An affiliate program can extend your reach and increase your profits. Having a commission-based sales force gives the ability to reach more potential customers than you could reach on your own, and it gives your affiliates motivation to get as many sales as possible. It is important to remember that your affiliates are representing you and what they do can affect the public's impression of your company and products.
So what does this mean? It means that you need to run your affiliate program according to your goals and the image you wish to put forth. Set forth rules of conduct for affiliates.
If selling a product that you wish to brand as being exclusive it's important to extend that exclusiveness to your affiliates. Just as you won't find haute couture at every store in town, exclusive products lose their exclusiveness if they are promoted on every website one comes across. In this type of situation, you might want to limit your program to a small number of affiliates. You could also take this a step further and only allow your product to be promoted on websites that meet certain criteria.
On the other end of the spectrum, perhaps you want everyone to have access to your product. If so, you would be better served to offer your affiliate program to an unlimited number of people or at least as many as your affiliate software can handle. After all, you aren't paying your salespeople a salary. You only pay for results.
Every affiliate program needs a set of rules for its affiliates to go by. This set of rules is called the Terms of Service (TOS). It should include the requirements that one must meet to become an affiliate, as well as what is expected of affiliates and under what circumstances they could lose their affiliate status.
It is important to include in the TOS the specific activities that you want affiliates to refrain from. Even if you include language that reserves your right to let affiliates go at will, it is important to let them know what is expected of them. This could include things such as the following:
No spamming - This is of vital importance, because spamming is illegal and it doesn’t need to be associated with your business. You could even go as far as to include a definition of spamming, because some people are unaware of where the line is drawn.
No advertising your products or services on a site that contains pornography, racist language or other undesirable items - An advertisement for your products on a site that contains such things could be detrimental to your business. The casual visitor may think that you are actively advertising on the site, thereby condoning the activity.
The affiliate cannot represent himself as an employee of your company - You can't control every aspect of your affiliate's websites, emails and other marketing activities but you can let them know that they must make it clear that they are not owners or employees of your company.
Is An Affiliate Program Worth It?
Running an affiliate program can be very rewarding. You need to keep in mind that your affiliates are affiliated with your company and they can influence potential customers' perceptions of it. Letting your affiliates know what you expect from them from the start can make things go much more smoothly.