7 Questions to Ask before Starting an Affiliate Program
Grace loved creating custom WordPress themes for her clients. After a couple of her friends asked her to, she started releasing WordPress themes for sale. She enjoyed creating these projects but after six months, she only had a few sales.
So, Grace asked her business coach what to do. She explained that selling her own WordPress themes wasn’t that profitable and wondered if she should just give up. Grace’s business coach encouraged her to create an affiliate program for her themes.
Grace decided to give it a try. She set her affiliate program to work with her shopping cart then invited a few friends to help her promote her latest theme release. To her surprise, she made more in sales than a private client would typically pay her. After this success, Grace was hooked and decided to spend more time working with affiliates.
Like Grace, you can start an affiliate program for your business. But before you do that, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask…
Question #1: What Is an Affiliate Program?
If you’re not familiar with affiliate programs, they work like this: an affiliate promotes your product or service to their community using a special link. If someone clicks their link and makes a purchase, you pay the affiliate a percentage of the sale, known as a commission.
The great thing about having an affiliate program is you only pay affiliates for making you money. If they promote your product or service and no one makes a purchase, then you haven’t lost anything.
Question #2: What Are the Advantages of Having an Affiliate Program?
There are many benefits to creating an affiliate program. The first and most obvious benefit is more sales. Assuming you target the right affiliates, and they are ethical in their promotions, you’ll get seen by more potential customers than ever before.
It’s also good for search engine optimization. With an affiliate program, you can expect to see multiple backlinks from reputable sites pointing toward your product. This tells search engines like the big G that you’re a legitimate and trust-worthy product creator.
Another plus for having an affiliate program is that it saves you time spent marketing. Instead of dividing your marketing efforts, you can focus on the channels of promotion that work best for you and let your affiliates focus on the other channels.
Finally, you maintain control of your costs. If an advertising campaign isn’t set up correctly, you can quickly get charged hundreds of dollars for a few clicks. But with affiliate marketing, you only owe affiliates who are making you money.
Question #3: How Do I Start an Affiliate Program?
There’s no right way to start an affiliate program. If you already have a shopping cart, it will be easiest and most efficient to use the affiliate option that integrates with the software you’re already running.
Question #4: What Do I Need to Know before Launching an Affiliate Program?
When you’re starting an affiliate program, it can be helpful to come up with a few general guidelines to make sure everything is clear for your affiliates.
First, you’ll want to determine your commission rate. Many affiliates expect to see a 30-50% commission on most digital products. With high-priced services such as coaching, you might offer a commission of 10-15%.
In addition to setting your affiliate rate, you also need to determine when you’ll pay your affiliates. At the minimum, you should offer monthly payouts. But many affiliates prefer a weekly schedule.
On your affiliates page, state when affiliates can be expected to be paid for your sales such as “Pays weekly on Fridays for previous week’s sales”. This lets your affiliates know when they’ll get paid.
Question #5: What Makes Affiliates Want to Promote a Product or Service?
The first and most obvious reason that affiliates will want to promote your product or service is because they believe it will benefit their community while earning them commissions.
This means that your first priority should be making sure that your product is high quality. Only publish products that will serve your customers and help them reach their goals.
If your affiliate program is new and your affiliates don’t have any experience with you, offer them a review copy of your latest product. When you do this, your affiliates can see your product for themselves and decide how they want to promote it. They’ll feel more confident in sharing their links with their community since they know from first-hand experience that what you’re selling is valuable.
Affiliates also enjoy promoting your products or services when you offer a discount or coupon code to their subscribers. That’s because the urgency of getting a good deal and saving money can be very appealing to new customers.
Many product creators will set up a coupon code around launch time. They share this coupon code with their affiliates who pass it on to their email list subscribers or Facebook group members.
Question #6: How Do I Know If Someone Is a Good Affiliate?
Affiliates who are unethical or spammy can seriously damage your brand and reputation. The result is that months or years spent building your business can all go down the drain thanks to a few unscrupulous affiliates.
The best way to ensure you get good affiliates is to carefully vet each new affiliate who signs up for your affiliate program. Create a form and request that new affiliates fill it out. On the form, ask affiliates to list their website, social media profiles, and their plans for promotional efforts.
Once you have this information, do your research. Look at their website and social media profiles. Do they regularly promote products or services that make big promises and fail to deliver? Are they aligned with products that are big sellers but known to be duds?
Pay attention to who their friends and followers are as well. Birds of a feather do tend to flock together, and this is especially true in the online business world. Look to see if your new affiliate associates with ethical marketers and honest business owners.
After some research, you can make an informed decision about whether you’ll approve or deny their application. Don’t be afraid to deny the application of someone that isn’t a good fit for your program!
Question #7: How Is Affiliate Marketing Different from Other Forms of Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is different because it is primarily relationship-based. Affiliates promote you to earn a commission, yes. But they may also promote your latest product simply because they like what you’re doing and believe in your work.
This means that nurturing your relationship with your affiliates is important. You can do this by staying in regular contact with your affiliates, notifying them of your upcoming sales, and promoting their business in return (if it’s a good match for your community).
Starting your own affiliate marketing program can be easy and fun. In fact, it can be a wonderful way to boost your sales, get backlinks, build relationships with affiliates, and grow your brand in exciting, new ways!