So, you've decided that you're ready to take your marketing to the next level with an affiliate program. Congrats! This an exciting time for you, your brand and your marketing journey.
Before you can begin realizing all that an affiliate program has to offer, there are three critical steps that need to be taken – and we'll walk you through each on in this post!
Step 1. Establish a Program Management Team.
Affiliate programs are nuanced. Highly effective, performance-driven and valuable, but nuanced. Affiliate marketing is not a channel that you should just set and forget – especially if you value return on ad spend (ROAS), strong brand awareness, quality partnerships and ensuring your marketing is as cost-effective as possible.
As we note on our Affiliate Marketing 101 page, there are different management options you might choose to take for your affiliate program, including in-house, agency or both. The affiliate program management option you choose can depend on a variety of factors, such as the size of your company, your level of experience and expertise around affiliate marketing, the resources available, program growth and partnership goals, etc.
Whether you choose to manage your affiliate program in-house, via an experienced program management agency or a combination of both, the main thing is to ensure it's given the right resources, dedication and guidance to help it flourish.
For more information about assessing whether an affiliate program management agency is right for you, check out our page on that very subject.
Step 2: Select your Affiliate Technology Partner.
Technology is what makes it possible for companies to track and measure the performance of their affiliate program as well as properly pay their partners. This technology is provided through either an affiliate network or a software as a service (SaaS) platform, not both.
Affiliate Networks – In an affiliate program, affiliate networks typically handle all tracking, reporting and payment to affiliates. In addition to providing tracking technology, some affiliate networks also provide full-service management or self-service management of a program. Affiliate networks also give brands access to a network of affiliates who apply to join their network, which also gives these affiliates access to hundreds, even thousands, of affiliate programs.
Software as a Service (SaaS) Platforms – In an affiliate program, SaaS platforms also provide companies with performance tracking, reporting and payment, however, they do not manage affiliate programs . Their focus is just on the technological aspects of an affiliate program.
For greater insight into networks and SaaS platforms and the types of companies that fall under each type, download our free Quick Guide to Affiliate Networks and SaaS Platforms.
Step 3: Set Up your Program
The setup of an affiliate program is a multifaceted process. Essentially, it involves having your affiliate technology team install a pixel on your checkout page, testing it to ensure that it's working correctly, and creating program materials such as program terms and conditions, banners, text links, deals and a data feed.
Note about Terms and Conditions: It is imperative that the terms and conditions outline you're your desired promotional methods as well as those that are not allowed so that affiliates know which tactics they may employ and which they should not. This will also provide you with some recourse should an affiliate operate in a way that is not acceptable for your brand.
Once a network is selected and all administrative items are complete, you're ready to get started developing affiliate relationships that will drive scalable growth for your company.
Check out this article for more information on how brands can use affiliate marketing to increase their ROI.
For questions or to learn more about how to start or improve the performance of an affiliate marketing program within your organization, reach out to our Client Success Team.