Affiliate Program Agreement & Contract Template [+How to Guide]

Learn how to create an effective and legally-binding affiliate program agreement with our comprehensive template and step-by-step guide. Perfect for businesses of all sizes.
Image of author Nick Cotter

By Nick Cotter
Updated Jan 10, 2024

Affiliate Program Agreement & Contract Template [+How to Guide]
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Table of contents

Legal and compliance.

In my opinion, this area of affiliate program management is beyond boring.

That said, it’s 100% necessary to have an effective and buttoned up affiliate program. The affiliate marketing program agreement (T&Cs) will protect your brand from bad actors and affiliate fraud.

We highly recommend ironing out a solid program agreement you, the leadership team, and any outside counsel agree upon. In the long run, this will be a program agreement you may be able to use for years, and only make a few red line tweaks here and there.

Before jumping into the rest of our article we need to put in the below (boring) legal disclaimer:

The information provided in this article is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or guidance. Readers are advised to seek appropriate legal counsel before making any decisions related to affiliate agreements or any other contractual matter. Neither the author nor the publisher will be liable for any errors or omissions in this information or for any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use.

Now, onto the good stuff.

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Key Components of an Affiliate Agreement

Let's dive right into the heart of affiliate agreements - some of the key components I ensure are in all program agreements and terms & conditions.

These are the nuts and bolts that hold everything together, so understanding them is crucial for any marketer.

1. Parties Involved.

First off, let's talk about who's involved in these agreements.

Typically, they involve two parties: 

  • The merchant (that'd be you if you're a business owner) and
  • The affiliate (the person or company promoting your products).

Sometimes there might be third parties like affiliate networks that act as intermediaries. It's important to clearly define who everyone is to avoid confusion down the line.

affiliate program agreement scale

2. Payment Terms.

Next up, we've got payment terms.

In this portion of the agreement, it’s very important to include both your accounting, finance and legal teams.

You want to ensure it’s ironclad, and protects your business in the form of solvency issues you may run into.

This part of an agreement outlines how and when affiliates get paid for their hard work promoting your product or service.

Most commonly, it includes things like commission rates, payment schedules and minimum payout thresholds. Plus, it also covers how returns or refunds are handled.

In this section you’ll want to:

  • Clearly define who, how payments are determined.
  • The payment term timeframe.
  • Where, how payments will be processed. Is this from your accounting team, 3rd party software, or affiliate network.

3. Affiliate Duties and Restrictions.

Then we have what I like to call "the rules of engagement". This section spells out what affiliates can and can't do while promoting your product or service. For example:

  • Can they use paid advertising? If so, can they bid on your branded search terms?
  • Are there certain marketing methods they need to steer clear from?
  • What kind of content should they create?

You get the idea! These boundaries help protect both parties.

Drafting of affiliate program agreement illustration

4. Intellectual Property Rights.

This is where things start getting a bit more technical but bear with me here!

The intellectual property rights section clarifies who owns what - whether it’s logos, trademarks or promotional materials used by affiliates in their campaigns. It's all about ensuring no one steps on anyone else’s toes (or infringes copyright laws).

This is especially important when affiliates want to use your IP in their content. You’ll want to ensure you have the right to approve, deny, remove affiliates if they don’t abide be the IP rights.

Otherwise, you could be jeopardizing your brand reputation if there’s a bad actor in your affiliate program.

5. Term and Termination.

Finally yet importantly is 'Term & Termination'.

This lays out how long the agreement lasts before it needs renewal (if at all), and how either party can terminate the agreement if things aren’t working out.

It's like a prenup, but for businesses!

In this section, you basically want to put verbiage that allows your company to terminate any form of “partnership” at will and even without cause.

This is your program, and your brand. Protect it at all costs.

Importance of Compliance in Affiliate Agreements

One thing I've learned over the years is that compliance isn't something you can overlook when it comes to affiliate agreements.

Now, why is that?

Well, imagine you're going about your business, promoting products left and right, only to find out you've been violating some rules unknowingly. Not fun at all! That's where compliance comes in - knowing and following these rules can save a lot of headaches down the line.

Compliance ensures everyone plays by the same rulebook.

This helps maintain trust between parties involved in an affiliate agreement - marketers, affiliates, and consumers alike. More importantly, it protects against potential legal troubles that could arise from non-compliant practices (and nobody wants those!).

Here are a few key reasons why compliance matters:

  • It sets clear expectations: Each party knows what they're supposed to do (and not do). This clarity reduces confusion and potential disputes.
  • It safeguards consumer rights: Protecting consumers is paramount in any business operation. Effective compliance measures make sure marketing practices adhere to consumer protection laws.
  • It maintains brand integrity: Non-compliant practices can harm a brand’s reputation. By being compliant, brands maintain their credibility with customers.

Example: "Glow Radiance Skincare and TrendyBeautyBlog Partnership"

This is a fake example, but it’s to provide context 🙂

Scenario:

Glow Radiance Skincare, a leading organic skincare brand, partnered with TrendyBeautyBlog, a high-traffic beauty blog, for affiliate marketing.

