Posted on | March 13, 2010 | 6 Comments
I’m going to assume that you know what Affiliate Marketing is for this post… If not then I suggest pinging your way over to here – That’s unless you are happy with knowing, in its basic form, Affiliate Marketing is a Pay Per Performance method of marketing where an individual puts your company/product banner on their personal website and if they make a sale you give them a % of sale..
Back to my thoughts though…
I love the affiliate world. When I started off in the Online World it was running affiliate programs and I have worked across a range of large, medium and small affiliate platforms (including internal platforms such as Net Refer).
What amazes me today though is that there are so many affiliate programs out there that are run so badly and companies and Affiliate platforms are missing out on a whole heap of revenue that they could be driving by being more proactive.
What do I mean by badly though?
I get the distinct feeling that many companies think that Affiliates are self sufficient, an easy channel to let itself run that will just keep on creating sales for a company without having to do much for them. I’ve heard it time and time again that the affiliate channel just helps bring down overall CPA’s in a marketing mix etc
Whilst some of your affiliates might not want to be contacted the intelligent ones will still be on the ball and looking to grow ALL of their sales and welcome any help in this area though so a good affiliate program will be worked on every day..
Affiliate marketing is a core marketing channel for many different businesses across a very wide range of verticals but running an affiliate program should not really be that different from product to product so I’ve created a list of actions that all affiliate programs and affiliate platforms should be working on together to help grow their affiliate channels.
- Don’t take more than 24 hours to say yes or no to affiliates trying to sign up to your program? It’s amazing how many companies take weeks if not months to say yes or no to new affiliates. If just one of these affiliates is a big hitter think of the negative impact this will have on the relationship. If you have budget constraints and don’t want to take on new affiliates then make sure you let potential affiliates know. It’s also good practice to answer any affiliate queries about why you might have turned them down as most affiliates don’t show all of their websites under their account so don’t miss out on potential opportunities.
- Do have a set of structured, helpful welcome emails for new affiliates. It’s your first chance to really sell your affiliate programme over others (and trust me, affiliates will sign up to loads of affiliate programs and only use a few of them). The more you can engage with them from the off the better. With this in mind you really need a structured CRM program for your affiliates as well. Welcome Emails, congratulations on your first sale contact, campaign update emails etc
- Do keep your creative fresh and campaign specific. If your brand is on TV or pushing hard online or offline – make sure that your affiliates are able to fit into your marketing channel mix with relevant creative and messages/offers that are backed up by your site and external marketing. A campaign with a stick of rock running through it across all channels helps increase your conversion rates across all channels and affiliates can really help build this awareness up across other channels so need to be taken into account.
- Don’t lump all affiliates into one bucket. It’s good practise to categorise affiliates into, for example, high, medium or low brackets and service them accordingly. Put energy where you know you’ll get a return and by tailoring communication, payment models, service levels etc around these affiliates tiers you can help continue to grow your affiliate program further. BUT, don’t forget that the low and medium tiers need to be serviced. Some affiliates won’t grow on their own but will grow if you can provide the tools they need to grow.
- DO help affiliates run before they can walk. OK, this sounds like a strange one but here goes.. Think White Label Dating. WLD allows you to build a site, plug into their database of singles and get a website up and running with very minimum effort.. What better way to break down the barriers of people not being able to start affiliate marketing. Think around this idea and what the web now offers..
o RSS feeds for content, fresh content and minimum effort to update.
o Unique or affiliate tailored content for affiliates to use that can help build out pages about your company/product.
o Dynamic URLS that allow affiliates to point and track clicks/sales to any part of your site. Don’t force a user journey
o Co Branded landing pages or unique offers for large affiliates.
o Prizes and assets for affiliate competitions to drive visitors to affiliates sites (where the affiliate then looks to convert these users to sales for you).
o Affiliate seminars where you take affiliates through your product and help them further understand your area.
- Do treat you affiliate program like a whole marketing department. Affiliate marketing needs internal attention. There are recruitment campaigns to bring in affiliates, setting up affiliate on finance/payment systems, monthly comms that need to be sent to the base, campaigns to run through affiliates, events to take or go to with affiliates, PPC/Display/SEO affiliates to all deal with differently etc..
- Do provide as much analytical help as possible to affiliates – Some repotting interfaces on affiliate platforms are not that good.. Helping affiliates understand their conversion funnel will ultimately help them try new methods of sending you traffic that converts better.
Whilst this isn’t a comprehensive list of Affiliate Do’s and Don’t I hope it does provide you with a few ideas for direction and how to look at building out your affiliate program and helping it grow into a high revenue and valuable channel within your marketing mix.