9 things to check in your affiliate program to get "unstuck".

I'm stuck with my affiliate program, what do I do?
What do I do if I don’t know what to do with my affiliate program?

It’s early in the day on any given Monday and you grab a cup of coffee, sit down at your station and you start to go through emails.  But there isn’t much there.  You listen to voicemails, still nothing.  You look at your task list, nothing.  Your program has been running well for over a year and you have no new information to send to your affiliate partners.  Your coffee cup drops heavily to your desk and the realization hits you – you have no idea what to do this week to grow your affiliate program.  Egads!  The horror!  Stop the presses and call your momma!  What are you going to do?

Believe it or not, after 15 years in this industry, I’ve managed over 100 programs from Zappos to Funsational, from Hilton to OfficeFrog and everything in between, and I still have this happen to me every few months.  So what do you do when seemingly everything is done and you just don’t know what to do?  Follow these steps and I think you’ll find some inspiration and a clear path to take.

Get up.  Go outside.  Walk.  Sounds simple, but seriously.  Don’t just sit there and flounder around.  Get up and walk outside.  I don’t care if it’s -20 out there.  Change your perspective and even do some people watching.  Don’t spend all day, but get some fresh air, listen to some music for 15 minutes or so and then get back to work.

Spend a half hour reading e-commerce blogs and news, but not affiliate stuff.  Check out any e-commerce resources and find a few articles to read about, heck go beyond e-commerce and read about something cool like 3d Printing or Bitcoin.  Expose your brain to some cutting edge somethings.

Spend a half hour reading about affiliate stuff.  Check out our Affiliate Resource Center for a start.

Create some goals.  Now that you’ve spent a few hours outside of your little world, look back at your piece of the pie.  Where do you personally want to be in 12 months.  What is the biggest thing your channel needs to improve on in the next 12 months.  Create SMART goals for you, your program and individual affiliates.  WRITE THEM DOWN AND HANG THEM UP AT YOUR DESK.  Now, how are you going to achieve each one of them?  What are the key performance indicators you’ll be watching to see how you do?  WRITE THOSE DOWN TOO!

Review your direct supervisor’s hot points.  Each manager has a few things that they are constantly looking at or driving their teams to achieve.  What are your boss’ and how are you and the channel measuring up?

Analyze your program.  Now, you have goals and kpi’s.  Now, dive deep into the program and find out these things:

  • Who performed this year worse than last year?
  • How has the AOV fluctuated each month over the last year?  Is this normal?
  • What are the top selling products each month for the last year?
  • What affiliates used to sell your products but now have fallen off the map?
  • Who has the worse conversion rate?  Why?
  • Who has the best conversion rate?  Why?
  • Who is new to your program and generating sales?  When have you spoken to them?
  • What performing affiliates are in your program that you have never actually spoken to?  Call them.
  • Is there a day of the week that you sell more?
  • What is the distribution of clicks/sales among affiliate types?

That should get you started….

Develop a profile of your ideal affiliate.  Develop several profiles of several ideal affiliates.  Outline what type of content they are publishing, what problem they are solving for your ideal user and other characteristics.  Put that on paper, you’ll need it again and again.

Reconstruct your consumers’ potential path to purchase.  From their intent to purchase something, to finding your site – where do your potential customers go?  What sites do they touch?  Put yourself in the seat of every segment of users your sell to and walk through the net with them, taking note of every stop along the way.  Those stops could be your next big partner.

Call 5 affiliates just to say hi and ask these 5 questions.  Shouldn’t you be doing this all the time?  Yes, yes you should.  But call 5 affiliates and ask them:

  1. What’s new?
  2. Got any plans for (AffiliateSummit, Summer, Spring, Christmas, Spring Break, Travel for the year, Superbowl etc).
  3. Have you figured out how to deal with the new FTC guidelines (or insert the latest news, nexus announcement or regulations).
  4. What opportunities are available for my company this year?
  5. How could I better serve you?

Now that you have gone through these steps – what do you do?  I bet this got your brain going and you have a list of things to do.  Don’t stop now.  Grab a notebook, find a quite place where you can map and plan and get to it.  Still stuck, email me and I’ll help – jamie AT jebcommerce.com.


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