Affiliate marketing is what you need if you want to make it big. Affiliate marketing is a powerful tool that has shaken the business market in the last decade by offering endless business possibilities of reaching a colossal audience and increasing revenue. Proven to be an amiable option for both merchants and affiliates, this marketing partnership opens up possibilities for a vast online presence and highly profitable opportunities.
Entering an affiliate partnership requires clear and well-defined terms and conditions. An essential part of this partnership is an affiliate marketing agreement that should not be entered into lightly. Before listing all things related to an affiliate agreement, a few things about affiliates and affiliate marketing need to be pointed out.
Who is an Affiliate?
An affiliate is an individual or a company that enters into partnership with a brand to promote and market products and services to wider audiences.
To avoid becoming one of those businesses that change affiliates like they change socks, here are a few tips on managing affiliates successfully and establishing a great partnership.
- Communicate - communicate with affiliates, be there for one another, and exchange thoughts, ideas, and concerns to make this partnership enjoyable and lasting;
- Reward - setting commission rates is complex, so the best way is to pay affiliates based on performance. That way, they can’t complain that they are underpaid or expose your company to losses for overpaying them;
- Educate - provide all the support they might need. Send them information on the products, and newsletters, answer dilemmas, provide sales tips, and be as helpful as possible. These are after all your products they are selling;
- Monitor - affiliates have to be monitored to know they are doing a good job. Inform them of their progress and point out if they need to correct their approach;
- Pay - everyone likes to be paid on time for their work, and affiliates are no different. Everyone needs to be motivated to do the job. Affiliates live from the commission, so don't expect them to do the work if you withhold the earned commission.
Rules of Affiliate Marketing
Learning more about affiliate marketing will open up a world of possibilities that may benefit your business. Understanding the process of finding affiliates, engaging them, and marketing your products is essential.
An affiliate marketing guide will have all the information a merchant needs to get into affiliate marketing. Or check the following affiliate marketing rules and see if you abide by them:
- Have a plan highlighting your primary business goals. Create a clear affiliate marketing strategy you will use to guide you and help you achieve your goals;
- A transparent affiliate program is the best way to attract potential affiliates. Be sure your affiliate program page is engaging and informative;
- Affiliate marketing is about communication and establishing relationships, so having excellent relations with affiliates should prioritize. Be very picky when selecting your affiliates because they can be both good and damaging for your business;
- Entering into an affiliate agreement is a big must. Listing all the terms and conditions of the partnership will make it run smoothly and successfully. And if not, at least both parties will be protected by the law;
- If you are new to working with an affiliate, take time to understand how they operate. Understanding online marketing means that each affiliate has a different strategy, but you will benefit by reaching out to larger audiences. It might take some time, but eventually, you’ll learn how to manage affiliates;
- High-quality products should be easy to promote, and in most cases, affiliates have the know-how to promote products. But scams are inevitable from both parties. If the partnership is built on trust, then both parties won’t have to turn to deceitful actions to sell products;
- Be available for all parties involved in this process. You can use affiliate tracking software and automate the whole process, but this doesn’t mean you should disappear from the radar. Be present and oversee things because you can react and put things back on the right track if things go south.
What is an Affiliate Marketing Agreement?
An affiliate marketing agreement is the document merchants and affiliates sign to officialize their affiliate partnership, and it describes the terms and conditions of the working relationship.
The agreement may be signed between a brand and an individual or a brand and a company. To have a solid and fruitful partnership, the agreement must include all rights and obligations that both parties are bound by.
What is Included in an Affiliate Marketing Agreement?
Every agreement has two parts: a legal and a financial part. Yes, the agreement itself is a legally binding document, but the legal part includes items related to the brand. Intellectual property rights, privacy policies, content standards, disclaimer, and brand requirements are just a few legal matters. The second or financial part includes items like commission rate, commission requirements, disqualifications, and the payment schedule.
Each agreement consists of several parts, each defining the item in question. It is good to know what a good affiliate agreement should contain. Consulting an affiliate marketing guide may provide answers, but it’s best to contact a lawyer specializing in these agreements.
Parts of an Affiliate Marketing Agreement
An affiliate marketing agreement is a legal document like any other agreement and comprises several parts. This includes defining the terminology, the working relationship, rights and obligations, and much more. Let's look at each piece more closely.
A forward introduction explains the agreement's purpose and a short overview of the merchant’s intentions. This should be clear and concise to avoid possible misunderstandings between the parties.
Terminology And Definitions
Legal terminology tends to get complicated, and sections like these are necessary. When it comes to legal documents, everyone needs to be on the same page. The point of the list is to avoid misunderstandings in case a party is facing difficulty understanding a term. Refrain from endless glossaries and keep this section short and to the point.
