If you’ve been in the affiliate marketing game for a while, you know how much you depend on your affiliates. You know that most of your revenue comes from your top earners.
That’s all well and good, as long as you keep repeating success. But that’s not as easy as it sounds. Now that you’ve gone through the major beginner mistakes and settled into your affiliate program, how do you keep them happy, and earning for you? How do you improve your smaller affiliates so you’re less reliant on a few top earners?
Follow these tips to get the most out of your affiliate markets, and keep them bringing in the gold.
1. Show Gratitude
Everyone likes to feel appreciated! Clear communication with your affiliates will help you establish a great relationship. Your affiliates know how important they are to your business, but the more you can take the opportunity to show gratitude, the better. How you show your appreciation counts.
Make it personal. Set up regular calls if you can, to check in with your affiliates and see how you can further help them grow.
Social media offers plenty of opportunities to show your gratitude. Don’t just passively follow, but take the time to comment, provide links, and promote your affiliates.
Congratulate them when things are going well, and offer opportunities to brainstorm when they’re not so great. That will show your affiliates that you respect their time and your relationship.
There is no better impression than a first impression. Some affiliate programs have a start-up bonus for a first sale. Keeping it a surprise can help your affiliates feel especially appreciated. Personalize it, rather than sticking to a monetary bonus. A nice basket, a bottle of wine, or even a premium sample basket will cement your new relationship, and set it off on the right foot!
2. Listen to Feedback
The golden rule for any partnership is to listen at least as much as you talk. Remember, the important part is not the selling, it’s the service.
Make life easier for your affiliates. Some affiliates may prefer you provide them with more guidelines when it comes to content, or may have specific requirements about how to contact them.
Respect the feedback you’re getting, and make changes where you need to, to show your partners you value their opinion.
Surveys and newsletters a great way to get overall feedback about your affiliate program, while taking time to check in face-to-face, and being available for support, is better for one-on-one conversations.
Holding regular office hours is one good way of showing you’re available to your affiliates. You don’t need to turn your phone into a hotline. Posting the hours you’re reachable for your affiliate marketing team to keep in touch means you’re less likely to lose track of emails and errant calls. It’s good for keeping you organized, but it’s also great for helping you build your partnerships, and developing a reputation as a reliable choice.
3. Make Your Affiliate Partners Your Priority
Showing your partners you care may be as simple as sending an email, but making sure your partners remain a priority in your business takes a little extra work.
Not only should you be taking care of those partnerships you’re hoping to strengthen, but you should also be getting rid of affiliate partners who aren’t following guidelines. This allows you to spend more time and resources cultivating relationships with partners you value, who are committed to the partnership.
Though you want to remove any affiliate markets that don’t fit your niche or don’t follow your guidelines, you don’t want to show too much favoritism to the higher earners.
Even the affiliates who are in the bottom 80% of your marketing program should be responded to promptly and made to feel appreciated. When your affiliates aren’t performing as well as you’d like, it’s often a time for more attention, not less.
Give your struggling affiliates some extra guidance, whether that is better templates for content or a more personalized approach to graphics or images.
For your more dedicated affiliates, a “branded” or VIP package full of goodies that remind them they’re part of a team is a great way to renew loyalty and boost morale.
4. Provide High-Quality Content
To go along with reminding your affiliate partners of your value to them, provide them with high-quality content. As the brand and source, you need to be updating your content and providing your affiliates with high-quality examples that make it easier on your affiliates.
The best way to produce that high-quality content is through professionals. Hiring copywriters can ensure there’s no guesswork involved when it comes to matching the tone and style. Talented content creators are experts at creating the best content that can be reworked and remixed. Go beyond the obvious to provide your affiliates with templates and take the guesswork out of content creation.
Affiliates programs that do this particularly well tend to be focused on niche marketing. Nerd Wallet, for example, is a high-quality website dealing with mortgages, finances, and loans. In this hypercompetitive market, it has set the gold standard for affiliate programs, by using keyword research to best effect, and using those keywords to create useful tools that highlight their expertise, and set them apart from the competition.
5. Perfect Payout
Of course, the primary motivator for your affiliate partners to continue business with you is money. You already know how incorporating promotions and special offers can improve your existing affiliate program. Money is a strong motivator for your partners, as well as your customers.
Investing in good ethical practices is good for your relationship with your affiliates, and great for your business overall. In overly competitive affiliate markets, such as financial services, you will find your good name is everything.
If you’re promising customers honesty and integrity, you really want to deliver, especially to your business partners. Financial service affiliate site Money Saving Expert takes aim at making it easier for the average person to make smart financial decisions. Part of that is a level of transparency about their affiliate program. This is a great policy for the company and your customers. But it’s important to keep in mind for your affiliates too. They need to know you can be counted on as a business partner.
Pay attention to your vertical and keep your commissions in the upper ranges of what you see as standard, especially for higher earners. Of course, you should be paying commissions on a regular schedule.
