Three Things to Do Before You Set Up an Affiliate Program
An affiliate program is an effective way to get the word out about your product with very little financial investment. In many cases, the banner ads and buttons you set up for affiliates can take the place of any paid ad campaigns that you might be considering.
Bloggers are often happy to promote your products if they know they can earn a small commission. On your part, you can be assured that only the most effective promoters are being paid. No more ad space money down the drain due to ad blindness. Skilled affiliates will know how to integrate text links and banners into their content for maximum exposure, so your work is minimal. Once you set up your affiliate software, it is fairly easy to manage long-term.
In working with clients to establish brand new affiliate programs, I’ve learned a few things along the way that help make the process smoother and also make sure you get the most benefit from the investment.
1. Get Your Social Media Ducks in a Row
Before you enlist the help of bloggers, you need to set up accounts with optimized profiles on social media platforms. Here is a checklist.
- Twitter account
- Facebook page (with vanity URL)
- Google+ page
- Pinterest account
- links to all these social media accounts on your company website
Why do these things matter? If you are visible on the major social media platforms, the blogger affiliates will mention you there and tag you so that you are notified.
That has two big perks. Potential customers may begin following you because of those mentions. And secondly, when you are mentioned, you will see who is talking about you and what they are saying. You then know which affiliates are making the most noise on your behalf and can encourage and thank them.
Another reason to have all this lined up is because of giveaways. Many bloggers use widgets such as Giveaway Tools or Rafflecopter to manage their giveaways. Besides the required comment for entry, they can set up extra entries for additional actions such as following on Twitter, liking on Facebook, signing up for a newsletter, etc. You are getting more exposure on different social media platforms with no extra work on your part. Once those platforms are set up, your affiliates will know what to do.
Don’t attempt to start an affiliate program without first setting up all your social media accounts. This is social media 101. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 until you have these ready.
2. Make Graphics for Your Affiliates
Make being an affiliate as easy as it can be by creating a variety of beautiful ads and banners in a different sizes. If affiliates sign up and there are no banners to use, they may be disappointed and forget to return once you have uploaded them. Trying to play catch up in the middle of an affiliate launch is not fun.
Although a 250 or 125 pixel square may be common, there are dozens of potential graphics shapes and sizes. Avoid garish color combinations and font that is too small to read.
3. Prepare to Be Generous
As you launch your affiliate program, especially if your product is relatively unknown, you should be willing to give affiliates free samples of your products. Yes, free samples!
You have an outstanding product, right? It’s so outstanding that once that blogger gets it into her hands, she won’t be able to resist sharing it with other on her blog. So get it into her hands. Don’t expect to recruit affiliates to a brand new program without being willing to share free products.
Generosity is a must for marketing. Stingy marketing doesn’t work.
Be as generous as you can with your commission percentage. A 10% commission is paltry on low-priced items. Go for at least 20%. Even better is 30%. If your product is digital, you can probably offer a 40-50% commission and still make plenty of money. You are not losing money to pay affiliates. You are making sales that you would not have otherwise made.
Besides free samples, offer your favorite affiliates more freebies as giveaways for their readers. Free products, services, or gift certificates are all options. But have a plan before you begin.
- What will you offer? How many?
- Who will you offer it to? What criteria will you use in choosing?
- How will you inform the affiliate?
- How will the prize be awarded?
When choosing to be generous, don’t worry over people who might take advantage of you. Yes, there will be a small minority of people who say yes to receiving free products and then never promote you. Some people are unreliable and others encounter traumatic events that put blogging on the back burner of life. Yes, there will be some people who write about your product and them promptly re-sell it to make a buck. Getting upset about a few misuses of your promotion program is not worth the stress you are creating for yourself. Let it go. Be generous. Trust that generosity wins in the long-run.
Social media is a multi-faceted animal, and every element works together to provide exponential results. Your affiliate program is just one part of your entire marketing plan. Using it strategically with these three pre-requisites in mind will generate the maximum benefit for your bottom line.