Top 10 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes


affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the most liberating and lucrative careers available to the solo entrepreneur. With affiliate marketing, you don’t need to own a product, handle customer support, worry about fulfillment or do anything except generate traffic. You just pocket a commission every time you make a sale.

Affiliates can span a wide spectrum. On one end, you have people making just a couple hundred dollars a month, doing a bit of work in their spare time. On the other end, you have affiliates making hundreds of thousands of dollars per month. Some of these affiliates are under 18.

Affiliate marketing is a career that can grow very quickly. You can go from making nothing today to making five figures a month in as little as six months. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the people who get into affiliate marketing never make it to the upper tiers. It’s not because they weren’t smart or because they weren’t willing to put in the effort. It was primarily because they made one of these ten mistakes.

These are the top 10 mistakes affiliates make. These can kill a campaign before it even gets started, or turn a budding affiliate marketing career into ash. Here are the 10 mistakes to avoid.


Mistake #1: Expecting Success Too Quickly

You’ve seen the headlines:


“How a 16 Year Old Kid Made $16,000 in Under 48 Hours”

“In Just 3 Days, I Made $48,000 – Most Of It In My Sleep!”

“A Push-Button System So Easy, Anyone Who Speaks
English Could Make $200 a Day, Immediately!”

The list goes on and on. This kind of marketing promotes the kind of short attention span, “make money now” mindset that sets so many affiliates up for failure.

The truth is that affiliate marketing takes time. You need to learn your traffic sources. You need to test offers. You need to find what works and what doesn’t. You usually need to fail 5 to 10 times before finding one profitable campaign.

Success in affiliate marketing doesn’t come in hours or days. It comes in weeks and months. If you’re expecting to succeed by the end of the week, chances are you’ll be disappointed. If you’re going to get into this industry, get in it for the long haul. It’s rewarding, but it’s not a quick fix.



Mistake #2: Not Tracking Traffic Sources

If you’re not tracking down to the keyword level, or an equivalent level of detail in whatever traffic source you’re using, you’re losing money.

In PPC, the difference between bidding broad match for the keyword “dating tips” and bidding exact match for the same phrase is use. The keyword that might actually convert might be “dating tips for men.” They just happen to get in there through the phrase match. If you’re not tracking exactly what converted for you, you’re going to lose money on all your exact match bids.

The same applies to Facebook PPC. You might be getting a lot of conversions, but you don’t know exactly where they’re coming from. With proper measurement, you might find that the majority of your conversions actually come from women between 30 and 33, even though you’re targeting between 25 and 35. You can greatly increase your ROI by narrowing your age range.

The list goes on and on. For each and every traffic source, you want to be tracking your conversion back to the source in as much detail as possible.



Mistake #3: Not Testing a Wide Range of Traffic Sources

If you’ve managed to make SEO work for you, that’s fantastic. But that’s not a reason not to test AdWords, media buying, Facebook PPC, mobile traffic or other kinds of traffic.

As a rule of thumb, what you want to do is test as many traffic sources as possible. Figure out which one(s) work for you, then focus on it and scale it out. Grow it as large as you can, then go back to testing traffic sources. Again, find something that works, then scale it out. Rinse and repeat.

If you get stuck using only one traffic source, you severely limit the amount of traffic and revenues you can bring in.


Mistake #4: Thinking There’s Truly Free Traffic

There’s no such thing as free traffic. There’s only trading time for traffic. In affiliate marketing, you can either invest your time or invest your money. You can’t build a successful affiliate marketing business if you’re unwilling to invest either.

Many beginning affiliates think that investing time into SEO affiliate marketing is the answer. This can be a good way to get started, but it’s important to realize just what you’re valuing your time at. If you’re building your own links, writing your own content, doing your own SEO, you’re often getting as little as $3 or less per hour for your time.

Conversely, if you’re willing to invest a bit of money, your business can grow a whole lot faster. Growing paid traffic is much faster than growing SEO or organic traffic. An SEO website might take 6 months to get up to 10,000 visitors a month. A paid traffic site could hit that in a week, profitably, if your sales and split testing skills are strong.

