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6 Crucial Steps to Starting a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program

When it comes to setting up an affiliate marketing program, it all lies in your foundation. What is your brand about? What does it offer the people? How will you attract visitors and make them customers? These are a few of the key points you should think about before you begin your foray into the affiliate marketing world. All of these apply to Business 101, and you should never take this for granted because you need these initiatives  to sustain a long term brand. Here are 6 crucial steps to help you create a successful affiliate marketing program:

Knowing Your Audience

This is a major key  from the jump. If you don’t know what your audience likes, then it’s going to be hard to really get together a stellar affiliate program. Starting from what you sell on your site and how you reach out to an audience, you need to get that down before you make any other moves. It’s like setting up an ice cream truck in the day of winter. People will be more akin to hot chocolate than a cold chocolate bar when it’s below freezing. Do what makes sense.

You can create a poll to find out what things your audience likes or would like to know. It’s all about presenting value to your customers. This kind of input from the beginning will help make it easier to decide whether an affiliate marketing program is the way to go. It’s very important to involve your first set of customers because they are the backbone to everything. They are the trendsetters, the go-getters, the first adopters who can set the tone for stability in your business. You can’t depend on just the one-offs who might need a single item but have no stake in your brand.

Without taking the right steps to gauge what your audience needs, everything else goes for naught. You’ll have a hard time being successful in your affiliate marketing program. The next thing you should consider is picking the right affiliate program.

How to Choose the Right Affiliate Marketing Program

You may already have your online store set how you want but still don’t draw in the traffic needed to sustain your business. Why are you looking for an affiliate marketing program in the first place? Do you want to build traction on different networks? Are you trying to build a new demographic for a specific product? Do you need help in a sector of your marketing that you really don’t have the time and resources to handle? These are all things to ponder before you choose a good affiliate marketing program.

Maybe you’re not a big coding expert and don’t know how to get your feet wet. A program like Omnistar Affiliate Software might be a good connection for you because you can start from the ground up. Sometimes, you need a brand that can help you take those first baby steps and build into something tangible. Does the affiliate program easily integrate with your brand initiatives? You should consider an affiliate program not only within your budget, but something realistic. Are you going for something that can compete with the top brands out there? Maybe you want to keep it more in the small or medium-sized business realm.

No matter what you decide, you should always think about the customer first. How will you treat your top supporters? How will affiliate marketing ultimately give value to your audience as well as make your side profitable? Not all things are made equal so it’s best to shop around for not only the best price, but the best service to help you create longevity in your niche.

Is the Program Easy to Use?

Think of an affiliate program as an extension of your storefront. Of course, you want your affiliate program to be sleek and look good, but that doesn’t matter when it functions like an old IBM computer from the 1980s. That’s why it’s important to have an easy program to integrate in your system. Does the program have an easy code to help set things up easier? Does it mesh well with your system without any major problems? Is everything all in layman terms. This will ultimately help you get on board faster.

You need an affiliate program that makes it easy for you to keep track of things like who sells the most product, who are your runners up, and the ones that may do some foul play just to get a sale. Additionally, you want to make it easy for your supporters to use it because they will be the main ones bringing in the traffic and sales out of your website.

Some affiliate programs have a great staff on hand to help you. You might not be too versed in affiliate marketing so it’s always good to combine your efforts with an affiliate program that will help you win. Once you gain a sale, is it easy to keep track of that person’s activity. How about if they want to pitch your program to someone else? Good customer service on their end will help you make better decisions about the future of your brand in affiliate marketing. You should know the ends and outs of this program. The customer service rep should help you answer any questions and concerns you may have in your mind. This way you’ll be better to make the transition a lot easier for your business.

Finding the Right Ways to Market Your Affiliate Program

Even though affiliate marketing is important, you still need to know how to sell it and get it to the right avenues.

For example, maybe you are more adept to social media. You need to learn how to make it accessible via this avenue in order to make more crucial decisions down the line. A lot of people tend to be more active because it’s convenient. More people are attached to their iPhone or tablet than on a laptop or desktop. That’s becoming more apparent as mobile devices get easier to use. The benefit of using social media is you can speak and converse directly. Does the program offer great banner ads to help converse increase? Can you customize them for each one of your affiliates? This is essential because your affiliates need a unique URL to help them get leads and track them. The bottom line is getting a fellow supporter to help you make a sell.

Maybe it’s not just about the banner, but the picture itself. You can set up great images on your Instagram and Pinterest. A short video can also capture attention even if you can’t provide a live link within the video or caption. Just make sure profile is stellar so that person will end up clicking the live link on your homepage.  With new avenues like Facebook live and Periscope, it’s a lot easier to make your pitches. You can be more engaged because it’s live feed that people actually replay over and over again. Typically, the more someone looks at something, the more they’re interested.

