SHOW NOTES

One of the best parts of my job is sharing the wins + hard lessons from 60+ influencer accounts… with YOU!

And today we’re talking about affiliate marketing during a live launch.

Here’s what happened recently… 

Last quarter we had two separate clients live launch with 300+ affiliates each. (These are big client accounts, but that’s still A LOT of affiliates.)

And here’s what we learned: When you have zero rules + regulations for your affiliates, you’ll likely end up competing with them in the marketplace (and maybe losing money). 

In this episode, I’m detailing our learned experience and sharing… 

  • Why “too many” affiliates can be dangerous
  • How affiliate ads can lead to more competition in the marketplace
  • And how to ensure your affiliate partnerships actually make you money

Listen in to this episode for a quick, actionable marketing tip – and then tell me in the comments below… 

What’s your experience with affiliate marketing? Does this help explain a problem you’ve faced, too?

If you want “IN” on these insider tips + tricks, head to HelpMyStrategy.com to apply to work with Team Hirsh. We have a few spots left – so if you think you might be a good fit, remember there’s no harm in applying (we only accept clients we know we can help!). 

Key Points: 

[2:06] Here’s what happens when you have zero rules + regulations for your affiliates

[3:41] You’re essentially competing with your affiliates for the same sale

[4:48] You’re giving away leads + driving up the cost of ads… for yourself

[6:52] It’s hard to know exactly how much money was lost… 

[7:34] So here’s my advice: Make sure affiliate marketing will help you, not hurt you.

[8:56] Plus, you need regulations + rules

[11:23] There’s a balance between 0 affiliates and ‘too many.’ Find that balance for YOU.

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Episode Transcripts:  

Emily Hirsh: I’m Emily Hirsh, and this is the Hirsh Marketing Underground Podcast. Attention innovators, influencers, creators, and game-changing entrepreneurs: Your internet domination begins right here. We are the powerhouse marketers that you’ve been looking for. You’re already making waves in your industry, and we’re here to help amplify those waves of change by creating a connection that cuts through the noise. We take everything you’ve built inside your zone of genius and find its audience. With killer strategy and laser eye for impact, we launch multimillion dollar campaigns and skyrocket your reach online.

Emily Hirsh: And now, we are doing the unheard of. We’re unveiling everything we’ve learned, taking you behind the scenes with the Hirsh Marketing Team, and giving away the secrets to our clients’ success. Stay tuned for top converting strategy, ROI reports, and insider knowledge that you won’t find anywhere else. You’re changing the world, and we’re the team to help.

Emily Hirsh: Hello everybody. I hope you are all having an amazing week and really finishing off the year strong. I am. We are just rocking it over here. I’m feeling good. The team is good. We’ve got a lot of fun projects, but also just amazing client delivery right now, and some really exciting accounts that we’re working on. I wanted to today, share with you guys a behind-the-scenes kind of tip, because this is something that we’ve seen happen in a couple of recent client launches, and that is the danger of having too many affiliates.

Emily Hirsh: So what happened in both of these cases is, the client had hundreds of affiliates […] I think it might be becoming more of a trend, or maybe it already was, I don’t know, of just, basically opening up to be an affiliate like, anyone can be it for you, and just having that. And then you have hundreds of affiliates, because all these people said ‘yes,’ and they’re promoting. And there’s a real danger to doing that. And so here’s exactly what happened in these two scenarios and what we learned from it.

Emily Hirsh: So the first time we weren’t expecting it. The second time, when the client told us they had that many affiliates, we were like, “Okay, we’re warning you. Here’s kind of our experience.” That’s the cool part about working with us is, we can take that one time it happened and then save all the other clients from doing this, and save you, because you’re listening to this podcast episode. But what happened was, we actually launched the webinar ads for this client, and the affiliates didn’t start promoting yet. And so it was like, they had a couple of days… in between when we launched the webinar ads and when the affiliates started promoting, the webinar ads were kicking butt, hitting conversion numbers, [getting] exactly the cost per lead we wanted, over our goal. We were doing great.

Emily Hirsh: Then the affiliates launched, and we opened up promo for them. And so they could start running ads. And in this case, there wasn’t really any regulation of, “You can only run ads to warm traffic,” or just letting certain people run ads. Obviously they can’t only let certain people run ads, but you can have rules with your affiliates, like, “You can only target warm traffic,” for example, so that you’re gaining your affiliate’s audience but you’re not necessarily competing with yourself, which is what happened.

