Every Tuesday, AvantLink hosts an interface training webinar for new and existing merchant clients to overview the AvantLink platform and learn management strategies we see work from a network level. Typically, one of the first items addressed is new affiliate application management from affiliates who have applied to join your program. New affiliate applications are handled using one of two methods specified by the program’s manager: auto approval or manual approval.
 

Triggering The Age-Old Approval Debate

 
Now, just mentioning auto approval will cause some program managers’ blood to boil while others consider it a necessity of program management. Why the different reactions?
 
Supporters of auto-approval for new affiliate applications generally claim it helps capitalize on the excitement of an affiliate who is looking to join a program and get started promoting ASAP. Pushing the application to a manual approval queue may take away some of the initial momentum with the new affiliate.
 

The number of new pending affiliate applications can be found on the merchant homepage here.

The number of new pending affiliate applications can be found on the merchant homepage here.


 
On the other hand, managers who use manual approval of new affiliate applications value the explicit control over who can and cannot represent their brand. For just a little extra effort to approve (or deny) the application and a potential loss in immediate momentum with the affiliate, the merchant can review every single incoming affiliate and maintain that brand control.
 
What is the opinion of the network? Because AvantLink focuses on a heavy QA and vetting process before any affiliates are even allowed on to the network and given options to apply to programs, merchants using auto-approve have the quality control management aspect taken out of the equation with any incoming affiliates. At the same time, we always encourage merchants to be very aware of the affiliates in their programs and who currently has the ability to represent their brand. Manual approval of applications is far more conducive to knowing fully who is in your program from the start, and with the oh-so-handy AvantLink apps for iOS and Android, approving pending affiliate applications is quick and easy even when not logged into your account on a computer.
 
Whatever process a merchant chooses, they’ll have the right tools to help make it work best for them.
 

The 7-Day Manual Approval Process

 

The approval date of the affiliate's application will fill in with the date the affiliate was turned live on to the program.

The approval date of the affiliate’s application will fill in with the date the affiliate was turned live on to the program.


 
When a merchant does choose to manually review incoming affiliate applications, those affiliates get stored in a “Pending Applications” queue. Instead of giving program managers an indefinite amount of time for review of the pending applications, however, AvantLink puts a seven day time frame in place to take action on the affiliate status. If no action is taken on the application within that seven day period, the affiliate will be automatically approved into the program.
 
Why?
 
Some of the most consistent feedback AvantLink hears from affiliates is the inconvenience of having to wait indefinitely for an approval or denial response from merchants following an application to a program. If action is taken on their application within a few days, great, all is well! But when an affiliate applies to a program and doesn’t get a response for three or four months, the situation quickly becomes problematic for the affiliate in waiting. This scenario is typical in other networks, and something AvantLink avoids by giving merchants a seven day review period for all pending affiliate applications.
 

Responsiveness Is A Great First Impression

 
The seven day review period for pending affiliate applications starts the moment the affiliate applies to join a program. For the vast majority of merchants on manual approval, this window is far more than enough time to effectively manage incoming applications. If an affiliate does fall through the cracks and doesn’t get the required attention in the approval time frame, no worries, they’ll still be taken care of and allowed into the program.
 

Responsiveness Is A Great First ImpressionClick To Tweet
 
For most managers who are actively managing their programs, incoming affiliate applications are typically handled in the first 48 hours. For the pending affiliates, seeing that a responsive program manager has taken the time to review and activate an application is a good indication that the merchant has active management. Despite having the seven day safety net, it’s of course a best practice to make sure affiliates who are interested in joining your program have been given a response as soon as possible following their application.
 

The Special Terms Exception

 
Certain affiliates require explicit sign-off by a manager before they can be given access to the merchant program. Called “special terms affiliates”, these affiliates generally operate sub-networks or are tool providers that need to be reviewed manually by a merchant before they can participate in a program. This is the only case in which the seven day time frame does not apply for merchants on manual approval. However, these applications should still be acted on just as quickly as any other affiliate who has applied. Additionally, any merchants using auto-approval will still see these affiliate applications put into the pending queue.
 
Moral of the story? Check your pending affiliate applications queue, approve or deny pending affiliates as quickly as possible, and continue your march to affiliate program world domination. Now time for an outdated meme:
 

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Even merchants on affiliate auto-approve need to keep an eye out on their pending approval queue.

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