May 19, 2015
An affiliate program is an excellent way to drive new traffic and conversions to an online site, as well as increase the buzz around a product. Launching an affiliate program requires a bit of technical expertise, some initial funds, and an understanding of the merchant’s business model. Affiliate programs are often considered a less risky choice by marketing professionals and small businesses as affiliate programs are Cost Per Action (CPA) based. This means that funds are not paid out unless a sale is made through an affiliate link.
Here are 5 basic steps to launch an affiliate program:
Look at competitors and see how their affiliate programs are run. Notice what tracking software or network they are using and the commission structure for affiliate payout. It’s also helpful to try to estimate how much revenue is being driven through the affiliate program, and what could be done better.
Choose an Affiliate Tracking Network
Some merchants build their affiliate tracking software in-house but this option is not recommended unless it is a huge brand. Merchants interested in launching a new program will have more success joining an established tracking network or marketing platform like CJ Affiliate, ShareASale, Impact Radius or LinkShare. Third-party tracking platforms offer better tracking, an easy-to-use interface, multi-faceted reporting, and (sometimes) access to pools of affiliates.
Have an Affiliate Program Management Plan
Affiliate program management is important to the growth and stability of an affiliate program. Affiliate programs can be managed by the merchant in-house, or, more commonly, out-sourced to an experienced affiliate program management agency. When deciding which is best, consider their expertise in the industry, past success with similar programs, and their established relationships.
Set Up the Affiliate Program
Setting up an affiliate program involves:
- Choosing a commissionable action and a commission amount. Most tracking platforms will allow merchants to pay a flat fee or a percentage of each sale.
- Drafting an Affiliate Agreement that outlines a search marketing policy, a trademark policy, a refund policy, and how fraudulent orders will be handled
- Placing and testing the affiliate tracking code on the site
- Creating banners, logos, and text links that affiliates can use to promote products and offers
Launch the program
Once the affiliate program has been set-up, start promoting. Invite repeat customers to join, announce it in a company newsletter, blog, and even on Facebook. The best promoters are people who already buy.
Once the program is live, begin affiliate recruitment to see traffic and revenue flow in.
For some recruitment ideas, please download our Top 15 Affiliates to Watch list.
May 15, 2015
Welcome to our first Meet The Team blog post, where I interview new members of Schaaf-PartnerCentric and talk to them about how they ended up in the affiliate marketing industry and how their experience is here at Schaaf-PartnerCentric. In today’s Meet The Team blog, I have decided to interview myself to show what it is like to be an entry-level marketer coming into the affiliate industry.
What is your background and how did you find Schaaf-PartnerCentric?
A little bit about myself, I received my BBA from The University of Texas at Austin in May of 2014 and attended the McCombs Business School where I majored in Marketing and minored in Management. What drew me into the Schaaf-ParterCentric office was not my classroom knowledge about affiliate marketing, but instead the nature of my position as a Marketing and Events Coordinator and the wonderful team-oriented culture that we all share here at SPC.
What is your role at Schaaf-PartnerCentric and why do you like your role?
As a Marketing and Events Coordinator for Schaaf-PartnerCentric for a month now, it is my primary duty to work on general marketing practices, such as website updates on WordPress, blog writing, content creation, social media posting and moderation, and scheduling travel and events for our team. I can honestly say that this has been the best position I have had in my life so far! Not only do I get to learn so much as a young marketer, but I am always on my toes doing different tasks. In other words, I never have a boring day!
What do you love the most about Schaaf-PartnerCentric?
With an amazing culture of a small team filled with motivated workers, I get excited to come to work each day and tackle new projects that I own while getting help by a group of kind and educated affiliate marketers and managers. Not only do I get to work in the heart of downtown Austin, Texas, as the Marketing and Events Coordinator, I get to network with other clients and businesses that we work with at different events and get feedback on how we can be a better affiliate marketing company. This includes coordinating and attending happy hours, sharing our trips and new relationships on social media, and plan for team bonding retreats every year.
I can say that I am truly blessed to work with a great group of people and I could not be happier in this office. If any of you are reading this from SPC, I would like to thank you for this opportunity and I hope to help continue our growth as a strong Affiliate Marketing Agency.
If you liked this blog, go check out my article on the Avangate Happy Hour here and go ahead and give us a like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter.
