Before we start, here’s a quick overview of how affiliate programs work. There are two parties involved: merchants and affiliates. Merchants provide products and offer a commission based on certain goals – usually this is the actual sale of the product. Affiliates, on the other hand, promote those products using their own strategies and advertising audience. Sales are tracked, and when a visitor makes a purchase, it’s accredited to the individual affiliate who drove the traffic which resulted in a sale. This is how affiliates earn commissions.
Whether you’re running an e-commerce business with a product you need advertising, or you offer software for other companies, learning more about affiliate marketing is a sure way to help you explore opportunities of growing your income. These rules are defined to help you optimize your approach and increase success with this method of online advertising.
1. Having a blueprint helps with achieving goals
The best way to make sure your strategy is being developed according to your idea is to have a plan. This plan should highlight the main goals you want to achieve with affiliate marketing. You should also document your affiliate marketing strategy along with the results you achieve with each step.
Being a merchant means you need this documentation as a reference. You will use it to create an affiliate program, to manage affiliates, and evaluate their performance. It will help you find out how effective your strategies are and if there are ways to improve your affiliate programs.
Essentially, you will use the information to make your strategy better in the future. We all learn over time and improve our approach. As a merchant, you too need to develop your strategy and optimize it based on the practices that give good results.
2. Be transparent about your program to attract potential affiliates
One of the main goals of any merchant is to promote his affiliate program and encourage affiliates to join it. To complete this goal, start by providing accurate and detailed information about your program. Have this in mind. Based on this single page, most affiliates will decide whether or not they should join. Hence, this page has a crucial role in the success of your advertising program. The page that presents your affiliate program needs to be:
It should highlight the benefits of joining the program and what makes your program unique. A CTA which invites affiliates to join should be prominently featured, usually more than once. Use visual elements and custom layout of the page. Finally, make sure the page loads quickly and is displayed properly on all devices.
It’s helpful to think about designing this page as a special landing page for affiliates. These examples can help you get some ideas, even though they aren’t specifically designed for affiliate programs they should help with creating engaging, high-conversion landing pages which is your goal here: 16 of the Best Landing Page Design Examples You Need to See in 2017.
3. The relationship is an investment that pays off
In affiliate marketing, you’ll soon realize that relationship and communication is something you should invest in to in order to achieve excellent results.
The main goal of merchants is to work with affiliates that can increase the volume of website traffic and thus boost online sales. To ensure you attract and keep affiliates loyal, you need to establish a good relationship with them. Ideally, use an email marketing tool to help you set up a series of email campaigns to:
- Introduce the program to the affiliates
- Find out more about their strategy to promote your business
- Be able to monitor their progress (and detect potential terms violations)
- Send out helpful content materials, product descriptions, and media files that might help them with promotion efforts
- Provide feedback about their performance
4. Careful selection of affiliates
As much as they can help your affiliate program grow, affiliates can also seriously harm your efforts. When you accept users into an affiliate program, you give them permission to promote your business. This means they will write about your products, mention your brand name, and of course, link back to your website. This way, they send the traffic to your website, hoping they will earn the commission based on the completed sales by those visitors.
Think about this now. Do you really want any kind of website or blog linking back to you? Do you want to see your brand name mentioned alongside spammy content? Building reputation in the online world is very difficult and time-consuming. You do not want to jeopardize your efforts by collaborating with affiliates who do not provide quality.
Hence, being extra cautious when accepting affiliates is very important.
For starters, merchants require affiliates to complete an application form. Here’s where you’ll find out more about potential affiliates, including getting details on their website or a blog, company (if they have it), etc. Use this info to research the affiliates before approving their application.
The next step is monitoring. Even if you’ve already accepted the affiliates in the program, this doesn’t mean your job is over. For all you know, in a couple of months, their website can be completely redesigned, change the owner, etc. Monitoring your current affiliates is the only way to make sure everyone is playing by the rules. Your rules, that is. Which leads us to the next point.
5. Terms of service document is a must
Terms of service is the document that defines your affiliate program, the rules regarding acceptance of the affiliates, types of strategies they are allowed to use, etc. The main purpose of this document is to protect your business and legitimacy of your affiliate program.
Create terms of service before you officially launch your affiliate program. Any affiliates interested in joining will have to accept these terms in order to become participants. This way you can regulate the actions of the affiliates.
In case you notice any usage of illegitimate promotion techniques or strategies, you can immediately refer to this document and apply measures to prevent this behavior. Sometimes, you can first let them know that an activity violates the terms of service. Have in mind that most people accepting the terms don’t read this document in full. The other solution is to completely ban the affiliate from the program upon violating terms in order to prevent any further damage to your business and/or reputation.
Here is a helpful guide you can follow when creating this document: How to Write Terms & Conditions.