Grow an affiliate marketing program

1. Analyze your customer and revenue data so you can properly structure payouts, set guidelines, and measure success.

Do you know the value of a new customer and a repeat customer? Are you aware of lifetime value, your profit margin on every type of sale, and your cost per acquisition on other channels? Set compensation that is proportionate to the lifetime value of the customer when an affiliate refers a new customer. B2B affiliate marketing programs tend to be structured differently and pay on a much higher individual sale amount or recurring subscription model.

2. Recruit experienced affiliates who suit your business ethic and model.

Has this affiliate worked in this industry and with this demographic before? What other offers are they promoting? What type of sites do they run? What methods do they use?

3. Provide your affiliates with everything they need to succeed during the onboarding process.

This includes: An affiliate manager An understanding of your product Your value proposition Your brand and brand voice Access to user demographic research Customer research Top-performing traffic sources Top-performing channels.

4. Communicate with your affiliates via affiliate managers and a regular newsletter to ensure insights are shared and everyone has the information they need.

This equips affiliates to promote your products or services to the right people, and they’re more likely to join and stay if assigned a useful affiliate manager. Ask them to share their learnings with you, to help you guide other affiliates and in-house operations. Ask questions like: How is the campaign performing compared to similar campaigns? What is your volume potential? How can we scale up?

5. Activate latent affiliates and encourage your active affiliates to dedicate more time to your offer using limited-time rewards and bonuses.

For example, offer new affiliates that have not started promoting or selling after three months an increased commission for a limited time or a bonus when they reach their first milestone. For old affiliates who registered to your program but have no activity so far, offer updates on new offers, products, and seasonal campaigns. Alternatively, ask them what they have been up to and why they stopped promoting your offer. Analyze the affiliates that used to sell but are now inactive, look at what they used to do for you in terms of promotion and rebuild the relationship based on that.

6. Evaluate the methods your affiliates use and restrict them based on your brand or existing efforts.

For example, if you are already running pay-per-click campaigns it may be counter-productive for your affiliates to also run them as that creates competition in the search results. Search engine optimization, social media, blogging, email marketing, and pay-per-click are the most popular methods affiliates employ. Monitor the activity of your affiliates and review their tactics to ensure you are paying for quality traffic. For example, if the affiliate just posts coupon codes that are not offers and relies on searches for a merchant’s trademark plus the word ‘coupon,’ it might not add much value to your program.

7. A/B test elements of your landing pages and offers often, and share your testing insights with your affiliates if you allow them to use their own landing pages.

8. Calculate individual affiliate conversion rates to determine the quality of traffic that each affiliate produces.

For example, Kim might be complaining about the landing page, saying that she has a conversion rate below 1%. Perhaps you are inclined to believe her because your overall conversion rate is only 3%. However, when you calculate individual conversion rates, you see that Jim is getting a 5% conversion rate, and it is Kim who is bringing the overall average down.

9. Provide affiliates with the best possible custom creatives and collateral.

During the onboarding flow, instruct your affiliate manager to ask: What affiliate method do they use? What type of creativity would be most relevant for them? Is any customization required? Would any other types of collateral be helpful?