Now that you have decided that an affiliate program is right for you, what is involved in launching an affiliate program? I am glad you asked since there are several key things to consider. Our Senior Affiliate Manager, Kristin Wardwell, lays out 9 important things to keep in mind when launching a successful affiliate program in a previous post.

My goal today is to highlight a couple additional tips to help your launch go as smoothly as possible.

Why technology should help drive your network choice

Perhaps the most important decision when launching an affiliate network comes down to selecting the right network. As Kristin mentions in her post, there are several key things to consider, with tech being at the top of the list. I would also include two incredibly important tools: attribution and commission payout models when evaluating networks. Publishers pay close attention to commission modeling, so making sure you are rewarding publishers based on their contribution to the sale is essential in recruiting the right partners to your program.

You will need to look at the network fees, affiliate base, tools and technology available to determine the best fit for your company.

Another consideration is whether or not the network you are considering offers click-path reporting or insight into the customer journey from the first click to the completed sale. In addition to driving your commission strategy, do you want to offer payouts on the 1st and/or last touch? Insight into the click path can help identify any leaks to other digital channels or more importantly, publishers swooping in and stealing credit for sales they didn’t influence.

These are a just a few things to help guide which network is right for you.

Terms and Conditions can save you thousands of dollars

When building out your Terms and Conditions (T&C’s) I would encourage as much clarity as possible, especially as it relates to paid search and coupon code usage. The decision over whether or not to allow publishers to build on TM+ is a conversation for another post, but make sure your T&C’s clearly lay out your policy and any potential ramifications for violating your program’s paid search policies.

A clearly defined coupon code policy which states any consequences for orders placed using non-affiliate codes can potentially save you thousands of dollars each month in commission.

Network set up is the first impression for your publishers

Not all affiliate networks are created equal. Make sure you choose the right network for your program.

When publishers are searching for new affiliate programs to promote, your merchant description is often the first thing they look for. Most networks provide a place to enter your key selling points; commission payout, cookie duration, average order value, conversion rate, etc. Make sure to fill this section out with as much information as possible.

Most networks also offer automated emails for New Publishers accepted or declined to your program, as well as a Welcome Email. The more detail you provide in these emails the better. Make sure you are providing contact information for yourself or the agency managing your program so the publishers have someone to reach out to whether their application was approved or declined.

Once you have selected the correct network and have established your commission payouts, cookie duration, paid search rules, coupon code usage, etc. it is time to start recruiting publishers to your program.

You have to spend money to make money

I don’t know who said this, but it is true. Whether your brand is well known or you are looking for exposure through the affiliate channel, you should have a budget set aside to pay integration fees for some larger publishers and influencers who may require flat fees to work together. Going out of the gate with a big bang is often the goal, but keep in mind a brand-new program may take six months to begin to turn a profit.

The time of year you are launching your program also is important to consider. If you Q4 is your peak season, it may make sense to launch in Q2 to give publishers time to become familiar with your brand and test campaigns to see what resonates best with their audience. Also, nearly all publishers have a code freeze in December, which means Q4 is not an ideal time to launch a new program.

There are so many things to think about when launching an affiliate program, I hope this post has been helpful. If you are launching an affiliate program and you have questions or need to consider hiring an agency to help, please feel free to contact me directly at stephen@jebcommerce.com.

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