If you don’t have money, use free traffic to get you started. If you do however, don’t be afraid to invest. Start small, test things out and then expand your investment once it shows progress.



Mistake #5: Promoting the Wrong Offer

Many beginning affiliates simply pick an offer out of thin air and start promoting it. Unfortunately, when you do this there’s a very good chance that you’ll end up picking the wrong offer. In this context, “wrong” means not earning the most you can per visitor.

In every major market, there’s going to be a whole bunch of offers you can promote. For example, if you wanted to sell a weight loss eBook, you have Fat Loss 4 Idiots, Fat Burning Furnace, Truth About Abs, etc – All of them trending very highly on Clickbank.

If you’re promoting a dating CPA offer, you can promote for, eHarmony, SinglesNet or any other well branded offer.

The list goes on and on and on. For every offer, there are at least three comparable offers you could promote. The key is to test out all of the comparable ones to figure out which has the highest eCPM (earnings per thousand visitors.)

Don’t just pick one offer. Test every offer. You’d be shocked at how big a difference it could make. Two offers that seem completely identical on the surface can convert at dramatically different rates. Test your offers, don’t pick your offers.


Mistake #6: Not Day Parting

Conversion rates can vary a lot throughout the day. For example, for a dating offer, it might convert best later in the evening when people are at home feeling lonely. On the other hand, a “work from home” offer might convert best early in the day, when people get in the work and feel disgruntled again. Some offers might convert better on weekends than weekdays.

On many offers, you’ll find that certain times of days don’t convert at all. You’ll still get clicks, but the people clicking just won’t buy anything.

Day parting allows you to separate out all the non-buying times from the buying times. This allows you to stop spending money on times of days that don’t work and only focus on the times that do. Don’t ignore day parting – It can increase your ROI by as much as 30%, which could be the difference between profitability and loss.


Mistake #7: Not Split Testing Enough

First, deciding just to do landing pages or just to do direct linking is a mistake. You should absolutely test both direct linking and landing pages.

If you find that landing pages do well, then you should absolutely split test a variety of landing pages. Even if one is working well doesn’t mean you shouldn’t split test another one to see if it could do better.

Even if you’re running SEO traffic, you should still split test. Let’s say you run a successful website and place an affiliate product banner somewhere on your site. You should still test linking directly to the offer, as well as linking to a review page you wrote.

Test, test, test and test. It makes a big difference.


Mistake #8: Not Networking With Affiliates in Person

If you look at all of the world’s most successful affiliates – Say, anyone making $100,000 or more a month – You’ll find they all have one thing in common: They spend time in person with other affiliates.

Conversely, struggling affiliates or affiliates making very little money tend to be people who’re working alone in their bedroom with very little contact with other affiliates. This is not a coincidence.

The only place you can really learn cutting edge traffic tactics is through networking with other affiliate marketers. You can go to events like Affiliate Summit and many others. Successful affiliate marketers aren’t going to put what they know into a $40 eBook. To really get the inside scoop on how other affiliates make their money, you need to actually meet them in person and become friends with them.

Yes, it costs money to go to conferences. Flights, hotels and registration fees do add up. But the networking opportunities and the lessons you’ll learn will make it all worth it.


Mistake #9: Not Developing a Relationship With Your Affiliate Manager

Your affiliate manager can be one of your most powerful tools. Most affiliate networks will assign an affiliate manager to your account. Your affiliate manager’s job is to help you maximize your income. If you’re working with small private companies, the company’s marketing director or even the company founder might be the affiliate manager.

You want an ally on the inside. How can an affiliate manager help you out?

  • They could tell you what’s working for other affiliates. For example, if other affiliates are killing it on Bing PPC while everyone’s struggling with AdWords, that’s something you want to know.
  • They can put you on non-rotating landing pages. If you’re sending traffic to a page, you want to make sure it’s not a page they’re split testing.
  • They can put conversion cookies on thank you pages. This allows you to use any kind of tracking software you want.
  • They can give you access to creatives. You can use their banner ads, their videos and other marketing materials instead of using your own.
  • They can give you free product samples. If they’re going to launch a new initiative, having samples can really help you promote.

