Affiliate Marketing Transparency: What It Is and Why You Need It

Neil Kokemuller
Neil Kokemuller
May 16, 2018

For affiliate marketers, transparency means being upfront and thoroughly honest with readers about the nature of your affiliate business and the way you operate. Transparency is critical to operating in line with Federal Trade Commission requirements, and it’s essential for earning loyalty and referrals from happy customers.

The following is an introduction to key steps for operating with transparency, along with a more in-depth look at the implications for your affiliate business.

Operating with Transparency

Whether in operations, partnerships, payment services or commerce, transparency pushes your ethics beyond being honest by including disclosure of all relevant information your site visitors need to make informed decisions. The following are key factors in affiliate marketing transparency:

Proper On-Page Disclosure: A typical visitor to your website doesn’t know that a link from your blog post is an affiliate link from which you earn referral income. You need to inform readers of this with a clear disclosure at the bottom of the page. This disclosure should cite your income-generating relationship with the off-site provider. It establishes that, regardless of your genuine intent, there is a natural motivation for product endorsements.

Dedicated Policy Page: A more extensive policy page allows visitors to learn details about the nature of your affiliate business. Your policies should address such items as affiliate partnerships, methods of fulfillment and communication, and gathering and use of customer data.

Useful Data: Any data that supports the usefulness of products and user experiences is valuable. Independent reports and user-generated content enhance the value of data.

Content Information: Don’t operate in stealth mode. If you run an ethical affiliate business, share contact information clearly to enable your visitors to ask questions about your operation.

Why Transparency Is Important

Transparency builds trust and opportunities for long-term customer relationships. The following are key reasons for or benefits of being transparent:

Earn Trust: When you share openly and support your claims with proof, you indicate that you have nothing to hide. It is easier for customers to believe you want to help them meet their needs as opposed to feeling like there is an attempt to deceive.

Improved Revenue and Referrals: Loyal customers come back and often increase their volume of purchases over time. Additionally, they tend to refer others, including via social media, to your business.

Meet Legal and Ethical Obligations: The role of the FTC is to protect consumers from fraudulent or deceptive marketing practices. Thorough and proper disclosure meets basic tenants of consumer protection and insulates you from the risk of FTC penalties.

Conclusions

It is clear that transparency is important for affiliate marketers to earn loyalty and to optimize long-term revenue. Following the strategies and best practices identified to establish a solid footing with your visitors and the FTC!

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