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Top 5 tips: Setting out the ground rules with affiliates

To implement a successful Performance Marketing campaign you need a strategy. You need to understand what you want from your affiliates and conversely what they will want from you. Vairo Kremanis, Managing Director of Paydot, offers five top tips to help you get the best out of your affiliate network.

Repeat Customers

Repeat customers are the lifeblood of a successful business. They are extremely important not just because they’re generating more revenue but because a repeat customer can become an ambassador for your brand, spreading the word about your company among their friends and partners.  As marketers, building a network of repeat customers will be a key objective. These customers come back at a premium because there are no acquisition costs involved. However, if you’re responsible for your performance marketing you really don’t want to have your repeat customers buying from your affiliates. It’s like paying tax every time your customer buys your product.  You want your affiliate network to find new business for you, exploring new markets and attracting new customers that may not have been aware of your products or your brand. Voucher sites are all great but often large number of sales captured through these types of publishers come from repeat customers. It’s important that you measure the value your affiliates are offering and ensure that it’s in addition to what’s already coming into the business.   
Agree A Fair Reward Structure  
If your affiliates are reaching their targets then pay them for their efforts. They will work harder for you if the rewards are there. Consider auto-scaling commissions for publishers reaching certain targets and automatically increase commissions based on their performance. Sometimes the first publisher in the customer buying cycle deserves more commission than the one closing the sale. For example you may have a publisher’s review site ranking high for competitive generic keywords and gaining a lot of traffic as a result. If your customer finds those links first but goes through a voucher site before purchasing you need to decide who gets rewarded. Payment systems like ours that split commission between the two or reward the first referral will ensure that your affiliates feel valued. Get this right and they will continue to work hard to win new business for you.
Communicate With Your Affiliates
It’s up to you to ensure that your network knows what offers you have, the products you are promoting, if you have special seasonal deals or offers for Mother’s Day for example. If they are uninformed you’re not going to get the best out of your networks. So have a communication process in place. Regular newsletters work well and if your inventory changes frequently then you need to communicate frequently with your affiliates. Similarly, make sure that both advertisers and publishers have all the necessary tools to work with one another. Tools including a messaging/newsletter system providing updates, voucher manager, resource manager, flexible commissions, bonus systems, offline tracking, feeds, text links and banner builders.
Track Long-Term Engagement
There is no doubt that affiliate networks play a pivotal role in exploring new markets and attracting new customers. While you want them to continue to do this you also need to track their long-term engagement. New customers that convert to repeat customers in the buying cycle are highly prized so reward the affiliate accordingly and make sure he gets rewarded for all future orders. You’re basically connecting your customer with the affiliate for life. A simple re-order tracking system can guarantee this but it’s up to you to implement it. 
Finally, make sure you keep up with changes. Affiliate marketing is, by its very nature, highly entrepreneurial. It attracts individuals with the vision to create new businesses that draw large audiences. They actively seek out new opportunities so expect to see a continuous stream of fresh ideas and add your ideas into the mix. In the retail sector for example many companies link their offline activity with affiliate marketing and drive footfall with location-based advertising to entice people into retail spaces.
The fact is you can use the affiliate model in many ways. Whichever strategy you implement the key is to make affiliates work for you. As with every member of your team, agree terms up front, reward them fairly and lay down the ground rules. Get this right and keep them happy.  You’ll soon reap the rewards.   

By Vairo Kremanis
Managing Director

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