5 Common Problems in Affiliate Program Descriptions

I was doing a competitive analysis of vertical-specific affiliate programs for a client, and had to read through some 25 affiliate program descriptions. Here are the 5 common problems that I have noticed being repeated by different merchants:

1) Missing Information

Many merchants leave out such important information as (i) cookie duration (we all know that these can range from a only a couple hours to “unlimited”; so it is an extremely important info for affiliates to know from the outset),  (ii)  how exactly performance-based commission increases will be applied (do not just mention a “payout of $20-$50 per lead”, state what you’re gonna pay $20 for, and what affiliates need to do to get the $50), (iii) qualification information (what exactly constitutes a valid sale/lead), (iv) reversal policy/procedures, and even (v) contact information (how will they be able to contact you with questions regarding your affiliate program if they want to do so prior to joining it?)

2) Vague Verbiage

The most commonly abused words and phrases are “excellent payouts”, “industry leading” [affiliate program], “most competitive” [commission], “guaranteed”, and “highest conversion rates”. Avoid being vague! Such verbiage can be a major turn-off. Affiliates want concrete information (exact payout details, exact conversion rates, etc), not just a collection of beautiful words that convey no meaning.

3) Unnecessary Phrases

Phrases like “there is no limit to how much you can make with our program” or “our affiliate program will provide for an unlimited income” are just too amateur. Every affiliate knows that the sky is the limit. That’s the essence and the main beauty of the performance marketing industry. By putting things in such an amateur way, I personally believe that merchants are bringing their affiliate program’s credibility down. See point #2 above, and be not only concrete, but also eloquent.

4) Spelling Mistakes

C’mon, folks… “payouts” is one word (not “pay outs”), and so is “throughout” (not “through out”); and it’s not “defenitely” but “definitely”. The list of the spelling mistakes we continuously see in the text of the program sign-up pages could certainly go on, but the point is clear as it is. Spelling mistakes hurt credibility.

5) Missing Sign-Up Link

Out of some 25 affiliate program descriptions that I’ve looked through, 2 had the most important part — the sign-up link!! — missing. And these were programs with fairly good descriptions. Don’t forget the most important part out! And, of course, God forbid you charge for sign-ups.

If I’ve missed something, feel free to post your own observations below.

2 thoughts on “5 Common Problems in Affiliate Program Descriptions”

  1. I, too, am distracted by the prevalence of spelling AND grammar errors in the descriptions I read. In fact, these types of errors influence my decision-making process when evaluating the merits of joining a program.

    The most egregious errors, to me, are the misuse of “their/they’re” and “your/you’re.” These terms seem to be used interchangeably by far too many people – evidently the ones who did NOT pay attention in Middle School. (Think, “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” here.) There really is s difference between a possessive pronoun and a contraction – and they have entirely different meanings.

  2. Exactly, Bill! I also see that many people do not seem to have an idea of what apostrophes are for, and how they’re to be used. So, they teach this in the 5th grade? Hmmmm… I’ve just finished writing a new article for FeedFront (issue 6), and it’s on the lack of merchant education. Orthographical mistakes in words that you learn to spell in the 5th grade add a whole new perspective (deeper roots of lack of knowledge).

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