As an affiliate manager one of my KPIs is month over month growth. Clients and I don’t ever want a stagnant affiliate program. While seasonal upticks in sales are expected, such as Black Friday and all that comes with the holidays, month over month growth can be more challenging during the ‘slow times.’. This post explains how I continue to grow a program by upwards of 30% each month. While not all my clients experience this same level of growth, the steps listed below generate growth, nonetheless. This method applies to my clients’ whose programs I have been running for 5 years and more. My secret sauce? Focus on the little guys. Yes, those affiliates who are commonly referred to as hobby affiliates.
It’s Not Easy
Let me clarify something right out of the gate. My strategy is not easy. It gets easier as you are more comfortable with the implementation. However, this post is far from a quick fix. Instead it is a long-term strategy that requires daily dedication with a healthy dose of patience. Are you ready to read on my brave affiliate manager?
The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule in affiliate marketing is that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your affiliates. We all have those “super affiliates” in our programs. The affiliates that hit it out of the park every month with custom promotions, bonus structures and typically a stream of organic traffic. I have never been entirely comfortable with this dependency on my top affiliates. My mind always races to “what happens if one of them leaves me.” This has happened so it isn’t completely irrational. I have lost my top affiliates to my brand’s wholesale department, to a new algorithm update on Google or a life changing event for the affiliate. And while Brene Brown may get on me about this, I hate feeling vulnerable. I realized that I needed to ramp up that 80%. Those affiliates who provide smaller revenue but as a group in large numbers could make an impact.
Due to time constraints, I can’t reach out to my 80% affiliates individually like I do my top 20%. I had to find a way to automate the engagement while keeping it personal and focused on developing real relationships. Look at that “had to” again. It was not an easy task. Lucky for you, I felt compelled to share my steps so you can learn from my pitfalls and successes. Below are the tools I use to bring my 80% affiliates combined revenue up to increases the program’s overall revenue.
Affiliate Resource Center
At the core of my strategy is the affiliate resource center. My affiliate resources contain all the assets and knowledge a hobby affiliate needs to write a converting post. When working with smaller affiliates, keep in mind that these affiliates typically work outside of traditional business hours due to full time jobs outside of the industry. They also have the more questions. The goal of the affiliate resource center is to give these affiliates everything they need to finish their post or marketing promotions. The last thing I want is to lose that small window of opportunity for post creation because the affiliate has a question and is waiting for my response. Below are the components of my affiliate resource centers.
Many affiliate managers, myself included, have been in our favorite affiliate networks for so long the user interface seems intuitive. However, to someone one new in the industry (or the network), the interface can be incredibly daunting. This is especially true if this affiliate is new to affiliate marketing. My Technical Support section includes How To videos and posts for everything from How To Create a Link to How To Add a Banner In WordPress to running reports. I even have a video on how to fill out the affiliate application.
You don’t want affiliates to run down the blackhole known as Google and YouTube looking for tutorials. Instead create custom content for your brand that walks them through each step. Be as detailed as possible.
Affiliate Marketing Tips
Build it and they will come lost its effectiveness many years ago. While us older timers can reminisce about the good old days gone by of easy SEO, we need to ensure our affiliates understand what it takes to run a successful campaign. As a manager, we are in the trenches daily. We are aware of what works and what doesn’t. Share that knowledge. Below are some examples of my affiliate marketing tips.
· How to create a converting blog post
· How to maximize Facebook
· How to create YouTube videos that optimize and convert
· How to get people to click on your affiliate link in Instagram
Campaign Asset Pages
Campaign Asset Pages are my pride and joy. Maybe it is a little pathetic but I love creating these pages. They are at the center of all my promotions. My campaign asset pages are used by my newbies and top performers alike. They provided everything an affiliate needs to create a converting affiliate campaign. Here is the list of components for these pages.
· Promotional and/or Product Details
· Topic Ideas
· Top Selling Points Brand and Product Specific
· Educational Research and Studies
· Social media sizes images both with and without text
· Compliance reminders
Compliance is my least sexy section but vital to a healthy program. Your new affiliate has probably never given the Federal Trade Commission a second thought let alone our favorite European compliance addition, GDPR. As affiliate managers, we are responsible for compliance education and monitoring. Make it easy for affiliates to be compliant with easy to understand tips and examples. Include, remind and call to attention the importance of compliance both legally and as a way to remain an active affiliate. It may be in the forefront of our minds, but it is rarely on the radar of a new affiliate’s mind.
Feeling a little overwhelmed with this task?
When I first presented to my peers at Affiliate Management Days, I saw eyes light up with excitement. However, one of my peers confessed the following year that while he had the best intentions, he simply didn’t have the time to create the resource center. You probably know where this is going. He asked me to create the affiliate resource center for him. I offer this service to merchants who are not in direct competition with my existing client base. If this is something you are interested in, please email me at srobbins [at] robbinsinteractive.com. I would be happy to discuss with further with you.
Got it done?
Did you dive in and create your resource center? Or maybe you already have one. Congratulations! You are half way there! Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging. Instead of writing a small book as a post, I will post a Part 2 on how to get your affiliates to engage with your new tool.