Why Your Affiliate Program isn’t Working for Your Business (Part 1)
This article is written by marketing Xpert, Melissa Cocks.
If you’re wondering why your affiliate program isn’t working for your business, your arrival here is a great first step toward turning it around.
Managing an affiliate marketing channel on behalf of your company involves many different moving parts and requires a considerable amount of time. That being said, there are many potential reasons why your affiliate program isn’t working.
It might just be one of the following reasons, but it’s likely more than just one.
As you read through the potential reasons why your affiliate program isn’t working (not generating enough sales or net profit), take note of which ones resonate with you.
Why Your Affiliate Program isn’t Working & How to Fix it
1. Your Affiliate Program is Running on Autopilot
Do you let your affiliate program run itself, aside from the occasional check-in to approve affiliate applications and whatnot?
If you’re not taking steps to proactively manage your program, most of the following issues likely apply to you as the reasons why your affiliate program isn’t working. Having your affiliate program run on autopilot is at the root of these problems.
2. You Don’t Have a Dedicated Affiliate Program Manager
If someone doesn’t have a role dedicated to managing your affiliate program, this is a red flag.
If you want to scale your affiliate program, you’re going to need someone whose sole job is to manage it. There is simply too much involved in running a successful affiliate program to merely have one person’s attention split between the affiliate program and another role.
The absence of a full-time affiliate program manager is one of the top potential reasons why your affiliate program isn’t working for you.
3. Most of Your Affiliates are Inactive
If you look at your affiliate list and see that many of them aren’t generating sales, or even clicks, this means most of your affiliates aren’t actively promoting your products.
This could be a symptom of many of the following issues. You need more of your affiliates actively promoting your brand on a regular basis in order to increase your sales.
4. Your Landing Pages Don’t Convert (or they’re “Leaky”)
Another possible–yet commonly overlooked–reason why your affiliate program isn’t working is that your landing pages don’t convert.
If your affiliates are sending leads to your website and the landing pages aren’t converting leads into customers, you need to take a second look at your landing pages.
As an affiliate manager, landing pages might seem outside of your responsibility zone. However, it’s important to communicate with your colleagues responsible for conversion optimization/landing pages, since you’re responsible for generating sales via affiliates.
What’s more, if your landing pages include a phone number for a lead to call and purchase through, your affiliate program might be generating sales that perhaps aren’t being reported.
The phone number on your affiliate landing page should have call tracking on it in order to tie those phone sales to an affiliate within your program.
5. You Don’t Educate Your Affiliates
If your affiliate program isn’t working for you, a possible reason why is a lack of educational resources made available to your affiliates.
Upon acceptance into your program, affiliates should be presented with educational materials. These should cover how to use the affiliate platform, as well as how to set themselves up for success in your program.
Whether this is in the form of a YouTube video or a Google Doc, you can link to this from the “Welcome” email that you send to them upon acceptance.
Affiliates should be educated on an ongoing basis with examples of successful affiliate promotions. This will reinforce that you have a vested interest in their success, and it will help them get started on the right foot.
6. Your Affiliates Don’t Know How Much or How Little They Earn
If affiliates aren’t regularly signing into their affiliate portal, they likely don’t know how much they’re making. And this is a potential reason why your affiliate program isn’t working.
If an affiliate is involved with multiple affiliate programs that automatically deposit earnings into one banking account, they might not be checking for exactly how much or how little they are making from your program.
This could mean that they aren’t seeing the value in spending time on your program, or they’re not seeing that they need to make improvements in the way they promote your brand.
7. Your Affiliates Dislike Your Creative (or it Just Doesn’t Work)
If you’re wondering why your affiliate program isn’t working and your creative is subpar, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you.
When affiliates dislike the creative you supply to them for promoting your products, they’re not going to use it. This goes for both visuals and copy.
It’s common for affiliates to request custom banners to fit specific dimensions on their site, or that message a specific product. While you can’t always provide custom creative to all your affiliates, the key here is to provide your most promising affiliates with custom banners or other types of visuals.
Make sure you also provide attractive banners with a call-to-action button to all affiliates. You should have some general options, as well as ones that feature your most popular products.
Oh–and make sure it’s obvious what your brand is from looking at the banners. You would be shocked at how many brands serve ads that are nearly impossible to decipher!
8. Your Commission Structure is Flawed
If your profit margins are depleted, or affiliates just aren’t motivated to join your program (or promote your products), your commission structure is possibly flawed. This could be a major reason why your affiliate program isn’t working for your business.
Your affiliates only have so much room on their web properties to promote so many brands, so you want to make sure that your affiliate program incentives are enticing.
If your commission structure isn’t competitive, your brand will fall at the bottom of the priority list for your affiliates. This will make it harder to recruit new affiliates and activate your existing ones.
Another reason your commission structure might be flawed is if your company hadn’t accounted for profit margin when it first launched the affiliate program. When evaluating your commission structure, you want to take this into account.
When you discount your products or have a sale event, will you still have your desired profit margin after you cover costs, pay your affiliates their commission, etc.?
It might be worth it to reconsider your commission structure. This should allow you to pay your affiliates fairly, but you also don’t want to deplete your profit margins.
A well-thought-out commission structure will help you avoid needing to change it down the line. Keep in mind that you will receive backlash from affiliates if you change your commission structure frequently.
9. Many of Your Affiliates Only Use Banner Ads
If affiliates are only using banner ads to promote your brand, this could be another major reason why your affiliate program isn’t working.
Some affiliates will approach affiliate marketing like it’s CPM advertising, in which advertisers pay publishers for impressions. If your affiliates are bloggers, you will run into this quite often.
Affiliates can make decent money with CPM ads that are served by big advertisers, and it’s essentially easier for them to make money in this respect if they have ample traffic. It’s understandable that this would be the modus operandi.
Education is important here since affiliate marketing can be a pretty new concept to some influencers. Getting your affiliates onboard with active promotion within blog posts and newsletters is paramount to growing the success of an affiliate marketing program.
10. Affiliates Don’t Feel Supported
There are going to be certain things that affiliates ask for that you might simply not have the resources to deliver; things that are completely out of your hands or that you cannot seem to get approval on from higher up.
However, if affiliates don’t feel they’re being supported or heard, they might give up on promoting your brand–even if they have been some of your most loyal customers.
If you absolutely cannot deliver on a specific request, come to a compromise. Is there anything else that you can give an affiliate to help them be successful? Try to deliver that.
To continue reading, please visit Why Your Affiliate Program isn’t Working for Your Business (Part 2).
This article is written by marketing Xpert, Melissa Cocks.