How do you determine good affiliates from bad affiliates? How do you know if you should accept or decline someone who applies for your affiliate program? Or…is there some sort of middle ground? Listen up to find out exactly how we process affiliate applications

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Previous Episodes of The Affiliate Guy

How to Write, Publish, and SELL Your Book with Chandler Bolt

How to Use Affiliate Marketing in a Book

How to Run an Affiliate Book Launch

How to Find Affiliates for a Book Launch (or Any Launch)

The Affiliate Donut

What & How to Communicate to Your Affiliates

How to Decide to Accept or Decline an Affiliate

How do you determine the good affiliates from the bad affiliates, especially on an affiliate network? How do you know if you should accept or decline someone who applies for your affiliate program? Or is there some sort of middle ground where you don’t have to decline or approve something in the middle?

So listen up to find out exactly how we process affiliate applications. So how do you determine good affiliates from bad affiliates, especially if you’re on an affiliate network? I got a question from a client recently that I thought was pretty good. I shared the answer with her, but I feel like it’s appropriate to share this with you guys as well.

Here’s the question she asked. She messaged us. She’s one of our clients in your affiliate launch coach. And she said our share sale account because we recommended ShareASale to her. They’re on the network now. Our ShareASale account is now active. I’ve been getting applications in, but I’m not sure how to determine if an affiliate is good or not. Do you have a checklist/podcast that could help me shift out good versus bad affiliates based on their websites? Now, again, we put her on ShareASale because there are two reasons.

Number one, we recommend the network. It’s great. I’ve worked with them for years, almost 15 years now, and we love the network. Number two, if you’re one of our clients, you get a pretty substantial discount on ShareASale. So the FOM, the Friends of Matt discount is what we call it. So that’s why we recommended it to them. And so she’s asking basically, how do I know if somebody’s good, how do I know if they’re bad? And how do I determine if I should approve or decline in affiliate? Let me just share a little bit of what I shared with her.

First of all, almost never flat out decline an affiliate just from their application. You want to take the extra steps and reach out to them. Now, I say do that on the affiliate side as well. That’s important. If you’re an affiliate, don’t just fill out a lame application that I would want to do as an affiliate manager that you think I might just decline, write a lengthy application, make it hard on me. Actually, don’t make it easy on me. Make it hard on me. Make it so long, I just go, Holy crap, I’m just going to accept this person because it’s detailed. But on the affiliate management side, reach out to them.

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Now, there are some factors that you can take into consideration. I’ll talk more about reaching out to them in a little bit. These are in no particular order. Okay? This is not like, hey, if they fail number one, then it’s just an automatic decline. This is not order of hierarchy here, to be clear. So the first thing I’m going to just get, the controversial one out of the way is country. I know this is controversial, but it is what it is, right?

Some countries have a higher fraud rate, and I’m not going to list them here.You can Google them. To be clear, I don’t rule out someone just because of what country they’re from. I’m not saying, oh, that’s a red flag. It’s a bit of a yellow flag, though. Okay? I’ve worked with affiliates from nearly every yellow flag country. There are no red flag ones. I’ve worked with some of these affiliates, and they were great. But the chance of fraudulent or black hat tactics is higher. So it is something that I take into consideration, to be clear. It’s like if you fail on that one, if you’re in those countries, then you now have to be better at some of the other things. And I’ve got ten criteria, right? Ten criteria. It’s one of these things. If you fail in like four or more, then you are automatically out. But that’s very rare.

So the second thing is their domain or lack thereof. If they don’t have a domain or it’s a shady domain, then I take this into consideration. So this client will just say they’re in the nutrition niche. And if somebody applies and their domain is like BillClintonscandalblogspot.com, well, that’s not a good fit for my nutrition product. You see what I’m saying? It’s like, what is the deal with that? Or if their domain. Well, this is number three, right? Does their site pass the smell test? So you take a look at their domain and just go, I don’t know. It feels kind of fishy.

You take a look at their site, is this something you want to be associated with? Is it adding value to your brand, or is it just like a banner farm? Does their site load software? Well, that’s not good. Does it give you an error message? That’s a big yellow flag now. Okay, their sites are down. My site’s down about 2 hours a year. So if you just happen to go to my site on the wrong 2 hours out of the year, does that mean I’m some sort of a bad affiliate? No. This means you went to my site when my server company was doing maintenance.

They were doing something and just happened to go down. Maybe I got hacked. Does that make me a bad affiliate? No, I just haven’t caught it yet. And we’ll fix it in five minutes. But it’s a yellow flag. So again, it’s like, okay, they’re from a higher fraudulent rate, the country with a really shady domain name, and the website doesn’t load. Well, then they’re out. They’re just out okay? fraudulent country, really shady domain name. And I go to the site, and it’s a banner farm, they’re out.

