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How to Deliver a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program

How To Deliver A Successful Affiliate Marketing Program?

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Affiliate marketing programs are currently benefiting more than 80% of brands. 79% of marketers utilize skillfully designed affiliate marketing programs to engage existing customers, and 83% of them use it to grow brand awareness.

Affiliate marketing is a highly effective marketing tool that needs to be well-planned and carefully executed to be successful in such an intensely competitive market. But how can you enhance an affiliate marketing program’s chance of success? In this article, we will try to answer this question using a step-by-step approach. But first, let’s see what affiliate marketing actually is.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

An affiliate marketing program essentially involves promoting your products or services through content creators, such as experts, well-known online personalities, and bloggers. These content creators promote your brand by mentioning and linking your product or service to their content and help increase your sales in exchange for a commission. These unique, traceable links are called affiliate links, and they direct the readers or viewers to your website.

Make Your Affiliate Marketing Program A Success in 5 Steps

Starting an affiliate marketing program is not challenging, but creating a successful one certainly is. As long as you remain meticulous, do your research, and take everything one step at a time, you can execute a successful affiliate marketing program. Here is what you need to do.

Set Clear Goals And Objectives

Before launching an affiliate marketing program, you need to have a very clear goal in mind. You will also need to define the objectives that will enable you to achieve that goal. The goal should address your core requirement for the program, such as creating brand awareness or increasing sales.

  • KPIs

The goal should be measurable as well; otherwise, you will not be able to determine how much of a success or failure your affiliate marketing program has been. Set some quantitative KPIs, such as increased sales, website clicks, or order value resulting from affiliate links. One very useful KPI many brand’s use is conversion rate. This is where you measure how many visitors are clicking the link and making a purchase. 

  • Target Market

After setting your KPIs, determine your target market. What segment of your potential target market do you want to reach with your affiliate marketing program? Define the segments, and target the ones you believe your affiliate marketing program will effectively reach.

  • Type Of Affiliates

Once you determine what sort of customers you are trying to bring in with your affiliate marketing program, you need to start thinking about what type of affiliates will help you. There are many types of affiliates, but not all of them will be effective for you. Let’s take a look at the three most common types of affiliates

The most widely known affiliates are PPC (Pay-per-Click) affiliates. They earn a commission based on the amount of traffic they direct to the affiliated website. The actions, that will earn affiliates revenue, must be clearly defined beforehand. These actions can include clicks, leads (visitors providing personal information), and so on. 

Another popular type of affiliate is incentivized affiliate. They drive traffic to your website by offering them some incentives such as giveaways, points, and discounts. Some brands even give each affiliate a special discount code that they can distribute to their audience or readers. The conversion rate of this type of affiliate is likely to be high because of the added value for the customer.

Coupon affiliates are also immensely popular. In this type of affiliation, a group of affiliates distributes your promo codes or discount coupon to popular coupon websites, such as Shareasale, Impact Radius, and Rakuten.

Identify The Key Aspects Of The Program

In this step, you will need to plan the specifics of the affiliate marketing program. The first factor to decide on is the commission structure. 

  • The Commission Structure

The commission structure is simply how much you are paying your affiliates. The usual practice is to pay a fixed amount or percentage of each sale made through an affiliate link. 

However, to make the affiliate marketing program successful and drive more sales, you can offer rewards to your best-performing affiliates. You can also set a revenue goal for each affiliate and reward them if they can surpass that. Such tangible incentives and intangible recognitions will motivate your affiliates to make their efforts more attractive to the target audience.

To attract affiliates with a good reputation, you may need to offer competitive commissions compared to your rivals. However, ensure that you and your company’s financial health do not fall into jeopardy trying to do so. 

  • About The Program

You also need to decide what media your affiliates should use. For example, if your target market is in its 20s, YouTube and Instagram are likely to be the most effective. Additionally, set a time limit for the eligibility of each affiliation link to earn a commission. That way you can control how long the program is running.

Using affiliate links, you can direct customers to your website or a specific product or service. It is recommended to link a particular product or service that has the potential to gain a higher average purchase value. 

  • Terms And Conditions

An affiliate marketing program’s success depends on its ability to gain the target audience’s trust. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that you and your affiliates are meeting the legal requirements. The best way to do this is by preparing a guideline of the terms and conditions of your affiliate marketing program that both you and your affiliate must comply with.

