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Getting the Most from your Affiliate Programme

in Affiliate Marketing

“Merchants are taking the channel more seriously and they are becoming more educated as they recruit from specialist agencies and networks, and even affiliates,” Louise Green, MD, OMG Network.

Once you’ve launched an affiliate marketing programme don’t just sit back, relax and expect your affiliates to do all the work. Affiliates tend to have short memories and plenty of other options so getting the most from your affiliate programme takes effort.

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Follow the best practices below for maintaining a successful affiliate programme:

Pay for purchases
If possible make payouts for each sale or unique registration instead of based on the number of visitors referred to your site. This prevents you suffering from click fraud, either from your affiliates or competitors.

Be responsive
Respond to queries from affiliates as soon as possible, certainly within 24 hours. This lets them know that you care about them.

Provide training and support
Affiliates who feel abandoned will quickly stop promoting your site. Give guidance on how best to position your products and services, along with any other ideas such as possible good editorial content into which your affiliate links can be inserted. However, don’t allow affiliates to publish any content that you currently display on your website – Google will notice this duplicate content and it’s likely severely harm your search engine optimisation efforts.

Keep graphics fresh
Bring out a new set of banners and buttons from time to time. Also, allow affiliates to create their own graphics to promote your site, based around the image that you are trying to portray. Never include your website name on the banners as this makes affiliates uneasy by introducing the possibility of customers not following the affiliate links.

Never reduce the commission level
Affiliates don’t take kindly to a merchant reducing the commission level. Special introductory offers for a limited time are ok, but ensure that it is clear that this is a limited-time offer.

Pay as much as you can afford
Affiliates are interested in how much they can earn so the more you offer the more affiliates you will recruit and the more your site will be promoted. Remember that if you have quality products many customers will go on to become repeat customers, so making a profit on the first sale isn’t always necessary.

Reward your more important affiliates (80/20 rule)
This is the old 80/20 rule, although in the case of affiliate programmes over 90% of the sales or referrals will be made by less than 10% of your affiliates. Offer a higher payout for sales after a certain point has been reached.

A thankyou goes a long way
The personal touch can be very important and yet it doesn’t have to cost much. A gift around Christmas time will show your important affiliates how much you appreciate them.

Minimum payout level
If you’re running an in-house affiliate programme don’t set your minimum payout level too high. Setting a level of £100 will scare of many smaller affiliates who may feel that they’ll have to wait too long before receiving a cheque.

Ask your affiliates what they want
It sounds simple but very few merchants do it. Changes to aspects such as linking types, return days, and commission structure may make your affiliates feel more comfortable. Find out what they want and try to act on the feedback you receive.

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