3 Things Many Merchants with Affiliate Programs Miss

As I audit affiliate programs and, conjointly, the websites of merchants who market through the affiliate channel, some mistakes come up more frequently than others, and today I’d like to highlight three that merchants with affiliate programs routinely commit. These are:

1. No link to affiliate program on main merchant site — Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? If you have an affiliate program, you want to link to the sign-up page from your main website. Well… Many merchants either forget to place that link on their main site, or tuck it in so deep that it’s nearly impossible to find.

2. No active affiliate program support channel — Many merchants that have an affiliate program, and even manage it, lack vocality. Every affiliate program must have an all-encompassing (read: including point of reference, Twitter, Facebook, forum presence, etc) program support channel that affiliates can turn to (be it actively, or monitoring from a distance).

3. Abundance of leaks — From non-trackable phone number, to AdSense units, to banners of other merchants… leaks are still a widespread problem. Merchants shouldn’t expect serious affiliates to invest their time, effort and/or money into promoting them until the leaks on their site(s) are taken care of.

Whether you’re reading this as an affiliate, or merchant, affiliate network rep, or program manager… if you have something to add, your feedback is valued, as always. Please use the “Comments” field below to add your thoughts, opinions, observations.

4 thoughts on “3 Things Many Merchants with Affiliate Programs Miss”

  1. The biggest hindrance to joining programs that I’m seeing these days is all of the above – plus that huge gaping hole in the checkout path where they ask shoppers to enter their coupon code (when they don’t offer any coupons for affiliates). The response I get when I ask merchants or their reps about this problem is usually one that shows they have no understanding of the problem. They probably offer promo codes in a newsletter which is fine, but they don’t seem to realize that the shopper I just sent them is very likely to run out looking for a non-existant code and either end up at a competitor’s site or at the least with a new cookie to rob me of the commission I had earned – and any reason to continue sending them traffic.

    IF they do offer promo codes there are many things they can do to avoid this problem:
    1. Show the promo codes on the same page as the checkout so customers don’t leave the cart to find them.
    2. Call it a loyalty code or “special instructions” or a customer number if it is only for existing customers.
    3. Give your affiliates a way to send them to checkout WITH the promo codes- preferably in the link so the customer isn’t required to write down gb76feeb0-98uct-657b8 to enter in the cart.

  2. Great point(s), Nancy, and thank you for chiming in with them. Also, if they don’t offer “promo codes” through affiliates, they can set up their checkout to not display that “promo code” box to affiliate-referred traffic.

  3. Hi Geno,
    Thanks for saying what needs to be said!
    I personally have found that as you suggest, some merchants give all the info and “bells and whistles” including support and tracking where as some are terrible. I don’t usually stay with the later for long. Leaks are scary.
    Hey Geno, you would make a great affiliate manager as you have such an understanding of all this! Bit dull for your no doubt.

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