relationships built to get affiliates to join multiple programs that you manage.

No Email, No Problem

This tip is somewhat self-explanatory. If you already have a list of potential affiliates that you want to reach out, but you don’t have any contact information for them from their website, then find them on social media.

If you are able to connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even LinkedIn, then start you affiliate recruitment outreach via these social media channels.

The possibilities are endless on how you can use social media to recruit new affiliates. There are always new social media platforms popping up, but the core sites are always growing and adding new creators.

If you have any additional tips for using social media for affiliate recruitment, I would love to hear them. Please comment below or share this post on social media to start a conversation.

 

How to Make Your Affiliate Program Stand Out Within In-Network Search

The most important way to guarantee successful passive recruitment for your affiliate program is to make your affiliate program stand out within in-network search. Affiliates are constantly looking for new programs to join and if there are a few extra steps you can take to make it easier for them to find you, you should be doing them.

Below are three excellent practices for making your affiliate program stand out within in-network search.

Proper Keywords

Assigning the right keywords to your program is far and away the most important way to make your affiliate program stand out within in-network search.

When you set up your profile within your affiliate network there will be a place to list out keywords that affiliates can use to find you when they’re searching the network. The screenshot below is from ShareASale and shows where you can place keywords for your program.

Affiliate Program Keywords

Make sure that you’re using keywords that accurately describe your product and ones that affiliates are likely to type in when searching.

The best practice here is to use several of your competitor’s names as keywords. If there’s only one tip you take away from this article, have this be it.

In the programs that I manage I get more applications from affiliates who found my program through a competitor’s name keyword than any other way of passive recruitment.

Along with utilizing competitor’s names as keywords, make sure to also include generic terms relevant to your product. Be selective though because networks have caps on how many keywords you can utilize.

Attractive Creative

Once affiliates find your program you want to make sure they don’t just gloss over it and move on to the next one. You need to stand out and attractive creative is the best way to do this. Affiliate networks give you opportunities to include nice images of your company’s logo and sometimes product shots and animated gifs.

Affiliates like to have an arsenal of assets to promote the brands they choose to represent and if you display from the get-go that you have high-quality creative, the prospective affiliate is that much more likely to look further into your program and apply.

Clean Messaging and Complete Profile

affiliate marketing passive recruitmentLastly, it’s important to have a full profile with clean messaging and descriptions. If you have an incomplete profile, not only will your program not have a professional look, but the networks will not list you as high in search results.

There are typically fields for short description, long description, and other smaller things such as cookie life. Make sure that you complete all available fields and provide prospective affiliates with as much information as possible. Make sure you make your descriptions succinct and easy to digest.

Also, make sure to include contact info in case prospective affiliates want to ask you any questions.

I hope that you found these few ideas helpful and that you implement some of them when optimizing your program for visibility within your network’s search.

Good luck with all your affiliate marketing efforts and feel free to email us or comment below with any comments or questions.

 

 

 

Best Affiliate Management Resources

Whether you are an experienced affiliate manager or new to the industry, it is important to know what resources are available to you to help you manage your affiliate programs.

Affiliate Program Management – An Hour a Day

This is not just a shameless plug for the Founder of AM Navigator, but is in fact, one of the best resources available for any affiliate manager. Published back in 2011, the same core principles of daily affiliate management stay the same. This book will walk you through the entire process of launching an affiliate program to daily management.

