When you advertise for affiliates, your reputation can ride on theirs and vice versa. It’s important to be confident in their ability to serve your ideal customer with integrity and reliability. Their products or services should be exceptional. But how do you vet them?
How to Vet Affiliate Advertisers
Due diligence is critical before you promote an affiliate program. If you’re already familiar with the company, it’s probably safe to go with your gut feeling. However, you’re going to find hundreds of potential advertisers that you are not at all familiar with. When that happens, try the following tips to ensure you make a wise decision.
1. Start making a list of deal breakers to use in your process of elimination. For example, I stay away from gambling, investing and medication affiliates. I have no desire to tackle Canadian laws for those verticals, even though their affiliate programs often pay well. I also stay away from multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes. MLM isn’t illegal in Canada, but if it’s structured as a pyramid and focuses more on recruiting new affiliates than selling the products, it’s probably illegal here.
2. Search the internet to see if any red flags pop up. Be aware that other affiliate marketers may publish biased reviews to increase their own commissions. Try to find customer reviews if you can. You’ll want to vet both the advertiser the product or service you’ll be promoting on their behalf.
3. Read the contract! Each affiliate program has terms and conditions and reading them all can get tedious. However, it’s imperative that you are fully aware of anything that might impact how much you earn, where you advertise, and unreasonable terms.
4. Begin by joining Canadian and American affiliate programs. There are plenty of legit affiliate programs offered in other countries, but they do require more due diligence to ensure they’re OK to recommend to your North American audience. Usually, if their product or service is illegal in Canada or doesn’t meet specific import requirements (such as special labeling), they won’t accept Canadians into their program anyway.
5. There should be no charge to join any affiliate program. If you must pay a fee or make a purchase, it could be a sign you’re dealing with an illegal MLM or other scheme.
6. Some affiliate networks provide advertiser information that can tell you a lot about them. For example, ShareASale will tell you if an advertiser is low on funds and how long they’ve been online without running out of funds. These ‘funds’ are used to pay you, so it’s an important factor.
7. Check their status with the Better Business Bureau.
8. Head to their website and read their company information (About Us) page. Is there enough information? Do they include their address and contact info?
9. Read the company’s customer policies and procedures, which you should be able to easily find on their website. You should know how they treat their customers before recommending or otherwise associating yourself with them. For example, a solid guarantee and warranty can be the difference between a happy and unhappy customer.
10. Have a look through their social media posts to make sure their message, mission and ethics line up with yours.
11. Check their social responsibility and environmental endeavors. Canadians prefer small businesses that are socially responsible and they’ll often pay more for their products.
“Sustainable and responsible business practices can save resources, promote green production, protect the environment or otherwise contribute to sustainability,” states The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) Guide, Spotlight on Social Responsibility. “They look beyond pure financial considerations to include social and environmental aspects, and can help companies reduce operating costs, innovate and remain competitive.”
12. If the advertising company is part of a group of companies, it can’t hurt to put those under a microscope too.
13. Don’t hesitate to contact advertisers if you have questions or require clarification. Contact the company with general questions, or the affiliate manager if you have questions specifically about their affiliate program.
14. The next step is trying the product or service yourself, if that’s feasible. Once you join their affiliate program, send an email to respectfully ask if product samples or trials are available. Consider purchasing to review the entire customer experience. It’s always best to recommend products or services you’ve actually tried yourself.
You’ll soon develop skills that will allow you to quickly evaluate potential affiliate advertisers. Eventually, you should be able to reach a conclusion in a matter of minutes. Until then, take your time to vet each company and program so you can confidently promote and recommend their products and services.
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