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Declined applicationJack applied to join an affiliate program, but his application was declined. He's both surprised and confused. He does have a plan on how to promote the merchant for whose program he applied, but the merchant chose not partner with Jack. Why?  Perhaps he didn't provide the merchant with enough information to enable him to understand how this could be a mutually beneficial partnership.

Over the past few days I've been reviewing literally hundreds of affiliate applications to a brand new affiliate program we launched Friday afternoon. 32.3% of the applications were declined because the applicants committed at least one of the following 6 mistakes. To help affiliates avoid this fate, I decided to put together this post.

Here are the 6 more widely-spread ways to get your affiliate application declined:

1. Ignore the program's Ts & Cs

If you want your application to be declined right away, ignore the affiliate program's Terms and Conditions. I have had several "adult"-related affiliates apply to a Christian-themed affiliate program. What are they thinking? Have they even glanced at the merchant's ToS?

Save everyone's time. Review those T's & C's before submitting an application!

2. Don't list a website

Another frequently repeated mistake is no website listed on the affiliate account. Here are two real-life examples:

No website affiliate application 1


No website affiliate application 2

Don't expect your application to be approved if the details of your affiliate page look like one of the above examples.

3. Don't bother updating your websites' URLs.

Another extremely common error is having URLs of old and already-inexistent websites listed on your affiliate account. If all the URLs you list on your account land on pages like:

Address not found


403 Fobidden


Cannot find server

...you can just forget about being accepted into an affiliate program. Why would a merchant want to partner with an affiliate who's that disorganized?

4. Listing a new website, keep it textless

If you're new to affiliate marketing or  just started a website on which you hope to promote the merchant into whose affiliate program you are applying, keeping the website textless can (and often will) do you a disservice.

Here are a couple of examples:

Textless affiliate website 1


Textless affiliate website 2

Same goes for default Plesk landing pages that website visitors see when the domain hosting is not fully configured, and also parked domains.

5. Don't bother understanding the basics

If you don't take the time to understand the basics of affiliate marketing, you can run into problems as well. I recently blogged about how affiliates confuse coupons for incentives when in the affiliate marketing context incentivized traffic has traditionally meant something very different (namely, rebates, cashback offers, freebies, etc). However, I keep seeing affiliates that list their websites as incentive ones when in reality they are not such. I review every affiliate application manually regardless of what it says on the account. Many affiliate managers will choose to automatically decline "incentive affiliates" due to the nature of their affiliate programs. Therefore, if in reality, you are not an incentive affiliate, but have listed yourself under this category, your application may be automatically turned away.

Here's one of the funnier examples of an affiliate explanation as to why he thinks he's an incentive affiliate:

6. If located outside of an English-speaking country, don't bother listing English language website(s) on your profile

In A Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing I mentioned automatic rejections of non-US-based affiliates as one of the common mistakes affiliate program managers commit. I wrote that "affiliates outside of the U.S. can be a great asset" to any affiliate program, because "many of them have excellent organic traffic – often highly targeted and interesting to you as a merchant." Having said this, when I get an application from a new affiliate whose website looks as follows, there's simply no way for me to tell how he'll be able to promote my client:

Thai website

The beauty of Thai text simply doesn't help here. If the above-quoted website is the only one you listed on your affiliate account, don't be surprised if your application is declined.

Have I missed anything else? Affiliate program managers are most welcome to post their own observations in the "comments" area below.

Geno Prussakov

Published 9 June, 2009 by Geno Prussakov

Geno Prussakov is the Founder & Chair of Affiliate Management Days conference, Founder & CEO at AM Navigator, author, internationally known speaker, and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can find Geno on Google+

27 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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Geno Prussakov

Geno Prussakov, Founder at AM Navigator LLC

A few more turnoffs to avoid:

  • Not listing any name in your affiliate profile (or entering some gibberish details there)
  • Putting a major search engine in place of your website(s). Even if you're mainly doing paid search, you still need a website. Fewer and fewer merchants are allowing direct-to-merchant ad linking, and displaying merchant's URLs on your ads
  • The only website listed - one where you want to teach others how to make money, but your own stats show that you are hardly making any yourself
  • Poor grammar/spelling on affiliate website (major brands may have a problem associating with you)

To date 40.05% of all affiliate applications into this particular merchant's affiliate program have been declined on one of the above-quoted (10 already) reasons.

over 7 years ago


Ed Noles

Geno, following up on #6 - I manage a new affiliate program for a U.S. e-commerce site that only ships domestically. Would you still recommend partnering with international affiliates? If asked, they would all claim to have significant U.S. traffic.

over 7 years ago

Geno Prussakov

Geno Prussakov, Founder at AM Navigator LLC


Very good question.

Short answer: yes, definitely let them in.

Longer answer: "Affiliates outside of the U.S. can be a great asset to your program. Many of them have excellent organic traffic – often highly targeted and interesting to you as a merchant. As an example, I want to turn to the facts about some of the US programs I manage. One of my best collectibles-selling affiliates is in UK, while the other one is in Switzerland; a Dutch and a Canadian are in the top 10 of my ink affiliates; an Indian and one from China are in the top 20 of a magazine merchant. The list of the top 50 affiliates of another collectibles merchant of mine contains affiliates from Singapore, Serbia and Montenegro, Malaysia, South Africa and again Canada, United Kingdom, India, and the Netherlands" (direct quote from my above-quoted book, page 114).

With the above-quoted example, it could very well be a website targetting Thai Americans, and very suitable for my client's affiliate program. There is just no way for me to tell that unless the affiliate communicates this to me. But affiliate websites in languages other than English may be harder to work with (especially when you do not speak more than 1-2 languages). I speak Russian, and when I was managing an affiliate program for a Russian gift shop, I was happily accepting websites in Russian that targetted Russian Americans.

over 7 years ago


Todd Lloyd, DC

I've tried twice to become an affiliate member of Audible.com (I use them a lot in my personal life, and I want to share my recommendations.) 

The first time I applied, I got declined and I figured out that maybe it was because I didn't have a privacy notice. I added that and applied again.  Nothing.  

Any other ideas?  My site is http://lloydchiro.com if anyone is interested in looking into it.  I would greatly appreciate it. 


almost 7 years ago


Jackie Goldstein

It seems that your link to A Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing leads to a parked page....

over 4 years ago


Geno Prussakov

Jackie, yes, I let go of that domain name some time ago. The book is still available through Amazon though.

over 4 years ago

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