Also, email marketing is a good way to go. Once that person builds a lead and they sign-up, do you have their support for follow up emails (newsletters or short blurbs) to keep their interest level up? Remember, you need to make it easy on your supporters to help market your product correctly. Email can be a bit more intimate than social media or videos. It’s like a personal letter to someone, and you can even make an offer specifically for that individual. This kind of emotional connection or feeling of exclusivity taps into their more impulsive feelings, which can be the difference between a simple gaze or an action that says, “I want to buy into this brand.” From the start, you can help begin that interaction creating some pre-made banners that will coincide with your supporters’  message.  Remember, another key is to spark competition.

Light the Fire in Your Supporters

Like any kind of business, there needs to be some motivation. It’s not enough to simply have an affiliate program and say, “Please sell this product.” No, you need some conviction behind your message that enables your supporters to really back your product. One of the best ways of going about this is setting up a contest. There are already different programs out there that have a contest built-in. However, you should make sure it’s sensible with your own campaign.

Why a contest? Simple. It creates that competitive edge in your supporters that will drive them to pursue more people rapidly. Also, you can keep track of your top supporters. Analytics are everything and you need to be aware of who’s really got your back when you need to introduce new product or find a way to sell items that doesn’t seem like it moves. You can even vote on it. Ask your supporters if they would like a contest and maybe get some feedback on the grand prize.

Set your contest up for a month and see who gets the most leads and sales. You can even have a leaderboard of the top 5 or top 10 (depending on how many affiliates you’ve signed up) to see their performance. This is crucial because they will have more fire to keep going by knowing what people are underperforming or outperforming them. At the end of the contest, have a grand prize that will show they being rewarded for their hard work. You can also give a good runner-up prize as well so that those right behind don’t come up empty handed.

This powerful motivation will create a great synergy across the board. It also helps you stay creative and engaged with your supporters because you’re the one sponsoring the contest. You’ll know what they like and it helps keep that edge going on from time to time in your most active seasons (e.g. the holidays). Regardless, you should always show your appreciation for your supporters.

Showing Your Appreciation

While an incentive-based system is always great and a good contest can be good during key buying months, general appreciation is most required. Remember, they are choosing to support your brand. Not only are they getting your program hot by just promoting and gaining leads, but there’s an organic presence being presented online.

If you notice a supporter has been with you since the beginning, make sure they are known. Maybe they have an upcoming birthday and they have a profile that says they are interested in music. Why not send them an birthday email with a nice gift card for an mp3 music download? This kind of gesture shows that you not only appreciate the service, but you pay attention to your supporters. It’s a bit more personal than a simple reward after a contest. It shows general interest and care.

For your new affiliates that sign up, you can give them a discount on their first purchase. This will entice them to buy and it’s a sign of good faith that you aren’t just in it for yourself. How you treat the people that promote your products will have a big impact on whether you maintain a business for 6 months or 6 years. The choice is yours. A simple card or “Thank You” message goes a long way because people want some praise for doing well.

It’s different for each affiliate program to set up its own rules for success. However, some of these rules can apply to any business sector. You should always know what objectives you want to cover and how it’ll positively impact your business and key supporters. From the person that sells 10 items a month to 1,000 a month, each individual is important and brings forth some traction to your business. You want both sides of the coin to win in this business endeavor. What are some steps you use to create an affiliate marketing program? Post a note below.


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6 Response to "6 Crucial Steps to Starting a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program"

  1. Comment From Jack Hathaway

    Great tips guys. These days I find that the advice on making the program easy to use is very important. People are so busy, they do not have time to fumble with a cumbersome program.

  2. Comment From Jen Lewinson

    Personally I feel that marketing your program depends on the type of product you have. Some products work better on social media while others don’t.

  3. Comment From Gill Ballard

    I have tried doing contests for my affiliates in the past and they work great. I did during the holidays and it gave me an extra boost of traffic and sales because the affiliates were super motivated .

  4. Comment From Tiffany Greene

    I really know my audience so I know what motivates them. This is very important so you know the right incentive to offer to excite people.

  5. Comment From Bert Larson

    In addition to these tips I usually monitor the activity of my affiliates and get rid of the ones that are not doing anything. This keeps my database clean and clear of those slacking affiliates.

  6. Comment From Viktor Stanfield

    I have often given my affiliates bonus gifts during the holidays to motivate them. This really helps and gives me an excuse to reach out to them to see if there is anything I can do to improve the program.

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