Four Ways to Police Affiliates

Tracy Woodworth, Media Analyst at Convertro (http://www.convertro.com/) talks about moderating affiliates. Follow these tips to ensure that your affiliate marketers play by the rules, and bring you the most value.

  1. Avoid bidding up keywords in SEM campaigns
  2. Monitor your affiliates' use of Spyware & toolbars
  3. Monitor micro-site SEO against the main site
  4. Ensure affiliates don't use unauthorized coupons or discounts

Affiliates are actually – They are completely separate media stream, like a media channel. And so, their entire business is based around just aggregating together leads. And they can do that in anyway that they want to. It’s pretty much their prerogative and most of the time, they don’t disclose how they do that. And so, a lot of people just think, “Great. Well, that will take care of all my marketing efforts for me.”

But the problem is affiliates can sometimes outperform the marketing that you are doing holistically anyway. So, there’s some four really, really simple guidelines that you can just follow to keep from essentially having your marketing performance be outperformed or how do the affiliates be more successful than what you are currently working on.

So, number one would probably be in your search engine marketing. How you’ll have the different campaigns broken out. A lot of people will find that when using affiliates, affiliates will actually be bidding on the brand terms. And so, that’s a problem in the different search engines because if you’re bidding on a brand term and I’m bidding on a brand term, and say, I’m McDonald’s or I’m Burger King, and that bid term is constantly competing against itself. You’re going to be driving up your cost which is going to make your affiliate extremely inefficient.

Another area that you can actually keep an eye on with your affiliates is through Spyware and toolbars. And so, when you have an affiliate embedding different tools in a user’s computer, it doesn’t really make it for a very level playing field and you can actually run into a lot of problems legally that way.

A third point would probably be with the microsite that affiliates will be using. So, you’ll have your site. They’ll have their site. Again, their entire focus is to just drive leads and so, they will create whatever they think will work the best and they will use search engine optimization to get their performance up. And it’s a terrible thing if your microsite that belongs to your affiliate is outperforming your actual website. And so, what’s happening there is the results of the successful microsite from your affiliate will actually drive down the performance of your actual website. So, now you’re paying out on a lead and you’re also losing a lot of ground.

Probably, the last point and one of the more crucial ones is to make sure that your affiliates aren’t using coupons and discounts that you haven’t previously agreed upon, so in that way, you’re not losing money on a revenue that you’d be gaining on selling your service or your product. And then, you’re also paying on the lead to an affiliate, too.

An affiliate is actually a very powerful tool, so don’t be afraid to use it. Just keep an eye on it and just make sure that it’s actually achieving the pro-functionary method that it’s supposed to be. So, if you do that, it will actually be a very valuable channel.