Wednesday, April 17, 2024
For men, women, and teens

How to be the best affiliate manager - avoid these 7 common mistakes

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Written by Vera C. Last updated on .

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Do you want to be the best affiliate manager? If you manage an affiliate program then you’re probably making at least one of the following big mistakes. I say this because I’ve yet to see an affiliate manager not make any of these mistakes – and these could be costing your program in missed opportunities. If bloggers are struggling to promote the brand because of an issue you could fix but haven't done yet, then bloggers' content will convert poorly and the brand will get less sales - making the brand wonder if your affiliate management is effective.

The good news is that there are easy fixes for all of these problems that will take you just 5 minutes each. Fix all of these (and be sure to let bloggers know that changes have been made!) and soon enough you'll be the best affiliate manager. Bloggers will be far more eager to promote the brand, and you'll wind up coming across as awesome to your boss, to the bloggers and to other affiliate marketers.

Mistake 1: Not offering a link for just the brand itself

Yes, this total rookie mistake has even wormed its way into some big well-known brands. This means if you’re the affiliate manager for the brand Shelly’s Accessories, you need to provide an affiliate link whose text just says Shelly’s Accessories.

Ideally your bloggers would draw attention to this omission for you, but many are too shy to speak up about it (lest you notice they have zero sales for the brand so far, for example).

Mistake 2: Capitalizing words in product category links

The affiliate marketers will want to link to the brand's product categories in a natural-sounding conversational context. Imagine then, how disruptive it is for your bloggers and their readers to have capitalized product category links in your affiliate program. Let’s take a look. Imagine I’m a blogger impressed with the men’s button-down shirts at Gigazig Shirts:

"I was highly impressed with the sharp styling of their offerings, in particular their Men’s Button-Down Shirts and accessories, including Belts and Briefcases."

To the reader, this capitalization makes it sound like someone is standing nearby with a loudspeaker. Since bloggers aren’t supposed to modify the links in any way, you really need to drop the capitalization for them. And the question you might be posing: "What if the blogger wants to use it at the start of a sentence?" is a non-issue. As a blogger myself, I don’t think I’ve ever felt the need to begin a sentence with any wording corresponding to a product category.

Mistake 3: Having product category links whose text sounds spammy

Moving on from above, be sure category links have just the category word and nothing else. Really, yes! All too often, I see links correctly pointing to the product category I want to feature, but using text I can’t really do much with, like this:

"Shop the Gigazig men’s button-down shirts now! Plenty of styles for every build!"

This sort of sentence can’t really be inserted easily into a post without scaring off the readers. If the previous example sounded like a loudspeaker, you can only imagine how much worse this one will sound.

Note: if you have those types of links, don't stress. You don't need to take them down, just make sure you also separately offer lower-case product-category-only links like "men’s button-down shirts".

FYI – Limited-time sales and coupons are perfectly fine to sound promotional like the example above; product categories not so.

Mistake 4: Graphics whose style looks lower-quality than the level of product being sold

As a blogger, I see this mistake from affiliate managers much more frequently than you might ever think. If your brand targets age 20's, 30's and/or a family-oriented demographic then please do not give your bloggers banners that are garish, have gradient backgrounds or old-style fonts. Instead the brand should use a classy trendy background, modern fonts, and splashy yet tasteful graphics.

If the brand is supplying banners that look less classy than the product they’re trying to sell (or the audience they’re trying to reach) then your bloggers will be thwarted in their attempts to promote the brand. The banners might not be your responsibility to create, of course. Don't worry! Your 5-minute solution: ask the brand for new banners. This may be easier than you think for the brand: see the next step.

Mistake 5: "You can look but you can’t touch": the banners offered to affiliates are far inferior to any of the artwork on the brand’s website

I occasionally see affiliate banners that look tired and out of date like they were made years ago, but by contrast the current artwork on the brand’s website has moved along beautifully with the times. Your bloggers and affiliate marketers are probably drooling all over the site’s current fashion-forward artwork but they’re forced instead to use ancient, ugly affiliate banners in their posts.

Your fix: Please, please ask the brand to allow some of their existing artwork on the website to be re-purposed as affiliate banners. And no, this is not a one-off thing. Rinse and repeat each season.

Tip: in this situation, make it easy for the brand with these approaches.

  • Look at product category pages of the brand’s store for examples of great banners – banners on category pages tend to look even better than what’s on the home page. Refer to the page link or take a screenshot of candidate artwork when communicating to the brand.
  • Don’t feel overwhelmed with the need to request the new artwork to be re-purposed for every possible affiliate banner size. If need be, just go with requesting one size and make sure it’s mobile-friendly, e.g. a 350 x 250 banner. Reassure the brand that even just a simple crop or resize of the existing artwork on their website is all that is needed. Trust me, if the current affiliate banners look old, then any new banner will be seen as an improvement by your bloggers!

The brand will appreciate your effort as an affiliate manager to make it easy for the brand to offer new banners quickly, cheaply and easily.

Mistake 6: Ignoring time differences

As an affiliate manager, you need to be aware that your affiliate marketers live in various different time zones, and not all will be the same as you. I see this more in situations where you have a) a 1-day-only flash sale and b) an affiliate manager on Pacific Time. Please, if a same-day flash sale is occurring, send your affiliate newsletter out early in the morning. Your Eastern Time bloggers will appreciate it!

If the brand is international, then time differences have even bigger effects. Regardless, what you want to do is maximize the amount of time between the bloggers hearing about the promotion, and the end of the promotion time period in the furthest-ahead time zone.

Mistake 7: Rarely or never sending out an affiliate newsletter

Even if you represent a fairly new brand or don’t have much to say at all, send something out once a season at least. Even if it’s just a morale-booster single paragraph such as:

"We’ve rounded out a good [fall/winter/spring/summer/year] and we’re thrilled to have our affiliates on board. We value your hard work. Here’s looking forward to even more sales for [brand] next season."

This fix now takes less than 5 minutes if you copy & paste the example paragraph I gave.

Why is it a mistake not to send a newsletter out, even a very basic one like the example above? Because you want the brand to be placed in a good position in blog posts that contain multiple brands (e.g. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Holiday Gift Guides, etc). Bloggers will tend to perceive a brand favorably when the manager is active in sending out affiliate newsletters.


These 7 common affiliate manager mistakes are really very easy to fix. If any of these apply to the brand you represent, implement the 5-minute fixes and you’re good to go. You'll come across as the best affiliate manager, both to the brand and to your affiliates.

Do make sure you communicate the changes through an affiliate newsletter! That way bloggers know that the brand is now going to be so much easier and better to promote. They'll be motivated.

You can also give yourself a boost in performance with the free open-source personal organizer software ZimNotes. Learn about ZimNotes and how to set due dates in it here. It's available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

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