7 Tips for a Successful Affiliate Sales Channel

3 minutes

Affiliates Sales Channel Tips

I finally got some time to study in detail the new AffStat Report 2009. It offers a comprehensive overview of the affiliate business and, from my point of view, it’s something every affiliate manager should read.

Starting from the affiliate responses, I put together a list of tips for the vendors that want to use the affiliate sales channel at its upper capacity. Having also put my experience so far in this list, it’s especially aimed at software affiliate managers; however, the principles can be used for other verticals too.
Affiliates Sales Channel Tips

Here are the most important things one must take into account when dealing with affiliates selling software:

  1. Get involved with your affiliates and help them with everything that is up to you: marketing materials, discounts etc. Show them how it’s best to sell your product – you may be in the best position for this regarding some of your affiliates. About one quarter of them has been in this business for less than 2 years.
  2. Use an affiliate network for your affiliate sales channel. The advantages of a network are obvious: larger affiliate pool, bigger exposure and less technical and financial hassles. This goes for affiliates too, since over half of them prefer affiliate networks over independent affiliate programs.
  3. Pay your affiliates commission at regular dates and avoid “fine print” payment policies. One thing is for sure: the shorter the payment intervals, the better. Most of the affiliates become sensible (“annoyed”, “stressed”) with complex payment policies that introduce lots of limitations and possible penalties for them; some will just quit on you.
  4. Constantly incentivize your affiliates and give them reasons to perform better. You can do this right from the affiliate recruiting phase, but it’s most important you incentivize your current affiliates. Try to give your best performing affiliates the things they ask for, even if it’s a commission increase. Also take into account rewarding options such as the possibility to generate their own discounts or to be credited for software renewals.
  5. Communicate with your affiliates, but don’t over do it! Share your latest developments and promotions with your affiliates and give them what ever information they might like. Most of affiliates prefer the email as their way of communication with affiliate managers. In the software business, it’s best you send newsletters / direct messages to your affiliates 2 times per month at most. You could also consider posting this info on a blog or on Twitter.
  6. Watch the pay-per-click (PPC) affiliate campaigns; if you also do that, they may be doing it better. You must establish a policy regarding this, since an important percentage of the affiliates use PPC to promote their links.
  7. Don’t expect an affiliate to promote just your products. Affiliates usually work with multiple affiliate programs and it’s highly probable they also promote your competition’s products on their website. Instead of cutting them out of your program, you can try and give them reasons to outline your products. This doesn’t just mean giving them a higher commission – affiliates are also sensible to the brand awareness of your products and the way you, as the affiliate manager, interact with them.

There are also some other interesting findings in this report, but I will comment on these in a future post. One more thing – the report contains a comprehensive section of Affiliate Marketing Resources, including a glossary, list of message boards, blogs and industry VIPs to follow on Twitter.

I look forward to hearing your opinions and suggestions about the subject. Feel free to comment / write me a message on Twitter.

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