There are bad apples in online marketing as in any other business, and those wanting to make online need to be wary of affiliate marketing scams. With the right precautions, you can avoid ever losing your hard-earned commissions, or waste valuable time, to unscrupulous scammers.
While it is always good to check and make sure you are getting everything due, to check for unintended errors if nothing else, keep in mind that the larger networks are generally not going to try to scam people. However, there are things to watch out for, particularly with less established networks.
Affiliate marketing scams to watch out for
The first warning that an affiliate network may not be on the up and up is when they try to make themselves sound too attractive. Affiliate marketing takes time and effort. Legitimate networks know their affiliate marketers will have to work and do not want to waste time with people who do not understand this. Those networks promising the world are not being realistic and probably have motives unrelated to legitimate marketing.
Product and contact poor websites
Affiliate networks are about the partners and products they are promoting. It should be taken as a warning if they are not easy to find on the network’s website. In addition, the site should offer a simple way to contact the network. Test their contact system to see how they respond, and discuss things, if you have any doubts about the network.
Multi-level marketing (MLM) is when networks promise that most income will come from referring others (although referring others to a network is a legitimate way to make money from affiliate marketing). This is basically just a pyramid scheme, which is illegal under US law. While those on the top may make money, most people will not. Real income is generated from selling products and services.
Paying to join
Legitimate affiliate networks do not charge people to join. If a network asks for a fee to join, it is probably not promoting products and is, in fact, some type of MLM scam. Besides, the marketer is already investing time and effort, with no guarantees of a return, to promote the products. It is not fair to ask them to pay for the privilege.
Paying to join includes requirements to buy affiliate marketing books or other materials. These products should only be purchased with recommendations from trusted sources.
No track record and negative ones
Considering the investment in time and money marketers will make in promoting products, it is prudent to research a network before doing any work for it. Any network worth working for should have some kind of feedback that can easily be found online. There will always be some disgruntled comments for any major network so look at the comments as a whole.
Of course, affiliate networks have to start somewhere and not every network without a track record is a scam. It is tempting to take offers to get in on the ground floor, and this may be the right thing to do if the network seems legitimate and the product new and exciting. However, keep in mind that waiting a few months or so will likely be the best way to find out if a network is a scam or not.
Beware of “floater” pages
Floater pages are those that have intrusive pop ups that stop you from doing anything on the page while they are up. These are very bad for affiliate marketers if they take the visitor away from the page you sent them to. If the visitor fills out the form and is taken away from the page, the affiliate marketers will not get anything since cookies, and commission will be lost.
Free pages and tracking visitors
Some affiliate programs will give the marketers free pages on which the hosting and everything else is paid for. The marketer can then use these pages to promote products in any way they see fit. The problem with these pages is that the marketer loses all control of what is created and cannot adequately track visitors and what is going on. This makes such pages something that should generally be avoided. Be wary of any program that is not completely open and allow tracking of all visitors, conversions and other relevant data.
Long range strategy
Always keep in mind that affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme and must be thought of from a long-term perspective. It requires time to build traffic to sites. In addition, it generally takes up to about 60 days from the time the sale is made to when you receive the money in your account. Finally, reputation is very important, and those who have bad experiences are much more likely to comment publicly than those who have good ones. This means you must think ahead and choose carefully to avoid wasting time and also to ensure your reputation is not tarnished promoting products that do not offer value to the customers. Thinking long term will help you avoid affiliate marketing scams and build the best business model for success.