How to Build a Better Affiliate Marketing Programme: Strategy Development and Implementation

A good affiliate programme will have targets and objectives for growth and efficiency. Putting in place clear goals, KPIs, and actionable plans will allow you to effectively measure and report on performance. Here are our eight rules for planning and executing a successful affiliate marketing strategy.

Set SMART Objectives

Align brand objectives to create goals unique to the affiliate channel. Using SMART objectives (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) will allow you to track and report on the success of your strategy. Remember: be specific. Instead of stating, ‘Increase revenue of sale-active affiliates’, refine your goals with numbers, i.e. ‘Improve affiliate revenue by +20% vs. H1 2018’

Monitor success

Implement a regular review of your progress against the goals to keep your strategy on track. This can be managed in several different ways. For example, assign specific goals to teams or people. Don’t forget to work as a team to achieve the goals, which includes your affiliates, platform, and agency partners.

Plan and adapt

Plan and manage your strategy through an organised calendar. This should outline the engagement you have with affiliates during key promotional periods. Ask yourself, are affiliates being sent the right materials to support current offers and product focuses? Is there a seasonal event that is particularly important? Is there a last -minute promotion that needs additional support? Being able to manage the changes certain events like these can bring will deliver success.

Effective growth

A rule of thumb is that your affiliate programme should consistently grow in sales and revenue but at an effective rate, so to keep the ROI at an acceptable level. Some ways in which to achieve this include:

  • Making your brand and business goals clear to all your affiliates, platform and agency partners so everyone is working towards the same goal
  • Be open to invest into the channel by running activation and optimisation campaigns with affiliates, test and learn strategies and exploring new opportunities
  • Consider scaling the programme globally once it is performing well in one market
  • Think strategically about programme growth, don’t just think about quick wins but new innovative partnerships that will have positive long – term impacts

Be diverse

It is important to drive revenue from multiple affiliates, and not be reliant on only a few. We see many large affiliate programmes driving 80% or more of their sales volume through less than 10 affiliates. This can represent a few challenges and risks; we would always advise to aim for less than 60% of revenue through the top 10 affiliates. Be sure to make affiliate recruitment and activation part of your ongoing affiliate marketing strategy.

Reward your affiliates fairly

You should always strive to reward your affiliates fairly for the value that they generate for you. This includes paying for new and existing customers, having a commission structure which fairly represents the value delivered and considering different fee structures based on value beyond the last click model.

Engage with your affiliates

The foundation of the affiliate marketing industry is relationships. A good affiliate programme will see strong relationships between the advertiser and its affiliates, after all, they are far more likely to promote a brand they enjoy working with. Engagement can be done through events, your brand’s resources, collaboration, and regular communication.

Understand the role of affiliate in your wider marketing strategy

Although the affiliate marketing model is based on a last click, it is universally acknowledged that affiliates deliver value higher up the customer purchasing journey. Take the time to understand how your customers interact with all your marketing channels, including the affiliate channel, and ensure you can attribute value and budget accordingly to best reach and convert consumers.

Our free, downloadable UK Guide to Better Affiliate Marketing shares the latest best practice, guidance and inspiration to create and manage better affiliate marketing programmes.

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