You and your team have recruited new affiliates or you’re currently running an affiliate program, but you want to make sure they are committed to a long-term partnership and continue to promote your products after their initial shoutout. In this post, we’ll walk through best practices to engage your affiliates on a long-term basis and ensure they are aligned with the business objectives.
Many marketing teams that are new to affiliate marketing think that you can “set it and forget it”. When in fact this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a marketing professional in the affiliate space. Just like all forms of marketing, it requires attention to detail, discipline, and a focus on the numbers.
Establish Expectations and Benchmarks
Before you bring anyone into your affiliate program, align on what success looks like on your team. Make sure your goals are attainable and don’t be afraid to calibrate. Recruiting and vetting affiliates can take a lot of time, but teams that have a clear idea of what successful benchmarks generally have more success because they can communicate it to their affiliates day 1.
After your team has clearly articulated what the goals are, have the same conversation with your new affiliates. Communicate what your expectations are and set them up for success.
Create a Schedule
The commonality with most successful companies doing affiliate marketing is that they have a regular schedule a point of contact that is responsible for building relationships with all of their affiliates. Teams spend so much time recruiting that they forget to regularly engage their new affiliates. It’s easier than ever to schedule recurring virtual weekly/ monthly check-ins on the calendar to make sure the entire affiliate team is aligned. Better yet, teams that engage their community of affiliates together can create a compounding effect. Often times, affiliates want to meet the other people on the marketing team. Create a sense of ownership and creative control. Some teams activate relationships via recurring meetings, scheduled repeating to-do lists, DM’s, and more. Find which communication channels work best for your affiliates and make sure team members/ founders engage with the group.
An effective tactic when engaging your affiliates is to create a tiered compensation structure. If affiliates know they can get to new levels, it will keep them engaged over a longer time. For example, if your entry affiliates make 10% for up to $100,000 in sales, but can make 15% after $200,000 in sales affiliates will track their progress with the goal of reaching this new threshold. Teams have built creative models for this whereby the percentage changes, the fixed amounts change, certain items have greater discounts, etc. It can be extremely effective for launching new products and reducing acquisition costs across your mixed media spend.
An effective way to engage your affiliates is to create some friendly competitions between them. Great community development teams have cash prizes for the highest-earning affiliates creating a win-win for the brand and affiliate teams. Even better is when teams create category winners that earn gifts, consolations prizes, and offer free gifts to their followers.
Affiliates in particular love being connected to the business in more ways than just revenue. Offering to meet the founders goes a long way because they will mention that they “know the founder” in their streams and posts. Founders should take a genuine interest in affiliates because they are apart of your team. They aren’t just peddling your products - affiliates take in interest in your goals, your business, and they align with the mission you strive towards as a company. Founders and brand teams that realize this early on win big in affiliate marketing.
Affiliate to Affiliate Events
Pairing your affiliates can be tricky because they are technically fighting for the same thing, but if your team has segmented audiences and matched the affiliates there can be interesting collaboration opportunities between your affiliates. For example, if you’re selling cowboy boots online and want to pair your woodworking YouTube affiliate with your Blacksmith Instagram affiliate they could work on combined content where they share a new code/ link. Affiliates have to create content to drive conversion and if you assist them in their ideation or pair them with others that have similar tases/ interested but reach potentially different audiences it can turn into something great! With that being said, a lot of affiliates and creators love putting themselves into their videos and do best with creative control!
Pay a Fixed Amount
A pro tactic with successful affiliates is to entice them with a fixed weekly/ biweekly/ monthly income (plus any affiliate commissions earned). Some of the most successful teams do this to make sure affiliates stay engaged and continue to produce high-quality content while also ensure they are on the top of their minds when promoting new products.
Teams should monitor sales daily/ weekly to make sure affiliates are performing. The benefit of being transparent with your financial goals at the start is that conversations with underperformers are much easier. Teams should have great relationships with all of their affiliates and can be a resource for them when they need a hand.
Affiliates love free stuff, especially when new products are being released. Exclusivity leads to empowerment and making affiliates feel closer to the brand’s mission. The added benefit is that they can show the new products in their content when they become available.
At the end of the day, affiliates are part of your sales and marketing team. Teams that overcommunicate, brainstorm, and trust their affiliates generate meaningful returns. As long as you’re disciplined with your approach, have a great product, and are authentic in building relationships you should be able to run a successful affiliate program.