Affiliate marketing is probably 80 to 90% of performance based marketing for brands and advertisers. Affiliate marketing has been around for over 20 years and it really just started as a way to compensate referrers who are sending business through to various types of websites. It actually started in the adult space, but it quickly grew into the mainstream space and a lot of it has evolved with various networks and tracking platforms. So what should you do as a merchant or advertiser looking to launch into affiliate marketing? You should launch on a major network. If you are a merchant or a website owner and you are selling products or generating leads, you should launch on one of the major networks if not more than one.
- Recruiting Affiliates – this is one of the biggest question marks as to how and methodology. Recruiting affiliates is really easy if you know how. You have to do a lot of pro-active reaching out, contacting websites, contacting known affiliates…doing it very tastefully and offering them some benefit of working with your company, otherwise you just become one of the thousands of companies vying for their time, which is why it’s important to differentiate yourself by standing out from your competitors. another way to recruit affiliates is to advertise online. You can advertise in Google and bing under niche “affiliate program” keywords. You can advertise on forums and in places where affiliates frequent in order to recruit affiliates to either your affiliate signup page or directly to one of your affiliate network signup pages.
- Managing Affiliates – This is one of my favorite phrases: “Management is everything.” If you launch an affiliate program or a performance marketing channel and you don’t have intensive management behind it, it’s likely not going to gain traction unless you are a huge Fortune 500 retailer that’s never done affiliate marketing before, then it might grow on its own. But otherwise, it needs a lot of doting upon and lots of TLC. You need proactive affiliate management, this is what our company does. Whomever handles your affiliate management, or is working with your partners, needs to do a very intensive job and really take it extremely seriously, it really is a seven day a week type of process.
- Affiliate Payout Levels – payout levels have got to be looked at frequently and you should look to payout as much as you can and make it lucrative for your affiliate/publishers. You should also look to throw in some kind of incentives and say, “if you make 50 sales this month or even 10 sales this month, we are going to give you a $100 bonus,” or we are going to give you an iPad or an iPod or pay more now. Pay as much as you can initially and then you can reserve a couple of percentage points for people who can produce serious amounts of volume.
- Don’t be Cheap with your Affiliates and Partners – this is one of the biggest mistakes companies make. They really just don’t reward people well enough and they kind of look at it as just another other channel and say, “I really don’t need to payout much because it’s just, I don’t know what it’s going to do.” Wrong attitude! You really should look at it as a real sales force as your online “feet on the street” so to speak and you need to make it lucrative for people to work with you.
- Affiliate and Partner Management – personalization works best. Typically, personalized affiliate management always works better than a mass approach, but you have to have experienced people in order leverage personalized affiliate management properly.
- Affiliate Network Choice – one network versus many networks. This is a common issue in performance marketing because the more you spread out your offer or your advertiser account onto several networks, the more management has to come behind it and then you have to make sure the same order isn’t being credited to more than one network source. So it can actually have problems when you branch it out a little bit wider with more networks. So I usually recommend maximizing one network and then maybe trying a couple others when you want to add more volume if there are additional partners you can pick up there.
- Want your Affiliates to Succeed – make it worth their time, make it worth their efforts, if you just look at as just another campaign, then don’t even bother because you really have to put a lot of love into it, blood, sweat, and tears in order to get the most out of your performance marketing in your affiliate channel. Facilitating your affiliates and partners with good management, with tools, with resources, with providing them content, original content, about your company, keywords, non-trademark keywords or even trademark keywords depending on your stance, to let them succeed and market effectively.
- Strategize on Growing your Affiliate Channel – don’t just sit there and kind of let it happen, you know, every month you should be putting a new strategy together…”what are we going to be doing in August”, what are we doing in September, what are we doing for Q4 to maximize this our affiliate channel? Are we going to pay out a little more or are we going to do recruiting campaign? Are we going to run new promotions? So you really have to strategize pretty heavily and leverage experts. Leverage people who you decide can really help you in this endeavor and they are out there, you just have to find them and meet them and talk to them. Contact us to further discuss the key aspects of affiliate marketing for Brands, Advertisers and Merchants!