Running a Good Affiliate Program | Software & More
What Your Affiliate Partners Need to Succeed
You’ve got it all put together. You’ve got a welcome email typed up, you’ve got affiliate program software all signed up and ready to go, and you’ve started contacting a few key customers who’ve expressed an interest in representing your product as an affiliate.
What else do you need?
As it turns out, a lot.
Running a good affiliate program is much like running a good business. In a business, you put your customers first. But here’s the rub: in an affiliate program, you have to put your affiliates first.
If this is your first affiliate program, then giving your affiliate partners everything they need to succeed can be confusing and a little daunting. After all, you’re no affiliate marketing expert—you’re not sure what tools your affiliates will need.
Have no fear. By the end of this brief guide, you’ll know exactly how to treat your affiliates with respect while giving them the affiliate program they’ve been waiting for.
The Affiliate Dashboard – The “Home Page” of Affiliate Success
As you already know from selling your product: it’s all about getting people in through the front door.
The affiliate dashboard is the “front door” of your affiliate program. It has all of the links, tools, and information your affiliates will need in order to promote your product and get their campaigns off the ground.
But there’s just one problem: you have no idea what to do to make your dashboard better.
Luckily, we’ve put together an entire “Doc” on customizing your affiliate home page. And if that’s too much to read, we can summarize some of the key points in the form of helpful tips:
- Use the full palette of customization! You can change the colors, the custom headers—all sorts of things. If you want to have any sort of brand identity whatsoever, you’ll want to actually use these. Your affiliates will appreciate a dashboard that looks, well, dashing. And you can enhance navigation and branding by making sure everything looks good and looks right.
- Manage what your affiliate will see. One of the LeadDyno dashboard customization options allows you to toggle just how much your affiliates will get to see. Generally, you’ll want to empower your affiliates by giving them access to the statistics and tools they need to get the job done.
- Fill in the appropriate information. Your dashboard screen should be a little like an FAQ page. After all, you don’t want to keep answering your affiliate partners’ same questions over and over. So insert a Compensation Description and make full use of all the descriptions you can fill in—that will give your affiliates all of the information they need and ensure they aren’t scrolling around your site looking for answers. Another option is to use the Website Introduction Content editor for filling in this information. Don’t be afraid to be repetitive—you’ll find that people have trouble finding the information anyway.
- Custom CSS is also an option if you’re generally good at designing web pages and want to take full control over the web page code that makes up your dashboard. This really allows you to flex your webmaster muscles and provide your affiliates with a unique dashboard experience they won’t get anywhere else.
Once you’ve explored all of the options available to you in editing your affiliate dashboard, you’ll begin to develop an attitude of seeing things from the affiliate’s point of view. That’s going to be very important in providing your affiliates what they need to succeed.
The Ins and Outs of “Affiliate Management”
What if you’re a first-time affiliate program chief and you’re working with some seasoned affiliates?
The truth is, a phrase like “affiliate management” is not as complicated as it might seem. You can take a gander at our affiliate management doc to learn all you’ll need to do to help an affiliate get set up with your program, of course. But there are some easy points to focus on if you want to become an excellent manager of affiliates:
- Payment terms. Perhaps the most pertinent information to affiliates is: “show me the money.” They simply want to know what your payment terms are. How are you going to pay them? How often are you going to pay them? And what is the commission that you’re going to pay them? As stated in the previous section, you should look to answer these questions in the dashboard so that you don’t have affiliates constantly emailing you and asking for answers. So define these payment terms early, be clear about them, and your affiliates will—well, they won’t thank you for it, but they will stop pestering you.
- Access to marketing campaign statistics. After payment terms, an affiliate needs to know how their actual campaigns are performing. Are the links that they’re promoting making any sales? If they don’t know, then they’re doing their job in the dark. You have to make sure that your affiliate dashboard easily allows access for each of your affiliates to check their own stats. Make sure that they know how to find the marketing tracking campaign tools as well.
- Give them some help when you can. One of the best ways to provide quick help is to create scripts that your affiliates can use with minimal effort. LeadDyno makes it easy to craft these basic scripts for email referrals and social media updates.
- Manage your automated emails. You can’t get in touch with every single affiliate every time they sign up, so LeadDyno gives you options for automated emails that allows you to set up a system of communication that runs whether or not you’re drinking margaritas in Cancun. You can create automatic “weekly status” emails, automatic “thanks for joining” emails that give them the information they need, and more. Utilize these and take time in creating them—the more information you give them up front, the less they’ll be asking you down the line.
And that’s about it! You’d be amazed at how taking action upfront in setting up a thorough, complete affiliate program will erase much of the guesswork in affiliate management later on.
E-Commerce Affiliate Management 101
This is affiliate marketing we’re talking about here, so knowing a thing or two about electronic commerce is essential.
LeadDyno integrates with many of the “big names” in electronic payment, from Paypal to Big Commerce, from Etsy to Shopify. This gives you plenty of options for making sales, and allows your affiliates to try out a lot of different strategies for converting users into customers.
But if we can offer one tip: you’ll want to integrate with a payment plan right away, off the bat, so that you’re ready to start making sales. We offer some “one-click” integrations with places like Shopify and WordPress/WooCommerce. These are so easy to set up that they only take seconds, maybe minutes to complete.
Of course, the matter of paying your affiliates is of utmost importance to them. They’ve done the work for you, and they want to get paid quickly and on time. To make sure that you’re ready to go in paying your affiliates, make sure to create a Compensation or Commission Plan. These affiliate commission plans are easy to set up—you simply enter and select the appropriate details, such as when the payments are made, and your affiliates will be able to sign up for these commissions easily.
From there, most of your payment and e-commerce management will be a matter of clicking around and making sure that your affiliates are paid for the appropriate amount of work. No fuss, no muss.
The Golden Rule of Affiliate Management
In life, the golden rule is that you should treat others the way that they would want to be treated. This certainly holds up in the case of affiliates. Giving them clear instructions and plans helps them understand exactly what they need to do to make money from your affiliate program. And treating them with respect will obviously help.
But if there is any one “golden rule” of affiliate management, it’s this: try to see things through the eyes of your affiliates. If they log into your dashboard, is everything laid out clearly? Do they have to go looking for answers? Try logging in to your own dashboard from a fresh set of eyes.
Taking on the perspective of an affiliate will help you create an affiliate program that encourages participation, not discourages. Go out of your way to give them access to all of the tools that LeadDyno provides. Write thorough welcome emails that give them links to follow to get started—don’t just say “hey!” The more work you put in to maintaining a good relationship with your affiliates, the more you’ll be rewarded with quality affiliates who help you make sales.