May 11, 2015
Loyalty, coupon, content, technology, blogger, social – there are so many business models being used by affiliates, how do you know which will be the best fit for your business, and more importantly, drive sales to develop an effective partnership? As an agency that manages affiliate programs across multiple industries and verticals, we are responsible for quickly understanding the business model of an affiliate, comparing that to the strategy of our programs, then determining if they are a viable fit.
Here are five questions we use to benchmark the potential of an affiliate for a program:
Is the affiliate responsive?
Are they dedicated to making it work? Even the best affiliate sites can underperform if the affiliate is asleep at the wheel. If either side cannot communicate and keep development of an activation or optimization process moving forward, then it will be difficult to understand the potential of the partnership. Lack of communication will result in frustration and inefficiency.
What is the affiliate’s historical performance across other programs?
Keep an eye on top industry performers to make sure they are in the program and driving traffic. These affiliates have typically achieved the highest network earnings and have proven their value by driving revenue across numerous programs. Use network earnings in context as an affiliate may be particularly strong for a certain vertical that is not necessarily a fit for a different program. Don’t categorically decline an affiliate after one bad experience and plan to revisit any missing affiliate categories within a specific timeline. Business strategies shift on both sides and what may not have been a good fit in the past, could prove effective for the future. Work to create diversity in the affiliate program to minimize risk with affiliate categories and individual affiliates. Working with different types of affiliates across several categories uncovers more opportunities for the program in the long run, while providing a healthy foundation to grow on.
Is the affiliate’s business model a good fit for the product and program strategy?
Don’t be afraid to ask the affiliate about the demographics of their visitor base. Ask how they are driving traffic to their site. Make sure the program is aligned with their model and the type of visitors they have on their site. For example, most lead programs do not perform well with incentive sites. An incentive site, a site that rewards members for performing an action, opens the door to low- to no- value actions for lead programs. If a member is rewarded for filling out an interest form for a car loan, the actual desire to buy will likely be non-existent. This clogs the lead funnel and drains an affiliate budget. On the other hand, a retail program may do well with incentive sites.
What is the affiliate’s potential?
Affiliates with a solid base of visitors and a roadmap to continue to grow traffic to their site illustrate that the partnership can grow along with them. Having a significant and engaged audience can be difficult to cultivate, but is necessary when choosing partnerships that have the best chance of driving high quality actions. As a program manager, choose partnerships with long-term potential. Some affiliates may be very enthusiastic, but get a feel for their potential in the initial stages and try to focus on the partners with a proven track record or at least a solid plan for growth. Don’t be afraid to push to establish partnerships you feel strongly about, even if the model is new to the program or industry.
What does the affiliate need for the partnership?
Do they require a datafeed? An exclusive offer? VIP payout rate? Trademark+ allowance? If you can’t allow certain tools, it could be a waste of both of your time to engage. In other words, identify the deal breakers before you get too deep into the conversation. If an affiliate asks for many custom items prior to working with your client, try recommending a phased approach and leverage the tools you already have for optimization to minimize the risk and prove the affiliate’s value. The advertiser will likely be more receptive to custom requests once they can get a feel for the type of volume the affiliate can drive.
The success of our affiliate programs rely on our ability to quickly approve or disqualify an affiliate for a program, and to direct resources toward affiliates that have the potential to drive high-value actions for our clients.
If you’re interested in learning more about Schaaf-PartnerCentric’s affiliate recruitment techniques, please request a consultation.
May 05, 2015
Last week was very exciting for our members here at Schaaf-PartnerCentric. Our Director of Operations, Adrienne Erreca, and Sales team member, Jose Olaguez, were sent to the Which Test Won’s: The Live Event in Austin on Thursday, April 30th and Friday, May 1st where they were both exposed to case studies, deep-dive sessions, and conversion critiques to gain knowledge on different tactics and insights that could help us grow as an affiliate management agency.
After the event, our company was treated to a nice networking happy hour at Stubb’s BBQ in Austin sponsored by our friends at Avangate. We had a blast bonding with other local Austin companies and enjoyed talking about The Live Event. Stubb’s BBQ supplied an open bar tab with delicious tacos, wings, jalapeño poppers, nachos, and guacamole that just didn’t last long at all.
We would like to thank our friends from WhichTestWon, Avangate, and Stubb’s BBQ for supplying us with an informative and fun way to end a busy week here at Schaaf-PartnerCentric. If you missed out on the happy hour or are curious of how our week went, check out our Facebook Page albums for pictures of the event and more adventures with the team here at Schaaf-PartnerCentric.
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