- Provide banner ads in a variety of sizes. No one is going to change the layout of their blog to accommodate the one banner ad size you’re offering to affiliates.
- Include a good call-to-action in each of your ads. No call-to-action = no click-thrus. Your ads might be the most beautiful ever but no affiliate wants to waste space on an ad that won’t generate click-thrus and sales. Even a simple call-to-action such as “Shop Now” is better than no call-to-action in your ads.
- Edit your ad copy. When you provide a banner ad with copy such as “Save 70% Off Off Retail Sales”, your company looks sloppy. If you would be embarrassed to use a banner ad with typos in your paid search program, don’t offer banner ads with typos to your affiliates.
- Edit your HTML. When I have to edit your HTML on my site so that your banner ad displays properly, I assume that you don’t bother to test your ads first. How many affiliates do you think are going to take the time to edit your HTML versus taking the time to delete your ad from their site?
- Design banner ads that are easy to read. While that dark gray copy (perpendicular to your ad layout so that viewers have to turn their heads to read the copy) on a black background might look fashionable to you, it’s hard to read which means that fewer affiliate site visitors will click on your ad. (It’s also hard to see your dark-colored products when you’ve got a dark-colored background on your ads.)
- Update your ads on a regular basis. Affiliates like to A/B test, too. If you haven’t updated your ads in over six months and those ads aren’t converting for your affiliates, chances are your affiliates will remove your ads from their site.
- Openly share with your affiliates. Share info such as which ads are the best-converting, exclusive coupons, etc.
- Be transparent. If you don’t offer a commission on certain products, make it easy for your affiliates to find out which products pay no commission. No affiliate wants to find out after the fact that you aren’t going to pay a commission for traffic and sales that the affiliate generated for you.
- Remember that your competitors offer affiliate programs, too. If you don’t treat your affiliates well, expect that they’ll jump ship to one of your competitors’ affiliate programs.
- Email your affiliate with unprofessional requests. I received an email asking me to start a blog that states that a specific company is the best in its industry, in exchange for a small increase in the commission rate.
- Assume that every affiliate likes or wants rotating banner ads. Offer static banner ads that won’t distract from your affiliate’s web content. If you think that you have too many messages to include on a static ad, it’s time to edit your marketing messages – keep it simple.
- Skimp on Return Days. Why should an affiliate display your ads if you’re not willing to pay a commission for return visits resulting from those ads? Your affiliates aren’t stupid so don’t treat them like they’re ignorant about the fact that it takes multiple visits to your site before a visitor makes a purchase. (Having your affiliate program Return Days set at 0.1666667 days is really skimping.)
- List a phone number on your ads. Affiliates aren’t willing to devote space to your ads if they’re not going to get a commission. No affiliate wants one of their site visitors to see your ad, call the number listed and not get credit for the sale.
- E-mail affiliates that target consumers that aren’t in your target market. What are the chances that someone who blogs about “all things Star Wars” will consider displaying an ad that targets Trekkies? While that’s an extreme example, you’re wasting an affiliate’s time by contacting him/her prior to looking at the affiliate’s site to see if your products are a good fit for that site.
- Make up your program rules as you go. Example: Changing your program to reverse commissions on affiliate-generated transactions when the transactions included a promo code that you don’t offer through your affiliate program but do offer through your other marketing channels. Your affiliates don’t have control over what promo codes a site visitor uses to make a purchase but affiliates do have control over continuing to display your ads on their sites. Nothing burns bridges like making it harder for affiliates to get a commission from your program.
- Auto-approve all affiliates. You have a brand image to maintain. Does your brand image really match a site for people who write letters to prison convicts? (Don’t laugh, that happens to companies that don’t want to devote manpower to approving affiliate applications on an individual basis.)
Always remember that affiliates who choose to display your ads on their sites have a vested interest in increasing your site conversions. If an affiliate asks you for ads for a specific product or category, it’s because the affiliate wants to generate sales on your site. Other affiliates will simply switch to displaying ads for other sites because it’s not the affiliates’ job to teach you how to create more effective ads.
Any affiliate marketing program tips that you would add to the list?