Why You Should Think of Your Affiliates as a Sales Team

affiliate-sales-channel-tipsCropsOne of the biggest mistakes we see companies make with their affiliates is treating them as customers. Affiliates are not customers, they are more akin to resellers or your sales force and companies who think of their affiliates in this way will see a much higher return on investment for their affiliate program.  Although it may be easier to take your consumer messaging and repurpose it for the affiliate channel, this is a mistake as the context of the content will be incorrect and you won’t be helping your affiliates be better ambassadors for your product.  However, this also requires having an affiliate program management team with these capabilities, which is often a challenge.  Here are five things you can do to start treating your affiliates more like a sales force.

1) Don’t Communicate to Affiliates with Customer Language
When an affiliate gets a newsletter talking about how they can take advantage of a big upcoming sale, they are often turned off as they are not the customer. Instead, the merchant should be explaining to them how to communicate the sale to their customers and why this sale will help them increase their performance, e.g.  “last year this sale was our best performing event for affiliates.”

2) Give Advance Notice
Your best affiliates don’t want to learn about a new product, initiative or offer from your website. Communicate the details to them in advance and give them time to prepare their own marketing. This also gives them the advantage with their customers of being “in the know.”

3) Build the Relationship
Get to know your affiliates, their website(s) and what drives their sales.  E-mail is easy, but if you find time to meet in person at industry events or talk on the phone you will develop  more productive relationships and get a much better response rate when you reach out to that the affiliates  with an offer or an idea that you would like them to promote.

4) Set Incentives and Objectives
People in sales respond to incentives. Having contests, sales goals and increased VIP commission levels are great ways to encourage your affiliates to focus on your program instead of others.  If you want an affiliate to focus their sales around a particular time period or product, give them an incentive around this behavior and you will see the results.

5) Develop a Sales Kit
If you want to really get the most out of your affiliates, think about giving them a “sales kit” around a specific promotion that has what they need to market to customers  as well as an associated incentive.  As an example, if Company A wants affiliates to be promoting their new widget, they should send affiliates an e-mail or newsletter in advance with the following:

– A customer promo for the widget

– New banners and creatives featuring the widget.

– New banners and creatives featuring the widget.

– Key selling points to use in the marketing of the widget.

– Sample marketing copy for the widget.

– A sales inventive based on the number of widgets sold.

By following these five steps, you will be giving your affiliates everything they need to be successful, and will in turn enhance the return on your affiliate program.

 

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