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Affiliate Marketing

A step by step guide for creating a high-quality affiliate program

Andrej Csizmadia

Andrej Csizmadia

Last modified on August 4, 2020 at 6:29 am

It’s not easy to convince third parties to act as sellers for your products or services, and doing so using a well-designed business model is an even bigger challenge. In order to be successful, you have to take certain necessary preliminary steps into account.

An affiliate network consists of paymasters – companies that seek new channels to sell or promote their offering, and affiliates – those who are willing to promote products and services based on a commission model. Typically, the advertiser gets paid based on a performance model (CPA – Cost per Action) per registration (CPL – Cost per Lead) or per sale (CPS – Cost per Sale).

Having a network of affiliates brings a significant advantage and new opportunities when selling any product or service. You can broaden your reach by approaching your target audience in a more personalized and unique way. The theory sounds great, right? However, when it comes to putting it into practice, many start-ups and SMEs realize that they have not taken the necessary steps or do not have enough knowledge and expertise to create an affiliate network.

Which is where this article comes in handy. If you are not sure how to start your own high-quality affiliate program, then keep on reading.

What do you need to create your own affiliate program?

A step by step guide for creating a high-quality affiliate program

In essence, you only need to fulfill three requirements to start your affiliate program. Let’s analyze each of them separately.

Have an interesting product or service to offer 

The important aspect of this requirement is that the product can’t be just another version of something we’ve already seen. The product must bring added value to its customers, such as solve a problem, answer a question, facilitate a process, or simply enable users to have fun. If the product has any of these characteristics, it will be much easier for your affiliates to sell and market it, and it will also be easier for them to identify with the end-user.

Create an online point of sale

When thinking of a point of sale, imagine a separate website set up for processing purchases, such as eBay or Amazon. Whenever a user is interested in a product, the platform takes them to a dedicated landing page containing all of the important data like size, weight, colors, price, and many other details. This page should also contain a section where you can find accepted payment methods such as credit cards, PayPal, or money transfers. If your product does not have a dedicated point of sale, the affiliate program will not be effective, because neither your affiliates nor your potential clients will know where to buy it.

Find affiliate tracking & affiliate program software

This is the real heart of the whole system. You need software that informs you which sales have been generated by your affiliates, which campaigns perform best, and how much commission each affiliate has made, etc. A reliable solution also enables you to generate thorough reports and track the whole affiliate process automatically.

So, how do you launch an affiliate program yourself?

A step by step guide for creating a high-quality affiliate program

As mentioned before, the first step is to obtain software that helps you manage everything efficiently, from the registration of your affiliates and the sales they make to website integrations, advanced tracking, and multiple administrator options.

Don’t worry, there are plenty of solutions out there that can help you with all of the above. These tools can simply transform your website into a well-oiled affiliate program.

One of the most popular systems is Post Affiliate Pro, which will do all the hard work for you. Once you start using it, you’ll never have to worry about meeting the agreed-upon payment deadlines with your affiliates.

It is important to note that no matter which solution you use, you should always be prepared to make a small investment for using it.

In the case of Post Affiliate Pro, there are three payment plans:

  • PRO: This one costs $97 per MONTH and provides features like full setup + website integration, advanced tracking, unlimited affiliates, 1m tracking requests per month, and much more.
  • ULTIMATE: The investment, in this case, is $197 per month. This plan is created for those who want to start their affiliate marketing adventure. The service is robust and covers many aspects of affiliate marketing, including a full integration service, detailed manuals, support 365 days a year, and free lifetime updates.
  •  NETWORK: Priced at $477 per month, it gives you access to out of the box affiliate network software, unlimited affiliates, unlimited merchants, 20m Tracking Requests per month, support 365 days a year and an onboarding consultation service, just to name a few features.

You can read more about Post Affiliate Pro packages here.

Steps you should take before contacting potential affiliates

A step by step guide for creating a high-quality affiliate program

Now that you have a product you want to promote through affiliate marketing and you’ve chosen the perfect affiliate software, it’s time to find affiliates that will spread the word about your product. But before you reach out to affiliates, consider these two questions: what is in it for them and how will they be remunerated?

CPL and CPS models are the safest option for a paymaster, whereas accepting a CPA model means taking a slightly greater risk (you have to pay an affiliate for facilitating an action, not a more tangible result like a lead generated or sale made). However, in CPL or CPS models, in the unlikely event that an affiliate generates no sales or registrations, the merchants are basically giving away their advertising space while receiving little or nothing in return. 

That’s why both advertisers and paymasters have to decrease the factors that pose a risk to an offering and do their best to increase the probability of successful sales. You can do your part by ensuring that you take care of all the aspects listed below.

  • Your product or service has to be adjusted to a specific niche that an affiliate represents.
  • Both the product and the affiliate have to stand out in a certain sector, so an affiliate must be treated as a reference source, and must have a trustful audience.
  • The system of assigning commission to your affiliates must be simple, yet efficient and clear for all stakeholders.
  • Even though affiliate marketing software enables you to automate many operations, assign one person to be responsible for managing the affiliate program.

When you have all these points covered, you can then move on to gathering affiliates who will promote your offering. 

How to contact potential affiliates

A step by step guide for creating a high-quality affiliate program

The best way to find affiliates is to start building a relationship with them early on. You can obviously try to reach out to “cold affiliate leads”, but you will be less likely to be accepted because of the missing trust factor. An advertiser has to take a series of actions that should focus on long term relationships.

1. Build relationships with potential affiliates

Trust is really important when planning long term cooperation that requires equal engagement and risk from both sides. That’s why you should start building rapport and trust very early on and be sincere about it. Relationships take time, which at first means adding value and offering something valuable without expecting anything in return.

Learn more: 11 Best Practices to Engage and Nurture Successful Affiliates

2. Collaborate with an affiliate network

A faster way to simplify your affiliate program setup is to collaborate with a company that already has an affiliate network. Join a few affiliate programs from your industry or from a totally different business environment. Try it for yourself and embrace the challenge of generating X leads, or making Y sales. Learn, observe, and draw conclusions. Get to know other affiliates, make friends, and then invite them to join your program.

3. Recruiting affiliates through a page on your website

You can take advantage of visits to your website to get more affiliates on board. Create a section where you promote your own affiliate program, where you present the uniqueness of your product or service and share the benefits of the program. It is important to highlight the most important, so-called technical aspects, such as accepted promotional channels (e.g., email marketing, Google Ads – SEM, content marketing, social media, banners, etc.), possible commission, and payment terms.

This may be interesting for you: How to use Social Media for Affiliate Marketing in 2020

4. No time to build relationships – what then?

Sometimes time does not allow us to establish relationships and plan our moves months in advance. In this case, you have to be very well prepared and have all the documentation, case studies, and presentations ready to convince potential affiliates to join your project. If you are about to face this kind of challenge, it is worth offering a higher commission at the beginning to make your offer more attractive and increase the chances of attracting potential advertisers.

It isn’t that difficult to create your own affiliate program. It takes a little bit of work and investment, but, in the long run, it will enable you to promote your product and reach new audiences with minimal effort. However, make sure you give your program enough attention to ensure it delivers the desired results.

Now that you know what steps to take to create your own affiliate system, why don’t you set one up yourself by following our guide? We are pretty sure you’ll be surprised by how many advantages it can bring to your business and your affiliate network.

Andrej Csizmadia

Andrej Csizmadia

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