Let me start by saying that the overwhelming majority of affiliates are nice, honest, hard-working people. However, there are the occasional shysters out there which stand ready to take advantage of unsuspecting affiliate managers who are not monitoring their affiliatesâ€™ activities constantly.
Over the years, Iâ€™ve encountered just about every trick in the book that said scammers, have tried to pull â€“ from the traditionally unmistakable monkey business such as forced clicks, bogus leads, fraudulent credit card usage etc., to the more creative and well-executed cons such as posing as webmasters of high-profile websites and changing their name and address just before the affiliate checks are issued.
Just when you thought youâ€™ve seen it all, some clown comes up with something new.
Fraud is time-consuming, expensive and can seriously jeopardize an entire affiliate programâ€™s business model. In my role as Director of Marketing for CPAEmpire.com, I am afforded the ability to speak with dozens of affiliate managers and advertisers each week. At some point during almost every conversation, the topic of fraud usually comes up as many of us enjoy sharing the names of the â€œMost Recently Bustedâ€.
While there is no magical doodad that can prevent the fraudsters from applying to your affiliate program, there are certainly a number of measures you can take to avoid letting them in.
One of the greatest, most powerful tools that we use at CPAEmpire.com to prevent the swindlers from getting through our front door isâ€¦ â€œThe Almighty Phoneâ€. It is this magical device that when used as directed can eliminate nearly 100% of the crooks from getting through the gate. (And I have the CPAEmpire.com Case Study to prove it!)
We have assigned one of our affiliate managers to contact each and every one of our applicants via telephone, evaluate potential traffic, offer campaign suggestions and let them know about our special affiliate promotions available to them. The â€œWelcome Callâ€ has always been received as positive and has strengthened the relationship between our affiliates and their respective affiliate manager.
If the applicant is not available via phone, the affiliate manager leaves a message letting them know that for security purposes, we are required to speak with the applicant before we can approve their application. The affiliate manager also follows up with an email stating the same. Affiliates with wrong numbers, disconnected phones, etc., also receive a similar email.
Should we not receive contact back within 3 business days, we will deny the application and a subsequent auto-responder email is sent. Serious applicants, who treat affiliate marketing as a business and recognize the value of a good partnership between themselves and the respective programs that they are promoting, will contact you back after receiving the denial email.
Weâ€™ve noticed that applicants that do not respond to our calls or emails usually fall into one of two groups:
- Group 1: Affiliates that are not cost-efficient for us to maintain in our program due to the high customer service standards that we like to adhere to.
- Group 2: Scammers that we just prevented from their chance to bite us in the buttocks.
Occasionally an affiliate may state that they donâ€™t have the time to talk to their Rep via phone, moving forward. In this case, we will gladly provide communication using alternative digital means.
While some affiliate managers have said to me that undertaking this type of time-consuming task to contact every applicant is not economical; to that I sayâ€¦ â€œGive me a Webmaster referral link to your program; I can use the extra bucks. I have some applicants I just denied that need a home.â€ 😉
Seriously though, when it comes to the subject of fraud, subscribing to the belief that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure will keep your affiliate program going in the right direction!
Missy Ward is the Director of Marketing for CPAEmpire.com and Shawn Collins is the President and CEO of Shawn Collins Consulting. Both are co-founders of Affiliate Summit â€“ the leading Performance Marketing Conference held annually.