Emily Hirsh: So two days later, all the affiliates start their ads, and their ad costs just spiked up. And we were like, “What is happening?” We were messaging Facebook, talking to the rep, trying to figure it out. We even started ads in a different account, because we were like, “Is something wrong with this pixel?” We were doing everything. And what we realized, and I actually realized this, because I was also on social media seeing ads, and I was like, “It’s because there’s probably at least 50 of those 300+ affiliates running ads and targeting the same audiences.” They’ve completely saturated the space and created a bunch of competitors for themselves. And Facebook was like… Even if it’s a different ad account, it’s still that person’s face or a link.

Emily Hirsh: And Facebook’s gotten really smart. You can’t just trick them by having an affiliate link that then redirects. They know. They’ve got bots who are looking at the landing pages. They know it’s all running to the same thing. And so it completely saturated, and it drove their cost per lead up for the rest of the time. That’s the only thing we can realize, because it was also very clear that as soon as that promo day started and people started promoting… And they had a really big mix. They had a mix of some really big affiliates and then they also had a mix of small people, because they opened it up to anyone.

Emily Hirsh: So you’re going to have a mix of people with big audiences and small audiences. But it basically just created a bunch of competition in the newsfeed for yourself, against yourself. And then the downside with that is, let’s say that four people are targeting the same audience, and you’re included in that. Then if Joe doesn’t care how he enters the same exact webinar, he’s just going to go through the link, the first link he sees. So that could have been a lead that would go through your link to get on your webinar and then buy. But let’s say they see Sally’s affiliate ad with your face on it and her face maybe, if that’s what they did, or something like that, and they go in the webinar that way just because they saw it, and they were like, “Okay, I’ll sign up for it.”

Emily Hirsh: Well now Sally’s going to get the affiliate commission from that, and you’re not. And so it’s going to actually cost you. So there’s a balance with affiliates where they’re great if you can reach their network, and you can reach people that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach, but if you go overboard, you’re actually sabotaging your own income and results, because you’re, one, going to drive the cost up for the ads, but two, you’re taking away leads that could have potentially just signed up for your webinar through your direct link, and you’re now giving it [away], so that that affiliate now is going to potentially get the commission. So this happened in one launch, and we were like, “This is the only explanation for it,” and they totally agreed, they were like, “That was a mistake. Next time we’re not going to do that.” It was a test. They had never done that before.

Emily Hirsh: Then we had another client recently launch, and same thing. They had 300+ affiliates, a mix of really big and small ones. And we were running our own ads, and then it was affiliate ads are starting. And this time around we were like, “We’re going to warn you, guys. It’s probably going to go up cost per lead.” And it did. It definitely did, because Facebook knows, [and] now we’re competing for space against all of each other. So same thing happened. It’s really hard to know how much that took away sales and what you’re paying in commission that you maybe wouldn’t have paid in commission. But I really think this is an important thing, because in theory it sounds great to have tons of affiliates and like, “Okay, I’m going to reach all these audiences,” and if they pay for their own ads, great, that’s so awesome. They’re going to pay for their own ads to reach more people.

Emily Hirsh: But if you go overboard, you’re creating competition against yourself, and you’re potentially getting leads in that you could have just gotten in yourself for either free or through your own paid ad, but now you’re paying a 50% or whatever commission on the end result sale to this affiliate.

Emily Hirsh: So my suggestion is, one, I would never open affiliates up to anyone, myself. Honestly, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I would want to know that they have a big enough audience, that they were the right fit for me. Because if they’re going to represent my company, too, in terms of… not “represent my company,” but they’re promoting my company, so I’m saying, “I like this person,” and I want them to be having ads and images or whatever with my face on them, and that would be fine. So, one, I would not accept [just] anyone. That’s an opinion. You could argue that if you wanted, and argue that. But personally, I think you shouldn’t accept [just] anyone. I think you should be careful about the affiliates that you accept and make sure that they’re going to actually help you, not hurt you.

Emily Hirsh: So an affiliate should have a big enough audience and a big enough audience that you couldn’t reach otherwise. So if you share a mix of the audience with this affiliate that you’re choosing, there’s really no point, because you could probably reach most of them anyways, and now you’re going to be potentially giving commission to people who you didn’t have to necessarily do that [for]. So really, have some sort of qualification for affiliates and what you want to accept and not accept.