Affiliate Program Management – An Hour a Day has great reviews, including one from the Founder of Skimlinks

“With clear explanations, plentiful real-world examples, andfantastic resource lists, this book is a comprehensive compendiumof up-to-date knowledge from a leader in the field.”
—Alicia Navarro, cofounder and CEO, Skimlinks

AffStat Report

Although the latest AffStat Report that has been released includes data from 2016, majority of the trends tend to stay the same. The AffStat Report includes data from affiliate managers, as well as affiliates themselves. As an example of one of the great pieces of information in this report is:

Top Factors Driving my Affiliate Program Selections Are:

  1. Product or Service Relevancy
  2. Affiliate Program Reputation
  3. Affiliate Network or Tracking Platform

Other great tidbits include:

  • I’d prefer that affiliate managers contact me via…
  • Programs I’m promoting that offer custom creatives

This data can help you make important decisions in your daily affiliate management.

affiliate marketing webinarsWebinar Trainings

Most webinars will have a recorded version available afterwards, so learning from past webinars is a great way to help become a better affiliate manager and grow your affiliate program(s).

Here are a few that we recommend:

Affiliate Summit

Affiliate Summit is the premiere affiliate marketing conference. The conference is filled with affiliates, affiliate managers, CPA companies, networks and more. There are two primary Affiliate Summits every year, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast. These events typically take place in New York City and Las Vegas respectively.

There are multiple paths you can take while at the summit. There are plenty of training sessions for affiliate managers, but what could be the most important part of Affiliate Summit is the networking app that can be used prior to the event.

This allows you to schedule as many meetings as possible with affiliates who can promote your affiliate program in the future.

P.S. Geno Prussakov, Founder of AM Navigator has spoken at 20 Affiliate Summit conferences, so you may run into him there!

FeedFront

FeedFront Magazine is simply known as the affiliate marketing magazine and is completely free. The magazine is available in print edition quarterly. Founded by the same founders of Affiliate Summit, Missy Ward and Shawn Collins, the magazine is filled with articles from affiliate managers, affiliates, networks, and more.

Interested in writing for FeedFront? They accept proposals to write as well.

Check out the most recent print edition of FeedFront April 2018.

Affiliate Marketing on LinkedIn Learning

This affiliate marketing course on LinkedIn Learning from Geno Prussakov is a little over 1 hour and covers the following:

  • Affiliate Marketing Basics
  • Affiliate Program Setup
  • Program Launch
  • Affiliate Program Management
    • Recruiting (both Passive and Active)
    • Activation
    • Compliance
    • Communication
    • And more

This course is perfect for anyone, no matter where you may lay on the affiliate marketing experience level.

Affiliate Program Management Blog from AM Navigator

AM Navigator is an outsourced affiliate program management agency founded in 2006 by Geno Prussakov and manages some of the top affiliate programs. The AM Navigator blog, specifically the affiliate program management blog category, is a great source of up-to-date information for anyone seeking to learn more about affiliate program management.

Do you have any other resources for affiliate managers? If so, please share them in the comments below.

How to Void a Transaction in CJ Affiliate

Managing an affiliate program is more than just recruiting, activating, and compliance policing. These tasks do require a majority of an affiliate manager’s time, but there are other tasks required to be completed when managing an affiliate program.

One important task is reconciling orders at the end of each month and voiding any that need to be. Voiding an order can be done for various reasons including returns/refunds, fraud, or violation of promotional methods.

In this post, I will go over step-by-step on how to void transactions in the CJ Affiliate dashboard.

Step 1 – Navigate to the Transactions Page

Once logged in to the CJ Affiliate dashboard, click “Reports”, then “Transaction” from the drop-down menu. This will take you to the page where each individual transaction can be viewed from the current (or any previous) month.

Step 2 – Enter the Order ID to Void

A search can be done either using an order ID, Commission ID, or Transaction ID. In this example, the Order ID will be used. Enter the Order ID in the field named “Enter ID”, then hit the magnifying glass. Scroll down and the Order in question is now available to view along with all of the pertinent details.

Step 3 – Select Transaction and Begin Voiding Process

To begin the voiding process, put a tick mark in the box and then hit “edit”. By doing that it will initiate a pop-up to formally void the transaction.

