5 Claims To Avoid Making When Recruiting Affiliates

Too often the affiliate industry relies on buzzwords like engage, quality content, or optimization to recruit new affiliates. I find them boring, annoying, and often extremely misleading.  Each industry has their own canned claims and promises but the smart affiliates will recognize when they’re being suckered with repackaged content and boilerplate strategy.

Since a few Affiliate Marketing shows are coming up soon, I want to go over five affiliate claims you need to weigh with caution when considering new networks or programs.  By avoiding the worst offenders and adding real value to your pitches, you may find that you’ll get even more out of each show.

1.  We have the best tracking

This claim lands at the top of many network and program pitches. In reality the offering may have reliable, tested tracking but if they’re using the same system as competitors like Direct Track, ShareASale, or Commission Junction, this claim doesn’t stand on merit.  What can make that claim valid? If they have a custom in-house system or secondary and tertiary tracking implemented. While the secondary and tertiary systems can help catch missed sales, it’s possible that custom system generate results that beat the competition. If they’re only using off-the-shelf tracking solutions, they’re no better or worse than their competitors.

2.  We have the best payouts

Often misleading, this claim only works if the networks or programs have the highest payout in a niche or for a particular merchant. However, you need to understand that many merchants will have private, in-house programs that pay more than the CPA and affiliate networks. By eliminating the third-party-tracking solution (affiliate network), they can afford to pay a bit more. If you hear this claim, you need to consider how well you’ll convert based on the landing pages and sites.

Even if the payout is higher, you’ll lose sales if the network or program includes parasites or leaks. If the sales funnel is too long or the forms are labor intensive, you may lower your conversion rate and make less even though they pay more per sale. You may also lose sales to coupon sites if they have a coupon code box on the way out. When a network or program claims the best payouts, you need to weigh conversions, cookie life, and other partners, otherwise these factors may mean you earn less even with a higher payout.

3.  We manage hundreds of thousands of affiliates

I wonder about merchants and affiliates managers who make this claim. From the time I entered the industry, I’ve yet to see 100,000 active affiliates that can drive sales each day or even each week anywhere. While Amazon and eBay may be exceptions, other networks and programs may have hundreds of thousands of registered accounts, but that doesn’t mean they’re active.

You also have to consider if they’re in your niche. You have no guarantee that you’ll be promoted or that you’ll receive any additional value by joining. Some may use adware, and adware only, to rip you off by showing ads over your site or in your shopping cart. Others may be trademark bidders only, and some may be content sites in your niche, but they may not like your site, sales funnel, or the agency or OPM you’re working with. Many of them may not be relevant to your niche or ever send a single sale, unless they make the purchase themselves. Many networks can easily have hundreds of thousands of affiliates; chances are that a majority of those affiliates are of no value to you. Before committing yourself, you want to ask questions:

  • Can you show me ten content sites that are in my niche and have a direct relationship with you?
  • How many sites can you guarantee I will be added to and where will I get extra promotion? (Note: If they don’t own the sites, they cannot guarantee anything.)
  • How many affiliates are active and can drive sales at least once a month, a week, and each day?
  • What affiliates have adware on the network I want to be on, and can you show me a couple examples of it live? (Adware exists on every network, but some networks require that the application is inactive.)
  • What adware affiliates or other affiliates do you recommend I avoid, and why are they right for your other programs but not for me?
  • How many of your hundreds of thousands of affiliates are in my niche, have traffic, and will start promoting me within the first month?

4.  As long as its opt in, adware/couponware/loyaltyware/reminderware/PPV is OK

These applications, toolbars, and Browser Helper Objects (BHOs) can show ads directly on the merchant’s site over an affiliate or competitor’s site, so I avoid working with adware, couponware, loyaltyware, reminderware, or PPB. The end user may very well have opted in for the adware, but you have no control over how the program interacts with your site or if its redirecting traffic inappropriately.

Whether I’m working with a client or managing a program, I avoid adware that shows the ad over the merchant’s site and activates no matter how the end user arrives. When the end user gets to your site, the adware may activate and offer a coupon, or force a click and set a cookie. These programs are designed to distract the shopper from taking an action and trying to take credit for the sale, even though the adware affiliate did not send the customer or the sale to you. In other words, you paid for the person to get to your site and now you are probably going to have to pay for a commission. If it shows a coupon, then you reduce your margins by giving a discount on a sale that that affiliate never actually referred. This approach impacts both your revenue and your ability to attract legitimate affiliates.

Your biggest frustration may be that some networks, affiliate managers, and OPMs will try to convince you that adware and the like isn’t an issue. While not all adware acts like the previous example, (some toolbar sites do have a large following and can add value) you need to be cautious and keep an eye on what is a value add and what isn’t.  Adware sales normally look like regular sales and can follow regular patterns so it can be very hard to catch. I highly recommend you contact AffiliateFairPlay.com and speak to Kellie Stevens directly to find out what may actually be going on in your program. Again, this is just my opinion and my approach to program management. Your business goals may be different, so you’ll  need to decide if an adware approach works for you.

5.  My system or eBook will make you rich.

Of late, I’ve seen this claim pop up at more and more at shows. While not a huge issue yet, we’re starting to see infomercial-style sales pitches coming in from “gurus” who will teach you the secrets of becoming an affiliate. Let me save you some time and money. Affiliate marketing takes a ton of time, love, and effort. Some people get lucky and their sites take off, and the rest of us have to work hard and spend years building our sites. Don’t fall for people selling scammy products on your site that turn out to disappoint because your traffic will no longer trust you and will stop coming back because you made a bad recommendation. Some people will fall for it twice or three times, but pushing get-rich-quick products is not a long term strategy for success. Your email newsletter list on the other hand is a different story.

If you spent any time in the industry, you’ve heard tons of amazing claims that sound impressive, but are likely too good to be true. In the affiliate world, you need to avoid the too good to be true. Be careful what you believe and treat promises or guarantees with care.  From what I’ve have seen firsthand, they end up doing more long-term damage than they do any good.

About Adam Riemer

Adam Riemer has been an Online Marketer for over a decade. Having worked in house and on his own, Adam Riemer helps both large and small companies develop, execute and analyze Marketing campaigns for ROI and branding in both the B2B and B2C world. You can reach Adam or find out where he is speaking or which Clients he is working with by visiting his blog at http://www.adamriemer.me or follow him on Twitter @rollerblader.

5 Responses to 5 Claims To Avoid Making When Recruiting Affiliates

  1. Poker Online says:

    Thank you.. my knowledge about online marketing has grow now. keep it up!

  2. I have been looking for some affliates, thankyou for the list – definately food for thought.

  3. Vladimir says:

    Great suggseive guidance on affiliate marketing…

  4. Jeff says:

    I know I have fallen for some of those. Great advice

  5. Pat Grady says:

    saw one this week, their recruiting page said “65% conversion rate”.  bye.