April 21, 2016

The Top 6 Biggest Misconceptions in Affiliate Marketing

Megan Sabo

At PartnerCentric, we will be the first ones to tell you that affiliate marketing can be a bit confusing. We'd go so far as to say that the complicated landscape for performance marketing is part of what keeps us in business. With that said, we thought it would be beneficial to shed a little light on the top affiliate misconceptions we see. To do so, we chatted with Megan Sabo, one of PartnerCentric's experienced Account Managers. Continue reading to learn about the top 6 misunderstandings (and the truths that accompany them!) she's observed in the affiliate marketing industry...

Misconception 1: Affiliate Programs are high risk and low ROI. The truth...

  • The affiliate channel is inherently low risk due to the structure of a traditional pay-per-performance affiliate program, where you only need to pay commissions when an affiliate generates a sale or lead (sales are inherently less risky), and don’t need to pay for clicks or impressions
  • There is a huge opportunity for high ROI given that there are ongoing costs are typically only for affiliate management services and commissions, no other associated costs.

Misconception 2: Affiliate could cause arbitrage and conflict with other digital marketing channels. The truth...

  • You can setup restrictions regarding how the brand is promoted via other channels like paid search trademark terms restrictions, email marketing requires compliance with CAN-SPAM and prior written approval from the advertiser. You should also setup attribution for your affiliate program to help mitigate this issue.

Misconception 3: Coupon sites have either less value or no value when compared to other publishers in an affiliate program. The truth...

  • You should create strong promotions for products/ areas where you’d like to see more sales (such as a product that isn’t performing well in other channels) and only allow coupon affiliates to promote these types of promotions. You can also segment the commission structure and offer coupon affiliates lower commissions than other affiliates.
  • The best way to keep coupon sites from taking sales from the affiliate channel and other channels is to control the messaging on the coupon sites through the promotions you offer.

Misconception 4: You only need to provide affiliates with text links and banners, and you can use the same creative/ text link copy through the year. The truth...

  • For better conversion rates, you should try new link types such as video, content, smart links, etc.
  • You should also create new banners, text links, and offers on a quarterly basis (or more frequently to match what you're doing in other digital channels) to prevent stagnant performance and coupon fatigue. Pull performance reports to see which banner sizes, text link copy, and offer types perform best and replicate for future needs. Bonus: Ensure your product data feed is regularly updated (daily is deal!).

Misconception 5: Your affiliate program needs to be in as many networks as possible. The truth...

  • It is often beneficial to consolidate your program into fewer networks for cost savings (your top 1-2 performing networks), and ensure that your top performers in the lower performing networks are okay with moving to the other networks. Also, it's helpful to give incentives for moving networks to these performers i.e. 1st sale bonus in the other networks, limited time exclusive offer, temporary commission increase, etc.

Misconception 6: You don’t need to communicate with your affiliates, you can just set up the program and forget it. The truth...

  • You should set up a regular communication schedule with your affiliates to keep them informed of new creative (see above), offers,  as well as product updates and other newsworthy items that will keep your brand and products top-of-mind with your affiliates. Bonus: Include sample blog content for blogger affiliates to reuse in their blogs, makes it easy for them to promote you!