Affiliate marketing is growing in popularity thanks to the various benefits it can offer. But besides the advantages, there’s also a couple of affiliate program challenges you should be aware of. So what are they? Read on to find out!
Affiliate marketing is one of the fastest-growing marketing sectors. The number of search results for “affiliate marketing” grew by over 200% between 2015 and 2020, and this continually increasing popularity doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Affiliate marketing is currently one of the best ways to reach new audiences with your products or services.
What’s more, by partnering up with bloggers or influencers who are active in a field related to yours and who have an established follower base, you can build credibility and brand awareness through their channels. The only costs on your side are your affiliate’s commissions, and those outgoings usually only occur when affiliates bring in new customers that make purchases.
Even though some websites make it seem like affiliate marketing takes “little effort” and brings “huge benefits”, the truth is rather different. Affiliate marketing has many pitfalls and challenges awaiting the inexperienced. In fact, this is proven by statistics about how many affiliate marketers end up failing (that number is approaching 95%!)
But there’s no need to be discouraged. Most of the challenges of affiliate programs can be avoided with a bit of planning. In this article, you will find five affiliate program challenges that you might encounter while growing your program. We will also explain what you can do to prevent those problems from harming the success of your program.
1. Finding the right partners
Being “on your own” might be fine for you in the beginning. However, you might start to think about joining efforts with another brand or individual and forming a partnership at some point. And finding that partner is one of the biggest affiliate challenges. An affiliate partner isn’t just a regular marketer hired to promote your brand, but rather someone who will help you promote your brand to their customers and share insights (or resources) with you. Moreover, as a partner, they will also be counting on you to do the same with their brand for your customers.
A smart partnership with a company or a person coming from a related (but not identical) market that has similar goals can bring you a lot of benefits. A strategic partnership can give you access to your partner’s customer base and vice versa which will help strengthen the position of both businesses in the industry.
How can you find such a partner, though? The key is to look for brands or individuals who will be the best match for your business. Think about how a partnership with each specific company or blogger would help you and your partner achieve your goals.
You may think that it would be far more profitable for you to partner with a popular influencer who has a large following. The truth, however, is that it will be hard for you to build a partnership with them if you have nothing in common. Joining efforts with a smaller video blogger but from an area relevant to you is far more likely to be successful for both sides. And don’t rush – building a mutually beneficial relationship with the other party requires time, patience, and effort from you both.
Learn more: How to manage & engage affiliate partners
2. Figuring out the right way to reward your affiliates
Think about how to reward your affiliates for their hard work, as this is one of the most important affiliate program challenges to overcome. Anyone who invests their time to create high-quality content and spread the word about your products will want to get something worthwhile in return.
If your commission isn’t appealing enough, this might cause you to have a hard time finding skilled affiliates for your program. Your existing affiliates might also become demotivated if they feel like they aren’t rewarded sufficiently for their work. This, in turn, could make them look for other affiliate partners instead.
Now the question is what euxactly should you offer as commission? Some businesses give their affiliates a percentage of the profits they make from affiliate sales, others pay a flat fee for every sale, while some offer free merchandise, discounts, or special deals for their marketers.
As different things appeal to different people, it would be a good idea to offer various types of rewards depending on what your particular affiliates find the most motivating for themselves. Another idea would also be to offer tier rewards according to how well your affiliates perform.
Post Affiliate Pro offers a feature that enables you to set different commission tiers and bonuses for your affiliates without turning the management of their payrolls into a nightmare. After fulfilling certain criteria set by you, your affiliates will move to a higher commission tier or have bonuses automatically added to their accounts without you needing to do so manually. Whichever reward option you pick, you should explain it well to your affiliates in order to avoid any misunderstandings.
3. Maintaining brand, content, and messaging integrity
The beauty of affiliate marketing is that it allows you to reach new audiences with the help of your partners. But as you will be working with several bloggers or influencers, there’s a risk that your brand image might become muddled and unclear. Instead of building credibility and loyalty as planned, your audience may just become more and more confused. It may also be the case that your products become associated with a certain affiliate marketer’s inappropriate actions or poor behavior, which could have serious negative consequences for your business.
But there’s a solution to that. Having a brand guidebook for your affiliates might help ensure that all of your affiliates present your brand in a similar way. Such a guidebook could include:
- Acceptable uses of the company’s name in affiliate materials.
- Places where affiliates can find materials for their affiliate content (banners, ads, graphics).
- Tips about how affiliates can create and optimize their own creative materials to fit the brand’s image.
- The process of approving affiliate content by your company.
- Brand policies for using marketing channels (like social media).
- How affiliates should create, include, and use affiliate links in their content.
- List of prohibited activities that violate your terms and conditions.
With a clear and detailed brand guidebook it will be easy to create content that is coherent with your brand style guide and overall messaging.
4. Managing your affiliates
The more affiliates you have working for you, the harder it can be for you to keep track of all their responsibilities, performance, and sales. And while affiliate marketers are used to working on their own, there will be times when they reach out to you because they have a question or an issue they can’t solve by themselves. If they don’t get a reply, this may lead them to think they aren’t that important to you and thus lose motivation. In the worst-case scenario, you might even have to deal with daily conflicts between several affiliates.
Keeping your affiliates encouraged and motivated might feel like an impossible task. After all, you have to manage each individual affiliate’s campaign performances, add promotional materials for them to use, ensure their earnings are paid regularly, plus, you have to protect your program from fraudsters. And that’s just to name a few aspects of managing an affiliate program.
This is where affiliate management solutions can help you. Their main goal is to manage affiliate campaigns and marketers from top to bottom. Thanks to these tools, you won’t need to spend time on mundane tasks such as manually tracking relevant metrics. But that’s not all affiliate management systems can do. Besides tracking every click and every sale, they can also handle affiliates’ payrolls.
Inside the app, you can define a list of ways in which your affiliates can get paid. They can pick the option that is most convenient for them. Forget about sending money to your affiliates one by one. With affiliate management software, you just need to select the affiliates that you want to pay and confirm the selection. Then, their commission will be transferred automatically.
5. Keeping your program safe from fraudsters
As the popularity of affiliate marketing grows, the number of people using questionable or illegal means to “earn commission” is too. Keeping them away from your program is one of the biggest affiliate program challenges for both individual marketers and companies.
Especially considering that the variety of fraudulent methods used to earn affiliate clicks is pretty vast. They range from using bots to “drive” traffic, clicks, and registrations, to stealing content from other marketers or redirecting traffic to their own sites. What can you do to protect your business and your program from such threats?
Many affiliate management platforms have built-in tools to protect you against various scammers and fraud attempts. With these tools in your arsenal, you can quickly notice any suspicious activity on your website and take actions to prevent them from damaging your program. For example, you can check whether multiple registrations for your newsletter come from different, real website visitors or the same IP address, or a group of IP addresses. If it’s the latter case, you can blacklist them.
Affiliate marketing (just like all other marketing channels) offers both a ton of benefits and quite a lot of challenges. These challenges often get in the way of producing good results. Fortunately, most of the problems can be prevented if you know where to look for them and what you should do if they occur.
With this knowledge, and with Post Affiliate Pro as your affiliate helper, you will be ready to take the affiliate world by storm.