The list goes on and on. Having an ally on the inside can make a big difference. Befriend your AM. Call them or message them on instant messenger and build a relationship.



Mistake #10: Not Trying an Email List

Affiliates are much more likely to treat their visitors with a “hit and run” mentality than product owners and vendors. Affiliates tend to want to just rank pages and put up links, or just buy traffic and send them to the vendor. Very few affiliates take the time to build a list.

However, when you do take the time to build a list, you greatly maximize your earnings per visitor. You not only sell one product to the visitor, but can sell many, many products over the long haul.

This allows you to spend a lot more money per click to acquire new customers. You’re not just getting a commission on one product, but many commissions on many products.

When you’re building a list like this, do it around one specific industry or niche. Don’t do it around a specific product. You can have a primary product that you promote, but the list should be broad enough that you can promote a range of products.

This tactic works just as well for SEO as it does for PPC and other forms of traffic.


These are ten of the most common and most deadly affiliate marketing mistakes. Affiliate marketing, when done right, can be an incredibly lucrative and rewarding career. Just make sure you avoid these mistakes as you build your business.


Top 10 Affiliate Management Mistakes


affiliate management

Running an affiliate program can certainly grow one’s business by cost-effectively increasing sales. After all, who wouldn’t want a sales force that you only pay when they get results? That’s what an affiliate program is, but it isn’t a “set it and forget it” thing. Creating and maintaining an affiliate program takes work, but it’s certainly worth it.

One of the easiest ways to put your best foot forward is to avoid many of the common affiliate management mistakes covered in this guide. We’ll show you some of the deadliest mistakes to avoid and how to avoid them.


Mistake #1: Passive Recruitment

Many affiliate program owners think that they can simply set up their affiliate program and people will flock to them, wanting to promote their products. It simply doesn’t work that way. You need to seek out potential affiliates and entice them to promote you.

You can find affiliates by:

  • Finding website owners who rank well for keyword phrases that are related to your products.
  • Invite your customers to join your affiliate program. After all, if they already love your products, they’ll be a great spokesperson for them.
  • Get to know others in your niche through Facebook, Twitter and other social channels.


The more you work to find the right affiliates for your program, the more successful it will be. Always set aside time and resources for recruitment.


Mistake #2: Lack of Training for Newbies

Many affiliate program owners make the assumption that potential super affiliates already know what they’re doing. Well, the truth is, there are many people with very popular websites and large mailing lists that don’t really know about selling or affiliate marketing. Always provide training and how-to guides to help your readers get started on the right foot.

You can conduct webinars, create tutorials and be available for questions. Anything you can do to make it easy for new affiliates to promote your product, the better.

Some affiliates will need to know how to set up their links and track their campaigns. Others will need some ideas on how to incorporate your products into what they already do. Many will need both, so make sure you provide it.


Mistake #3: Sparse Promotional Tools

An affiliate program that includes a few links and banners isn’t going to go far. Affiliates need a variety of tools they can use in their marketing. They also need new tools on a regular basis, so they have a reason to promote your products over and over again.

A good affiliate program might include things like:

  • Text links to specific products, landing pages and content
  • Landing pages for different target audience groups
  • Banners and graphics in a wide variety of sizes
  • Short and long text ads
  • Free samples and trials
  • Valuable coupons or “two-for-one” offers
  • Ready-made pay-per-click ad text
  • Seasonal and promotion-specific tools
  • Twitter tweets and social media updates
  • Blog posts
  • Special reports
  • Product reviews
  • Interviews
  • Videos and audio recordings

It’s a simple equation. The more tools you provide your affiliates, the more they will promote you, so provide as much as you can.



Mistake #4: Not Staying in Touch

Most affiliate marketers sign up to numerous affiliate programs. This is obviously no secret. So even though they might be really excited about your product today, if they don’t hear from you after that, they may never do anything to promote you.

