So you have a revolutionary service or product. Congratulations! Now what? I am sure you want to grow reach and sell more of your product or services, and now it’s time to start exploring if an affiliate program is right for your business. This is great news, especially if you are not completely satisfied with how ‘good’ your business is, and you are looking to reach GREATNESS. Well, I’m about to tell you that, like any other component of your success online, there are strategies to launching an effective affiliate program.

How Affiliate Programs Work
Affiliate programs can increase brand awareness, expand user engagement across vast demographics and most importantly, grow your business. I wouldn’t be completely honest if I said that this is easy to implement into your business. In most any industry there can be a saturation of competition already established, so you’re not going to be bringing in piles of money right away.

Affiliate marketing takes large amounts of time and consistent effort to make an impact in your revenue stream. It also relies on a big push in fostering relationships. To do this effectively, you must align your goals with potential partners. With the right partners into your program, you continue to seek efficient relationships that work while regularly updating content to keep things new and encouraging.

Essentially this marketing vertical involves you, the merchant, promoting a commission payout to another online entity, known as affiliate marketers, when they refer business to the merchant’s product or services. It is performance-based, which ultimately results in affiliates only receiving payment when their efforts actually result in a click, lead, conversion or sale. Choosing the best method of earning commissions and payment terms will require a great understanding of your business as a whole and the key motivators that drive each sale. This is most important as affiliates are encouraged to perform better when given large incentive to drive conversions.

Time To Kick Off Your Affiliate Program
Now that you know a little more about how affiliate programs work, let’s dive into how to successfully kick-off an affiliate program. A large amount of success will come from a reliable system to manage affiliate accounts, tracking referral links and lastly, managing commission payouts. Failure to have this system in place will result in negative experiences for consumers and affiliates right off, so make sure you start by choosing a system that you like, is easy to use, and works reliably.

In order to join one of the more popular affiliate networks, you can expect a nominal fee that can range from five hundred to as high as five thousand dollars. How the affiliate network you choose makes money is from a percentage of the payment from affiliate generated sales. In return, the affiliate network usually will assist you in the initial set process and keep track of all the activity in your affiliate program. They also handle payment to your affiliates and act as the hub of distribution for all of your marketing tools. Some networks even offer recruiting tools that empower you to scout and recruit high-performing affiliates.

Be sure to perform due diligence while researching tools, feature, terms and accolades when choosing an affiliate platform that works best with merchants. Look out especially for ones that are known to really work with marketers who are just beginning to build their affiliate program.

Part of developing your program is deciding what terms and conditions will be offered. Most affiliate network service agreements set guidelines such as zero tolerance for offensive content, questionable methods, quality of traffic and much more. Remember there are a lot of content-based websites that earn greatly from advertisers offering an incentive to drive engagement to this product or services. It is important to do your homework on affiliate marketing fraud and look for those identifiers. Not only are you paying a reward on generating sales, but as well you are extending a voice of your brand, so you want to make sure that voice is consistent with your business objectives.

A great way to welcome new affiliate applicants is to include a well-written program description, friendly introduction letter to every affiliate with guidelines of best practices and brand representation. Items that are prohibited as well as pay terms should also be presented in great detail. From this effort, you will have built a solid foundation to ignite a promising approach to building a larger marketing base which can lead to positive results.

How Do I Manage A Successful Affiliate Program
Once you have created your merchant account, then it is time to create tools and resources that will be made available for future affiliate marketers to use. Creative marketing vessels like banner display ads and text links should be created and stylized for your affiliates to incorporate into their marketing efforts. If you carry products for your business, then it may be best to have a product data feed created and available for download. This will help you display your store as you intend so that you have visual control over how your products look as well as up-to-date and accurate information.
Acquiring affiliates and managing the affiliate program yourself takes a significant amount of effort. Time to time you may find yourself having to assist affiliates on how to set up links to your site, monitor payments with fraud prevention and any creative content needs to be updated often. There should also be a focus on analytics and various performance indicators necessary to understand your progress.

Lastly, communication is key. All too many times we have seen the huge downside from starting up an affiliate program and then walking away. It doesn’t work that way and actively engaging affiliates with constant communication is crucial. In terms of new content, it is simple. Create energetic and engaging campaigns while capitalizing on holidays, sport and current events in both text and display to be highly effective. Many businesses these days offer coupons or discount codes and you can extend these opportunities to your affiliates as well.

Monthly or frequent newsletter act as the conduits for updates, information, contests, or education straight from your insight which helps facilitate your business’s message. Make them fun, responsive and relative while providing all necessary information or updates that directly impact their effectiveness in your program.

Still Not Convinced? Final Thoughts
We already know that a successful affiliate program can have a dramatic effect on your business’s revenue. Also, when developed effectively, it becomes a tremendous asset to your business and in some cases have shown an increase of 4 to 16 percent growth in online revenue. However, when neglected or set up incorrectly, it can result in a drastically negative effect at worst, but if you’re lucky just need a bit of restoration.

A vast number of CMOs in various enterprises have come to terms that this method of marketing is important and have put a focus on developing this into their forward strategy.

Remember, this is the 30,000-foot view. A broad overview of an industry that truly adds valued revenue stream outside of the traditional sales flow of any business. It will help you grow, but requires a bit of education and understanding to the marketing aspects of your business in a new way. SVBS

John Bailey Headshot PhotoJohn Bailey is the Affiliate Program Manager for Davinci Vaporizer.  John  brings a wealth of knowledge in many facets of marketing and branding experience to the industry. John loves health and fitness, Doctor Who, dark scotch, hiking, and photography.  Contact him at (512) 954-4630 or by email at [email protected] or visit www.davincivaporizer.com/affiliate.