Affiliate Marketing Monitoring: The Essential Guide for Success

Nowadays, many marketers opt for affiliate email partners to handle and execute much of their organizations' outbound email marketing strategy. This can be particularly beneficial for companies with small teams, as affiliate marketers offer expertise and access to an audience that may be hard to come by. This approach also frees up the internal marketing team to work on other pressing and higher-priority matters.

However, partnering with an affiliate marketer does not mean companies should disengage themselves from the process or the needed oversight. Instead, they need a proactive system to monitor what affiliate partners are sending on their behalf. This is crucial to maintain regulatory compliance and to ensure program success. 

In this blog, we’ll explain the importance of monitoring the content that email affiliates are sending on your behalf for compliance and discuss the benefits of finding the right affiliate partner for your business.

Understanding Affiliate Partner Compliance

Email is a highly regulated form of communication. If you work in marketing, you're probably familiar with compliance measures such as the CAN-SPAM Act. This act provides guidelines on the types of content and messaging to include in emails, such as an opt-out link and not-deceptive subject lines, among others. 

The Price of Non-Compliance

The price of non-compliance with CAN-SPAM can be steep. Each email violating this act can be subject to penalties of tens of thousands of dollars. However, the consequences of non-compliance go far beyond just financial penalties:

  • Reputational Harm: Non-compliant emails can pose a significant risk of harm to your brand reputation, as customers expect ethical behavior from companies, including in their marketing practices. 
  • Performance: Non-compliant emails are also much less likely to convert, and there's a chance that they may not even make it to the customer's inbox, likely being stopped by a filter.

Rigorous affiliate policy monitoring can mitigate these risks by ensuring that every email sent by affiliates adheres to regulatory standards. Unfortunately, affiliate partners have been known to make changes to approved content, sometimes knocking it out of compliance with CAN-SPAM and other regulations.

Why does this happen?

This raises a question: why would your email partner change your carefully crafted content into something that doesn't comply with CAN-SPAM or other regulatory guidelines?

Partners who send out your emails may make unwanted changes for a variety of reasons:

  • Performance-Based: Partners are often compensated based on how well the emails perform, which can sometimes lead them to be more aggressive with the messaging. This can push the boundaries of what's acceptable, both from a branding and regulatory perspective.
  • Human Error: However, there is also a chance that errors happen due to human mistakes. Sometimes, email elements that don't comply with CAN-SPAM rules are included or excluded by accident.

But whether a partner is changing up the email content to attempt to get more clicks, or they just made a simple mistake–this is why organizations must monitor their affiliate’s email content.

Who is Responsible for Non-Compliant Content?

There’s also the question of responsibility when it comes to non-compliant content in marketing emails.

What happens when an affiliate partner sends a non-compliant email? Who is responsible for the content of the email in that situation?

The answer is when an affiliate partner sends the email, it’s the company that hired the partner that is responsible, regardless of whether they supplied fully compliant content to the affiliate

Ultimately, your organization is responsible for what is being sent out on its behalf.

This is also true regardless of whether you supplied fully compliant content to the affiliate before they sent the email. So, even if the affiliate partner changes the email content without permission, you are still legally responsible for their actions and liable for any penalties that may be incurred. This means that your company incurs a large risk when utilizing an unmonitored email partner and underscores the necessity for robust affiliate rules monitoring systems to catch preemptively and correct deviations before they result in compliance issues.

So, how do you mitigate the risk of these changes and/or mistakes happening in the first place?

Picking the Right Affiliate Partner

With the compliance considerations above, choosing the right affiliate partner can be a crucial first step in the success of your campaign. 

Do Your Research

To avoid content-related problems, it's important to find a reliable email partner to collaborate with. As with any software or service, it's crucial to do your research and explore various alternatives. Before entering into an agreement with any affiliate, they must be thoroughly vetted and approved by all relevant stakeholders within your organization.

This is a company that will be working and sending emails on behalf of your organization, so having a high level of trust is a must - and verifying is critical.

Alignment on Vertical

Partnering with an affiliate who sends emails within your industry can be a significant advantage when it comes to creating a successful email marketing campaign. By collaborating with an affiliate who already has experience and knowledge in your field, you can leverage their expertise and existing audience, which is likely to be more receptive to your marketing and compliance efforts.

Accurate Metrics

Always ask your affiliate questions about their metrics when speaking with them for the first time. Information pertaining to deliverability, such as inboxing rate, click-through rate, etc, are all extremely important data points to become familiar with.

The Benefits of Affiliate Monitoring

After launching a campaign with an affiliate, it’s still important to proactively monitor their efforts and content. This will result in multiple benefits for your organization.

Improved Compliance

To ensure that your affiliate’s emails are compliant, it’s important to monitor them actively so that you quickly address any issues that may arise. This can significantly reduce the risk of future non-compliant emails being sent out as part of the campaign. Demonstrating a proactive and diligent approach towards monitoring compliance can help you earn the trust of regulators and your customers. 

Risk Mitigation

In some cases, penalties can result in significant financial, operational, and reputational harm to your organization in the future. It’s important to quickly and efficiently address any email compliance issues to avoid these penalties for non-compliance. 

