Nine things to consider when starting an affiliate marketing program

So how do you start an affiliate marketing program?

As ubiquitous as affiliate programs are, I couldn’t find any great online content about getting started.  I was looking for something pretty simple like a checklist or PPT with the key questions and considerations.  Over the last 6 weeks, I’ve interviewed a series of “experts” to expand my understanding of the subject.

So here is my “affiliate marketing checklist”:

  1. Types of partners – One size program may or may not “fit all”.  Some partners will need more hand holding and information before signing up.
  2. Size of partner universe – There always seems to be more ideas of potential partners than resources to contact them all.  I suggest building a big list (prospect universe) and contacting a couple in each category to eliminate the ones that don’t make sense.
  3. Revenue share – The marketplace for affiliate programs is very competitive these days.  Referral fees can range from 2 to 20%.  My opinion is that you want to be aggressive.  Remember it is better to have 80% of something than 95% of nothing.
  4. Competition – What are they doing and how are they doing it?  Is there any evidence of success?  How will you differentiate your offering?
  5. Affiliate network/tracking/reporting – Sites like Commission Junction and Linkshare offer a broad network of potential affiliates at a cost (as much as 30% of revenue) as well as payment and tracking infrastructure.  You need to think about whether or not the value of their distribution exceeds the cost.  If you decide to “roll your own”, then you can use a product like iDevAffiliate. The upside is its low cost but you will then have to recruit every affiliate on your own.
  6. Branding – What will you call your program and/or your partners?
  7. Ongoing support – Who will manage the affiliate relationships once they are signed up.
  8. Marketing materials/collateral – There is a variety of logos, web pages and PPTs you will need to promote and maintain the program.
  9. Set proper expectations – This is an indirect sale.  Even after you close a partner, it will take time to get them engaged and actively promoting your product or service.

I hope this is helpful  Please let me know if you have any additions.

Author: Frank Days

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