Affiliate marketing is amazing because you don’t have to create a product or service. You leverage your understanding of the Web (such as content publication, social media, or advertising) to push affiliate offers and earn a commission.
The way that sounds gives you the impression that there aren’t any risks involved with the industry.
On the contrary. Affiliate marketing, like all other industries, does have its host of issues. There are plenty of hidden dangers and big risks involved when you get involved.
This post wasn’t made to dissuade you from giving affiliate marketing a shot. It’s here so that you can avoid some of these dangers and risks that may be lurking around the corner as you get your start. Avoidance or having a plan of action to combat these items will keep your business running smoothly so grab a pen & paper, take notes, and be ready for the following …
The Hidden Dangers & Biggest Risks
- Price Wars – Once someone catches wind of a successful campaign you can bet they’re going to jump all over it. This means that you’ll likely find yourself in a bidding war on advertising channels for important keywords. Where before you were getting a nice rate – now it’s being driven up by the competition. If they happen to have a bigger budget for advertising then you could see yourself out of the game because they’re strong arming you through finances.
- Search Engine Swings – Penguin and Panda updates are enough to send chills down your spine. For those out of the loop – they were/are Google updates which threw the search results in disarray (to an extent). SEO in general is a hit-and-miss process and it really doesn’t help when it can all go sour from a flip of a switch on the end of the search engine. One day you’re ranking well and the next you’ve dropped off the search results.
- Uncontrollable Reputation – Anyone can go onto one of the many review sites or social media platforms and just rip into your brand even if they aren’t a customer. It does seem like slander but there’s not much you can do about it. Once you have that taste of success you will certainly find haters doing their best to bring you down a notch. You can combat it through reputation management procedures but once the damage is done it’s often very hard to rebuild your brand image because those negative (fake) reviews are still out there.
- Shady Neighborhoods – Affiliate programs are rather easy to put together thanks to many different software and service options. This means that a company that’s not-so-legitimate may leverage this ease into offering an affiliate model, drum up a ton of sales through their affiliates, and then suddenly do a 180 and refuse to pay. It happens more often than you think. There’s a whole lot of hype around new programs and networks and when this is combined with a lack of due diligence a lot of affiliates get burned.
- Swing Markets – The marketplace can be very fickle. What’s selling like hot cakes today can go cold the next. If you were to dump all your funds into a campaign pushing one of these hot products and forget to keep it monitored you could see a big loss in advertising because you didn’t end the campaigns at the right time. The other problem is that if you base all your efforts around a single promotion (one of the many mistakes of marketers) and it suddenly drops off in popularity or gets dominated by the competition you’re now stuck with a project that’s going to wither and die.
- Changing Policies – For months an advertising platform may be perfectly okay with your campaigns and then suddenly, like flipping a switch, they change their minds and ban your campaigns because they break new policies. Sometimes this may put strikes against your account which prevents you from using the platform. It may also lock your earnings. The moral of the story is to use a variety of advertising and marketing platforms so you’re never in this situation.
- Thievery & Take backs – The first headache you’re going to get is one that comes from stolen commissions through “cookie stuffing” or when a coupon overrides your affiliate link. It happens, it sucks, sometimes a programs/networks system can notice and still give you the commission but it’s not always the case which means that hard work just got someone else paid for way less effort. The other is the occasional times when you do make a commission but it’s later revoked for some unknown reason which is usually attributed to illegitimate conversions (even though you did everything legitimately) – it just happens.
Mitigating the Issues
It’s been said time and time again on AffiliatePrograms.com: do your due diligence!
Affiliate marketing is very exciting, yes, but don’t lunge head first into it not knowing what you’re getting into. It’s an industry that can make winners (or losers) in a single campaign. The least you can do is the research to understand who you’re working with, what you’re promoting, and whether you’re operating to the best of your abilities. Do so and you’ll mitigate all the issues covered in the post with finesse.