Affiliate marketing is one of the highest ROI businesses anyone can start. With little to no upfront capital, no sales or fulfilment, affiliates can earn income without having to deal directly with customers. Although affiliate marketing has its perks, many new affiliates fail because they fall into common pitfalls. These pitfalls often have a direct impact on their earnings along with their ability to scale their business. In this post, we’ll discuss the five most common mistakes made when joining new affiliate programs so you can avoid them altogether.

1. Not building relationships with affiliate managers

One of the biggest myths in affiliate marketing is that you don’t need to build relationships with affiliate managers. Affiliate marketing can be a no-contact sport, you don’t have to do any outbound sales or customer support, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to build relationships with the people who can help you succeed. If you’re starting out, you can get by with not building a good relationship with affiliate managers. This is because you don’t generate enough revenue for them and you’re not bringing significant demand. The downside to this is that as your business scales, you won’t have any leverage to ask for better rates or any other benefits your program offers.

Building relationships with affiliate managers allows you to bypass some of the hoops that new affiliates have to go through. You can get expedited reviews, access to higher commission rates, and be able to work with the managers to create custom promotional materials. These are all valuable things that can help you succeed as you grow as an affiliate marketer. Doing simple things like sending an email or inviting the manager to connect with you on LinkedIn are great ways to get your foot in the door and build that relationship.

2. Joining affiliate programs with short cookie durations

A costly mistake that new affiliate marketers do is join affiliate programs with short cookie durations. Cookie durations dictate how long you will get credit for referring a customer to a merchant’s site. The industry standard is 30 days, but some programs offer 60-90 days and that can lead to more affiliate sales for affiliates. The majority of new affiliate marketers join programs with shorter cookie durations because they don’t know any better. They think that all affiliate programs are the same. For example, Amazon’s affiliate program has a cookie duration of just 24 hours. Unless you check the fine print, you wouldn’t know this.

You don’t need to go and check the cookie duration of all affiliate programs but check on your most valuable partnerships. See exactly what the duration is and how it might impact your earnings. If you notice that the affiliate program has very short cookie durations, it’s best to find another suitable replacement. This small change can lead to drastic earning differences.

3. Choosing affiliate programs with poor compensation

In addition to cookie duration, you need to check the exact compensation scheme of an affiliate program. Some programs might have low payouts, while others offer high payouts but only on certain product categories. There are many differences depending on the industry you’re in along with the products you promote. The decision of which affiliate programs you choose to promote can make or break your business. If you do decide to choose a program, aim to pick one that either has recurring payments or high affiliate payouts for each sale.

The reason why you need to avoid affiliate programs with poor compensation is that you won’t earn enough to cover the costs of acquisition. If you’re not making a significant profit, then there’s no point in promoting that merchant. It can take years to build a successful blog, YouTube channel, etc., so it only makes sense to go after affiliate programs that compensate you well for driving customers to them. It’s better to go after high-paying programs that have fewer affiliates in comparison to lower-paying programs with more affiliates.

4. Affiliate programs with little to no support

As an affiliate, you don’t have much control over sales and product fulfilment. All you can control is which affiliate or referral program you drive traffic to along with which programs you choose to work with. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with affiliate marketing. Your affiliate codes may expire, your payment processor can have issues, etc. Most people join affiliate programs without vetting the support of the programs. This can lead to a number of issues down the road.

A good affiliate program will allow you to have access to an affiliate manager or someone on the support team. Without this, you’ll be left at the mercy of chatbots and automated messages. Try reaching out to the support staff of an affiliate program and see how they respond. This can give you a good indicator regarding communication times, their ability to help, etc. The affiliate support team will always be your first place of contact for any issues that may come up, so it’s essential to make sure they are competent.

5. Not following up with specific affiliate programs

The great affiliate programs are often ones everyone in your niche knows about. These are the programs with good compensation, great products, and fantastic support for affiliates. When you apply to these programs, there can be a lower chance of acceptance due to their volume. Affiliates often make the mistake of just applying to these programs and forgetting about following up.

If you apply for a specific program and don’t hear back, make sure to follow up. You can do this by either sending a polite email or connecting with them on social media. It’s important to keep in touch with affiliate managers because they generally help make the big decisions regarding affiliate operations. After you apply for a given program, make sure to follow up at least 2-3x before moving on to the next one.

The mistakes mentioned above are extremely detrimental for new affiliates. Avoiding bad affiliate programs is just as important as finding the right ones. The difference between a successful affiliate and a failed one often comes down to the programs and products they choose to promote. It’s vital to do your research and be very selective in order to give yourself the best chance for success. You can use affiliate program reviews to inform your decision and promote the best programs possible for your business.

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