By Chantelle Schmidlin on 2006/07/12
I spend a lot of time reading cleverly written articles by Affiliate marketing experts covering topics like "what is an affiliate program", "how to go about marketing your business through affiliates", "how to go about choosing an affiliate network", "getting more out of your affiliate program" and many many more along these lines. I have, however read very few articles on developing good affiliate relationships and really knowing who your affiliates are. Is this an important aspect of a successful affiliate program? YES! Without good affiliates, no affiliate program can be truly great!
Developing Your Existing Affiliates First
So, how to develop those relationships, I hear you ask? Simple. Let's start with the affiliates you already have, even if they generate measly amounts of traffic or sales. These are people who have already expressed an interest in wanting to sell your product on your behalf, but their plans to promote you have not necessarily worked, or they have placed a banner or a link in a position that is not optimal on their sites or worse yet, they have implemented the tracking codes incorrectly. Your task is to get these affiliates generating big(ger) sales!
Draw up a list of who they are, excluding the top 20% of registered affiliates you have. This top 20% are your Super Affiliates. Incentivise them, get their feedback, and have your Affiliate Relationship Manager visit their sites every month. Most importantly, speak to them!
With the rest of the list, get into contact with every one of them, get to know them. Often all that is required is a human voice to guide them through the basics of the program. Host an Affiliate Conference to train your affiliates on your system and how it works. Treat them to a day of lunch, fun interactive workshops and allow them to give you suggestions, ask questions and really get involved. The best feedback you could ever hope for is the feedback you will get from your affiliates. Chances are they are affiliates with other companies too, and they will know a lot about how it works.
The Value of Tracking
Pay special attention to affiliate sites that generate a lot of clicks but no sales. Start by offering specific tips on which links are performing best. Propose new placements on the site for your links. Check the tracking. Do some research into the demographic of the affiliate site, and see if it matches the type of user you know is successful on your site. For example, chances are that a 30 year old, mid-income group woman may be interested in (so she clicks) but unable to purchase a Ferrari, for example (high clicks, low sales). The success of your program and the relationship you have with your affiliates is dependent on finding the right match!
The Benefits of Relationship Building
What you hope to achieve by doing all this, combined with regular contact with your affiliates, are good solid affiliate relationships. Affiliate marketing is all about these relationships and they can only develop if you take the time to understand who your affiliates are. You'll find that this time spent will pay off in the way of happy relationships and, therefore, business success.
Remember, size doesn't necessarily matter when it comes to affiliate marketing. You don't have to have a huge database of mediocre affiliates. Rather, concentrate on getting to know the affiliates you have by keeping the numbers down and on building those relationships first! Less is sometimes More!