As an advertiser or others prefer to use the word merchant, it doesn’t matter whether you run your own affiliate program directly or via an affiliate network, there are several underrated or overlooked elements that might prevent you from managing a successful affiliate program and as a result, exponentially grow your business. Having spent years helping local and international advertisers grow their affiliate channel, I have seen many succeed and fail due to factors that could have easily been prevented. I have summed up some of the most important things to remember while in charge of this channel.
- Make yourself attractive
One quite neglected factor is that before affiliates promote your brand, they measure their chances of converting their audiences into valuable traffic by looking into its appeal. Some of the things affiliates are most likely to look into are:
- The optimisation of your landing page for the desired action.
- The User Experience on your site.
- The quality of your form for advertisers paying per lead (length, details requested, clarity, disclaimers, etc…)
- Variety of your products/services, price range, average order value, payment options, delivery options and duration, etc…
- Special offers or incentives offered to users to ease the conversion process. (Visible mentions of specials/discounts, competitive edge, etc.…).
- Your conversion attribution rules.
- Brand awareness: is the advertiser’s brand presents on the web and on other marketing mediums? Is it widely known in its niche? What is its online reputation (reviews, etc…)?
- Timely payment.
- And a many others…
Many big brands struggle to have a vibrant affiliate program due to their belief that affiliates will be organically drawn to their program. That is not true or sometimes is until affiliates realise that no effort is done by the advertiser to optimise the channel.
- Build the relationship
This is one point that will never cease to be emphasized. The reason a competitor manages to retain all of his affiliates and is recruiting into your affiliates’ base is simple: he talks to them (either directly or through his affiliates manager). Newsletter addressing affiliates, one to one support, new materials, branded vouchers and a simple what’s up work in getting affiliates more engaged and therefore maintaining a great relationship which will create the added value that will place you on affiliates top advertisers lists. (Yes, every top performing affiliate has such a list)
- Have a personalised approach in dealing with your affiliates
Newsletters are cool and so are personal casual chats. I actually encourage that. The question I would suggest advertisers ask themselves is: how segmented is your affiliates’ database?
It is one thing to send messages to all affiliates about everything, it is another to send specific messages to affiliates according to their promotional methods, interests, location, etc…
This also helps with regulatory issues, customised pay-out strategy, and quite frankly… it is just more effective in getting things done.
- Educate your affiliates but also, let’s affiliates educate you.
A lot of advertisers put a strong emphasis on educating affiliates about their products or services. Very little importance is given to getting educated by affiliates. Some advertisers fail to remember that some of their top affiliates have perfected the art of attracting targeted quality traffic, retaining it, engaging it and are generating important profits as a result. Most performing affiliates already know what works and what doesn’t and experience different techniques with much more ease than most advertisers.
I encourage advertisers or merchants to ask their top affiliates (directly or via affiliates managers) to often ask opinions/suggestions especially when preparing to put in place a new strategy or any permanent, seasonal or temporary changes.
- Ask for feedback and listen to it.
To complement the previous point, the biggest question here is: how often do you ask your affiliates about what they would like to see removed/terminated, improved or added?
If one has thousands of affiliates, getting this feedback organically could be a lengthy and fruitless process. Some advertisers or merchants ‘incentivise’ feedback and that is encouraged! Most performing affiliates work with a multitude of clients and rewarding them for giving you some feedback is a fair strategy.
You can combine the above stated strategy limiting it to your top affiliates with some sort of survey open to all of your affiliates. Ideally, you’d want to put a deadline in place and the best way to get results by such a deadline is by running a competition or sweepstake offering affiliates the chance to win some prizes provided that they participate.
Afterwards, if actions are taken by the advertiser as a result of feedback received from affiliates, I advise that all affiliates are kept in the loop on the progress of such an implementation. This includes your affiliates in your online growth and create a community of informed stakeholders.
There are a lot more that could have been mentioned above; I have however tried to focus on some often “neglected” and seen as of little importance points. Most people would imagine that these are part of the common knowledge of all affiliates managers; the reality is, some merchants do not invest in this channel properly and still view this as one channel that is supposed to work organically. This is not true. To elevate the importance of this acquisition channel and therefore exponentially grow your incremental revenue through new sales and leads, you need professional affiliate’s management in place. The notoriety of your brand or the size of your business won’t matter if you put someone in charge who simply doesn’t know what they are doing. A lot of big advertisers have failed where smaller players have succeeded. It all comes down to how much seriousness you put into what you do and how attentive you are to the needs of all the parties involved in the process of creating more value for your business.
I also encourage you to read WHAT IS AFFILIATE MARKETING?
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