Anyone within the Performance Marketing industry has their own perceptions of best practice and the ‘dos and don’ts of an affiliate program’. Here are some key areas which I believe should be considered when running an affiliate campaign.
Have a strategy in place
Whether your involvement in an affiliate program is long, medium or short term you should always have a strategy in place. A strategy ensures that you have objectives, milestones and goals to work towards and helps to maintain a structure for your day-to-day work on the account. It should also help you to build out targets to work towards and is an extremely useful way to reflect back and review the work you have previously carried out on the program.
Plan your budgets and spend
You should calculate your budgets and/or spend ahead of launching an affiliate campaign. Doing this helps to ensure that you have enough budget to schedule promotions, cover peak periods and most importantly, be able to pay affiliates. If budgets have the tendency to run-out rapidly they need to be monitored regularly. Using a daily budget tracker is definitely recommended for larger accounts.
Attend industry events
In many ways, attending affiliate marketing events is just as important as strategy and budget planning. Attending industry events such as Performance Marketing Insights, gives you access to fantastic networking opportunities. Whether you’re brand, agency, network or affiliate side; event attendance helps to raise your own industry profile, makes people aware of your company, allows you to schedule promotions and exposure more easily and also grows your industry knowledge.
Setting up face-to-face meetings is crucial in any industry; however when it comes to running an affiliate program, face to face meetings really are essential. Face-to-face meetings allow you to build relationships, brainstorm and discuss new initiatives and ideas. Setting up meetings ties in well with the previous point around attending industry events. It’s also important to have a solid admin procedure in place so that you can swiftly follow up on any action points from your meetings. If you plan well in advance by setting up meetings at industry events, you get the best of both worlds.
Forget about your affiliates
Your relationships with affiliates are the most important relationships to maintain when running an affiliate program. These are the people who you will rely on to drive sales and revenue for your campaign and they should not be forgotten about. Take the time to process validations, approvals and send out regular communications to affiliates. This will help to maintain a positive relationship between them and you, and the brand you’re working to promote.
Promotions, meetings and strategies all take time to plan and execute. Don’t underestimate the time that you need to do all of the above. Set aside a realistic amount of time to manage your account and the responsibilities which come with it. Where possible, always remember to give yourself a time buffer to be able to cope with ad hoc requests. If you underestimate timings, you risk not being able to deliver what’s required from you in order to have a successful campaign.
Disregard affiliate terms and conditions
T&Cs are put in place on a program for the benefit of a brand and its affiliates. As an account manager, you should ensure that the affiliate terms and conditions are adhered to by affiliates at all times in order to protect your campaign. Affiliate terms and conditions also help to ensure that affiliates are promoting your program appropriately by setting out clear guidelines for them to follow. In addition to this it also helps to reassure affiliates that you will adhere to agreements which apply to you, i.e. giving affiliates agreed notice to changes to a program.
Following the above dos and don’ts should help you to carry out best practice for your affiliate program. These are points which any affiliate manager should consider and should remain at the front of mind when managing an affiliate campaign.