You should be completely transparent about the money that your affiliate partners can expect, and keep an open line of communication about their pay scale (along with everything else). Increasing commissions, or arranging time-specific commission bumps term bump well ahead of time, you can maximize the impact on your sales during busy times, or through seasonal events, helps keep your affiliate partners loyal.
6. Supply Samples
Supplying product samples, and testing them yourself help your affiliate partners get familiar with the products or services you offer. The mistake that many affiliate marketers make is that eventually, the free samples stop coming. The occasional goody basket of samples and freebies can be an unexpected bonus or just a refresher on what you can offer your affiliates.
In addition to samples of your own, providing them with content creation tool bundles, or other goodies can remind your partners of how much you can offer them. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. A suite of tools can be as low as $30 for a month, or a $50 flat rate for something like Paint Shop Pro or video editing software. It’s also a great way to beta test new products and services.
By offering to your top affiliate partners first, you get honest feedback, and they get a reminder of the perks of your partnership!
7. Arrange Real-World Events
Sometimes, the best way to show your appreciation is face-to-face. People like doing business with people they like. Industry events like Affiliate summit are the perfect way to get some face-time with your affiliate partners. Buy a few drinks, and spend time catching up.
Affiliate Marketing conferences occur throughout the year all over the world. Wherever you are in the world, from the US, Europe, even Asia or India, there are affiliate marketing conferences that provide a great opportunity to meet your partners.
Alternatively, go smaller. Yelp is well known for throwing weekly parties and meetups with affiliate partners. If you’re unable to attend or supply tickets to a major industry event, a small, in-house company event is another opportunity to show your face and reconnect with affiliates.
Creating special events within the company helps you create a community within your company, and that means your affiliate partners are more likely to feel like part of a team. Build events to celebrate your success as a company, and include input from everyone.
8. Reward Your Affiliates Using Gamification
Providing real-world incentives to your affiliates is not always easy. If you’re stumped on what to offer, or how much bonus is worthwhile, do some research.
Most of the time, you can search your way to approximate ranges in your verticles. If that isn’t giving you the information you need, ask others in your niche, or read your competitors’ Terms and Conditions. Many companies list their commission rates, even bonuses, right there when you sign up.
Going the extra mile to give your affiliates the most competitive rates is an important way to show your appreciation.
Tracking your affiliates is important to the success of your marketing. Giving your affiliate partners incentive in the form of healthy competition is simple. It also gives you the perfect excuse to single out your top earners and show your appreciation in one of the ways we’ve talked about here. An interactive leaderboard on your website or monthly listings can create a dynamic leaderboard, making it easy for your partners to track, and keep them in earning spirit.
Aside from special events and sales, hot streak bonuses and commission bumps can help keep even struggling earners climbing the ranks. Gamification can have a huge impact on your sales.
Providing increases as your affiliates hit milestones is a proven way to increase earnings for both of you.
9. Keep Affiliates Informed
Your affiliate partners are busy. Inundating them with sales emails and newsletters is a fast way to alienate. But by setting aside some time each week to personally reach out to each affiliate, and publishing a monthly newsletter specifically for your affiliate partners, you can keep that relationship growing, and keep affiliates informed of any changes in your organization.
The goal is to build and keep relationships. Your úpdates should be informative, and above all, short. Keep your partners on track about new and improved products and product lines, as well as taking time to appreciate them. Give them information on industry news and trends, or changes in your policy. Remind them you are available to answer any questions or solve any problems.
An example list of information your affiliates need updates on:
- Content: new text that can be used in product descriptions, reviews and other content
- Creative: templates, banners, product images and social media images
- Marketing collateral: updated Sell sheets or other marketing collateral
- Program updates: new promotions, giveaways, contests and other related information
- Branding: changes in font, color and logo usage
- Trends: seasonal, event and pop culture trends that can help affiliates plan their editorial calendar around your products
- Reports: if it’s suitable, reports on top earners, top products and top performing advertising, contests and promotions
All this may seem a LOT to send out to affiliates, and it is. By using a platform such as PAP, you will get access to many features that allow you to consistently and promptly update your earners. In a clear and structured way that won’t overwhelm. Moreover, by giving them an easy way to access this information at any time, they can work independently according to their own schedule.
The best affiliates in your program will drastically boost your conversion rates, and increase your earnings. But only if you can keep them happy. Your affiliates know that you need them more than they need you.
Best practices to keep affiliate marketers happy to work with you means being open to communication, offering them great content and always showing your appreciation, in the form of positive feedback, gamification, and of course, payouts.
Empowered affiliate partners become your company champions. They should be able to see the results of their efforts, in easily digestible reports. They also need easy access to all resources for successful affiliate marketing. But this requires a lot from you, and can be hard to manage in a consistent manner.
By using a well-designed platform such as Post Affiliate Pro, your affiliates will be taken care of in the best way, and not fall away due to you being busy with running your business.