Today, a classic case of answering a question with a question (I know, everyone’s favorite from the school days of yesteryear). But don’t worry, I’ll be presenting you with more than just a question – this is the month of real life examples after all!
For today’s #RealLife post, I’m addressing a common question / concern that many Merchants have:
So how exactly do you go about making a program “Affiliate friendly”? Grab the pen and paper my friend, I have 10 easy steps for you below!
1. Search Keywords:
First Affiliates have to be able to find you! One of the most common ways Affiliates will search for new programs is by using the search by keyword method in their interface. Results are matched up against several factors including the keywords that a Merchant lists in their program. Be sure to utilize all 255 available characters. You can find tips on building your keyword list HERE and HERE.
2. Competitive Payout:
According to the 2012 Affiliate Summit AffStat Report, the #1 factor that sways an Affiliate’s decision to promote a particular program is commission. Do the research to see what the going rate is for commission in your particular niche by looking at what similar sites in your vertical are offering. This will help provide you with a benchmark for what a competitive commission would be for your program. When considering what your commission should be, remember to also leave some room in your marketing budget for Affiliate incentives or promotions.
3. Auto Deposit:
Auto Deposit is a system by which Merchants are able to make automated deposits to their account. This is an extra measure Merchants can take to ensure that their account is always funded. Having the account funded means there is money available to pay Affiliate commissions: +1 friendly point. When an account has a zero balance, it is taken offline at which point Affiliate links break. So for Affiliates, seeing Auto Deposit turned on gives them an added insurance that the links they place on their site will remain functional. This is also the reason “Merchants with Auto Deposit On” is a popular filter used by Affiliates when searching for new programs to join.
4. Solid Uptime History:
As mentioned in #3, Affiliates want to know that a program is going to remain online and have adequate funds to cover commissions owed. One way they can check on this is by reviewing a Merchant’s Uptime History report. This is a report will give the Affiliate a time stamp history of when a program was:
Affiliates will be less likely to join a program that has a tendency to go offline as this disables the links on their site and leaves their visitors with a disrupted experience.
Merchants can ensure they have a clean Uptime History report by:
5. Clearly Defined Terms & Restrictions:
Merchant should always let prospective Affiliates know up front what the rules of a partnership would be. Clearly spell out if there are any restrictions on things like coupon use, trademark bidding, paid search, email or social media marketing, etc. If Affiliates know what the guidelines are ahead of time, it will give them a much better picture of, not only marketing potential, but also sets the Merchant’s expectations right out of the gates. Merchants are able to layout program guidelines in the: Program Agreement – Where the Merchant can list any program restrictions.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
6. Wide Selection of Tools & Creatives:
Be sure to include the tools that prospective Affiliates would need to use in order to successfully market the program. Looking to work with product focused Affiliates? Be sure to have a datafeed uploaded. Looking for more exposure on coupon sites? Utilize the Coupon & Deals Database. You see the trend here. The more tools a Merchant offers in their “marketing toolbox” the more likely the program will attract a more diverse group of Affiliates. See the “My Creatives” menu tab in the Merchant interface to view the available list of creative options.
7. Low Reversal Percentage:
Voided sales are part of the business world and Affiliates do understand that. So it is not unexpected to see that a program may have some percentage of reversed sales. However, when an Affiliate is looking at a Merchant’s reversal rate trend for the past 45 days, they may be hesitant to join a program that has an unusually high percentage of reversed sales – perhaps higher than what is standard for that particular product niche. It’s important to remember that reversals are representative of the day the transaction was voided in the ShareASale interface. So if a website receives a high volume of voids it might be worth considering reconciling these transactions as they come in, rather than processed in one large batch. P.S. Merchants are able to set up an API report to handle transaction edits which would assist with automating this process.
8. Compelling Program Bio:
The program bio, or program description, is the Merchant’s opportunity to sell a prospective Affiliate on why they should join a program. Merchants will want to include the following:
9. Engaging Program Management & Communication:
One of the best ways to interact with Affiliates is through regular communication. Since Affiliates may be receiving hundreds of emails daily, be sure that all communications are meaningful and packed with information that can be easily put to use. When viewing potential programs, an Affiliate may review various communication channels to gauge how engaging a program is including:
10. Solid Program Reputation:
Be sure to keep an eye on and be swift to respond to any program issues or feedback as it comes up. Remain friendly, fair, professional, and above all, honest. Consider setting up alerts for the website name + affiliate program so you know when a topic may come up on the internet. And lastly, get involved with the industry – there are numerous industry blogs and conferences out there. Face to face networking is a great way to build a strong relationship and positive reputation with Affiliates.