by Jesse Hoffmann
Many companies considering an affiliate program as part of their promotional efforts are under the impression it provides an instantaneous solution to free traffic. In time this becomes true, but affiliate programs will not start themselves and they require attentive management and maintenance to ensure profitability.
To be successful an affiliate program must gain traction, meaning it must be given a running start through time and effort. Without a successful launch, an affiliate program becomes a long term cumulative promotional effort. With a successful launch, a program can be expected to grow substantially faster, producing worthwhile results in months rather than years. This requires an initial investment of time or money with the realization that over time the program will pay for itself and eventually grow to the point of supporting its own cost and producing sizable profit margins.
The affiliate program industry is incredibly competitive, and novice marketers will have a difficult time promoting their own program without access to knowledge that is not directly available, or is scattered among many sources. To acquire this knowledge takes years of experience as well as connections with major players to ensure promotional efforts can be implemented smoothly. Because of this, it may be advisable for companies to hire someone with extensive experience, or to outsource their affiliate program promotion and management to a firm that specializes in starting, growing and managing affiliate programs.
There are several steps to creating a successful affiliate program.
- First, a merchant must acquire affiliate software that is easy to use and functional. The software is the foundation upon which the entire program is based and must suit the needs of the merchant.
- Second, the merchant must promote the affiliate program so as to acquire as many affiliates as possible to gain traction.
- Third, the affiliates must be managed, which includes getting them to place their links, working with them to implement offers, answering their questions, handling payments, and being attentive to their needs to prevent attrition and to maximize results.
Essentially, an affiliate program with potential for serious growth requires full time attention. It is not a free and instantaneous answer to acquiring more traffic. There are many companies who handle various aspects of affiliate program implementation, but few who offer a comprehensive solution. One such company is AffiliateTraction. As Greg Shepard, the CEO of AffiliateTraction explains, "There are major benefits to outsourcing to one company for all affiliate program needs. We know our software inside out, and we have also worked with all of the major affiliate program applications that are available. Our promotional efforts have been developed over the last 10 years. We learned through experience so our clients don't have to. Also, our affiliate managers have been working with experienced affiliates for most of their professional careers. They know exactly how to make them happy and productive. Having every aspect of affiliate program startup, management and promotion in-house allows fluent communication and implementation. As many website owners know, working remotely on technical and service related issues can be a headache, and can cost a fortune in time communicating, negotiating and implementing solutions that involve several third party vendors. All of our services are well established and implemented by experienced in-house employees who are highly specialized in their positions."
By reviewing AffiliateTraction's services merchants can easily see the complexity that is involved in an all-out effort to start and grow an affiliate program. Besides offering proprietary TrackAssure tracking software, AffiliateTraction offers both management and promotion services that are available separately or as part of one package that includes software.
Affiliate program management involves the following:
- Affiliate technical support
- Affiliate payments
- Motivational emails
- Traffic and sales reports
- Expert advice
- Fraud & spam control
- Brand protection
- Attrition control
- Intra-program super affiliate scouting
- Affiliate qualification.
Affiliate program promotion may involve the following:
- Announcements to leading affiliate directories
- Press release announcing the program
- Insertion into major affiliate networks
- Forum & blog promotion
- Search engine promotion
- Email promotion
- Display advertising
It is easy to see upon review of these services that starting, managing and promoting an affiliate program is anything but straightforward. It is advisable for merchants to seek out the solution that best fits their own needs and expectations. If expectations include growing a program quickly and with as little hang ups as possible, then an outsourced provider is clearly the answer.
- By Jesse Hoffmann
Jesse Hoffmann works in affiliate program promotion for AffiliateTraction. He can be reached at jhoffmann@AffiliateTraction.com.
Back to Article Index
Back to top