Can Affiliate Marketing Hurt Brand’s Reputation?


ADOTAS – Brands are often concerned that working with affiliates comes at the price of relinquishing control over how they are represented within the industry. This doesn’t have to be the case, and this article introduces practical ways that advertisers can maintain control over their brand while maximizing the benefits and opportunities available from the affiliate channel.

An advertiser’s program description should act as a permanent advertisement for their affiliate scheme and a resource that affiliates refer to for guidance. It should ensure that affiliates are clear about brand values and how the advertiser wishes to be represented. Focusing on who their target customers are and providing affiliates with as much detail as possible will assist them in driving the right kind of traffic. If there are particular sites advertisers do not wish to work with, or any methods of promotion brands feel are unsuitable, these should be clearly outlined within the program terms and conditions.

To make sure that the network is offering access to good quality affiliates, well matched to the brand, it’s important to clarify what checks and balances are applied to monitor affiliates when they apply to join the network itself, individual programs in particular, and what methods they employ to oversee activity on these programs.

Common compliance issues can be prevented by ensuring affiliates have the necessary tools to promote properly. Banner creative should be regularly updated and available in a variety of commonly used sizes, but for many brands a key concern is what affiliates are saying about them. To ensure there is parity with the messaging communicated, make available a template of ready-to-use text that affiliates can add to their sites. This should be available in different sizes – 25, 50,100 and 250 words – and include general messaging about the advertiser as well as offers, seasonal campaigns and new products or services.

The growth of coupon sites has raised concerns among some advertisers who are wary of needlessly discounting their offering. Some are worried that by associating with these sites, it will cheapen their brand. Instead, try offering a coupon or discount code that is not redeemable on individual products. Free delivery codes convert better than codes that discount the product, as online shoppers hate paying postage. Codes that offer free products do not devalue the brand. In competitive seasons, a “free box of chocolates with every order of Valentine’s Day roses”or “complementary Christmas gift wrapping” targets price-sensitive consumers comparing the same products on different sites.

By targeting codes to those that represent greatest value (perhaps new customers rather than returning ones, or frequent rather than occasional ones), advertisers can ensure that they are attracting the right kind of customers. By offering a “stretch and save” code such as “10 percent off a minimum £50 spend” to raise the basket value before it can be used, advertisers can acquire higher-spending customers as well.

The affiliate channel represents an extremely effective sale and customer acquisition method, one that the majority of major brands are already successfully engaged with. Through attention to the basics and smart use of different promotional methods, brands can build strong partnerships with high-traffic sites to develop a performance-based approach that delivers their message to customers.

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