According to the Dekh Affiliate Marketing Guide, 40-50 percent of sales in the digital products industry are nowadays generated by affiliates. This helps merchants build a stronger brand, enhance their global reach and increase overall sales. Affiliate marketing is also fairly inexpensive, as affiliates are paid based on performance only.
Considering the great value of affiliates, it is important for online merchants to create, grow, and maintain good affiliate marketing relationships. If your affiliates are motivated to promote your products and if they receive the resources and support they need, you will notice a boast in sales. Otherwise, your affiliates will help your competition more than you.
Strengthening Affiliate Marketing Relationships
These six resolutions can help you in building a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with your affiliates:
- Segment your affiliates
- Understand your affiliates’ business models
- Provide your affiliates with the resources they need
- Communicate with your affiliates
- Keep your affiliates motivated
- Keep your promises
Segment Your Affiliates
When analyzing your affiliate revenue reports, you will most likely recognize that about 80 percent of your sales are generated by about 20 percent of your affiliates (Pareto Principle). With this in mind, consider segmenting your affiliates and developing unique strategies for each segment. Specifically, you can segment affiliates by rating them low, medium or high tier.
Low Tier Affiliates
The amount of revenue these affiliates generate is minimal, so merchants should not overextend the amount of time and effort spent on supporting these affiliates. Help them grow, but not at the expense of your more lucrative affiliates.
Medium Tier Affiliates
These affiliates generate a consistent level of net revenue and have potential for continuing growth. These affiliates can benefit from more focused collaboration. Keep in touch with them and share best practices to help them improve revenues.
“High level affiliates … should be viewed as partners rather than merely affiliates.” – via NetRefer
High Tier Affiliates
As these affiliates are of strategic importance for your company you should maintain a very good relationship with them and ensure continued satisfaction. Offer them exclusive content and access to your C-suite executives.
Understand Your Affiliates’ Business Models
Put yourself in the shoes of your affiliates: You will notice that you prefer talking with people who show a real interest in your business and who might be able to add value to it. Talking to someone who does not understand your needs and goals is a waste of time.
Have a look at the affiliate’s website, ask questions and listen to the affiliate before you jump in for a hard sell. If you can point affiliates to the benefits of offering your product to their audience, you will have an easier time gaining their attention.
Provide Affiliates With Necessary Resources
To promote your products successfully, affiliates require up-to-date media such as links, banners, text campaigns, landing pages and product data feeds.
Additionally, providing your affiliates with press releases and other relevant information can help in creating an understanding of your products, brand and target audience. Keep your company in the affiliate’s mind by sending out a monthly partner newsletter that informs your affiliates about new offers, seasonal promotions and trends.
Focus on your high tier affiliates. What do they need? Do they have special requirements? These affiliates are under tremendous competitive pressure and you can help them succeed by giving them exclusive content, co-branded landing pages, creative that complements their site structure and special discounts.
Communicate With Your Affiliates
Start by reviewing your affiliate applications in a timely manner and sending out a friendly welcome email to those affiliates that you accept into your program. Make sure this email includes the contact information of your affiliate manager and tips on getting started. Then add the new affiliate to your list of partner newsletter recipients.
Try to answer all affiliate queries within a day. This indicates that you value the partnership and that you have an open ear for constructive criticism. As your affiliates are the ones that interact with your target market, keep up your reputation by being responsive and supportive.
Set up monthly calls with your high tier affiliates to talk about significant drops or increases in revenue, upcoming consumer promotions, changes within your company, etc. Share your experience and ideas with the affiliates. Explain what works and what doesn’t, which banners have the highest conversion rate, and offer suggestions. If you leave room for discussion, your affiliates might also come up with creative ideas and solutions that improve your overall performance.
Last but not least, organizing networking events with your medium and high tier affiliates not only improves affiliate marketing relationships but creates a learning community where ideas and experiences are exchanged.
Keep Your Affiliates Motivated
Probably the most difficult part in affiliate marketing is keeping affiliates motivated. One way is to organize affiliate contests. For instance, reward those affiliates that generate the highest net revenue in a certain period of time. The reward can be a specific prize (like an Amazon gift certificate), a cash bonus or an increase in commission. Affiliate contests can also be based on predefined, achievable growth targets. This helps you identify which affiliates have the highest growth potential.
Another way to motivate affiliates is to compensate them with tiered commission increases. Start with a default commission of 20 percent and raise it to 30 percent if they refer a cumulative amount of $5,000 worth of sales. If they reach a threshold of $10,000 add another 10 percent to the affiliate’s commission and so forth.
Note that praise can be another factor that motivates your affiliates to sell more. Congratulate your affiliates when they increase sales, set up a great social media campaign or product review, and the like.
Keep Your Promises
Be careful and don’t make promises to your affiliates that you cannot keep. Otherwise, your affiliates lose their trust in your program and you compromise your reputation. If you cannot stick to your word due to external factors, be honest with your affiliates and explain the situation. Then they understand and appreciate your honesty.
Affiliate marketing relies on relationships. Be supportive, monitor your affiliates’ activities, and keep in close contact with your high tier affiliates. Treating your affiliates as valuable partners makes them enjoy working with you and you will feel the same.
Stephanie Fleischer is a Marketing Program Specialist / Affiliate Manager EMEA at cleverbridge