Once your campaign is approved for VigLink, you gain immediate access to thousands of merchants. However, there is an additional approval process for any whitelist-only merchants in our network. Merchants may have strict terms, traffic thresholds, budget limitations, etc, that necessitate restricting their affiliate program.
With this in mind, we asked our Network Quality team for some tips on how to get your campaign approved for whitelist merchants:
- Learn about the merchant
Familiarizing yourself with the whitelist merchant you’re interested in can help you assess your approval odds. For example, does the merchant you want to partner with accept your campaign type (e.g. app, toolbar, browser extension, etc)? As a further example, VigLink’s Network Quality Manager Cody Pape points to geo-restrictions: “The region your traffic comes from could affect your approval. If you run a German site that primarily has a German readership, a merchant who only converts traffic from the U.S. is probably not going to approve you for their program.” Refer to the merchant’s page in the Merchant Explorer to see details like countries a given merchant accepts traffic from.
- Create original content
Pape gives the example of Amazon, who wants to see original content created around their products: “[Amazon] doesn’t want to see products just pulled from their feeds and piped into a site,” he says. “They want thoughtful product reviews or curated posts.” Pape cautions publishers not to cull or plagiarize content from other sites. “If you’re recycling content from other sites or using RSS feeds, the merchant might ask, ‘Why am I not just partnering with the site that actually created this content?'” Pape says.
- Post accurate, current offers
“Merchants want to know you’re sending users to existing products with approved coupons,” Pape says. “Otherwise, they might have to deal with angry customers who are expecting a coupon code from a year ago to work, and that’s not ideal.” In other words: keep your site up-to-date and make sure the products, sales, or offers you post are likewise up-to-date, as well as compliant. Nike, for example, doesn’t allow posting of new releases until they are live on their site—so if you have your eye on Nike, make sure your site abides by this rule.
- Be transparent
It can be difficult to obtain approval if you have had any violations with a whitelist merchant in the past. Pape says it’s better to write email@example.com and disclose your history upfront so we can see what we can do to help you. “We’ll be able to present a case to the merchant along with your whitelist request if you give us a heads-up,” says Pape. “If you don’t, they’re likely to simply reject your application outright.”
- Build a case study
If your site is relatively new, Pape recommends creating a case study that outlines your site’s value to the whitelist merchant: “Share how many page views and clicks you anticipate; share examples of how you’ve promoted other merchants successfully.” Providing data and testimonials can cement you in the merchant’s mind as a strategic, analytical partner with a lot of potential.
- Prepare to grow your following
On occasion, a whitelist merchant may reject your application due to low traffic. Don’t feel bad! Take this as an opportunity to create more content, build your readership, improve your SEO, etc. After an initial rejection, we invite you to reapply for a whitelist merchant in six months’ time to have your application reconsidered.