Affiliate marketers are your personal army of salespeople who are willing to work for nothing but the potential commission. On the surface, it seems like any business with support like that has it made. You get customers through your affiliates without doing any of the work – inexpensive, easy, and effective.
If you look just a little deeper, however, you’ll find that the world of affiliate marketing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Your affiliates aren’t always strong, loyal soldiers who will help you win the battle of online sales. More often than you’d care to imagine, your affiliates can turn out to be untrained, cowardly, or disloyal, and your business can suffer greatly. Are your affiliates cheapening your brand? Here are some ways it could be happening even under your fearless leadership.
They Could Do Anything to Sell Your Stuff
Someone who will do anything to sell sounds like a committed go-getter, but “anything” encompasses, well, anything – the good and the bad. Some of your affiliates could be pushy, shady salespeople who would lie, cheat, or steal to get referrals. You affiliates could make false claims or empty promises. They could deliberately mislead potential customers, putting profit above anything else, including above ethics and the good name of your business. Affiliates who do anything to sell can seriously cheapen your brand and hurt your image. Their practices will reflect on you, and customers will question the ethics and authenticity of a business that does anything to sell – even if your business doesn’t condone it.
They Could Derail Your Branding Efforts
Your brand is much more than just your business. It’s how your business is perceived by the public, and it incorporates many aspects including colors, logos, graphics, tone, writing style, and more. It takes a lot of work to build a brand and foster brand recognition, and a few rouge affiliates could cause a significant setback in your branding efforts, potentially destroying everything you’ve built. For example, you have no control over where your affiliate banners appear. If an affiliate puts them on an adult website or a controversial political website, for example, your brand could become widely associated with that type of content, whether you want it to or not. Your brand’s image could plummet quickly.
They Could Interact with Customers on Your Behalf
If an affiliate sends over a customer, and that customer is unhappy with their purchase, a few things could happen. They might complain directly to you. They might complain to you and the affiliate who referred them. They might not complain to you at all, and instead bash you all over the affiliate’s site (or elsewhere). If a customer is dissatisfied and takes it up with your affiliate, you have no control over how that affiliate will respond. Will they be polite or rude? Will they be helpful or evasive? Will they bring you into the loop or not? Your affiliates will become your customer service reps, regardless of their qualifications. With affiliates, you’re at risk for having unhappy customers you’ll never even know about. If a customer leaves a bad review on an affiliate site, you don’t have a fair chance to respond.
Affiliate marketing can be a very lucrative venture for both you and your affiliates. There are plenty of reliable, trustworthy affiliates out there who are only interested in making money in a way that makes both you and them look good. Unfortunately, with an open program, there’s no way to weed out the bad apples until it’s too late.
Mey Lau is a marketing strategist at SEOMap. Check out this website to read more of her work.