I’ve been managing Affiliate programs for around a decade now and have seen a ton of shifts and changes in the industry. One thing that hasn’t changed is that shady Affiliates still use the same tricks and tactics to get into programs and hide their tactics. Because of this, legit Affiliates who don’t know better may look like someone who will try to rip you off and get rejected. Affiliate Marketing is about partnerships and both the Affiliate and Merchant have to be open with each other and work with each other. If you don’t trust the Merchant, you shouldn’t join their program and if you don’t trust the Partner, you shouldn’t keep them in your program. Here are 5 ways that you can get your application rejected or yourself removed from a program.
1. Not listing your sites and promotional methods
You have to remember that in a properly managed Affiliate Program, the manager is going to look at your application like they are hiring an employee. If you list a site that isn’t relevant, they won’t see where there is a fit. If you just say PPC Marketing, but they have restrictions on it and you don’t mention that you have read and will follow those rules, that can get you rejected. When applying to a program remember to always include the site you will be promoting the Merchant on, the methods you will use, a link to your disclosure policy if you do reviews and be specific about where the traffic will come from. It also helps to talk about how you will add incremental sales and value which will grow their business and how your sites will not poach customers looking for coupons or by using adware.
2. Don’t cloak your links
One thing that raises flags for Managers is when we cannot see what page or where a sale came from. If you block them, cloak them or hide them, I put a flag on your account and will ask you to show me how you are driving sales. If you respond with a generic or fluffy answer and aren’t direct, 99% of the time you are doing something wrong. If you aren’t doing something wrong and you are scared to show your site or content, you probably should choose a different industry or find new ways to monetize your site because you will continuously run into Merchants kicking you out. Just like you want us to be honest, to pay and to share things like black friday specials, you need to be open and share where your traffic is coming from and how you drive sales. This is a business relationship and if you don’t trust the AM or OPM, try AdSense or something else instead.
3. Give a real answer
If a Merchant asks you where your sales are coming from or asks to see your traffic. Answer them and show them what you are doing. You run the risk of some of them copying your strategies, but at the same time you decided to work with that person. Like I said above, if you don’t trust them, find one you do trust or monetize your site in a different way. Chances are no one can copy your strategies and get the results you do and they probably don’t have the time to start it from scratch and do what you do. Don’t hide what you are doing and be specific and to the point with your answer. If you don’t want to answer, be ready to get kicked out of the program and possibly have all your commissions reversed.
4. Don’t pretend like you didn’t know the terms and conditions
One thing that gets old fast is that a PPC Affiliate will not bid on store name or your url, but they will bid on url + coupons or store name + coupons. This converts higher because you have the person in the shopping cart looking for a coupon so it is easy quick money. Their argument is that you said no trademark bidding so this should be allowed. That is absolute crap and those Affiliates who do this and try to give you that argument are almost always trouble makers and will continue to look for little loopholes and wait to get caught. Trademarks mean all variations including “store name cyber monday deals” or “black friday special store name”. Another one I get is well you weren’t bidding on this misspelling so I did. It’s still a version and variation of the trademark and you are not adding value. You are going after current customers who already know about us.
5. Adding your own Affiliate Program
One thing that is becoming very popular, especially with coupon sites is having an internal revenue sharing program or their own Affiliate program where others have access to your coupons and Affiliate links. If the site has a revenue sharing program and passes your links out, you could potentially be at risk if you cannot work with certain states because of Nexus Laws or get in trouble if the site does reviews and doesn’t have an FTC Disclosure. Just like a sub affiliate network which can potentially put your company at risk, you need to have full transparency into your partners and show where they are located, where they are promoting you at, making sure they aren’t breaking your TOS, etc… If you find Affiliates with their own programs or rev sharing programs, ask them about not allowing the partners to use their links and making sure they only have your links on their site. I remove all of these partners because I don’t feel it is worth the risk for my clients who cannot work with partners in certain states.
Merchants have been getting ripped off for years and that is one of the reasons many people give Affiliate Marketing a bad name. Because of this, smart Affiliate Managers are now being more proactive. To help make sure you don’t get kicked out of or rejected from programs, remember to be honest about your traffic, don’t hide your links or referring urls and don’t give a fluffy fake answer. If you decide to try having a partner program, create visbility and don’t be surprised if you start getting thrown out of programs when the Merchants find out what is happening. If you have any other things that cause you to have to remove someone from a program or reject their application, feel free to leave a comment below.