Now that we know why affiliates should have access to merchants’ product feeds, it is a good time to list the most frequently repeated mistakes that merchants make in their affiliate data feeds. It’s sad, but the following 7 problems are very common:
1. Problem with Images – Do not use the same image both for the thumbnail picture of the product, and for the closeup one.
2. Problem with Descriptions – Do not underestimate the value of a unique product description (using just the product name for description, or same description for several different products is not good).
3. SKUs Problem – Do include a unique SKU for each of your products. Affiliates do need these to separate between the products of different merchants within one website.
4. Categorization Problem – Too broad, or non-existing product categorization makes an affiliate data feed extremely user-unfriendly. Micro-categorization, on the other hand, is another extreme.
5. Problem with Updates – Update your affiliate data feed as often as changes happen on your side. If something is sold out – it must be removed from the affiliate feed, if the price has changed – you want the affiliate feed to be updated to reflect the new price, etc.
6. Problem with Text – In most cases, it is a good idea to use plain text for product names, and descriptions (no HTML tags, links, etc). Additionally, flee from using any special characters. If you’re talking about the product size, do not use ‘ and “ but feet or/and inches; do not use &, @, $, # or any other symbols (spell the words out).
7. Communication Problem – If a major change is about to happen (e.g.: change of landing pages throughout the website, or major restructuring of product categories, etc), let affiliates know that the change is coming, and update your website simultaneously with the update of your affiliate data feed.
Think of things both from the affiliates’ and the end-user’s perspective. It’ll help you make things convenient and useful. Best of luck, and if I have missed something, let me know.