The affiliate program agreement specified that partners should only use approved marketing materials and claims provided by Glow Radiance Skincare. The aim was to ensure consistent brand messaging and adherence to stringent industry regulations.

Compliance Issue:

However, eager to boost conversions, TrendyBeautyBlog began crafting their own promotional content, which included exaggerated claims like "Guaranteed to remove all wrinkles in just 3 days!" and "See results overnight or get double your money back!" These claims were neither vetted nor approved by Glow Radiance Skincare.

Upon discovering this breach, Glow Radiance Skincare faced potential reputational harm and possible regulatory scrutiny due to the misleading and unverified claims. They immediately reached out to TrendyBeautyBlog, highlighting the breach in the agreement and the potential consequences. The partnership faced strain, with both parties having to invest time and resources in damage control.

Common Clauses in Affiliate Agreements.

There's a good chance you'll encounter these three common clauses in most affiliate agreements: Non-compete, Confidentiality, and Indemnity.

For the brand, they’re great clauses to include, but for the affiliate partner, you’ll want to carefully comb through the agreements to check for these.

1. Non-compete Clauses.

Ever heard of a non-compete clause?

These sneaky little sections are often tucked away in an agreement to prevent affiliates from pushing similar products from competitors.

They're kinda like that possessive ex who didn't want you hanging out with anyone else (except this time, it's all about business and not high school drama).

Here's how it works: 

Let’s say you’re promoting fitness equipment for Company A.

With a non-compete clause in place, you can't turn around and promote equipment for Company B too.

Now, in my experience, this doesn’t typically happen with many affiliate programs, but I’ve seen it a few times when the partnership runs deep and you’re sharing proprietary information with one another.

2. Confidentiality Clauses.

Next up on our hit list is the confidentiality clause.

This bad boy is all about keeping secrets... well secret!

When you partner with a company as an affiliate marketer, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes info they share with you - pricing strategies, upcoming product launches or even their grandma’s secret pancake recipe (okay maybe not that last one).

Now imagine if this juicy tidbit were leaked to competitors... chaos would ensue!

3. Indemnity Clauses.

Last but definitely not least are indemnity clauses.

Sounds fancy huh?

But really what it does is protect companies from being held accountable for any wrongdoing on part of the affiliate.

For instance, let’s say you're pulling in some serious cash with your affiliate marketing gig and decide to celebrate by throwing a wild party where unfortunately someone gets injured.

If they decide to sue, the indemnity clause makes sure that it's you (not the company) who has to deal with the legal fallout.

To wrap this up, these clauses might seem like complicated legal jargon but they're essential parts of any affiliate agreement.

Understanding them won't just protect you - it'll make you a smarter marketer too! So next time you come across one of these in an agreement don’t skip ahead; take your time and read through because knowledge is power my friends!

Tips for Drafting an Effective Affiliate Agreement

Is drafting an affiliate marketing agreement boring?

Yes.

Is the agreement necessary to have a successful affiliate program?

Yes. There’s no way around it. You need to protect your brand.

Drafting an effective affiliate agreement doesn't have to be as daunting as it sounds. You've got this, and I'm here to help.

Here are some pointers for y'all to remember:

  • Define both parties' roles clearly
  • Discuss confidentiality expectations
  • Set dispute resolution processes
  • Detail termination conditions
  • Work with your leadership team to ensure you’re all on the same page.
  • Your legal counsel should have final sign off on the agreement.
  • Allow your high-value affiliate partners to redline certain parts of the agreement.

Just wrap these tips around your finger and you'll have an air-tight affiliate agreement in no time!

Affiliate Program Agreement (Contract) Template:

The below template is a basic affiliate program template.

It should not be used to manage your affiliate program from a legal standpoint. It’s a basic template. I can’t stress this enough 🙂

Use this template as a stepping stone to build out your affiliate program contract with your partners.

Download our affiliate program template.

Affiliate program agreement template

Wrapping up our Affiliate Program Agreement.

In wrapping up, crafting a meticulous affiliate program agreement stands as a linchpin in harmonizing the multifaceted relationships between merchants and affiliates.

From ensuring clear communication and setting forth unequivocal expectations to safeguarding compliance with regulatory norms, a well-articulated agreement bolsters both parties against potential misalignments and disputes.

Whether you’re a seasoned affiliate manager or a burgeoning entrepreneur embarking on affiliate marketing adventures, prioritizing a robust, transparent, and adaptable agreement not only mitigates challenges but also nourishes a sustainable and mutually rewarding partnership.

Embrace the insights and template shared herein as stepping stones toward forging successful affiliate collaborations, always keeping in mind that the essence of a prosperous partnership lies in mutual respect, adherence to guidelines, and a shared vision of success.

Nick Cotter

Nick Cotter

Founder & CEO
Growann

With over 7 years navigating the intricate realms of marketing, and specifically B2B partner marketing, Nick has forged collaborations with top-tier tech brands, prominent agencies, and some of the industry's foremost B2B publishers and content creators. His deep immersion in both marketing landscapes showcases a trajectory of expertise and innovation. Identifying a significant void in specialized resources, he founded Growann.The aspiration? Deliver unparalleled insights and guidance, carving out a dedicated space where the broader marketing and B2B partner marketing communities can flourish.