What's required to get an affiliate program up and running? First you need to get it set up on your platform, and define the process you will have for approving applications. That's all you need to do, right? Not quite.
If you stop at that, you're leaving your affiliate program in autopilot mode. Even though you might see some affiliate sales coming in, there’s certainly plenty of room for optimizing and growing your affiliate program, improving its sales and ongoing functionality.
Here are some key actions that will take your program to the next level.
Review your affiliate program commissions and payouts
To kick your affiliate from automated to active, it's smart to make sure that you're offering a competitive commission, particularly when its compared to what programs similar to yours are offering. You also need to ensure that you're not overpaying your affiliates.
If your products are unique or don’t have any direct competitors running an affiliate program, take note of how the commission compares to the rest of the products in the same vertical. For example, if you are the developer of a software app and you are the first one to launch an affiliate program in your space, you can look at complementary products or software for benchmarks.
FastSpring Insights: The affiliate commission for software apps can range from 15% to 70%. Commissions will vary within that range based on the average order values – more expensive products tend to have lower commission rates—and, in the case of subscription-based products, whether the billing is monthly or annually.
Streamline and plan communication with affiliates
Another factor you need to consider is your communication with your affiliates. Review your automated emailing, including your Welcome email, and create an emailing plan for the subsequent months. (Just because your emails are automated doesn't mean that they should sound like they're coming from automatons.)
To further improve your communication, align your affiliate newsletters with your promotional calendar site-wide, or simply create a separate timetable for your affiliate communications. Consider the customer-facing promotions you will be running, e.g. Easter discounts, Mother’s Day, Cyber Monday, etc., and send out communications appropriately.
The reactivation of your affiliate program is also a good opportunity to reengage with your existing (and probably latent) affiliates by letting them know that you are back with fresh resources. Give them examples of what you have to offer and show them why they should consider re-committing to you.
Let potential partners hear about your revamped AP
All online lead sources now utilize social media, and you shouldn't deviate from this trend. Your social media channels—blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like—may become an entry point for new affiliate partners in the long run. There, you can invite followers to try, review, and share the love about your products while using affiliate tracking links, converting your followers into product ambassadors.
As a long-term strategy for recruiting affiliates, include your affiliate marketing program in your SEO keywords strategy and optimize your content accordingly, with key phrases like “product niche” and “affiliate program”.
FastSpring insights: Be creative and personal while talking about your affiliate program, and focus the message on how much your potential partners could earn by working with you.
Don’t forget about compliance
One of the major drawbacks of leaving your affiliate program running on autopilot, apart from not generating any substantial revenue, is that the affiliate traffic coming in may be driven by abusive marketing methods.
Some of the most common types of affiliate fraud include:
- Paid search policy violation by unpermitted trademark bidding
- Cookie stuffing by dropping cookies on users’ devices without them clicking on an affiliate link
- Adware like toolbars or browser extensions serving for ad injection, overwriting the real ads
One signal that something might be wrong with the affiliate referrals is an unusual conversion rate:
- Unusually high conversion rates of over 10%, particularly in the case of PPC abusers
- A very high number of clicks, even tens of thousands, in a very short period of time, leading to a very small conversion rate
Be sure to check whether a suspicious affiliate might be poaching your trademarks or using other unpermitted advertising methods to drive traffic. Fortunately, this is easy to do; check their websites, search for references about them on Google, and check for unsolicited paid search ads running on search engines.
For more information about detecting and stopping abuse by affiliates, check out these resources: