Can you believe it? We’re already to Part Seven of the Affiliate Marketing for your Business series. In this series, we’re covering the introductory fundamentals to the advanced concepts of affiliate programs that your business will benefit from. Since there is a wealth of information forthcoming, I encourage you to either bookmark this page or sign up for our newsletter so you stay up to date and ahead of the competition. If this is your first time joining us, welcome and please feel free to check out the previous posts from this series:
- Part 1: an introduction to affiliate programs and who the key players are.
- Part 2, discussed affiliate offers, payouts and how to structure affiliate programs.
- Part 3, presented affiliates; their roles, thought processes and vocabulary.
- Part 4, featured affiliate offers; what they are, how they work and creatives.
- Part 5, was all about tracking URLs; variables, parameters and other features.
- Part 6, broke down how affiliates plan their website, perform research, audience targeting, content development and mediums they use to drive traffic.
How to Attract Affiliates to Your Program
Can you believe it? We’re already to Part 7 of the Affiliate Marketing for Your Business series. In this series, we’re covering the introductory fundamentals to the advanced concepts of affiliate programs that your business will benefit from.
These last few posts have focused on affiliates, getting to know them and how they operate their businesses. In this post, we are going to use that information as a foundation for what your program can offer to attract, retain, and increase the number of affiliates promoting your offers.
How do affiliates choose an affiliate program?
First of all, you need to know affiliates spend a tremendous amount of time researching and comparing programs prior to joining. Knowing what they’re looking for and what they need for success will assist you in recruiting and retaining them. Seasoned affiliates look for programs with respectable reputations, they research websites, forums, ask other affiliates and compare directories. They’re also interested in available offers, the payouts, regular specials or seasonal promotions, stipulations, limitations and fees. When you’re starting out, make sure to provide as much information as possible to paint a clear picture of what your affiliates can expect. Most importantly, create a compelling story as to why affiliates should join your program, highlighting features, incentives, bonuses, specials, and anything else that differentiates you from the rest.
When your program sticks out from the flurry of all the others, affiliates will gladly join and even recommend your program to their friends. We’ve created a list of some of the features you can provide to make your program superior.
What do I feature about my affiliate program?
- Affiliate Management: Seasoned affiliates value account managers that are experts in the industry, someone who can share their knowledge and offer advice to increase the likelihood of success. Affiliate programs frequently receive questions, you’ll need an affiliate manager who can provide solutions for your affiliates. Your program will grow and benefit when your account manager does whatever it takes to ensure your affiliate’s efforts are successful. Lastly, your manager’s trust within the community will enhance your reputation and grow your affiliate force in no time.
- Products: Affiliates have a specific niche and target audience that respond well to related offers. Affiliate need to remain credible with their audience, they evaluate programs based on the quality of the products being offered. They join networks that offer real and viable solutions, you need to stress this when describing your offers and products to attract high-quality and high-volume affiliates. Offering irresistible products will get affiliates excited to join your network and grab their attention.
- Fees: When affiliates look into the different programs out there, they look at the fees; percentage fees, start-up fees, renewal fees, etc. It’s one of the most important decision factors when affiliates investigate which program to join; this has a direct impact on their bottom line. Obviously, affiliates are interested in programs that have low start-up and few reoccurring fees, but the best programs have no fees at all. When starting out, it’s advised to have no fees or a low one-time start-up fee. Keep these to a minimum until your program is established and in high-demand.
- High Payouts: As discussed in Part 2 of this series, there are several ways to structure your affiliate program with payouts that promote high volume. Affiliates are the bread and butter of your program and should be rewarded accordingly; offering competitive payouts, rewards, favorable commission structures, and timely payments are great ways to win their affection. Affiliates value flexible forms of payment, and the more payment options you provide, the more likely affiliates will join your program. Whatever you do, make sure to pay on time. Your tracking software should be able to assist with managing your payments and maintaining a timely schedule.
- Incentives and Bonuses: Affiliates are interested in the bottom line. Period. The more incentives and bonuses you offers, the more affiliates will recruit others to join your program. A great way to encourage this is to offer graduated commissions or maybe a special introductory payout, where sales in the first month generate a $5 bonus. These introductory specials are two-fold; they encourage sign ups and help off-set the potential loss compensation when acclimating to a new program. By offering incentives and performance-based rewards, you will attract and retain the best affiliates.
- Tools and Resources: An outstanding affiliate program provides their affiliates will all of the tools and resources to be successful. Send out email updates, provide system alerts, highlight the best performing offers and any seasonal or special promotions going on. Continuously update them on what’s selling, what’s hot and what’s coming soon. This information keeps them engaged and planning their next promotion. A great account manager visits their affiliates websites, offer recommendations, copy changes and user experience enhancements that will increase conversion rates. Subsequently, ask your affiliates to visit your site and request their feedback. Ask them for feedback on your systems, tools, tracking and reporting functionality. Create a dialogue where their feedback directs your program and invite them to post testimonials to attract new affiliates.
- Tracking: Reliable real-time tracking is vital to your affiliate’s success. This data enables on-the-fly optimizations to generate more sales, and also allows affiliates to experiment with promotional offers and run tests to determine the effectiveness of their campaigns. Your tracking technology will not only provide the information necessary to determine when and what sales were generated, but also which affiliates were responsible for assisting sales. This enables you to compensate your affiliates with confidence and reward their efforts accordingly.
- Support: There’s no doubt your affiliates will have questions or concerns, need help, want updates, etc. This means you need to provide communication through email, online chat, messaging services, or over the phone. We recommend that you respond to all inquiries, through any of the aforementioned mediums, as quickly as possible. Responding within 24 hours is usually more than acceptable, but it also signals your appreciation and respect for your affiliates.
- Communication: When building relationships with your affiliates, communication is critical for retention. Communicating, amazing support, advanced tools and features, and knowledgeable account managers will provide them with the information needed to be successful. Make sure to regularly thank them for their hard work and let them know you appreciate them. Ask for feedback and use it to improve your program, then message back you listened and implemented those changes to make their lives easier.
- Offers: Your offers need to attract affiliates of similar niches. An experienced account manger will know how to find and entice these affiliates to join your program, as well as communicating your offers as being top notch. Finding high-volume or super affiliates — individuals who have been in the game a long time — will generate substantial sales for your program. They’re familiar with how affiliate programs work and what offers will resonate well with their audience, the more niche your offer, the more likely they will join your program. Research other affiliate programs and investigate what offers they have, their payouts, payment terms, promotions and anything else that sets them apart, this will get ensure you’re competitive.
These simple recommendations can seriously assist you in recruiting, retaining and increasing the amount of affiliates in your program. The more affiliates you have and make happy, the more sales and revenue they’ll generate. Since the fundamentals of your program are designed and managed by you, your success is on you — you’ll only need an affiliate force to promote your offers.
Now that I know what to provide my affiliates, what’s next?
Since you now know what your program needs to keep your affiliates happy and promoting your offers, next week we’re going to look at the different methods used to recruit affiliates. We’ll dive into how you can advertise your program, leverage current affiliates to promote on your behalf and how to use affiliate networks to generate sign ups. As always, if you have any questions or want additional information you can always post a comment below.
- Part 1: Basic concepts for your affiliate marketing program.
- Part 2: A brief introduction to affiliate offers.
- Part 3: Understanding affiliate marketers.
- Part 4: Setting up your affiliate offers.
- Part 5: Variables and parameters for your tracking URLs.
- Part 6: Affiliate planning, research, targeting and traffic.
- Part 7: What can my program offer to attract affiliates?
- Part 8: Ways to recruit affiliates.
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Judy is the Director of Demand Generation at TUNE. Specialties range from marketing automation and operations, display advertising, and PPC, to content syndication and email marketing campaigns.