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Interview with Shawn Collins
Ten Strategies to Launch and Manage an Affiliate program
1. Select a Solution. There are two ways to start an affiliate program; you can do it in-house or through an affiliate solutions provider. You’ll need to accurately manage the tracking and reporting of your program, address technical issues and report on traffic and commissions, so if you don’t have a large competent development team I recommend the solutions provider route.
Manage your own program:
2. Your affiliate Agreement is Important. Draft a strong affiliate agreement and include two important decisions. Many programs are now restricting affiliates search keywords, the goal is to avoid bidding against your affiliates for top keywords. The other critical decision is how you will manage email policy. A No-Spam rule is critical to protect your brand image, and with the new CanSpam legislation in place it is critical to protect your company and your brand. “Write it in common English so affiliates can understand it.”
3. Invite everyone, but pick carefully. Add an ‘affiliate’ link to your site’s home page and include announcements about your affiliate program in newsletters and other customer communications. Review all affiliate applications carefully, have a look at their site and ensure they comply with your affiliate agreement. “Promote your program like crazy but have a manual approval process.”
4. Make it easy to find and download creative. For website operators and eMailers great creative will improve clicks and conversions, don’t rely on the affiliate to develop the creative, develop great creative and make it easily available to your affiliate network. And, keep it fresh, online creative burns out quickly so a steady stream of new banners will improve performance. Make sure your offers convert. Many affiliates will try a new product or service; few will stick with it if they don’t receive immediate rewards.
5. Be Accessible . Provide your name in the welcome letter, telephone numbers, email, AIM, Twitter etc.
6. Assign a Full-Time Program Manager. A successful affiliate program requires full-time (or half-time) attention by one assigned manager.
7. Embrace the 90:10 rule. The Pareto Principle or 80:20 rule applies in most businesses, that is 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customers. In most affiliate marketing programs, over 90% of your revenue will come from under 10% of your affiliates. These ‘super affiliates’ will be critical to the success of your program. Treat these affiliates like partners, communicate directly with them, listen carefully if they have complaints or suggestions and give them the best compensation agreements. Work hard with your solutions provider to recruit the best performing affiliates in other programs and offer your current affiliates an incentive to recruit other affiliates.
8. Communication!. Communicate often with your affiliates, create an affiliate email newsletter and hold monthly affiliate webinars. Send a postcard and open the lines of communication. Meet up through social media and in-person meetings.
9. Visit the Forums. Stay in tune with latest trends and discussion through participation in Affiliate Forums such as www.abestweb.com .
10. Pay Frequently, Fairly and Most. Affiliates a looking for revenue to fund their investment, they want to be paid fast and fairly. Pay for EVERY sale and compensate your affiliates for the lifetime value of a customer or compensate for all revenue from that customer. The top performers will seek out the top payers (per sale and top conversion %), ensure that your program offers the best overall compensation deal.
Where to find Shawn’s Stuff:
Google Wave: http://wave.google.com/