As with our personal lives, healthy relationships can be one of a company’s greatest assets — and one of the hardest to build. It takes time, consistency, and intentional effort. However, when a business successfully cultivates healthy relationships, the result is a loyal base that’s sure to come back for more.
The notion of corporate relationship building is often applied to customers. However, some organizations should extend those principles to the affiliates that promote them. Given that affiliate programs are one of a marketer’s most efficient tools for furthering their brand, failure to foster that same trust in their affiliates is a serious mistake. Not building healthy relationships with affiliates can cause a company to miss out on significant chances for growth.
Ways to Build Trust in Your Affiliate Program
Here are a few ideas on how to build strong affiliate relationships.
1. Be Honest and Transparent
Honesty is a critical component of any relationship, so it’s no surprise that your affiliates will expect you to be completely transparent with them. Stating all the terms and conditions of your affiliate program upfront goes a long way towards that end. Make sure the basics are clearly visible to all affiliates who join your program. Possible contents may include:
- Commission rate
- Cookie duration
- Tier structure, if any
- Program terms
Other terms and services may apply, as well. If your affiliate needs to know about them, make sure the information is clear from the start.
2. Stay In Touch
If you initiate a friendship and don’t stay in touch, don’t expect it to go very far. In the same way, your affiliates will need continued communication if they’re going to develop enough loyalty to your brand to become a faithful seller of your product.
To stay in touch with your affiliates, consider these strategies:
- Write affiliate newsletters. Some affiliates may have a strong commitment to promoting your product, but they may not know the best tactics to do it. Help them on their way by writing an affiliate newsletter with best affiliate practices and maintain communication in the process.
- Create a calendar. Whether it’s annual sales or seasonal demands, many products should be promoted differently during different periods. Leverage seasonality to keep tabs on your affiliates and give them a content calendar with branding strategies that account for coming events.
- Hire an affiliate manager. It’s a step that requires careful timing. However, for companies that lean heavily on their affiliate programs, hiring someone to oversee affiliate operations may be the best way to keep their network growing. Affiliate managers can foster ongoing communications and weed out ambassadors that aren’t representing your brand.
Whatever means you use, developing an ongoing rapport with your affiliates can go a long way in keeping them motivated to advance your product.
3. Give Guidance
Part of healthy communication is a willingness to receive feedback. If your affiliate is committed to building your brand, they should want to know how you want your products promoted. Instead of leaving the guesswork to them, supply your affiliates with ample resources to make them the best ambassador they can be. Some examples of effective branding assets are:
- Desired colors
- Downloadable content — like spreadsheets, high-res photos, etc.
- Fact sheets
- Logo usage
- Preferred font
- Premade advertising themes
- Social media graphics
- Website banners
On top of your affiliates being better equipped to promote your product effectively, supplying them with clear brand guidelines ensures consistent product branding across all your affiliate channels.
4. Maintain Two-Way Communication
Communication is healthiest when it goes both ways. As important as it is that your affiliates receive plenty of input from you, it’s also essential that you be responsive to them.
If you want to build a strong affiliate relationship, offer them a space to express questions, comments, or concerns. Be open-minded enough to hear what they have to say. Some affiliates may lose their enthusiasm for your brand if they don’t hear back from you. Be sure to give them a prompt response and connect them to someone who can answer their questions.
5. Show Appreciation
No relationship will stay healthy for very long without a thank you now and then. Your affiliates will need to receive some extra positive feedback from time to time. By offering a few additional incentives at well-timed intervals, your affiliates will feel appreciated and valued. The result is that they will be devoted to promoting your brand first.
Raising affiliate commission rates is the most obvious way to say thank you, but some other incentives include:
- Commission tier structures
- New product trials
- Point systems
- Recognition programs
Don’t forget, financial perks aren’t the only way to express appreciation — a simple email thanking them for their work can go a long way.
6. Continue To Grow
Building a solid relationship with existing affiliates is essential, but that doesn’t mean you do not need to grow. The wider your affiliate network is, the greater your audience will be. Make sure your affiliate program is growing according to scale. That means always being on the lookout for new prospects, using the following as strategies to expand your affiliate base:
- Affiliate applications
- Affiliate referral programs
- New affiliate discounts
- Product tutorials to educate new affiliates on how your product works
With a proactive affiliate recruitment strategy, your network will only grow stronger.
Make Affiliate Relationships Personal
Strong relationships require a mutual commitment to a common goal, so it’s always personal. You’ve invested a lot of time and resources into building a valuable product, and its promotion is your affiliates’ livelihood — you should both have the same outcome in mind. From a supplier’s perspective, that means vetting your affiliates to make sure that only the best will promote your brand. For affiliates, it means being personally valued and always paid on time.
We at LeadDyno know how to build trust in your affiliate programs. We recognize the value of a strong affiliate network. Selling through affiliates is one of a company’s most efficient marketing tools, which is why 81% of companies do it. However, implementing an effective affiliate program strategy takes a software platform that meets the needs of all parties involved.
LeadDyno’s affiliate tracking software does just that. It also allows you to manage your program in a way that empowers your promoters and builds their trust in the process. Contact us today, and see the work our affiliate tracking software can do.