A well-launched affiliate program can be a cost-effective, low-risk tool for building your brand, but a failed one can drain valuable time and resources. Read on to find out what you need to know before getting your affiliate program off the ground.
1. Affiliate Programs Aren’t for Everyone
Knowing how to launch an affiliate program successfully takes more than simply inviting a few affiliates to push your products for a commission. From setting up your tracking software and affiliate recruitment to monitoring affiliate activity and supplying them with the tools they need to succeed, there’s no shortage of work to be done when launching your network.
There are also plenty of business factors to account for when determining whether an affiliate program is right for your company. Program viability, anticipated conversion rate, company size, and affiliate demographics are all important variables to consider when predicting whether your program will be profitable, so do your homework before you begin.
Bottom line: Affiliate programs can be a huge asset, but they’re not for everyone.
2. What Others Had Wished They’d Known
It’s not surprising that some of the most common things others had wished they’d known before starting an affiliate program are related to estimating program viability. To help determine the viability of your own affiliate program, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the minimum number of sales for your affiliate program to achieve viability?
- What is the minimum number of affiliates it would take to reach that number of sales?
- What is your expected conversion rate?
- What customer base will your affiliate network attract?
- What kinds of affiliates will help you achieve that base?
- What are your monthly, quarterly, and annual growth targets?
- What are your growth metrics and affiliate program ROI (conversion rate, clicks, leads, subscription renewals, etc.)?
Others also would have done well to learn from the competition when developing their affiliate program. There’s plenty of knowledge to be gained from studying your competitors, especially related to:
- Affiliate Payment structure (commission rate, in-store credits, flat-rate payout, etc.)
- Payout trigger (click, purchase, lead, etc.)
- Affiliate application process (form length, referral requests, site details, etc.)
- Affiliate recruitment strategy
Typically, companies study at least three competitors with affiliate programs within their industry when doing their affiliate recon. They also check the affiliate programs of at least one non-competitor in a different industry but with a similar base. Once they’ve done so, they’re ber4eyhhgtter prepared to set themselves apart from the competition.
If some businesses had prepared themselves by taking these steps, they would have been better equipped to succeed. There are no shortage of affiliate program management mistakes to avoid.
3. What You’ll Be Doing
Understanding the responsibilities of launching an affiliate program can help you decide whether you’re ready for liftoff, so expect to spend your time on the following stages of development.
Setting Up Your Agreement
Your affiliate agreement is the backbone of your program, so get this one right, and you’ll be off to a good start. A detailed agreement should include:
- Commission rate/payout structure
- Affiliate application information
- Cookie duration
- Sign-up page
- Affiliate terms and conditions
- Penalties for noncompliance/fraud
- Affiliate Branding guidelines
- Program description
- Ready-to-use links
Structuring a well-defined affiliate program will guard your company against fraud and negative advertising, so expect to spend plenty of time developing one that works.
Testing Your Tracking Software
Affiliates will expect to be rewarded for every sale they help you make, so it’s essential that your affiliate tracking software runs perfectly before you ever begin. Your tracking will either occur through links or codes and while links are more suited to vanity text that makes them more shareable, codes can be used to track alternative marketing methods like word of mouth — and can also be used for discounts.
Whichever you choose, you’ll need to test your tracking thoroughly before you launch your program so that every affiliate sale will count.
Planning To Go Public
Your affiliate program won’t go very far if no one knows about it, so be sure to have a comprehensive release strategy before you launch. Go through our affiliate program launch checklist. The more exposure, the better, but the most effective ways to go public are:
- A newsletter to existing customers
- A blog post making the announcement
- A link to your affiliate network on your website
- A sign-up form directly on your website
- Social media posts inviting followers to join
- An offer to join your affiliate network whenever customers purchase your product
- Building backlinks to your affiliate website.
Keep in mind that current customers are some of your best affiliate assets, as they would love to be paid for promoting the products they already enjoy. Whether you reach this demographic or not, creating easy sign-up forms and publicizing your affiliate program is a must for it to succeed.
4. Time Commitment
You may be wondering how much time you’ll be spending on all of your affiliate program management duties. Here’s a rough breakdown of how you can expect to allot your time:
- Affiliate recruitment: 30%
- Onboarding and activation: 20%
- Affiliate engagement: 20%
- Program monitoring and agreement enforcement: 5%
- Payment and commission review: 5%
- Program optimization: 20%
All these duties may sound overwhelming at first, but with this time distribution strategy, you’ll be allocating your efforts to the right thing at the right time. While this doesn’t tell you how long to see results from your affiliate program or how much to invest in your affiliate program it will tell you how much time for different areas of affiliate program management.
5. What’s Involved After Launch
Going public with your new affiliate program doesn’t mean that the work stops there. Productive affiliate networks have to be cultivated, and maintenance is a must. A few ongoing affiliate practices include:
- Managing payouts and commissions
- Affiliate recruitment
- Affiliate onboarding & reviewing affiliate applications
- Affiliate content development
- Agreement monitoring & fraud review
- Noncompliance enforcement
- Affiliate engagement
- Affiliate removal
- Program optimization
It sounds like a lot, but while it certainly does take some diligence, managing these duties will keep your affiliate program profitable.
Launch Your Affiliate Program With LeadDyno
As you can see, launching an affiliate program takes a lot of preparation and know-how. At LeadDyno, we’ve got the affiliate program expertise to help you through every step of the process — as long as you’ve done the research and are prepared to put in the work. An affiliate program may not be suitable for every organization, but for those that make a good fit, it can be one of the most effective ways to build your brand.
So, are you ready to launch? If so, contact LeadDyno today, and we’ll get your affiliate program off the ground.