Why You Should Think of Your Affiliates as a Sales Team

Why You Should Think of Your Affiliates as a Sales Team

One of the biggest mistakes we see companies make with the affiliates within their program is treating them as customers.

Affiliates are not customers; they are your partners. Your Performance Partners, in fact. 

Affiliates are akin to resellers or your sales force, and companies who understand this and treat their affiliate partners accordingly will realize a much higher return on investment from their affiliate program

Although it may be easier to take your consumer messaging and repurpose it for your affiliate marketing campaigns, this is a mistake.

Here are five things you can do to treat your affiliates like the sales and marketing partner they are:


1) Communicate with Affiliates using Sales 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 trying to market on your behalf, not be sold to. Instead, explain 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 reputation with their own customers/followers/audience for 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 them 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, provide them with a “sales kit” around a specific promotion that has what they need to market to their audience as well as an associated incentive.  

As an example, if you want your affiliate partners to promote your new product, send them an e-mail or newsletter in advance with the following:

    • Customer promotion for the product.
    • New banners and creatives featuring the product.
    • Key selling points to use in the marketing of the product.
    • Sample marketing copy for the product.
    • A sales incentive based on the number of products sold.


By following these five steps, you will be giving your affiliates what they need to be successful. In turn, you’ll enhance the return on your affiliate program.

Learn more in our guide to Creating High-Value Publisher Partnerships.

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