Keys to a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program:

10 Tips to Create a Program Affiliates Love

By Sarah Jamieson

Create a program affiliates love. If you want to attract affiliates and keep them loyal, structure your program around these guidelines. They will help to ensure that both you and your affiliates peacefully make money.

Establish That You're Trustworthy

All those great-sounding claims about your affiliate program will ring hollow if you don’t establish your credibility. Include some form of verifiable character reference. Even more valuable, guarantee that your affiliates will get paid!

Affiliate Commission Reports

Affiliate tracking reports should appear in two places:

- Online

- In an affiliates newsletter you email on a regular basis.

Why bother with reporting in two places?

Online tracking is necessary for instantaneous, 24-hours-a-day availability of commission info.

The availability is convenient for affiliates and adds to your credibility.

The newsletter keeps affiliates involved. Make partnership more than a promise by building community and team spirit with great content, incentives (like increased commissions for bringing in customer feedback), tips from other affiliates and, of course, the commission reports themselves.

Make Regular Payments

Pay monthly on amounts exceeding an agreed-upon minimum (put it in your contract).

$50-100 is pretty standard; it keeps partners satisfied but doesn’t eat up your profit with payout costs.

Your Goal is Site Domination

Your objective is to take up as much prime space on each affiliate’s site as possible. This might mean the transfer of a link to a different page, links on two pages of the site, and so on.

Think of Affiliates as Customers

Your goal is to make affiliates consume your links and place them on their sites. To get affiliates actively working for you and promoting your products, you have to adopt a hands-on approach.

Communicate with Your Affiliates

Build relationships with your affiliates through a newsletter.

Send regular emails to your top-performing affiliates praising their performance and supporting them with marketing tips or telling them what links have been performing well for other affiliates.

To motivate your other partners, try publicizing the earnings of your top affiliates.

Make Residual Income Policies Fair

If there’s one error that really stands out most with affiliate programs, it’s their one-sided policies regarding lifetime commissions.

If someone makes a repeat purchase after finding you the first time through an affiliate, the buyer will likely go straight to your site rather than via the affiliate again. A lot of programs don’t pay the affiliate for this repeat business.

However, a customer who is a repeat buyer is extremely valuable to you. It’s only fair to pay your affiliates a commission for that referral.

Perhaps you can consider a higher percentage for the first purchase and reduced commissions for later sales.

Work residual income projections into your campaigns to attract. Residual commissions are very attractive and will draw the attention of prospective affiliates.

As affiliates try more programs and become more sophisticated, it will become clear that paying a lifetime commission is the only way to operate an affiliate program.

Be a Fair Merchant

Pay affiliates for the sale or lead referral. After a sale, let customers return easily to the affiliate’s site.

Don’t implement self-defeating policies such as charging affiliates to join or stay in your program. This is often a deal killer!

Don’t require customers to enter the affiliate’s name when they order, or any of the other silly things some merchants do.

Automate Your Affiliate Marketing Program

Automation prevents headaches for both you and your affiliates.

  • Allow affiliates download your affiliate set-up package.
  • Automate your training program.
  • Write a FAQ to address common questions.

Affiliate Tracking

Here are a few suggestions for your affiliate tracking:

  • Tag affiliate links
  • Set up separate segment for traffic from affiliates so you can see how visitors they referred behaved across all reports.
  • Total affiliate conversion rate and conversion rate by affiliate (get this data from your affiliate tracking program).
  • Latent conversions / lifetime value – How well does affiliate traffic perform over time?

Keys to a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program > How an Effective Affiliate Marketing Program Works > Affiliate Tracking Software vs. Affiliate Networks > Affiliate Commissions > How to Find Quality Affiliates > 4 Make or Break Affiliate Marketing Factors > Create a Program Affiliates Love