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The Do’s and Don’ts of Affiliate Marketing


If you are an emerging business then your objectives are probably more about acquiring customers than branding. To bring your ROI in line with your expectations, smaller businesses need to consider marketing initiatives that will only cost you once the customer has reached you or made a transaction. Along with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Paid Search Campaigns, the most effective way is Affiliate Programs. Learn more about the Do’s and Don’ts of affiliate marketing:


Join an Affiliate Network

  • For many top affiliates, it’s just too difficult to manage thousands of 1-1 relationships and worry about getting paid on time. Joining an affiliate network will give you credibility with top affiliates.

Assign Someone to Manage the Affiliate Channel

  • Helping others effectively promoting your business requires focus and attention and is different from marketing directly to consumers.

Attend an Affiliate Summit

Tier Your Affiliates

  • Your best affiliates will want a better commission level. Make sure you have the margin to accommodate them.


Automatically Assume Big Networks are Better

  • Linkshare, Commission Junction and Performics are really suited to larger merchants. A smaller company <$10m in sales, can get easily frustrated by their upfront charges, minimum fees and lack of customer support. Smaller networks such as Share a Sale ( (My favorite), Avant Link ( and Kowabunga ( are a great alterative when starting a new program.

Get Screwed by Coupon Sites

  • While some coupon sites can help create new buyers for you, many just take advantage of their natural search engine positions to attract buyers who are already in your shopping cart. They also may bid against you in paid search ads and drive up your marketing costs. A good “terms and conditions” policy can help prevent this. It also help to know who the above board coupon site are.

Focus on Quantity of Affiliates

  • This market exemplifies the 80/20 rule. Most of your sales will only come from a handful of good affiliates. The rest will waste your time and resources. Focus on the big fish. Anyone that doesn’t start producing traffic with the first few weeks will likely never become productive.

Make Unnecessary Mistakes

  • Consult with someone who has experience setting-up an affiliate program before you launch. There are many repeatable best practices and avoidable pitfalls. Experience with the mechanics of the marketplace can matter more than experience in your industry.

Author Richard Banfield

As CEO, Richard leads Fresh Tilled Soil’s strategic vision. He’s a mentor at TechStars and BluePrintHealth, an advisor and lecturer at the Boston Startup School, and serves on the executive committees of TEDxBoston, the AdClub’s Edge Conference, and Boston Regional Entrepreneurship Week.

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