9 Reasons Your Affiliates Do Not Trust You
And How To Fix Them Fast

Why should an Affiliate sell your products? If you answered "because I pay them commission", you may be in trouble already! Affiliates are spoilt for choice these days, so you need to work hard to gain their trust and keep their loyalty.

Nothing motivates an affiliate like money. It's low down and dirty but fundamentally it's the reason your relationship with them exists. So keep in mind that when an affiliate sees commission from you it really does motivate them to work harder. That's why you should do everything in your power to ensure your affiliates always get paid for every sale - because when you pay them, they will pay you even more.

So here are 9 ways you might be screwing your affiliates without even knowing it. Fix these problems and some of those sleeping affiliates will leap into life, those with modest volumes will really start to perform. You may even find those hard to reach power affiliates do finally join you.

1. Don't Call

I've often seen a very prominent toll free "you can order by phone" banner screaming from the top of a website. Of course this is valuable trust technique for general visitors. But if an affiliate sent you that click and you take that order by phone, your affiliate loses commission. Maybe customers never call to order, but it's the fact it could happen and that will undermine the trust of your affiliates. Hide the banner for affiliate traffic.

2. You Sent Them Where?

Do not show external links unless they directly improve sales. This will help your sales process for every visitor anyway, but your affiliates do not want to see traffic they send to you being diverted off to something interesting. Especially when they just spent time warming them up to buy your product. Strongly closing the sale with a single minded route to buy makes your affiliate (and you) happy. Even if this means building an affiliate traffic only route through your site.

3. Let's Split

There is no such thing as a perfect sales process. There is always something you can do to improve the conversion and selling power of your website. Anything from fundamentals like the headline of the landing page right through to the ease of use and speed of the shopping cart. So constantly split test and improve the selling power of your site. This benefits your profits for every visitor anyway, but you owe it to your affiliates too. Just imagine being able to email your affiliates to say "we just improved our conversion rate again, so every visitor you send us is now worth an extra X on average in your pocket"! Do you know how often an affiliate hears that..? Never. You just unleashed a bunch of killer sales machines!

4. No Way Out

Prove to yourself that once a visitor hits your site from an affiliate link that there is no route, no back door, no dodgy coding, nothing that can trip up commission being paid to your affiliate if that visitor buys. If an affiliate loses trust in your tracking that's game over, and yes, they will tell their friends too. Some affiliates will test your sales tracking and order process right through before they will promote you.

5. Who's The Affiliate?

Trust me this happens - I saw it again today! Never promote other companies affiliate programs to a visitor your affiliate sent you. Yes it's a good thing to try and monetise visitors who leave without buying from you. But where affiliate traffic is concerned do that by getting them to hand over their email for a newsletter or other freebie. Never try and cash in and cut your affiliate out of the loop.

6. Lead The Way

Newsletters and other opt-in freebies are vital to your business. Obviously you want to capture your visitors details so you can attempt to resell those that don't buy first time. But consider your affiliate. Why not encode the source of that lead to your affiliate so when they do buy you can ensure your affiliate gets paid?

7. Crummy Cookies

Most affiliate programs use cookies to track commission. But how long before your cookies expire, do you know for sure? Do you know that cookies are not guaranteed to work? Are you doing everything you reasonably can to ensure commissions do get paid to your affiliates (remember, affiliates get more motivated when they get paid!). Track using everything you can, cookies, email, IP address. And why have your cookies expire after 7 days - if a customer buys on day 8 does your affiliate no longer deserve credit for that sale? Make a stand, proudly broadcast to your affiliate that your cookies last for 90 days, 180 days, a year or never expire!

8. Bait & Switch

Never try and tempt affiliates in with big commissions and then reduce them, unless you've made it very clear it's a limited offer. A drop in commission could tip the balance and leave your affiliates carefully planned pay per click campaign costing them. And that affiliate is more likely to just go elsewhere than risk losing money again. So if ever you find you have to reduce commissions, justify it very well and give plenty of notice.

9. Pulling the Rug

Make sure your campaign is sustainable. I've seen campaigns that "ran out of money" within weeks leaving affiliates scrambling to switch their (now unpaid) offers. It requires some effort from affiliates to promote your products. The best will have taken significant time to plan how to sell your product and built copy and content around it. Some will go the extra mile of building an entire site around your products. These things can take time to build momentum, so please don't pull the rug on your hard working affiliates by running out of budget within a couple of weeks or months of launching. Plan and structure your affiliate program to build a permanent relationship with your affiliates.

Now Be Loud And Proud

And once you fix these problems, don't just do it quietly - shout it loud to your affiliates. Those that didn't realise will appreciate your honesty that you found a problem and fixed it. And those that knew may just become your new best friends.

Oliver Hall has been an affiliate program manager and an affiliate since the early days. He's seen sales explode by running good affiliate programs well, and businesses die when they run them badly.

Founder and Editor of EthicalAffiliatePrograms.com

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