Step 4 – Void the Transaction

At this stage, the sale amount and publisher’s name will be visible. Select a “Correction Reason” from the drop-down menu. The choices include: invalid credit card, returned merchandise, duplicate order, can’t ship/sold out, and other. Select the reason that best matches. To void the transaction, click the blue pencil box and change the quantity to “0” and do the same for the sale amount, change it to “0.00”. Click save and the transaction is now voided.

Reconciling transactions is a multi-step process that should be done monthly at a minimum. The last thing to do is pay affiliates for orders that were not processed or returned. Follow these steps and this task will become second nature.

 

3 Ways to Monitor and Review Your Affiliates

Some might consider affiliate marketing to be a Wild Wild West of digital advertising, though, with a proper approach, risks associated with this channel will be minimal. Affiliate marketing is all about trust and relationships, but it’s a business for all parties involved.

Monitoring and policing your affiliates is the first step to securing your own business interests and surprisingly enough, the only way to build a healthier affiliate program.

Below are 3 ways to monitor and review your affiliates.

#1. Auto Approve Practice Leads to Chaos

Almost all networks have an option to auto-approve applications from new affiliates for your program. Not making good partners wait might sound tempting, but if you opt for it, you’ll lose control of the program and also lose one of the best opportunities to learn about your new affiliates.

Respond personally to each request to join your program and try to find a direct contact with an affiliate (in most cases affiliate networks don’t provide contact details, but you can find them on the affiliate’s website listed in a profile). Ask all new candidates about their traffic sources, audience, promotions that work the best etc. Doing so will help you gain control over the program and learn crucial details. Be like a bank — know your partners.

#2. A Little Background Check Didn’t Hurt Anybody

monitoring affiliates

You’ve got a new affiliate application, you have followed the #1 the rule and didn’t auto approve anybody. Right now the only thing you know about your affiliate is a site URL. You visit it and the site looks good. Some affiliates know that program owners will not look any further. So, how can you make sure that the affiliate really has something to offer?

With tools like SimilarWeb you can check estimated site traffic and its sources. Sometimes you will discover other affiliate programs this particular affiliate promotes. All this data will help you make a decision on whether to reject or approve the application.

Additionally, if you decide to let this affiliate onboard, any information gained will empower you to make a better proposal and to motivate your new partner.

#3. Toxic Affiliates Spoil The Whole Program

A spoon of tar spoils a barrel of honey, as Russians say. One toxic affiliate can bring your whole program down. How can you find a bad guy? Monitor traffic coming from each affiliate individually and find the ones that have low conversion rates (CR) — chances are, they are doing something worth taking a second look at.

Also, low CR affiliates spoil your overall program (low CR is bad for your rankings in affiliate network’s leaderboards) and SERP position (search engines will lower your position once they detect that users don’t convert on your site — the main indicator that your site is not relevant).

Additionally, good affiliates will not join your program if your main KPIs (Conversion Rate, Reversal Rate, Average Order Value etc.) are low.

So monitoring affiliates is a must.

Quick Tip: How To Gain Control Over Your Program

Chances are that you are using Google Analytics (GA) to track your website visitors. You can start implementing your monitoring and policing practices by using GA to track your affiliate’s activity. Affiliate networks can pass various parameters: dynamic and static — to your landing page URL. It’s easy to leverage this functionality, though many merchants still don’t use it.

Below is an example of how you can mark all traffic coming from affiliate networks and split it on a publisher level.

  1. Use the utm_source tag to pass a network name, e.g. utm_source=cj.
  2. Specify traffic type in a utm_medium tag, e.g. utm_medium=cpa.
  3. Finally, use a dynamic variable provided by your affiliate network to pass a publisher ID to a utm_campaign tag., e.g. utm_campaign={publisher_id}.

The resulting URL will look similar to https://your-landing-page.com/?utm_source=cj&utm_medium=cpa&utm_campaign={piblisher_id}.

Now you are able to observe each affiliate’s traffic individually and act accordingly.

If you’d like to learn more about using your new Google Analytics setup to monitor and police affiliates, leave a comment below and feel free to ask questions.