Better Content and Improved Campaign Performance

Addressing compliance issues and monitoring content changes are crucial for enhancing the performance and efficiency of your campaigns. 

Emails containing errors, such as broken links and other issues, can adversely affect your campaign's performance. By vigilantly monitoring your content, you can improve click-through rates and conversions, thereby achieving better results.

Effective affiliate policy monitoring not only improves compliance but also enhances the overall campaign performance by ensuring that every communication aligns with your organization’s values and regulatory requirements

Best Practices When Monitoring Affiliates for Email Compliance

Adopting best practices in affiliate rules monitoring ensures that your affiliate partnerships remain productive and compliant. Below are some best practices for your organization to follow when monitoring affiliate partners for compliance.

Collaboration

It’s important to establish a collaborative working relationship with your affiliate partner right from the start of your engagement. Work together with them on creating email content that adheres to compliance standards. Set up regular check-in meetings to review the emails being sent and analyze relevant metrics. This will help ensure that your email marketing efforts are effective and in line with the expectations of both parties.

Subscribe to Your Own Emails

By subscribing to your own emails, you can get a firsthand view of how your brand is being presented to potential customers. It also enables you to quickly identify if the content has been changed and whether it complies with the standards or not. This helps in prompt remediation of any issues and ensures that your brand is being presented in the best possible way to your target audience.

Check All Links

When reviewing your emails, it's important that you verify all the links included in the content. Broken links are a common issue in affiliate emailing, and if they direct the user to opt-outs or other terms of use assets, it can result in compliance problems. Hence, it's crucial to ensure that all links are functioning properly.

Ensure Opt-Outs are Being Honored

It is crucial to confirm how your affiliate partner manages email opt-outs. This is a critical component of the CAN-SPAM law, and it is necessary to honor any opt-out requests in a timely manner.

Your affiliate partner should also notify you of the individuals who have opted out of your company's marketing communications. This is important so that you do not unintentionally include them in any future email campaigns internally or in a separate campaign.

Automate Your Compliance Monitoring and Affiliate Visibility

Automating your affiliate monitoring and visibility through a compliance monitoring tool is one of the most effective ways to optimize your efforts. By using a monitoring tool, you can significantly reduce the manual effort required to check emails and receive automatic alerts whenever there is a possible compliance issue. This will save your organization both time and money while ensuring that you remain compliant with regulations.

Automated Email Affiliate Monitoring + Discovery

LashBack offers a solution that grants you visibility into the emails sent to potential customers from affiliates and other unknown sources. It also provides automated alerts to notify you of any potential compliance risks, which can help improve compliance verification and prevent regulatory compliance issues, including those related to CAN-SPAM. 

This is accomplished in two ways:

  • Automated Partner Monitoring and Alerts: Automatically detect and review messages sent by affiliates on your behalf against custom rulesets. Receive real-time notifications of compliance issues and easily send them back to partners for quick remediation.
  • Email Discovery: Search through LashBack’s virtual sandbox of 200 million+ emails to find any that mention your brand and manually investigate/spot-check to uncover any compliance issues.

Through this monitoring, discovery, and alert system, LashBack helps organizations maintain compliance and avoid any potential legal issues that may arise. 

Verifying Deliverability Metrics

When you work with an email affiliate, they may provide you with various metrics such as deliverability, open rate, etc. Although these figures are often accurate, LashBack offers you the ability to investigate and evaluate them on your own.

With LashBack, you can access tools that aid in assessing the overall performance of email marketing campaigns with affiliates. This includes examining inboxing percentages, which is the percentage of emails that actually reached an inbox rather than being intercepted by a spam filter based on the sending domain or IP address of the affiliate. 

You can even see a breakdown of which inbox providers, such as Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, etc., yielded the best results.

This information can be useful for other applications as well, such as…

Vetting New Partners

Looking for the right email affiliate to work with can be a daunting task. With so many potential partners out there, it can be challenging to know where to begin your search.

LashBack can help by providing tools to create a list of potential email partners and vet their effectiveness. You can gather data points within the platform, such as:

  • Industry: Search for emails within your industry and see which affiliate partners your competitors are working with. These partners are more likely to have a prospect database that aligns with your target audience.
  • Content: Check the content of these emails to ensure that the structure and quality align with how your company wants to present itself.
  • Metrics: View the deliverability and inboxing metrics to find partners that have the best performance and success in hitting inboxes. 

By using these tools, you can make an informed decision when choosing an email affiliate to work with.

The LashBack Advantage

Collaborating with an email affiliate can bring significant benefits, but it's crucial to stay vigilant when it comes to monitoring both content and progress. LashBack offers tools to proactively notify you of compliance risks in content and assess potential partners, industry alignment, and performance metrics. That way, you can make informed decisions based on valuable insights. 

Experience how LashBack can turn challenges into opportunities. Take your affiliate email marketing strategy to the next level and initiate a future where compliance is the norm and success is inevitable. 

Request a personalized demo today to learn how LashBack can strengthen your email partner relationship! Click here to get started.

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