Emily Hirsh: And then, the other thing is, I would have regulations and rules. So I would only allow affiliates to promote their ads to their warm traffic. And you would be able to check on this. Let’s say that you had an affiliate manager managing your launch, you could easily go to their ads, and you’d be able to say… If you saw their ads, you’d be able to [click], “Why am I seeing this ad?” and then it would tell you if it was a cold traffic audience or if it was like, I think it says […] “has interacted with their business” or something, is it warm traffic…. So it’s not 100% that someone couldn’t break that rule.

Emily Hirsh: But if you have an affiliate agreement, and they don’t get commissions if they break this rule, most people are not going to break it. You just have to be really clear with it. And honestly, if they’re going to do paid traffic, I would have kept it so that the affiliate can only target warm traffic. And that way it’s like, you’re reaching their audience that they’ve already built a relationship with, and that’s what’s going to benefit you in your launch, but you’re not creating a ton of competitors for yourself against these cold traffic audiences. So I would definitely have some regulations.

Emily Hirsh: I’d also even have some sort of regulation around the ads they can run. Do you want them to just use any image of you or any type of language? What if they over-promise? I don’t know if this was an issue for either of these launches, because I don’t know the backend of what happened after the sales. But what if they over-promised and said, “There’s this guarantee,” and there wasn’t this guarantee in your product? You need to have some sort of regulation there so that the representation of your company is still where you want it to be and it’s not actually hurting your company, having all these affiliates.

Emily Hirsh: So, one, have a regulation [of] who you accept as affiliates. Two, have a regulation of who they can target, if they’re going to run paid traffic, and the type of ads, as well as creative, that they can run. I would have an affiliate manager managing that, and then I would put a cap on how many affiliates. And I don’t know the magic number. I would think about, how many are you able to realistically get that have a big enough audience that it’s worth it? And also, are an audience that you couldn’t otherwise reach or isn’t already on your list or already in your world [so] that it doesn’t make any sense?

Emily Hirsh: And so, there’s a balance, because affiliates can be great. It can make you that extra money. It could get you that “free traffic” into your course, into your product, to get you those sales. But it can also be really bad when you create competition for yourself, drive your cost per lead up, and almost spend more in commissions than you made off the affiliates. And so, we saw this happen twice in the last quarter, and I think it’s going to happen more, and so I wanted to put this out there as this kind of, something to think about, because there are people who teach like, “Have all the affiliates,” and “Affiliate marketing is the way to go!” And with anything there’s no one way. If anyone is like, “Affiliate marketing is how you should do it 100%” […] no, you should have a little bit of affiliates maybe, paid ads, organic. You should have everything, strategic of everything.

Emily Hirsh: There’s no one size fits all like, “This is the winner!” Anyone who teaches that is making money off of teaching you that. And you should be really intentional with it. Don’t go overboard, because it could actually hurt you instead of help you, which is what it is intended to do. So if you’re planning a launch, or even for an evergreen funnel… I mean, I haven’t seen someone have 300 affiliates for an evergreen funnel. It’s usually for a live launch experience. But it’s something to really think about and pay attention to, because I don’t think anyone’s talking about this, and I’m lucky to have this insider knowledge from seeing the behind the scenes of big launches, little launches, all of our clients, and just kind of learning from it and bringing it here to you guys.

Emily Hirsh: So, thank you so much for tuning in today. If you guys want support in your launches, you want in on all of those insider strategies and tips and tricks, you can go to HelpMyStrategy.com to apply to work with Team Hirsh. We have a few more client spots left for the rest of 2019. 2020 is going to be amazing. We’re constantly training new ads managers and growing our team, but we do always have a cap of how many we can take on. So if you’re thinking about it, in the next couple of months, in early 2020, at least get on our list, get on our roster so we can support you. And I’m so excited for that. I’ll see you guys next time.

Emily Hirsh: Thanks for listening to the Hirsh Marketing Underground Podcast. Go behind the scenes of multimillion dollar ad campaigns and strategies, dive deep into The Hirsh Process, and listen to our most popular episodes over at HirshMarketingUnderground.com.

Emily Hirsh: If you loved this episode of the podcast, do me a favor and head over to iTunes to subscribe and leave a review, so we can reach more people and change more lives with this content. That’s all for now, and I’ll catch you next time.