Congratulations — you’ve managed to recruit affiliates who complement your affiliate program. Now it’s time for affiliate onboarding so they can start promoting your products and services.
Introducing new members to your affiliate program requires effective communication that starts the relationship on a positive note. An effective onboarding process goes a long way toward helping new affiliates generate attention-grabbing brand promotions for your company. This guide will make the process easier.
What Is Affiliate Onboarding?
Onboarding helps your new inductees become familiar with the ins and outs of your affiliate program. It’s an opportunity to educate affiliates about the goals set for their participation in the program and the expectations for promotional efforts.
It will take more than a few emails to get brand promotion participants fully up to speed on your program. It can take up to three months before affiliates gain a complete understanding of how to market your products and services successfully.
Check-in frequently with affiliate participants. Provide them with constructive feedback about their performance and encourage them to do the same about the setup of your program. You don’t want affiliates becoming disengaged to the point where they stop participating.
Strategies to Use During the Affiliate Onboarding Process
A well-designed, transparent onboarding process goes a long way toward building a solid foundation for the program. Happy affiliates can provide word of mouth to other potential program members who might wish to apply. Better affiliate retention positively impacts your revenue and contributes to the growth of your program. Below are some key methods for successful affiliate onboarding.
Establish an Affiliate Program Onboarding Checklist
Come up with an outline or checklist of all of the things you want affiliates to learn or accomplish during the onboarding process. It should include everything from a welcome email for affiliates, affiliate website details, or other efforts to help teach affiliates about the details of your program.
Items on your list should include:
- Commission rates and the payment timetable
- The responsibilities and duties of the affiliates
- Incentives and bonuses affiliates can earn and the process for obtaining them
- Your contact information if they have any questions or issues.
- Making sure affiliates have access to the most current promotional materials
- Outlining cookie length, which is the number of days between a click and a conversion
- Easy access to the terms of service for your affiliate program.
Having a checklist helps you cover the essential details and reduces the chances of any misunderstandings between you and your affiliate program participants. It ensures that you cover crucial details that help your affiliate partners get up and running quickly.
Personalize the Onboarding Process
Each new affiliate you bring into your program will have unique skills and strengths. Some might have a lot of experience being part of an affiliate program, and it might be the first time for others. Think about where they’re coming from, the affiliate’s normal work pace, and ways you can get them comfortable with various aspects of the program.
They may need help understanding the basics or require additional training on different tools. Try and provide them with the best affiliate marketing software available to make it easier for them to set up promotions.
Less experienced affiliates might not be ready to handle a heavy load of responsibilities. Look for ways to tweak the onboarding process to provide affiliates with a more comfortable transition into the program. Tweaking the process in ways that play to an affiliate’s strengths can build their confidence and establish the kind of trust necessary to help them become a valued partner. Areas you might modify for different affiliates include:
- The kind of training format provided (docs or video)
- The level of monitoring provided
- Access to the most essential tools
- Modifying promotional items to play to an affiliate’s strength
Send a Welcome Package to Affiliates
Make sure every new affiliate receives a welcome package that includes a written guide outlining your program. The material should cover everything you go over in any webinars or in-person sessions. Having this in writing gives participants something to reference if they have specific questions.
The guide should cover your brand’s mission and the kinds of products and services you expect the affiliate to promote. Other items you should have in the welcome package include:
- Guidelines for content creation
- Instructions for using links
- Rules for earning commissions
- Tutorials on using affiliate program tools
Provide new affiliates with marketing materials so they can get to work promoting your brand. Include materials like:
- Content for Facebook posts
- Banners and images for the affiliate’s website
- Text links
- Social media content
Having a welcome package makes it easier for affiliates to follow educational sessions about the program. Make sure the guide contains user-friendly language. You want to avoid overwhelming new participants with confusing jargon or overly technical explanations. New participants should understand the instructions and what’s expected of them during their time as one of your brand affiliates.
Create Incentives for Initial Sales
Establish an incentive program that gives affiliates the chance to earn a bonus or increase their commission by generating conversions within the first 30 or so days of joining your program. Incentives can prevent affiliates from signing up without making any promotional effort for your brand. Incentive plan ideas can include:
- Setting up a tiered commission structure where affiliates can earn a larger commission at different levels
- Providing dual incentives where affiliates receive a commission and customers get a discount
- Offering a set dollar bonus for hitting a sales target within a specific period
Help Affiliates Find Success After Onboarding
Once you’ve gotten through the initial onboarding process, keep up with the efforts of your affiliates. You want them to feel like valued members of your program, so they’ll be motivated to make your brand a priority. Send out a congratulatory message when they make their first sale or hit an established sales target.
Below are some other efforts you can make to help your affiliates find success.
Provide Routine Updates
As your new affiliates get more comfortable with the program, they’ll need a lot more information beyond what’s provided in the initial onboarding package. Consider creating an affiliate newsletter that helps new affiliates expand their knowledge base about your program. Keep them updated about new products and upcoming changes. The updates can include:
- A glossary explaining different terms and acronyms used in the affiliate program
- New marketing material, including branding kits
- Information about new services on which affiliates should focus
- Ideas on setting up affiliate promotions
Send the promotions out on a scheduled basis with information about upcoming sales or bonus offers. Make sure your email promotions include offers for one-on-one conversations between affiliates and program managers.
Provide affiliates with updated content for product photographs, banners, and brand materials. Share creatives that convert well among all affiliates in your program.
Request Input From Affiliates
Once your affiliate completes onboarding, start soliciting feedback on how they’re managing so far. It’s also a chance for you to get ideas on improving the program experience for affiliates. Send out a survey to program participants after they generate their first conversion or earn a commission.
Questions you can ask on your survey include:
- How difficult was it to sign up for the affiliate program?
- What efforts by the program made the process go more smoothly?
- How helpful was the training offered?
- What has been the most challenging aspect of the program?
- What can the affiliate program do to make the process smoother?
Send Routine Encouragement
Generate automatic notifications whenever an affiliate makes a referral that earns them a commission. Doing so keeps affiliates in the loop and makes them aware that you’re tracking and making a note of their hard work. You can also send activity reports that summarize the affiliate’s efforts during a specific period.
Consider setting up email sequences that provide affiliates with tips on taking advantage of various aspects of the affiliate program. They can cover topics like what promotional efforts work best with different products or how to develop promotions that appeal to your target audience.
If you notice engagement dropping off, reach out to that affiliate to figure out the disconnect. Showing a personal interest in the success of an affiliate partner can pull them back into the fold and increase the effort they put into promoting your brand.
Start Building Your Affiliate Program
Learn more about establishing a successful affiliate program by working with LeadDyno. Try our services free for 30 days to see what a big difference an affiliate program can make in expanding your brand’s reach.