The advertiser’s affiliate program description page is frequently the first place from which a prospective affiliate learns about the program. It is also the main place to which an affiliate turns to when looking for affiliate program details and conditions.
There are different ways to word the text and the lay out the page, but the structure of every affiliate program description should always cover the main elements/data that affiliates care about. I believe that we can boil these down to six elements.
Merchant Description with Link to Website
It is important for any prospective affiliate to know just exactly who you are as a company, what problems you solve, and what it is that you sell. Including a link to your website is common sense, but too many affiliate program descriptions don’t offer one. Should any potential affiliate wish to dive into such details as your product selection or services, your company’s positioning and competitive advantages, your checkout process, or anything else, make it easy for them – include that link. It’s an important step in helping the potential affiliate evaluate the program you want them to join.
Let’s face it, this is most likely the most important part to the affiliate. How much are they going to get by selling your products or services? Outline two things here: (i) your payment model, and (ii) any performance-based incentives you may be offering. On the model front: clarify if you are paying a commission (e.g.: 10% of the order amount before tax and shipping) or a dollar amount ($5.00 per lead or $20.00 per sign-up). On the incentive(s) front: if you have a tiered commission structure, this is a good place to include the qualifying thresholds with the corresponding payouts. You don’t want to have an affiliate sign up thinking they are getting 15% commissions and then realize they must hit $10,000/mo in sales to get to that mark, when in reality they are making only 5% at their current levels. This could lead to an inactive affiliate and potential negative reviews of the affiliate program.
It is important to always be upfront and transparent with affiliates from the very beginning. Start the foundation of a great relationship from the description page.
Cookie Life Information
A “cookie life” is the time period within which the visitor referred by an affiliate is considered that affiliate’s “referral”, qualifying the affiliate for the compensation/commission. With rare exceptions, the tracking of this time period is supported by the cookie that get set on the visitor’s device (computer or mobile device) at the time that they click on an affiliate link. Once the cookie’s “life” limit is reached, the cookie gets erased from the end user’s machine and the transaction is then no longer tied to the affiliate. Ensuring that you have included the information on the cookie life on your affiliate description page is important. Once again, this could make or break whether an affiliate signs up for your program or a competitor’s program.
An additional note must be made for companies who may be new to affiliate marketing: most affiliate programs are set to work on the “last cookie wins” rule. This principle ensures that, regardless of how many affiliates touched the same customer, it is the last affiliate whose link the customer clicked that gets the compensation.
Information on Collateral and/or Additional Tools
If your affiliate program is equipped with a data feed, then include this in your description. Some affiliates only work with advertisers who offer a data feed, so if this is not clearly stated on your affiliate description page, then you will lose out from the very beginning.
If you do not sell physical products, but instead sell services, then let it be known on your description page that you have multiple landing pages available for affiliates to send traffic to. This is important to affiliates who may be more advanced and like to run split A/B testing on offers.
Whatever “marketing collateral” or additional data you are happy to provide to your affiliates, highlight it briefly in your affiliate program description.
Competitive advantages in any aspect of business are obviously important, so why not make note of them on your affiliate description page? Here are a few examples of affiliate program’s competitive advantages that could apply to your program:
- Anti-parasite policy [more on “parasites” here]
- Tracking of affiliate-referred telephone calls or orders [via a pay-per-call technology]
- Custom on-demand creatives and/or landing pages
- Dynamic creatives [read more about them here]
- Widgets and advanced creatives
- Content library
- Information on target market(s)
- Performance bonuses
It would also be beneficial in this area to list whether or not you are working with an outsourced affiliate program management agency. For example, all of our clients include a bullet point that the program is actively managed by a dedicated account manager from AM Navigator.
Restrictions and/or Special Terms
If there are any restrictions and/or special terms that the affiliate should know about from the very onset, and you want to add them here. As was stated above, aim create the great relationship from the start and full transparency will assist you in this. Such restrictions could include:
- Trademark bidding in paid search campaigns
- Usage of trademarks in domain names
- Coupon-driven sales receiving lower commissions
- Any content-related restrictions
- Unacceptability of those who are FTC-incompliant on the affiliate disclosure front
You may have more restrictions to your program. If you do, include them in this section, being eloquent but communicating these important points to them.
Finally, I also recommend aiming to stay within a 250 words limit for your main affiliate program description page. If you have more than that to say, break the information down into separate sections, and build an affiliates.merchantname.com (or similar) website that would aim at helping affiliates understand how your program works, and how exactly they can get involved. Here are just a few examples of such mini-sites:
It is also a good idea to have an accompanying blog where you would keep affiliates up-to-date on the news about your affiliate program.
[Post last updated on 9/13/2018]
As an additional piece of useful reading, you may want to review my earlier “5 Common Problems in Affiliate Program Descriptions” post.