Affiliate Management: 4 Ways to Drive Innovation in your Affiliate Program

Affiliates and Affiliate Managers have a pretty odd relationship. Some interact like two peas in a pod, others never speak, and just about everyone else falls somewhere in the middle.

For the most part, unless you’re a Super Affiliate, you probably only interact with an Affiliate Manager when you first sign up for a program and that’s probably it. That’s a real shame. Affiliates and Affiliate Managers can truly help each other out a great deal.

To make an affiliate program a huge success takes real innovation. You’ve got a tremendous amount of competition out there, so how do you make it fly? By working closely with your affiliates.Here’s a look at some key ways to drive innovation into your affiliate program.

Create innovate tools

Just about every affiliate program has the same basic tools in terms of what affiliates can used to promote your program. So why not build some truly unique affiliate tools of your own? The easier it is for an affiliate to quickly grab a special link or image, the more likely they are to promote your program.

Go ahead and create some useful tools like link builders, deal feeds, data feeds, or widgets. Or think bigger and put together storefront and landing page builders. If you have the talent, create as robust an API as you can, that will integrate smoothly with many of your affiliates websites.

If you want to take things a step further and really be innovative and interactive, host a “Developer’s Challenge,” where programmers and super tech-savvy affiliates can build all sorts of affiliate applications that can only enhance your program.

Offer Quality Content

Content is king. You’ve certainly heard that enough times by now to know how true that is. If you have a blog for your affiliate program or company, let some of your more insightful affiliates write a guest post for you. Get them to comment on what they like/dislike about certain affiliate programs and networks, or specifically why they enjoy working with your company. We don’t mean a full-on testimonial, but rather tips and tricks, or entertaining anecdotes that show how affiliates and affiliate managers can cooperate.

On the flip side, why not offer to write a guest post for one of your affiliates? Talk about the benefits of your program, why you enjoy working with different affiliates or anything related to your subject matter. You’d be supplying your affiliate with some valid content, as well as adding some credibility to them as an affiliate partner.

Host Contests

Everybody likes to win something, so why not run your own contest or giveaway? Get yourself some cool hot prize (an iPhone 5, Blu-ray player, Wii U) and offer it to your customers. Create all sorts of special banners and links to promote it.

Once that’s all set, run a contest within the contest. Pit your affiliates against each other to see who can drive the most entries into the contest, or whose site can send the most creative entries. Offer up a similar prize to the affiliate who wins that contest. This way you’ll give your affiliates incentive to promote your contest which means more people will see the contest and visit your site. It’s a win, win, win!

Training Sessions

Another great way to drive innovation in your affiliate program is to host a variety of training sessions or webinars. You can do these one on one or in larger groups, whatever works for you. Pick a hot topic in the industry and offer your opinion and advice. Or show off some specific tools in your system, explaining the benefits of using each. Be sure to end each session with an open floor Q&A session, where attendees can suggest areas of interest they’d like to see in future sessions.

Taking the time to work closely with your affiliates can pay off big in the end, for both of you. Acting upon any of the ideas mentioned in this article will only help solidify your relationships and further drive innovation into your affiliate program. In the end, that means a more successful program for you and your affiliates.