3 Affiliate Marketing Myths that Will Cost You Money (If You Believe Them) – Part 1

3 Affiliate Marketing Myths that Will Cost You Money (If You Believe Them) – Part 1


On occasion, we encounter retailers whose business model would be a perfect fit for affiliate marketing. Yet, not only do they not have a program, they actually express disinterest in establishing one.

This situation always gives us pause because affiliate marketing – when managed correctly – offer significant value to brands.

Unfortunately, much of the negative sentiment surrounding affiliate marketing often has to do with brands having a bad experience with network-based affiliate program management and the conflict of interest that manifests from that type of arrangement.

With that said, affiliate marketing has gone through considerable growth and transformation over the past five years and has proven to be one of the most important marketing models a company can have in their customer acquisition strategy. 

When managed properly (and that’s definitely key), an affiliate program can account for up to 15 percent of online revenue and have a ROAS among the highest of any online channel. In fact, it’s the most affordable, trackable, efficient and low-risk marketing model available.

So then why have some retailers taken the stance that an affiliate program isn’t a good “fit” for them? From our experience, it boils down to three grossly inaccurate but ingrained myths about affiliate marketing:

  1. Success means working with coupon sites
  2. You’ll have no control over your brand
  3. Sales aren’t incremental

Before we go in to why these myths are misguided, it’s important to point out that, if these myths were even remotely true, then successful, reputable, well-established brands would not give affiliate marketing the time of day.

Yet thousands of them do—with great enthusiasm.

So, let’s dissect each of these myths and (hopefully) put them to rest.

To give each myth its due review, we decided to segment this topic into a three-part series. For this first post, we’ll scrutinize Myth #1.

Myth #1: Success in affiliate marketing means working with coupon sites

Affiliate marketing programs are comprised of many different types of affiliates, including – but by no means limited to:

  • Content affiliates (individual bloggers, publishers, review sites, etc.)
  • Sub-affiliate networks (offer services to bloggers and website owners that can make it easier for them to monetize their blog/website)
  • Loyalty affiliates (collect an audience base by offering a unique reward or loyalty incentive)
  • Deal affiliates (focuses on a deal from that day or within a short-term time-frame. They are more involved with social media to promote the short-term deals than coupon affiliates and they need to be managed differently than coupon affiliates).
  • Coupon sites (large companies that try and cover every deal or promotion).

The term “affiliates” even include nontraditional affiliates, such as schools, nonprofits, mobile apps, tech companies, podcast and influencer networks, business development teams and referral programs.

Each of these partners can be manually approved by the program manager based on the criteria of your program.

What’s more is that your affiliate program can also be invite-only and private.

Affiliate Evaluation is Key

When advising our clients, we always emphasize the importance of evaluating affiliates before accepting them into your program.

Does this require more work for your publisher development team? Absolutely. But it’s an essential step in order to ensure they are:

  1. affiliates who you want to be associated with
  2. affiliates who make the most sense for your business goals.

For example, if you don’t offer coupons and your goal is to build a program with high-quality content publishers, then excluding coupon sites from your list is a rational strategy.

Whereas, if the goal is to drive an increase in overall revenue through the channel, then it may make sense to work with coupon and loyalty affiliates.

Either way, that choice is yours.

When it comes to affiliate marketing, no two programs are the same.

You are in control of which partners you want to work with and how you work with them. Whether you choose to work with coupon affiliates or not, a key factor in the success of your program is the quality of your affiliates, not the quantity.

Check out Part 2 of this series where we address a second common affiliate marketing myth.

Questions about whether or not an affiliate program is right for you? Let’s chat!