Keep in touch with your affiliates regularly via email and where you can, by telephone. Let them know what new promotions and products you have available. Offer to provide them with suggestions on how to best promote your products. Run affiliate contests where they can win bonus commissions and/or prizes.

Don’t let your affiliate forget about you. Be their partner and help them become successful, so you can both enjoy the benefits.



Mistake #5: No Link or Campaign Tracking

While the majority of your affiliates will probably never track their links or campaigns, you can bet many of your top affiliates will insist on this feature. Just throwing links out there and hoping they’ll get some clicks can work, but it’s not the way to get the best results.

Provide the ability for your affiliates to track their various campaigns, so they can improve their results and even more commissions. Sounds like a win-win, right?


Mistake #6: No Customized Promotions for Affiliates

Your affiliates have unique audiences and unique needs when it comes to promoting your products, so help them come up with the customized solutions they need.

You can offer them:

  • Special coupon codes
  • A report tailored to their target audience
  • Being a guest on a webinar or podcast
  • Creating an audio interview
  • Writing a guest blog post

Anything you can do to target an affiliate’s audience better, the better the conversions are going to be for the affiliate and for you.

Start by taking a look at some of your better performing affiliates. Pick up the phone and ask them how you can help them and come up with a strategy together.




Mistake #7: Lackluster Affiliate Sign Up Page

Affiliate programs are a dime a dozen these days, and it seems like just about any product website has one. That means there is a lot of competition.

It isn’t enough to put up a sign up page that says you pay 50% commissions and leave it at that. You have to show how your affiliate programs shines amongst the others.

Some things you can include in your sign up page include:

  • Typical conversion rates for your affiliates
  • Average earnings per click
  • Information about the training you offer to affiliates
  • Testimonials from your affiliates and your customers
  • Performance-based incentives you offer. For example, higher commissions depending on sales volume
  • Letting your potential affiliate know that you’re available for questions and can create customized promotions

Put as much effort into your sign up page as you do to your sales pages. After all, your affiliate sign up page is SELLING your affiliate program, so make sure you show the benefits.


Mistake #8: Too Much Faith in an Affiliate Network

As an affiliate program owner (or hopeful owner), you probably know that you can run an independent affiliate program or you can join an affiliate network that includes extra help and services to make your program a success.

Some affiliate networks offer the basic services of making it easy to set up your promotional tools and paying your affiliates for you. Others include more hands-on service and allow you to tap into a large existing affiliate force to promote your products.

The more service they provide, the more expensive the affiliate network is likely to be. Many business owners justify the expense because they will earn the money back through the success of their affiliate program.

But here’s the thing. No matter where you set up your affiliate program, there is work to be done. Nothing happens on its own or overnight. So even if you choose a huge full-service affiliate network like Commission Junction (, your success is not guaranteed. Always put in the work you need to be a success.



Mistake #9: Not Testing Offers First

When it comes to running an affiliate program, it’s your and your affiliates’ reputations on the line. You are accountable to your affiliates and they are accountable to their audience. By running untested offers, you not only risk your reputation, but you also risk killing your profits. And when you kill the profits of your affiliates, they just aren’t going to promote you again.

You can test offers before you give them to your affiliates to ensure the best conversion rates. Test through pay-per-click, your own mailing list and other venues. The added benefit is that you can provide some conversion data to your affiliates, so they can make an educated decision on whether or not to promote a specific offer.


Mistake #10: Not Paying Affiliates on Time

When affiliates work hard to promote your products, they expect to get paid. They expect to get paid on time, every time. Unfortunately, a lot of affiliate programs don’t operate this way, so by ensuring you do…you set yourself apart.

Set a regular payout day, so there are no questions and affiliates know what to expect. You can pay by check, but offering instant payment options like PayPal are always attractive.




Running an affiliate program can be pretty competitive, but if you avoid some of these common mistakes, you can put yourself light years ahead of all that competition. Create a flexible affiliate program that produces results and seek out affiliates that are a perfect fit. It will be well worth it.