An affiliate may not be aware of how the whole affiliate program works. These programs are often packed with generalities, and sometimes affiliates don’t read through the entire document.
Include a detailed description of the whole affiliate program, like what is and is not acceptable in conduct and content, what to pay attention to when publishing links, commission-related rules, and more.
Nature of the Partnership and Application Process
Be sure to define the nature of the partnership between your brand and the affiliate. Clearly define the affiliate’s role describing that it’s not an employment relationship but that of an independent contractor.
Provide information on the application and acceptance process. Clearly state the requirements demanded in a quality candidate and the steps taken during the hiring process.
Affiliates earn their living by promoting products from multiple brands. Sometimes they do it individually for each product, and other times they link your brand with other companies included in a review or comparison piece.
It is essential to be aware that they don’t work exclusively for you, so they are not your employees. Inserting a non-exclusivity clause helps affiliates do their job in the best possible way.
Regulate the use of your trademark and protect it from being misused for personal promotion. Affiliates should not be allowed to use your trademark in hidden text, meta tags, or paid search campaigns. Use of the trademark will be done strictly by prior authorization.
Promotional Method Policies
Affiliates may uplift or break the brand reputation that you are trying so hard to build. Unless the marketing practices are clearly defined, the affiliates have a card blank to choose the promotional methods they see fit to generate sales and earn a commission.
These methods may include misleading information, false leads, or promise rewards that clients will never get. Create strict rules on what you accept or reject concerning marketing promotion. Identify each aspect of promotional marketing and define the rules.
The following should be included in the agreement along with the clearly defined principles of behavior:
- Content creation and use;
- Video creation and use;
- Coupons and discounts;
- Link promotions;
- Incentivized traffic;
- Use of mobile apps;
- Paid search campaigns;
- Other types of behavior.
Rights And Obligations
Putting the responsibilities of all involved parties on paper will help avoid any misunderstanding later on. This part should include the rights and obligations of both affiliates and merchants, although some merchants practice leaving out the part about their responsibilities.
Affiliate Warranties And Representation
The affiliate needs to warrant to the merchant that they have read and understood the agreement and accept it as binding. They accept and guarantee that they will not violate the law and the contract by misrepresenting the trademark, among other things. List all things you find essential and feel should be part of the agreement.
Payment and Commission Policy
The most important part of the affiliate agreement for the affiliates and probably the most read part - Finances. People want to know how much they are being paid for their work.
Describe in detail how they become eligible for commission, commission rates, possible changes, how and when they will be paid, and information on possible bonuses or sanctions. You must be precise and transparent in this section.
Use of Technology for Affiliate Tracking
Explain the process of affiliate tracking that monitors the performance of the affiliates. Mention the affiliate tracking software or the method of tracking the affiliate’s commission. Elaborate on how this tracking process is reflected in the payments.
Suspension or Termination of Agreement
Use this section to clearly define causes and circumstances for suspension, duration of the contract, or any possibilities for extension. The terms of termination should stipulate premature termination, post-termination events, payment of pending commissions, and any other related matters.
Clearly explain no implied warranties and representations regarding the affiliate program and the products sold. Include anything you deem as necessary.
Confidentiality agreements are a must in almost all types of business but are especially important in affiliate marketing. Affiliates work with a large audience, and leaking confidential information is possible.
Ensure confidentiality by strictly defining the proprietary information like suppliers' information, customer lists, upcoming products, marketing strategies, etc. Secure the confidentiality of your information, or they might end up with your competitor once you end up on the affiliate's wrong side.
Liability and Indemnification
List the cases in which you will not be held liable, and the affiliate will indemnify you against losses. The liability clause should include loss of data, revenue, and profits or define liability limits. Use the indemnification clause to distance the brand from any affiliate's misrepresentation or breach of agreements.
Some merchants decide on including a remedies clause to protect themselves from affiliates who may violate their agreement. In addition to the agreement termination, you may ask to be paid for damages.
Online marketing is a high-paced world where you continuously need to be in the loop to keep up. It is easy to be fooled regardless of whether you are an affiliate or a merchant.
If you are new to online marketing, do detailed research on everything related to the subject before entering into an agreement. Learn everything there is to find on affiliate programs, how they work, what is expected from each party, payments and commissions, and sanctions for misuse of information and misrepresentation.
Affiliate marketing agreements are an excellent way to establish trustworthy affiliate partnerships that can last for years. Don’t go out and sign agreements made by an amateur in some back office. Hire an experienced lawyer to put together a fully-binding and quality agreement that will satisfy the needs of all involved parties.