A couple of days ago, we shared with you a webinar where Gary demonstrated what a data feed is and how you can build an online store with one. You get access to data feeds from merchants once you’ve been accepted onto their affiliate program, either directly or via an affiliate network. But being accepted isn’t always straightforward.
Today we welcome our first ever guest blogger, Joe Sousa, who is a seasoned and successful affiliate. Here Joe will share with you his top tips for receiving the green light from a merchant or network to join their program and so get access to products and data feeds. Over to Joe…
Many affiliates run into issues when they try to get approved for a new affiliate program or approved to run offers for a new merchant. This can happen to new affiliates but also to affiliates who have been in the business for years. It can be very frustrating when you get a great idea for a new affiliate site, do some research, find some merchants to work with, and then not get approved. It has happened to me more times than I can remember.
Sometimes there is nothing you can really do about it. Maybe the merchant isn’t accepting new affiliates, maybe the shortsighted merchant limits the type of sites they want to work with (i.e. no blogs, no coupon sites, no PPC affiliates, etc.) and sometimes it can just be because nobody is managing the program. In cases like this there isn’t much you can do.
The good news is, in most other cases there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of getting approved. I spoke with a few different affiliate managers, outsourced program managers (OPMs), and network representatives about what affiliates can do to get approved and their advice was pretty much the same. Here are 4 tips that will help you get approved for most affiliate programs:
1. List Your Websites
I know this can be a pain, especially if you have a lot of websites and work with multiple networks. But one of the best ways a merchant or affiliate manager can see if they want to work with you is to look at your websites. Recently I was denied for a program because it was a niche I have never worked in and none of the sites I had seemed to fit that niche. I had the domains registered but didn’t take the time to list them in my affiliate profile on the network before I applied.
You don’t need to list all the domains you have but you might want to list at least one site from every niche you have. If, for example, you deal with baby merchandise you don’t need to list all 15 of your baby related domains but listing one or two will give you a much better chance of getting approved with a baby related merchant.
2. Explain Your General Marketing Plan
How are you planning on promoting the merchant? Are you going to build a specific site around a product? Will you build a datafeed site? Are you planning on adding the products to an existing site? How are you going to drive traffic? Organic or PPC?
Most networks will give you somewhere to explain how you will promote a merchant when you apply for the program. Shareasale.com has a box where it asks you to give an explanation of how you will be promoting the merchant. Even if you ignore the first tip about listing your domains you can use this space to tell the merchant you have a domain you plan on building around their products or tell them about some sites you have that you don’t want to list on your profile.
Take advantage of this opportunity to explain what you plan on doing. Nearly every decent merchant will approve you if you take the time to explain how you plan on promoting their products.
3. Use a working email address
Don’t use a junk email address or one that you never check.
Many times a merchant or affiliate manager will send an email asking questions about how you plan on promoting their products and if you never get the email you will never be able to explain and get approved. Yeah, it can be a pain when merchants abuse the fact that they have a real email address for you and they send you endless newsletters and other emails but when you are getting approved it is important to be in contact with them. Maybe you have some negative feedback in the network you will need to explain or maybe they have some questions about a domain. Whatever the case make sure the email you use when you apply is one that works.
4. Contact the Affiliate Manager
Don’t be afraid to send an email to the affiliate manager or merchant when you apply – especially if your sites aren’t built yet. If you are willing to take the time to send an email introducing yourself and explaining how you are planning on promoting that merchant there will be very few that turn you down.
Don’t try to hide what you want to do and don’t avoid contact with the merchants. Let them know what kind of sites you want to build, let them know what techniques you will use to promote their stuff and there is a very good chance they will approve you.
Along with this you can just choose to work with affiliate managers you know and trust. If you work with an OPM or affiliate manager who manages multiple programs and you have produced for one of their merchants it is usually very easy to get approved for some of their other programs. Most OPMs have at least a half dozen clients and many of them have dozens of merchants they work with. If you can build some good relationships with a few of them you will have quite a few different merchants you can choose from.
Still Hitting Obstacles?
If you try all these steps and still don’t get approved, look for a different merchant. In most verticals there are multiple merchants and if one doesn’t want to work with you there is a very good chance you will be able to find another one that will.
Also, if you are working with an affiliate network such as Shareasale.com you can contact your affiliate development manager and have him contact the merchant on your behalf. Some networks will be better about this than others and some merchants will respond differently but if you build a good relationship with the network they can be a good go-between for you and the merchants.
So basically if you just inform the merchants or affiliate managers of what you plan on doing and don’t try to hide how you will promote the merchant there will be little reason for you to get disapproved.
- What obstacles have you hit in the past when trying to get approval?
- Got any further tips for success to share?
- Any networks or merchants harder than others to get approval from?
As ever, we’d love to hear from you!
Bio: Joe Sousa has been in the SEO/Affiliate game since 1998 and has been a full time affiliate for the past 10 years. He has spoken at multiple industry conferences including Affiliate Summit and blogs about affiliate marketing on http://www.whatdoesjoethink.com