Why Affiliate Program Audits Costs So Much

A common questions I get when I say my affiliate program audits cost $X,XXX is “Well XYZ firm did it for free so why won’t you?”.  My response to that is always “Well, you get what you pay for”.  When I sent that to one company in particular, they sent me the audit/evaluation from a competitor (which was not cool of them to do) and it was exactly what I expected.

It ended up being a series of three power point slides or about 1 page worth of actual content.  It proved my point as to why real affiliate audits cost thousands of dollars and is why I’m writing this post.

It is broken out into two main parts.

  1. Why it costs so much (me rambling a bit)
  2. What you should expect to see from basic affiliate program audits as far as deliverables (this is the good stuff)
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1. Affiliate Program Audits Are Expensive Because…..

Just like with an SEO audit, it takes at least one full-non-stop day (bare minimum) to complete one.

The person performing the review has to test for adware, check for SEO harm, look through your terms and conditions, do keyword research, test for trademark bidding across multiple networks (not affiliate networks), review all creatives, go through at least your partners, analytics packages, etc…

Smaller affiliate program audits are normally 10 pages of content and probably have a couple of supporting documents.  If you pay for an average one, you should expect a 15 to 20 page document with supporting add on documentation.  For full-all-out affiliate program audits, expect 18 to 35 pages of content and supporting documentation which may include interactive media.

Affiliate program audits are a ton of work and I do not know anyone who can complete a “real” one for free.  Lots of scammers will pretend to do one and feed you crap that sounds good, but any person that knows what they are doing cannot do it for free or for less than a few thousand.  At a bare minimum you’re looking at 10 or 12 hours of work…bare minimum.inflatable water slides

Ask yourself, if your friend or a stranger, even a potential client asked you to spend 12 hours and give away a ton of your knowledge for free, would you do it?  Probably not.  If you did, the potential client wouldn’t need you since they get a free business plan and even though you love your friends, can you sacrifice an entire weeks worth of work for them for free?  Anyways, enough rambling and lets get into what goes into affiliate program audits.

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2. What You Should Expect in an Affiliate Program Audit?

So now that you know why affiliate program audits cost thousands of dollars, what should you get from them?  A quick side note, I know some competing affiliate management agencies will be reading this so I am only including what is in my basic audit (and there are still a few things left out).  Full and regular audits have a lot more in them, but this is what to expect from very basic affiliate program audits.

  • An overview of the program
  • Review of all of your creatives
  • Reviews of your network based affiliate emails
  • Reviews of your outbound recruitment emails
  • An overhaul of your TOS
  • A guide to state nexus (but know that unless the person is a Lawyer, it is not legal advice,,,only opinion based)
  • An overview of your top XY affiliates including
    • which ones use adware (99.9% of the programs I audit have it in there and I can almost guarantee if you have coupon sites and loyalty sites as a part of your top ten every week, you have this issue)
    • which partners are poaching your PR and SEO (this is done through multiple methods, even when you exclude adware)
    • which partners add value
    • which partners poach your internal efforts and cause financial damage
    • missed opportunities with the partners and ways to pitch some of them (probably not all) to add you to these places
    • who to remove, keep and who to watch closely
  • a list of potential partners and buckets of niches to go after and how to approach some of them (you might not get all)
  • a fully redone (content wise) affiliate section for your site, the network sign up page, etc…
  • strategies for newsletters including samples custom written for your program
  • an advertising strategy to attract new partners (many firms will only include the basics but give details on implementation in the follow up call)
  • If the affiliate program could have a positive or negative affect on your SEO or put you at risk for a penalty with the search engines. (This includes links and images being used the right way, content, tagging, etc…  Read this post on affiliate programs and SEO if you have any questions).
  • And more

As you can see, affiliate program audits take a ton of time and work.  If someone has submitted something that doesn’t include the above, guess what, you didn’t get a real audit.  A good way to tell is the coupon and adware section or by affiliate section.  If they say you’re clear, it doesn’t exist, isn’t in there, they’re probably lying if your program is on a large network.  If it’s an inhouse one, you need to look at other sections of the audit to tell.

The above is the basic audit and doesn’t even include everything that needs done.  If you think you might have an issue, if your program has gone static or you just want to revitalize and see if there are more opportunities, please contact me and I’m always happy to do affiliate program audits, but depending on our work load, it might need to wait for a few weeks.

The image on this post was purchased from DepositPhotos.com.

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