Keeping your affiliate channel compliant and free of fraud is a challenge. Success requires persistent vigilance. Akin to weeding a garden, if you stop, the weeds take over.
In a recent webinar, “The Art of Fraud: Keeping Your Affiliate Program Compliant” we asked our panelists, Michael Swensen, Senior Manager, Brand Quality and Regulatory Compliance at Rakuten Marketing and Greg Hoffman, Founder and CEO of Apogee how to set up, scale, and monitor an affiliate program so that it doesn’t get overrun with fraud.
They concluded that there are 5 actions you can take to minimize your fraud risk.
#1 Establish a meticulous application process.
The application process is absolutely crucial to ensuring a compliant affiliate program. You need to carefully review and vet each affiliate who wants to be part of your program. Think about how they can potentially benefit or harm your program.
“The worst thing an affiliate program can do is to go on auto approve because then you let the dregs of humanity into the program and there is no way to stop them,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman went on to say that the person responsible for reviewing the applications needs to really understand how affiliate marketing works and how the various affiliate marketing models differ. This deep subject matter expertise is essential for identifying red flags and for keeping potential fraudsters or problematic affiliates out of the program.
#2 Set up a thorough audit and reporting system.
An audit and reporting system allows you to monitor traffic, conversion rates, and other key metrics. It is vitally important that both sides– the advertisers and the publishers– have visibility into the metrics and content associated with specific programs and specific ads.
Swensen said, “There needs to be a comprehensive system in place and a clear structure that defines what you are auditing and how you are reviewing systems, as well as a system for reporting that back to advertisers and publishers.”
This type of system allows you to quickly identify problem areas and remediate.
#3 Provide ongoing promotions and keep communicating with your affiliates.
“If you are managing the program from a launch and you are bringing in the right affiliates, you have to give them something to talk about,” said Hoffman.
He said affiliates love deals, coupons, and information about new products. He recommended sending out regular newsletters with content to help affiliates pre-sell products to merchants.
#4 Be transparent about your accountability process.
Clearly establishing an accountability process helps reduce fraud and rewards those publishers who do play by the rules.
If a publisher commits fraud or is violating the terms and conditions of a partner agreement, having an established accountability process in place makes it easier to address those violations. The more detailed the process the better. One type of specific infringement may trigger a phone call, whereas another could mean termination from the program. Clearly laying out this process helps ensure that no one is caught off guard and that there are no surprises.
On the other end of of the spectrum, accountability also encourages good publishers and provides positive affirmation that they are adding value to the program. They know bad actors will not be tolerated and they can continue to thrive in the program.
Swensen concluded by saying, “The most important thing throughout the whole compliance program is transparency. Make sure you set up a transparent program.”
#5 Never stop recruiting.
Recruiting has to be an ongoing effort for the entire length of the program. Hoffman noted that “the top affiliate today may not be the top affiliate tomorrow or next week.”
Since affiliates can go out of business, recruiting never ends. It is always the responsibility of the manager to recruit the relevant affiliates who will help them in the future. Making sure you always have a pipeline of people coming into the program is key to the success of any affiliate program.
Interested in learning more about how you can keep fraudsters at bay? Watch the webinar recording here.