There are so many
things to consider before launching an affiliate program for your company. But
it’s no wonder that you’d want to. There’s one company everybody knows that has
the first mover advantage in being the first to launch an affiliate program.
Now that company’s CEO is the world’s richest person. It’s Jeff Bezos, who’s
now worth $110 billion.
Nowadays launching an
affiliate program for your business is much easier from a technical and
strategic standpoint than it was for Amazon in the 1990s. Still, that doesn’t
mean simply offering large commissions on a wide variety of your products and
services to as many people as possible is going to turn your business into the
next publicly traded juggernaut. If launching an affiliate marketing program
for your company is something you’re serious about, the planning, testing and
launching of that program.
Before we dive deep, you must know there are three clear major benefits of launching an affiliate program for your company. If you want these benefits for your business, by the time you’re done reading, you’ll know how to evaluate whether or not launching an affiliate marketing program is the right move for you. Once you’re ready to launch, you can seek out the right affiliate management services.
The Benefits of Launching an
Affiliate programs are
entirely performance based. That means you only pay affiliates for results (who
doesn’t love positive cash flow?) This means affiliates are more motivated to
get users to take the desired action.
Again, an affiliate
program means having at least one marketing channel where you don’t have to throw
money away well in advance on tactics that may not even work. Affiliate
marketing means results only.
Here’s the mother of
them all. Sales is at the foundation of any business model. A properly designed
affiliate program helps to scale traffic and ultimately convert it, which means
business owners can keep the profits coming in.
Do You Have A Quality Product or
It’s amazing how often
people launch a business thinking they’re offering the world the next best
thing. They go to a local business development centre, get some basic resources
from a city advisor, put together a very basic marketing plan, put down huge
money on suppliers and distribution channels and 18 months later realize the
thousands of affiliates they thought would carry them to the Promised Land
either didn’t sign up or didn’t like the product/service.
Test the product and
prove to yourself that you have a big slice of whatever market you’re in. Take
the time to analyze the effects of other sales channels you already use as well
as the relationship marketing strategy you have in place to keep customers
coming back to your brand over and over again.
Ask yourself the following questions:
product an impulse purchase or do we need to walk the customer through a long
relationship building journey?
the average value of a customer that buys from us online?
do better selling our product or service through door-to-door selling?
a brick and mortar retail outlet?
It’s important to
answer these questions and dive deep into analysis because even if all of the
above answers are obvious and the results are proven, putting more energy into
those channels may actually be better than venturing into affiliate programs.
Know Your Audience
If your product or
service sells, it’s a good indicator that you know your audience very well. As
you make the decision to expand your marketing efforts using the affiliate
approach, you again have to know your audience. If you know your audience you
can support affiliates with better marketing materials, meaning charts,
banners, infographics, blog posts and more. If you know your audience so well
you can double down on robust content marketing collateral, you’ll have new
customers buying, and quality affiliates signing up to promote your offers.
Supporting Affiliates with Clear
Mathew Peranick is a
brand development and growth strategist for 420interactive, an agency in the
cannabis industry. He says
it’s important to have a clear set of guidelines in advance of sending them to
affiliates and initiating the onboarding phase. “guidelines should highlight
approved marketing materials, assets, creative, copy, slogans, etc — along with copy and
marketing tactics that
are NOT allowed and will result in termination
of the affiliate partnership.”
Peranick raises a good point, especially
given the CBD and marijuana craze is running rampant across North America right
now. Rules are rules and they need to be in place. Especially in heavily
regulated industries where the FTC or Food & Drug Administration might be
involved. It’s also important to make sure that any potential affiliates don’t
engage in shady behavior and promote your company’s offers in ways that
compromise the brand.
Is There an Affiliate Market Ready and Waiting to Buy Your
Earlier we talked about doing market
research prior to considering launching an affiliate program for your business.
That research also extends to knowing the ins and outs of which brands, blogs,
audiences and influencers are willing to promote your brand. Putting a robust
list together of options and reaching out to those outlets to make sure they’re
interested in what you have to offer is a good start.
Depending on how serious or relaxed the
affiliate is about protecting their own image and digital properties, you may
be able to get them to sign up right away, or they might want a product or
service for free so they can formulate their own opinion about it before they
try it. Most people who consider becoming an affiliate will pull the trigger as
long as they think it fits the theme of their website, the people on their
mailing lists and how your offer complements their brand.
A Robust Plan for How to do Exactly That
Nicholas Rubright at SalesFreaks speaks to
how to dig up influencers and marketers that suit your brand. He breaks down
how his company finds the right people and how they get ready to launch.
“…make sure there’s a large enough market of
influencers that can help sell your products in either your direct market or an
indirect market. For us, this works because there are *tons* of bloggers and
YouTubers that talk about dropshipping (our direct market) and ways people can
make money online (our indirect market).If there are, great! Get your affiliate program going
and start building
relationships with influencers, then pitch them
your affiliate program.”
offers a word of warning though that you have to make the effort to warm up
relationships with the right people first, the launch of your program may night
get off to a flying start like you hope. “Your success
rate from cold email to a new affiliate
is going to be under 5% and you’ll burn through your list of influencers too quickly. If there are, great! Get your
affiliate program going and start building relationships with influencers, then
pitch them your affiliate program.”
How to Build Those Relationships
Perhaps you already know how to build those
relationships. For those that don’t Rubright offers his whole personal
checklist sure to get your company on the right track.
“The key is to engage with them on social media, their
website, or whatever
platform they use the most for a period of about
2 weeks before reaching
our pre-outreach engagement checklist that we go through before
reaching out and pitching our affiliate program:
Subscribe to their newsletter.
Follow them on their preferred social media
2 comments on their blog or YouTube channel.
Only do this on new
content or content they’ve shared through social
media or their newsletter.
2 social shares of their content. This can be
in the form of a retweet
or Facebook share of something they’ve shared –
just be sure to tag them.
2 conversational comments on something they’ve
shared on social media.
Once you’ve spent 2 weeks making it through
this checklist, reach out to
the influencer and pitch your affiliate
Is an Affiliate Program Right for
You now have a robust blog post at your
disposal filled with things to consider before launching an affiliate program
for your business. As with anything, making a decision to move forward means
taking a chance, investing some money and potentially losing out in the short
term. Just like launching a business itself, launching an affiliate program is
a time to reflect on priorities, make a clear plan and put in the work. As long
as you take that approach, your first foray into launching an affiliate program
might just be the secret sauce that takes your business to new heights.
Remember, before you even think of
launching an affiliate program, you’ve got to make sure you product or service
is in high demand, that you have clear guidelines for affiliates ensuring both
legal compliance and the protection of your brand.
Once all of that’s in place, it’s time to
implement, test, refine and scale!