3 common affiliate marketing mistakes

3 things to avoid when starting an affiliate marketing program

Disclosure: Just so you know, we may sometimes earn a small commission from affiliate links on this site.

Starting an affiliate program to market your business online is a great way to get real growth - but it comes with dangers that you must manage pro-actively from the start.

By definition, affiliate marketing hands a degree of control over to the publishers who market on your behalf.

Because these publishers are incentivized with sales commissions, they may end up using advertising and promotional strategies that your own company might not be comfortable with.

Making sure that publishers who are part of your program only implement "white hat" strategies that won't harm your brand in any way is vital.

This article provides a few tips to help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls when starting your own program.

1. Avoid poor quality publishers

One of the most common mistakes for organizations trying to grow their startup program is to accept too many publishers too quickly.

Obviously, the more affiliate partners you have, the more your products and services are promoted, and the more sales and revenue you should generate. But quick growth is less desirable than quality growth.

There are literally millions of low quality publishers looking for something to sell - and they aren't picky about what they sell, so long as they can make a quick buck.

Partner with people like this and your brand may be quickly associated with lots of low quality Internet real estate.

What's worse is that low quality partners may produce lots of low quality links and content around your brand, which is absolutely toxic to page rankings and organic search traffic from Google.

It may be that you end up irreversibly polluting other healthy channels, and this can be very costly, perhaps even terminal.

In general, you should vet everyone that applies to ensure they:

  1. have a quality site/blog/channel
  2. do not engage in spammy activities
  3. are a genuine person/business
  4. are established within your niche/brand/industry

Ideally, you want to maintain a small, manageable stable of influencers who will promote your brand responsibly and effectively.

2. Don't leave guidelines open to interpretation

It is your responsibility to lay down the rules when it comes to what are or aren't acceptable marketing strategies.

For example, many companies forbid affiliates from bidding on specific brand keywords in Google AdWords. Obviously it is counter-constructive to drive up advertising prices by competing for your own product and service ad terms.

In general it is a good idea to talk about promotional strategies that are allowed, and disallow everything else. Otherwise you run the risk of some enterprising publisher using a spam technique you've never even heard of to damage your reputation.

Provide a list of allowed promotional activities that is restricted based on what is in line with your own marketing methods.

3. Stay away from spam

Even with proper guidelines in place you can be sure that one or two affiliates will overstep their bounds every now and then. It's important to monitor the activities being undertaken on your behalf.

This morning, for example, I received an unsolicited spam email (copied here):

.

Would your full-time employees be eliglible for tuition reimbusement towards an accredited BA or MBA program?

Thank you.

[spam link to pattenu.org removed]

This spam, complete with two spelling errors in only one sentence, would have been duly ignored - except I was intrigued by the fact that the link seemed to be from genuine college.

Why would an establishment like a university resort to email spam? Surely, in that industry, reputation is important?

As it turns out the link provided redirects to an admissions sign up form on patten.edu:

Spam email leading to sign up form for Patten.edu

So Patten university is spamming businesses with links back to their admissions sign up page. Given how seriously the U.S. legislates against spam with the CAN-SPAM act, I am surprised they have taken this route.

I suspect that, more than likely, an outsourced "expert" who is incentivized with admission sign-up commissions is responsible. Then again, maybe they're just an organization that's ok with spamming people.

The point being that it is very easy to damage your reputation without keeping a constant eye on what is being done on your behalf.

Would I sign up for an MBA with Patten based on receiving a spam email that didn't spell eligible or reimbursement? They're lucky I don't report them.

What experiences have you had running an affiliate program? Share your advice in the comments.

great marketing ideas

Coming up with marketing ideas for small business can be a challenge.

Digital Marketing Tools. Pic by Dennis Skley

With a list of the right marketing tools, it's possible to be your own best small business marketer and SEO - without having to hire an expensive digital mar

Creating viral social media content

For many bloggers, webmasters and entrepreneurs there's nothing quite as exciting as seeing an article or brand mention taking on a life of its own and gener

The Best Digital Marketing Strategy, 2017. Pic by Matt Gibson

Competition in the world of online marketing is fierce - I mean really fierce - making it vital to choose the best possible marketing strategy to deliver sus

Take an innovative approach to marketing

If you're in the business of making and selling unique stuff then the marketing strategies you use should reflect the creativity of your products in order to reach out to the right people.

Fortunately the Internet is full of the "right people" just waiting to place an order. But your message has to find them in the right place in the right way.

That's why it pays to think creatively about marketing instead of following the pack and doing the same old "tried and tested" things.

Affiliate marketing beginner guide. Pic by Caleb Roenigk

Learning how to be an effective affiliate marketer on one of the top affiliate programs is a great skill to have for entrepreneurs and anyone looking to star

Online lead generation. Pic by Fe Ilya

For sales and marketing people looking to get more leads for their business, the Internet offers great opportunity wrapped up in some interesting challenges.

How to increase site traffic an conversions. Pic by Tony Alter

Everyone knows that in order to make more money online you either have to increase the volumes of website traffic, or increase conversion rates (or both

Email marketing intro

Email marketing is a popular and effective online strategy for small businesses (as well as large corporates).

7 ways to network effectively

When I started my first company some years ago I placed all my focus on creating a great offering, but almost no effort went into sales and networking. Needless to say that it took an incredibly long time to get off the ground - 6 years in fact.

During that time I learned a lot about how business works, and my focus has shifted almost completely onto sales, marketing and networking.

Nowadays, a good idea with a quality product backed by excellent service is the bare minimum required to succeed. Because there is so much competition (especially online), what sets companies apart these days is how effectively they can network and promote themselves.

Tips on how to do B2B networking

Having a great product or service is simply not enough to enjoy strong sales (especially online), which is why it is crucial to build strong relationships with other organizations.

But recognizing that your enterprise can succeed or fail depending on the quality and quantity of the business relationships around you is one thing - finding and nurturing those partnerships is another thing entirely.

This article highlights three techniques that have proven themselves to be invaluable when it comes to ensuring that your company is constantly growing a powerful network of allies.

Check out this list of ten great hyperlocal marketing strategies, by Carlo Pandian, that can help to drive local consumers to your site.

Back to Top