Many who start an affiliate program for the goal of growing their customer base or expanding their revenue channels have an assumption that: “once they set up the program, shouldn’t It be able to operate on it’s own?”

While you CAN do this, many in the affiliate marketing industry would strongly advise against it. Why? Below, I discuss the many oversights to running your affiliate program on auto-pilot.

No Crowd control.

UpFoundry_Autopilot proggram

Imagine you own a popular night club. You have hundreds waiting to get into your establishment each night- the line is practically out the door. Now say you decide to have your nightclub run on auto-pilot. You remove the staff, and ditch the security guards out front. What do you think will happen?

When you run your program on auto-pilot you fail to filter out:

  • affiliates who join your program that might not be a good fit for your brand and target market.
  • affiliates who engage in fraudulent behavior to win commissions.
  • affiliates who don’t read your affiliate terms and decide to use marketing channels that you clearly state not to use (PPC, Social, etc.).

No Activity Monitoring

Continuing with the bar example I mentioned above, now let’s zero in on people buying drinks at their own discretion. Since you have no staff, you require all customers to take a drink and deposit cash in the register – without any staff watching. What will you think will happen?

With affiliates, it can be quite the same. While you could argue – “well, we check before we pay them, that the sale they made was¬†legitimate. Isn’t that enough?”¬†

Unfortunately, No. If you awarded a golf player $100 for each time he made a hole in one, but you were not allowed or covered your eyes when he/she hit the ball – would that be enough information to pay them the $100 when you see the ball in the hole?¬†I don’t think so.¬†

When you run your program on auto-pilot you miss:

  • What content/banners/links affiliates are promoting and how they are promoting.
  • Where your affiliates are promoting to bring you sales.

No growth and relationship building.

It’s the classic notion in business: Doing the same things or nothing at all, and expecting better results.¬†When you run your program on auto-pilot you are aiming for the lowest common denominator: How can I get the most activity and sales, without the work?

When you run your program on auto-pilot you miss out on:

  • Building long-lasting relationships with affiliates that could truly propel your brand.
  • Understanding what successful¬†affiliates are doing that brings you sales.
  • Proactively finding new affiliates that could be strong advocates for your products or services.

Do you currently have an affiliate program that is on auto-pilot? What issues are you facing? I’d love to know either by email or the comments below.

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Taylor is the Founder of The Up Foundry. 7+ years starting, managing and growing affiliate programs for Technology, subscription, and SaaS-based companies, Taylor works with clients all over the world to generate millions in sales and revenue from their affiliate programs each year.

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