Such guidelines help outline your and the affiliates’ responsibilities regarding how to contribute to the program’s operation. It will also limit your liability if your affiliates violate the rules. Finally, if signed, such guidelines give you the right to take action against affiliates who are harming your reputation or straying too far away from the goal of your affiliate marketing program.

Find The Right Affiliates For Your Business

By now, your affiliate marketing program should have a structured plan. Once you have that, the next step is to find the right affiliates. You need to remember that it is not only about the number, but rather the quality, reach, influence, and credibility of your affiliates.

  • Using Third-Parties

If you want to reach the top affiliates working on your niche, you can take help from an existing affiliate marketer network. They connect you with the leading affiliates and help you to maintain that connection. 

This is a great way to ensure your affiliate marketing program’s success as such affiliates are often very good at their job. But the downside is, that both the affiliate and the network will charge you a hefty amount of money. Moreover, you will have no tracking opportunity or control over your affiliates.

  • Create Your Own Network

A less expensive and more manageable option is to create your own network of affiliates. However, it is more time-consuming to do so. Also, if you want to enhance the probability of success, you will need to go through an extensive research process.

Make a list of the bloggers, influencers, and websites that your target market follows and trusts. Identify the ones who are producing quality content, have a good reputation and high engagement, and are active and suitable to represent your product or service. Also, do a background check on your potential candidates before approaching them.

  • Onboarding

To recruit the affiliates who will actually work for you, conduct a screening process. Talk to each of them about their previous experience in affiliate marketing and what results they delivered. Also, ask them how they plan to promote your product to ensure that both of you are on the same page or at least flexible enough to reach a common ground. Finally, recruit the ones you believe are the best fit.

Support The Onboarded Affiliates

You can now leave everything to the affiliates. However, if you want a successful affiliate marketing program, then you will need to get involved even more than before. Offering your affiliates continuous support while keeping them in the loop and acknowledging their hard work is crucial to keep them motivated.

  • The Affiliates And The Product

Your affiliates should have full knowledge of the product or service they are going to promote. Familiarize them with your product and explain important details. If the specifics are too technical, take additional time to explain and demonstrate how they work. Send them other resources, such as blogs, videos, and images, which can help them understand your product and niche better. 

Additionally, every time you change something in your product or offer, inform them immediately to avoid false advertising. Keep them updated about new products, sales, and promotions as well. 

  • Build A Long-Term Relationship

Your brand’s relationship with your affiliates is supposed to be nurtured. Being promoted by a good affiliate for a long time increases both your and your affiliates’ credibility. It also helps you and your affiliates to become more synchronized and develop more sophisticated marketing programs together. Moreover, your affiliates can bring you valuable data about your target audience and their needs.

Try to arrange a meeting with your group of affiliates at least once a month. Create an online group communication system where they can update their progress daily or weekly. And finally, make sure they can reach you or your correspondents with their queries whenever they need to. 

Evaluate The Outcome Of The Program

To track the outcome of your whole effort, you need to check the KPIs regularly and take corrective actions immediately when required. The most effective and efficient way to do this is by using affiliate program software, such as Refersion and PartnerStack, and integrating all your affiliates into the system.

  • Expectation vs Reality

Make regular comparisons between what your affiliate marketing program is generating and what the actual goal is. If you constantly fail to reach the set goals and objectives, find out the root causes of it and solve the problem as soon as possible. 

Virtual affiliate program managers can help here by showing all the numbers and indicating where you are going wrong. When you can track and control the program in real time, you can avoid possible pitfalls of circumstances and boost its chance of success.

  • Reward Top Performers

As we have discussed before, acknowledging and rewarding top performers will motivate them to make your affiliate marketing program more successful. In addition, if you can make the reward system appealing, then your affiliates will be inspired to perform better as well. The best way to celebrate excellent performances and inspire others is by acknowledging their achievement publicly on social media platforms and websites.

When it comes to deciding on rewards based on fulfilling goals, you need to identify the interests of your affiliates. For example, if they are promoting tropical resort services, they may be interested in traveling. In that case, you can offer a free three-day all-inclusive vacation package to the top performer. However, monetary incentives are the most common rewards offered by many brands, and they work as a good motivators as well.

Final Thoughts

Among the thousands of affiliate marketing programs on the market, it can be challenging to stand out with a successful one. However, it is not impossible if you follow a carefully strategized process. It is evident that you will need to commit a significant amount of time, effort, and patience. At the same time, you will need to ensure your whole team consists of devoted and skilled people producing quality and engaging content while successfully and ethically driving sales.