10 Ways to Make Your Affiliate Marketing Program Shine

By Thursday Bram on 18 May 2011 (Updated 21 June 2011) 0 comments
Photo: YanC

Affiliate marketing can be a key strategy for selling products, especially online. At its most basic, affiliate marketing lets you turn anyone into a sales person for your business. You offer a commission for every product an affiliate sells for you. This strategy has become particularly popular as the number of websites and blogs have boomed. There are several software options that let you put up your products for sale and that provide accurate counts of sales made by affiliates.

One of the biggest benefits I’ve found with affiliate marketing is how far it can expand your reach. When I created an affiliate program for one of my products, it was reviewed and promoted by the largest site in my niche — reaching more than 100,000 people that I otherwise could not have marketed to.

If you're considering an affiliate marketing program, consider the following ten tips that can help make your program a success.

Stay in touch with your affiliates.

If you ignore your affiliates, they’ll ignore you. Sending out news about upcoming opportunities helps dramatically, but if you really want to make your program stand out, give some one-on-one attention to your affiliates. Create multiple communication channels, from forums to newsletters, facebook to twitter and then use them.

Create a guide for your affiliates.

You’re almost certainly not in a position to give away products to every person who signs up for your affiliate program and, even if all of your affiliates have your products, that isn’t going to transform each of them into a fantastic salesperson overnight. But if you can provide tips and guidelines about selling your product, you can help new affiliates get over the hump.

Give your affiliates lots of images.

It’s become standard practice for many affiliate programs to provide affiliates with banners that can easily be added to a website, but other images are just as important. Most buyers look first and foremost for pictures of anything they’re considering purchasing, so making sure that your affiliates have plenty of images to work with can give them a huge boost.

Make it easy for your affiliates to hold their own promotions.

The point of an affiliate program is to reach as many different audiences as quickly as possible — and make use of the expertise of the people already working with those audiences. Your affiliates are going to have ideas for promoting your products to their audiences and to make those ideas work, you’ll need to offer your affiliates the freedom and support to pull off their ideas.

Offer higher affiliate commissions.

While there is almost certainly an upper limit on the affiliate commission you can offer, there’s probably some room to create tiers in what you offer your affiliates. For those affiliates who are particularly good at selling your products, there is little reason not to offer them a higher rate so that they can spend even more of their time on marketing your products.

Bundle products.

For many products that you may sell, there are other products or services that they can be paired with. Some affiliates may look for opportunities to create their own joint ventures — bundling your products with other vendors' products — but the more chances to sell packages of your projects, the more opportunities you can offer your affiliates to reach wider.

Bring in a phenomenal affiliate manager.

Hiring even a part-time specialist in affiliate programs can help you take your affiliates to the next level. A great affiliate manager can make technical problems a thing of the past, as well as help you identify truly great affiliates and grow your program.

Learn about your affiliates.

Can you mention any of your affiliates by name? Can you describe the promotions they’ve used to sell your products? Can you list what other products they’re affiliates for? That information can be crucial. You can educate the rest of your affiliates about the techniques particularly successful sellers are using, as well as come up with specific ideas that are relevant to their websites, blogs or other places they promote your products.

Create a promotion calendar and share it with your affiliates.

In every industry, there are certain opportunities that come up at different points of the year, when you can offer special promotions. Providing your affiliates with this sort of insight into your industry can make a real difference in your sales.

Make yourself available to affiliates.

Your affiliates are going to have questions that you’ve never considered — as well as ideas that you want to hear about. If you just set up an affiliate program and leave it to run on autopilot, you won't hear neither questions nor ideas. It’s crucial to make sure that you’re accessible, at least by email, to anyone who wants to follow up on your affiliate program.

Implementing every one of these strategies immediately may seem daunting. But the beauty of an affiliate marketing program is that you can build up your program in steps. You can add support materials, offer suggestions to your affiliates, and so on over time. Start with the most important piece — communication — and keep it as simple as an email newsletter. As long as you contact them on a regular schedule, you won't have any choice but to grow your affiliate program to keep pace with their sales pace.

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