9 Reasons Your Affiliates Do Not Trust You & 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 getting paid. It's not the only motivation but fundamentally it's the reason your relationship with them exists. So keep in mind that when an affiliate actually gets paid commission from you it increases trust and 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, and 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 a valuable trust building tactic for general visitors. But if an affiliate sent you that click and you take that order by phone, your affiliate loses their commission.
Maybe customers never call to order, but it's the fact it could happen and that will undermine the trust of your affiliates. Simply hide that phone number for affiliate traffic (obviously keep it on your contact page).
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 $XX on average in your pocket"!
Do you know how often an affiliate hears that..? Never.
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! 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 - so you both benefit from the follow up. Never try and cash in and cut your affiliate out of the loop. Yes, that includes running 3rd party advertising.
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 store the source of that lead so when they do buy you can ensure your affiliate gets paid too?
7. Crummy Cookies
Track using everything you can - cookies, email, IP address.
Also ask why your cookies expire so soon (was it the default setting?). If your cookies are 7 days and a customer buys on day 8 does your affiliate no longer deserve any credit for generating that sale? Make a stand, proudly broadcast to your affiliates 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
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 did know may just become your new best friends.