If you currently run or are thinking about running your own affiliate program, then this article is for you.
There are 4 major things that each and every affiliate program needs to have if it is to be a success. Luckily for me they all begin with C so it is easy to remember.
Commission, Creative, Consistency, and Communication
Let’s take a look at each one in turn. To the affiliate this is the correct order of importance when joining a program. However, as the affiliate program manager this needs to be slightly altered but we will get to that later!
The biggest differentiator to the affiliate is money. How much will they get paid for selling your product or service? How you structure this is really dependent on the type of product or service you are offering but really you have 3 options. Pay Per Sale, Pay per Lead or Pay Per Click. There are other options but to be honest these are the main ones.
When deciding on what commissions to pay, be realistic. If you don’t really know how much you can afford to pay out then air on the side of caution. You want to pay out what you can afford to. Running a program for 2 months and then realise you have to reduce your commission payments to affiliates can be a program killer.
How many times have you joined an affiliate program only to find there are no creative to promote the program? How are they going to promote your product or service if you do not help them. You must provide the affiliates with everything they need to sell your product. If you had a real sales force, you would give them marketing materials in order to sell the customer, so the affiliate program is no different.
Banners, buttons, text links, HTML email, text email, classified ads copy, content, articles, and product reviews are all things that you can us to give the affiliate the creative they need to sell or pre-sell your product or service.
Whenever you commit to running an affiliate program, be consistent, if you are sending out updates or updating creative on a regular basis make sure you remain consistent. If you want make it a certain day of the month. Affiliates will then get used to expecting things from you at a given time of the month. They can then almost factor that into their workloads. Remember affiliates can have two jobs, two hundred websites to manage so try to accommodate that in your thinking.
If you lose consistency, it will show the affiliate that you don’t care about there efforts. They will switch off you like a shot. Remember there will always be someone else out there running an affiliate program in a similar space to you. An affiliate will show loyalty if you treat them right.
Perhaps last but no means least is Communication. You need to communicate to affiliates for two main reasons. Firstly, to update them on any new product changes, new creative, new commission structures. So in effect , to keep them informed with what’s going on with you and your business that will help them drive more sales.
Secondly, you need to keep in touch will affiliates to make them feel important and to help train them. If you stay in touch on a regular basis and provide them with tools and training materials, they will learn more about driving traffic and sales to your products. They will be much more switched on to you for helping them.
Now I know some of you will be thinking that they will take your knowledge and help and use it elsewhere. Yes they will. But there will be lots of affiliates out there that will be joining an affiliate program for the first time or do not know who to do certain things and will feel loyal to you.
This is the most important C for Affiliate Program managers, building relationships and loyalty with affiliates through Communication. Think of it as an insurance policy so when a competitor comes along with the same product and offers the same commission or even in some instances a higher commission you will find you will keep your affiliates.
Running an affiliate program is a hugely rewarding project, get it right and you make a large sum of money of not just you but your affiliates too. Always remember the 4 C’s when constructing a program or revisiting a program which isn’t working that well.
Jason Hulott is an Author, Affiliate Program Manager, and creator of “Affiliate Communicator", a new tool which allows the user to create Affiliate Marketing newsletters at the push of a button. Auto loaded with articles, products tips and useful Resources, Affiliate Communicator is THE tool affiliate marketing managers can’t live without! Click here to find out more