As an Outsourced Program Manager (OPM), I manage accounts in a variety of verticals and on all the major affiliate networks, but merchants seem to encounter the same issues when setting up their affiliate program on their own. Whenever we (AM Navigator) get a new client (with an affiliate program) we perform an audit to determine what needs to be fixed in order promote the affiliate program in the proper light and there seems to be the same items most (not all) merchants either neglect or complete partially. This post will cover the top 5 items merchants on the ShareASale affiliate network neglect to include or complete partially when setting up their affiliate program.
#1 – Program Agreement (AKA Terms of Serivce)
This document is probably the most important as it is the “rules” by which affiliates need to follow. Important points to include are:
- PPC (Pay-Per-Click) guidelines – Be specific on what words are off limits and what words can be used.
- FTC policy
- Coupon policy (if applicable)
- Fraud policy
#2 – Emails sent to affiliates during the sign-up process
This is another piece that many merchants do not capitalize on. The 3 emails affiliates receive from ShareASale on the merchant’s behalf are:
- Apply Email – This is sent to an affiliate once they apply to join a merchants affiliate program. This should tell the affiliate that their application is being reviewed and they will be contacted within 24 hours with a decision.
- Decline Email – This is similar to the apply email. It only gets sent to affiliates that merchants reject from their program, but in fairness to the affiliate it should include reasons why they may have been declined and give them an opportunity to contact the program manager and/or re-apply .
- Approval Email – Merchants get this one wrong the most of the three (3). This email should include information about the program (description of the company and main selling points of the affiliate program), PPC guidelines (like outlined in the program agreement), links for them to use immediately (have the code available for them to simply copy and paste), and contact information for the affiliate manager.
#3 – 88×31 Logo
You may be asking yourself, a logo? The 88×31 button banner is important because it is one of the most popiular sizes affiliates use, but it also provides additional exposure when affiliates are looking for merchants to promote. In the merchant search section affiliates view potential matches and a logo is included with many of them and it helps to “convert” the prospect into an affiliate. A simple logo can be the difference.
#4 – Banners
I have seen merchants have over 50 banners available and then I have seen a few that have 5. There is no “magic number” for banners, but having the most popular sizes available is critical. Merchants need to provide sizes that affiliates can use. I have seen obscure sizes and then the most popular sizes are missing and I scratch my head, but here is a link to the most popular banner sizes.
#5 – Newsletters
Last, but certainly not least, newsletters. A good majority of merchants I have done audits for either send newsletters out infrequently or not at all. The latter is most common. How are merchants supposed to communicate with affiliates? The newsletters should be sent out bi-weekly, but at the very least monthly. They should include any news about the program, coupons/deals, links to creatives, and contact information.
I could have gone on forever, but I gave the top 5 items many merchants either neglect or do halfhearted when setting up their affiliate programs. Every aspect of an affiliate program should be completed fully, no matter how relevant a merchant thinks it is. Affiliate managers jobs are to “WOW” affiliates and get them to promote their products/services and having a fully integrated and set up program is the first impression to all.