Number four. Does their site match your values? This is a subjective thing. Your values are different than mine. Now, if you have hard and fast rules such as not associating with illegal activities, pornography, politically charged sites, legal drugs, but you just don’t want to be associated with them. Whatever you choose, like take that into consideration. This is subjective.

You get to choose what your values are. I have no issues with somebody saying I don’t want somebody who’s politically divisive. I don’t care if I agree with their politics, but if everything they post is anti this politician or all people of this political party are bad, I don’t know that I want to be associated with that website for some of our branding, and that’s nothing against them.

So that person might even be my friend. But I don’t know that I want that site associated with it. So you get to choose. Does it fall in line with your values? If you are advocating a vegan lifestyle and you have a product that might be of use to non-vegans, but you just say, you know what?

I don’t want to be associated with products that talk about meat. Those of you who know me know I love bacon. I have no problem with that. But if you’re a vegan and that’s a thing to you, then you get to choose that. And in that case, it could be a red flag. And this is one area where I will just decline an affiliate without even reaching out to them.

Now, one thing to keep in mind on a network is affiliates might have one site that is displayed but own others. So maybe they own an anti-Democrat or anti-Republican website, but they also own a family-friendly site that would be a good fit. In this case. Just make it clear that you only want them promoting on the good fit site. That’s important and you get to choose that.

The fifth consideration only applies if they’re on a network is how long they’ve been on the network. If the network shows you how long they’ve been on the network, use that as a consideration. So generally speaking, someone who has been on the network for five years is going to be better than someone who’s been on for seven minutes or a few weeks, I will look at that. Generally, anything over one year, I kind of just count is the same. But if they’ve been on for a pretty short period of time, I’m not going to decline them. Unless shady domain, some of these other factors, and they’ve only been on for three months, I’m probably going to decline them or at least do what we’ll talk about later and reach out to them.

The same is true. Like, I’ll look up their domain. Do I decline people because their domain was registered three days ago? Absolutely not. I encourage starting affiliate marketing when you’re new but if I look at your domain, it’s shady.
You’re from a more fraudulent country and your website’s kind of funky and you registered your domain three days ago. I’m probably not going to let you in if that’s the only thing how long your domain has been registered, it’s fine.

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So number six, are they using trademarks in their URLs so they apply to your program especially if it’s not a fit, their website is buyadidischews.com. All they’re doing is not adding any value to Adidas whatsoever. They’re just basically profiting off their trademark.

That’s usually a bad sign in and of itself doesn’t mean they’re nefarious or bad affiliates. It’s just again, it’s a yellow flag, especially if they don’t have other websites. That’s their only website and you’re that vegan. You know, let’s say you’re in the vegan supplement industry and you’re like buyadiditashouse.com that’s not really that great of a fit. So if they’re using trademarks in the URLs, that’s a consideration.

7th if they flat out say that their promotional methods violate your terms. So if you don’t allow adware BHOS toolbars trademark bidding, you don’t allow pornography. You don’t allow politically divisive statements. Whatever it is you don’t allow again, you get to determine what you allow and they say we’re going to do this whatever you don’t allow that’s a giant red flag that leads to decline them.

I mean straightforward part of what that is they will copy and paste the same message 2500 times to different programs and some people do allow toolbars some people do allow trademark bidding. I actually have no issue with trademark bidding for most of our products. There’s one where we don’t allow it. There’s a whole reason behind that I won’t get into here. Some of our clients allow trademark bidding, some don’t. I would say it’s probably 70, 30 do, 30% don’t. None of our programs allow adware or toolars. Just to be clear, we get to decide what we allow, and so do you. So if they say they’re going to violate the terms giant red flag.

The number eight thing to look for is just look at their promotional methods. Are they utter nonsense? Read their proposed promotional methods? Do they actually make sense? I’ve seen applicants just put my site or they put like, your product is nice, or I like your product. My followers. Your promotional method is your followers. Could you give me even like two freaking sentences on that? So again, this is where you have to kind of be subjective. If it’s someone maybe that invited them to the program, well, then clearly. But if I’m looking at the site and I’m like, oh, it’s Jeff Walker. And Jeff Walker says my email list in site. I go, well, it’s Jeff Walker and he’s got a lot of people, I’m going to approve that and not use that against them.

But if it’s somebody I’ve never heard of with the domain name is a little bit shady. That was registered 13 days ago, and they’ve been on the network for two weeks and they put promotional methods my site, I’m not going to let them in. Really? You couldn’t write a few sentences? Just let me know. You clearly don’t want to be in my program anyway, so why am I going to waste time with you?

Number nine, do some research. If you aren’t sure, do some research. If you’re looking at this and going, I don’t think I’m not 100%. I’m going to let them in. And I’m definitely not 100%. I want to decline them, do a little bit of research. If they’re truly bad, you’ll be quick to find some negative feedback about the affiliate and affiliate forums, blogs, et cetera. Just go Google them. See what pulls up.

