Starting Your Affiliate Program & Keeping it Up

So you have decided that it is time to launch your affiliate program? You have had success on your e-commerce site but you think there may be more opportunity out there for your new affiliate program. This is the ideation behind several marketers who are ready to grow their efforts and see what else is out there.

Although this is a good channel to enter with low risk, it is important to start your efforts out on the right foot. In this blog I’ll go over a common affiliate trap and help determine which tools can be applied to avoid it.

1. When setting up an affiliate account, on any network, make sure that you have terms and conditions clearly outlined. These become the guidelines that active publishers have to abide by.

2. You should also include guidelines on direct linking and rules on sub-affiliate networks to the payout that you want to offer to your publishers.

Without these first two rules set up you run the risk of having publishers work in ways that may not be desirable. For this situation I will dive into what is known as trademark bidding.

3.Trademark bidding is a fairly common incidence that occurs when terms are not clearly stated. This happens when a publisher in your network bids on your branded terms and earns a higher placement in the search engine.

If a shopper is Googling your brand this paid placement by a publisher will be placed above your actual site (if you aren’t using paid ads). Since the potential customer is now served a coupon chances are they are will go to this page first, which could lead to a possible cannibalization of sales. This becomes a bigger issue when your brand is also paying for search ads. In this case, you are ultimately competing against the publisher and paying more to get better placement in the search engine for a term that you own.

The quickest and easiest way to check to see if your publishers are engaging in trademark bidding is to do a quick search on your brand with words like: “coupon,” “discount” or “promo.” If you see ads that you didn’t post chances are it is a publisher who bid on your trademark terms.

In most cases publishers are responsive when reaching out to them asking them to remove ads and placements that don’t match what is specked out in the terms and conditions (Ts & Cs). Ultimately, to ensure a smooth on-boarding and growth process for your program you must start with strong guidelines laid out, work with onboard publishers who you trust, and upkeep the relationships you build.

About: Hawke Media is full service outsourced CMO and digital advertising agency with clients in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

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