5 Reasons Affiliate Programs Fail

5 Reasons Affiliate Programs Fail

While the concept of affiliate marketing may be simply the execution of creating a program that delivers results is extremely complex. Avoid falling flat on your face by understanding why affiliate programs fail. Here are our top 5 reasons you affiliate program fail:

1. AFFILIATE PROGRAMS FAILING TO INVEST IN EXPERIENCE

A common mistake in affiliate marketing is underestimating the amount of work that goes into a successful program. When a new program goes live in an affiliate network, pay attention to who’s the main point of contact. Is that person the Director of Ecommerce? VP of Marketing? Or, Owner of the company? These are immediate red flags! These are busy people that certainly don’t have the time to manage an affiliate program. It’s smarter to hire an Affiliate Manager internally or Agency. Managers/Agencies are 100% focused on the management of your program.

2. AFFILIATE PROGRAMS FAILING TO EXERCISE PATIENCE

The Affiliate channel takes more time to ramp up than any other online channel. Brands and retailers are accustomed to channels like Paid Search, where you can create a campaign and within hours/days begin to see results. We know it’s easy to get discouraged when results aren’t immediate. Rather than prematurely closing your affiliate programs, we see this far too often, be patient. There will be times when small and mid-size brands take a year or more to ramp up.

Case in point, we have a client that struggled month after month to gain traction but trusted the process and now enjoys an average $8-$12 return on ad spend with up to $450,000 per month in affiliate sales.

3. AFFILIATE PROGRAMS FAILING TO CATER TO SHOPPING BEHAVIORS

As affiliate marketing experts, we study customer shopping behavior through the conversion process. When analyzing clickstream data on a per-transaction basis, there are almost always multiple marketing channels involved. When analyzing clickstream data on a per-transaction basis, there are almost always multiple marketing channels involved. These include Email, Affiliate, Paid Search, Organic, Display. Every online shopper has specific needs before ultimately making a purchase. This may start with brand and or product research. Searching for reviews online is often followed by an extensive search for the best price or quickest fulfillment. Through this process, they may engage with multiple affiliates, and if their shopping needs are unmet, the sale may never occur.

Because of the shopping behaviors we see nower-days, it’s imperative to partner with a variety of affiliates through your program. Affiliate business classifications like content, deal/discounts, loyalty, retargeting, social media, and paid search serve a purpose through the customer’s journey. When you don’t cater to a customer’s shopping behavior, you severely limit the potential for converting sales.

There are instances where it doesn’t make sense for a brand to partner with a particular affiliate business classification. But, far too often, we hear “we only want to partner with content sites” with no data to support the decision. We have the data, and it shows a need for brands to be present every step of the way through the conversion process.

4. AFFILIATE PROGRAMS FAILING TO PLAN, FORECAST & GOAL SET

Just as Doc Brown carefully planned his strategy for a bolt of lightning to hit the flux capacitor at precisely 88 MPH in the Back To The Future movie, you must also carefully craft a strategy for your affiliate program. Without a purpose or plan for execution, you’re likely to be stuck in 1955 with Marty McFly.

Before launching an affiliate program, create a strategy that includes: Target Audience, Target Affiliate Verticals & Partners, Plan for Execution, Benchmarks, Goals, and Budget. The time you plan to allocate to the affiliate program should be reflected in forecasts, remembering this is a channel that takes time to ramp up. I’ve found it’s a less daunting task to create quarterly plans rather than trying to plan for the entire year.

5. AFFILIATE PROGRAMS FAILING TO CHOOSE THE CORRECT NETWORK

There are plenty of choices for hosting your affiliate programs. From traditional Affiliate network to Saas technology platforms, you have options. Popular networks include (in no particular order) AvantLink, CJ, Impact, Shareasale, Awin, Rakuten Marketing, Pepperjam, Partnerize, Refersion, and Avangate. Each network has strengths/weaknesses, and it’s imperative to understand those as you go through the vetting process.

If your affiliate marketing strategy primarily focuses on content creation, you may consider working with networks like AvantLink or Shareasale. These networks have a wide variety of bloggers, publications, and influencers participating within the network. Conversely, you may want to consider CJ or Rakuten if your strategy includes deals/discounts with maximum brand exposure.

If you choose the wrong affiliate network, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle from the get-go.

We never want to see an affiliate program fail, so if you’re having trouble and need assistance please contact us.