Tip #4: Prioritize user trust, safety, and security
Data protection has been a hot topic these past few years. Data breaches have been occurring more and more, from enormous lists of email addresses and password combinations being found on hacker forums and cloud services, to revelations of high-profile companies using people’s data for dubious purposes.
It’s no surprise, then, that people are becoming more conscious when it comes to online safety and privacy. If your affiliate site doesn’t follow basic safety precautions, all your marketing efforts will be for naught.
Here are a few ways to make sure your website and affiliate marketing efforts are above board:
Practice full disclosure
Writing an article filled with affiliate links? Tell your readers. Sharing an image of a cool product a company sent you on social media? Tell your readers where it came from. Even if your blog or social media post says something negative, you need to be upfront with the fact that you will be compensated for any clicks and purchases users will make. Nobody likes to feel like they’ve been duped. You need to disclose all your affiliate relationships.
More than just an opportunity to impress readers and followers with your open honesty, in the US, it’s the law. According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, everyone from brands and influencers to affiliate marketers must be fully transparent about the relationship they have to the product they’re promoting.
For affiliate marketers, this means that you must state somewhere on your site that you may receive a commission if readers make a purchase through one of the links you provide. You can read more on what you need to know about being transparent as an affiliate marketer on the FTC website.
Even if you’re not located in the US, it’s still a good idea to be open and honest about your relationships with brands for the purposes of building trust with your readership. Furthermore, other territories, such as the UK, are now following suit by providing strict guidelines for those promoting products across social media or their website.
Get an SSL certificate
Security Sockets Layer, or SSL, is a technology which ensures data shared between users and websites is encrypted. Visual indicators of websites with an SSL certificate are the “https” prefix in the address bar and a padlock symbol.
When users in the know see that your website is SSL-certified they can rest in the knowledge that any data they disclose on your site will be safe from malicious eyes. Not only that, but Google gives higher rankings to SSL-secured sites. Whatever way you look at it, getting an SSL certificate for your affiliate site is a no-brainer. To learn more, visit Namecheap’s SSL certificates page.
Be GDPR compliant
GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation) was a huge talking point in 2018 and it will continue to be an important consideration for any business with a website in 2019 and beyond. A new data privacy and security law in Europe, it focuses on the companies that collect data related to people in the EU. Among the wide range of obligations websites have to their users are:
Getting clear consent from users to collect their data
Clearly stating what that data will be used for
Ensuring that data is not used for any other reason than the one stated at the time of collection
Giving users the opportunity to request that their data be erased
Deleting data after it is no longer needed
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To read more about GDPR and what being compliant entails, click here.
If you have users in Europe, being GDPR compliant is essential. Even if you don’t, it’s not a bad idea to be open and honest with users about data collection: what it’s being used for and allowing them the opportunity to opt out at any time.