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.
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