You find something where maybe you see some of their other promotions, you see how they promoted another product, and you’re like, oh, my gosh, that is shady stuff. I am not working with that affiliate. That is some seriously messed up stuff. Like, I don’t want anything to do with them. So those are nine things to look for the 10th thing. So let’s just say we’ve reached the nine and we’re looking at this and we’re going, I’m not sure.

It’s definitely like if all nine or green flags, I’m letting you in. If everything else is a green flag, but your country, I’m letting you in. If everything is a green flag but you’re new to the network, I’m letting you in. That’s a yellow flag, right? If everything is a green flag, but your domain name is a little bit funky. I’m letting you in. Maybe everything is a green flag. Of course, by then I don’t even do number nine. I don’t even do research if everything else is a green flag, but everything is a green flag and I just can’t find anything on you.

I’ll probably let you in. But if I reach out and just say, hey, I’d love some more information on these things that maybe weren’t very clear. I’m just not sure if you’re a good affiliate, blah, blah, blah and they don’t reply. That’s number ten. They don’t reply when you reach out. If you reach out to ask them to clarify something, to get some more information and they don’t reply within a week, that’s an easy decline. At that point, I’ll just leave it pending and then I’ll decline it a week later.

In the end, you’re making a subjective decision. It’s kind of like a scoring system. Like I said, if someone’s from a yellow flag country, their site is hideous and they’ve been on the network for two weeks, I’m going to decline them. And here’s the thing. They have the choice to reach out to me and say, hey, you declined me, but here’s why. I think I’d be a good affiliate. I actually have another site and I know I’m new to this network, but I’ve been in affiliate marketing for six years. Oh, brilliant, you’re in.

I’ve said this before, if you just reach out to me, I’m probably going to accept you. But if they’re from the US, their site is okay, but they’re new to the network and their sites a little off base for you, then you reach out to them. That gives them the opportunity. If they want in, they reply. They reply. It’s a subjective decision, usually. Unless I’m really feeling like, man, I could regret this later because of fraud or something. I usually err on the side of just approving them and then giving them a chance. Just to be clear, the rules are different. If you’re in like a financial niche or something like that, then you almost err the other way.

I’ve been in the insurance world and back when I got started, I was in the insurance world up through 2011. Most of my time in there, I err on the side of declining them because it’s not worth the chance. Like we could get sued over stuff. We could end up in some serious hot water with the government. Not worth it to me. But if you’re in retail world, you have a course, you have a digital product, something like that.

A membership err on the side of letting them in. Keep a close eye on new affiliates. We always do that. We always do a manual review of any affiliates. First five to ten sales to make sure, like, what’s going on here? Is their return rate normal? Is anybody saying, I don’t know what the heck is going on? Is there any credit card fraud, things like that? We do a manual review, usually immediately on their first couple, and then we’ll review the other ones later. We look at things like is their conversion rate just way too high?

If our normal conversion rate from click to opt in is 58%, from opt in to sale is 7% and their opt in rate is 94%, that could be a yellow flag. Now if it’s 94% on say 47 out of 50, I go, well, it’s a little bit early. We had an affiliate, I’ll say his name Jonathan Milligan. We were converting at over 90% on webinar registrations for like 400 clicks years ago. I remember going, Holy crap, what is he doing? That’s amazing. Or maybe our webinar landing page is just really good.

Guess what it was. And it ended up converting. It like 62% for everybody else. He was just sending great traffic. But we look at things like that. If the opt in to conversion rate is normally 8% and somebody converts their first twelve people, okay, is that fraudulent or are these things just like they’re just really good? So we look at things like that. We monitor people that we accept in whether or not they can be fully green flag unless it’s somebody I know, things like that. But typically anybody new, we monitor them because we want to be safe on those things. So there you have it.

How to accept or decide how to accept or decline an affiliate. Hopefully that helps you out with that with the decisions that you’re making. Like our client was. So do a friend a favor. If you know someone who’s struggling with this in their business, an affiliate manager or an entrepreneur marketing person, you know they’re struggling with this, share this episode with them.

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Just text them the link, emailing DM on the link, whatever, so they can get the benefit of this lesson. Make sure you subscribe as well. Because the next episode I’m going to share the secret worst part of my entire business. I’m going to tell you, I’ve shared this with about three people. Every single one of them was like jaw dropped, floored that this was the worst part of our business. I think it will surprise you. I’m not sure why it’s been the worst part of our business and what we’ve done to correct it, because it’s something that’s going to be Revolutionarily gamechanging, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah for our business.

So make sure you come back for that. I’ll see you then.


Text me anytime at (260) 217-4619.

Or…check out some of my free reports to help you get on the right track:

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