3 Things to Never Put on Affiliate Banners

I’m seeing a lot of new merchants out there making bad decisions with their creative. Some of them are working with companies who don’t actually get the industry but are “experts” and others have a good background in different marketing channels but aren’t familiar with Affiliate Marketing. Because of this they are taking when they know from other channels and trying to apply it to their affiliate programs. Unfortunately not every channel can cross over and still work, especially when it comes to creatives, banners and designs. That is one of the things many new Merchants have a hard time understanding or changing their minds on. Here are 3 things that I’ve been seeing start to happen again with banners that could cause an Affiliate to either create their own (which Merchants usually don’t like) or just not promoting that merchant.

1. Adding a phone number or url to your banners.

In Media Buys or even running banners on a content or display network, adding urls and phone numbers can be great for your company. It gets the person to type in your url so you don’t have to pay for clicks and also can get someone to pick up their phone and call in to get a discount. You can write things like call us and use coupon XXX to save XX% now. Although that is perfect for other channels, Affiliates rely on cookies and tracking to generate their income.

You could argue that you have phone tracking, but unless the person clicks to set a cookie and the person goes to your website, your Affiliates won’t get credit and the person the Affiliate referred won’t see a tracking code to tell the person taking the order so the Affiliate has been removed from the process and won’t get a commission. By getting the person to type in the URL or not click the banner, the Affiliate doesn’t get credit for the referral either since no cookies were set, unless they are cookie stuffers and you probably don’t want to work with them anyways. Your Affiliates are working on a revenue sharing basis, they don’t get paid like Google or Media Networks on a click or on a CPM, unless you have that enabled. No smart Affiliate would use a banner that would give their readers a way to leave the site without setting a cookie if the person was interested in the Merchant. Make sure that your banners are focused around getting the shopper to click the banner and your Affiliates will have more of a reason to want to use them since the creatives are designed to attract a click which will set their cookie and hopefully generate a sale.

2. No solid calls to action

I joined a couple of new programs which looked great. The Manager wrote me and said your site isn’t relevant to our program and we only want content sites about topic x. I responded and showed him the relevant site I was going to use and got approved in. I also loved that they weren’t working with any sites that aren’t content or that try to rank for their trademarks or trademarks + coupons. The commission wasn’t the best but the cookie life was perfect and the checkout process was easy so I was excited. When I went to get the banners I noticed that they said order now on them, but there was no real call to action that stood out. Order now was part of the design.

Nothing that stood out and there was nothing that looked like a button or something you should click making the call to action less effective. Instead they let their graphic designer design them without having a Marketer look at the banners. The order now looked great because the banner looked balanced like it was created by a designer, which was the problem. The call to action needs to stand out and grab the end users attention. If it blends in to balance the banner then it is not as functional as other sites. When you create your banners, remember to have a Marketer look at them and not just a designer. Designers make things pretty and balanced, Marketers make them functional with the proper messaging, flow and calls to action. (I am always happy to do a program banner review for Merchants. It is one of the cheapest services I have and offer. Leave a comment below and I’ll write you with the email address you use. I moderate all of them so it won’t go live.)

3. Focus on the products and not the words.

The messaging is key to your banners. The message has to be clear, to the point, sell your store, be relevant to the websites and also flow to the call to action. Designers try to make it balance which usually means they are blended in, broken and don’t stand out enough. You need to make sure that the words get the point across, and then you need to create multiple versions of the banners with different copy so that your Affiliates can pull the ones that are relevant to their specific niche or site.

This can be the difference between Affiliates using your banners and their readers clicking through or not. The more relevant and to the point, the better the click through rate is on banners. Once you have good banners with proper messaging and traffic clicking through, it is up to you and your site to turn the shoppers into customers and drive the sale. If the banners are focused on getting the images to stand out instead of the words, then you defeated the purpose of the banner. If the Affiliate wants to show products and images, they’ll use an Affiliate Widget.

Banners seem like an easy thing to do. Most companies already have them from other channels and think that they can be interchanged. Unfortunately unlike other channels where the advertiser is paying on a click or on a CPM, Affiliates get paid on a rev. share and the banners will have to be changed. Affiliates need different types of banners which focus on creating click throughs and not on getting the person to contact you directly. You also need to have targeted marketing messages and strong calls to action. If you focus on driving clicks and sales with your banners, instead of getting people to contact you, your Affiliates will be happy, their visitors will have more of a reason to click through and you’ll have more interested buyers that you can turn into customers on your site.

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1 thought on “3 Things to Never Put on Affiliate Banners”

  1. Adam, you hit another nail on the head. Finding usable banners consumes a lot more time than it should because of issues like these. One of the first things I do with a program (on SAS anyway because they make it easy!) is to download all creatives (banners and text) and build a fast ugly WebMerge page with them so I can have them ready to paste wherever they belong, but ALSO so that I can get a good look at the banners and just do away with blinky ones, ugly ones, overly informative ones (that’s my job, dang it!) and banners with phone numbers and too easy to type in domains posted. If the merchant’s name is Widgets, their domain is widgets.com and they feel a need to show that on the banner, I won’t post it. Leave the .com for print ads.

    More merchants should get involved with dynamic banners. If we know they aren’t going to abuse the space, it gives them astonishing power to put their message on hundreds or thousands of sites at once! By abuse, I mean showing banners no affiliate would select because of these issues or altering the dimensions – I have had that happen. It gave me a skyscraper banner in my header – NOT appreciated and I won’t post their banners anywhere now.

    You give good advice!

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