You worked hard to build your affiliate program. All the planning, the building and the testing. Then you worked equally as hard to build your affiliate base. At this stage of the game, you may be asking yourself a very important question, “Now what?”
Starting your network and building an army of affiliates is certainly something to be proud of. But if you don’t want to see it all crumble to the ground, you need to continually be working. Just like when you built your program and recruited your affiliates, there’s plenty of work to be done. You may find yourself quickly drowning if you don’t organize and plan things out properly. You should consider hiring additional help or even hiring an agency to handle some or all of your affiliate marketing and maintenance.
While there are an enormous amount of areas that will require your attention, it’s best to remember the 5 Cs when running your affiliate program.
One thing you certainly want to do is give your affiliates as many tools as you can to help them convert sales. That doesn’t just mean whipping up a few banner ads, tossing them in your affiliate interface and forgetting about them. Uh uh. You need to have a lot of choices for affiliates in a variety of styles and sizes. You also need to constantly be refreshing your creative. Even if you never have any deals or promotions, you can update standard creative for each season. Tie them into major events like weddings, birthdays, sports championships, whatever. The fresher your content, the happier your affiliates will be and the more inclined they’ll be to push your program.
Newsletters are a wonderful way to reach out and stay in touch with your affiliates. Same goes for social networks like Facebook and Twitter. It’s important you stay in constant contact with your affiliates. Let them know about upcoming promotions, new features on your site or every time you add additional creative. Beyond the general communication, you should certainly be talking to your top affiliates on a regular basis. Treat them like rock stars. In this industry, roughly 20% of your affiliates will make up about 80% of your business. So keeping that 20% happy is critical to your success. Call them regularly and ask if they need anything. Offer them some advice and strategies for working even better with your site.
If you want to stand out from the online crowd, you really need to offer some special deals on your site. Even better, offer exclusive promotions to your affiliates. If you have a standard 10% off coupon plastered on your site, and you offer affiliates a 10% off coupon, that doesn’t really give them much extra incentive. Instead, offer them a 15% off coupon, or give them an exclusive coupon when there isn’t one on your site. The more unique something is to the affiliate channel, the more likely they’ll be to latch onto it. You can and should also offer your top affiliates exclusive coupons to their site. Use vanity codes to make them feel extra special and give them something truly unique. An affiliate who has a special coupon and code that can only be found on their site, will give a lot of extra love to that promotion.
The top, number one thing affiliates care about is getting paid. Almost as important to them is getting paid on time. If you do nothing else, be sure to pay your affiliates regularly and on time. You can have the best relationship with an affiliate, the best creative on the planet, and the most insane coupons ever, but if you really slack on paying them regularly, they’re going to completely drop your program like a bad habit. If you’re ever going to be late with a payment, it’ll go a long way if you just shoot out an email to your affiliates with all the details.
Make sure you have a solid set of Terms & Conditions in place for your affiliate program. Individuals will need to accept them before becoming an affiliate with you. But let’s be realistic here, nobody really reads every single line of fine print. They generally just skim it if you’re lucky. So be sure to highlight the key points on your site, as well as through regular emails and newsletters. Things like not allowing keyword bidding or not tolerating the use of unauthorized coupons are pretty common high points that an affiliate could easily skip over while reading your terms.
Follow those 5 Cs and your affiliates will certainly be happy campers. As much help and communication you can give is the key to a healthy and long-lasting relationship. And when that happens, everybody wins.