How many affiliates drove a sale for them last month?
So that you can compare their size and reach with others
How many affiliates are promoting merchants in your industry?
So that you can see their reach in your vertical
How much revenue did they drive for your entire industry last month?
To judge the level of bottom line success in your vertical. You should also look (if possible) at the % breakdown of the revenue by affiliate e.g. what % of revenue is made up by the top 5 affiliates? Is there a lot of long tail/small affiliate opportunity?
How many new affiliates did they recruit last month?
To judge how actively they are growing and how proactive they are.
How many new merchants did they recruit last month?
Ditto, linksexpert are they an arrogant and lazy network?
How many merchants from your industry are with them? (good to go with the bulk as there will be a good affiiate base ready to promote you if they are already promoting your competitors).
Who are the biggest 5 affiliates working with them?
Who are the biggest 5 affiliates with them for your industry?
How much commission will they charge on sales?
Can they run multiple commission rates?
Can they do lead generation on a fee per lead basis?
What does their management fee include? How much support and help can you expect from them with affiliate recruitment/reporting/problem shooting/industry updates?
What technology do they offer that is unique to them?
If you can get a fair bit of detail on all of these questions then you should be in a good position to approach the negotiating stage and play them off against each other. Obviously the amount of leverage you have and how far you can go will largely depend on the size of your business and what kind of revenue you will bring the affiliate networks. Make the networks excited about your marketing and growth plans. Explain your past performance and what your plans are for the next year – if they see you as an expanding and growing brand then they will stretch further to meet your needs.
By the time you have got to this stage you will have your preferences, go with the data, the best deal and your gut feel. If you like and get on with the people on a genuine level and trust that they will take your business seriously and will spend time promoting you then go with them, but only if the commercials and their business proposition stack up too. Getting visibility with the key affiliates for your market Once you have your account set up and you are ready to go the first thing to do is to put together a target list of affiliates that you want promoting you. Rank the affiliates on the list by potential and then work with the networks on getting the best real estate possible on the affiliates sites.
Get the affiliate network to give you a list of every affiliate who has driven a sale for any competitor of yours (that is in their network) within the past 6 months. Ask the affiliate network to rank the affiliates in order of revenue driven (obviously without the sensitive data) if they mess up and give you the sensitive data (unlikely) then all the better. Put together a promotional plan for the first 3 months and make sure that your offers blow the competition out of the water. Affiliates are businesses in their own right so are just interested in promoting the merchant who can earn them the most cash, so if you give them a better % commission and your conversion rate is as good as your competitors or better then you will quickly win them over. Check out the top affiliates EPC (earnings per click). You then need to work out how you can give them the opportunity to earn over this with you – basically calculate: (site conversion rate x (commission rate per sale X Average order size).
Ensure that the affiliate network have agreed to give you featured merchant status for the first month and that you are featured all over their website/blog/twitter/facebook etc and emails.
Email all of the other affiliates straight away introducing yourself as their support at your company, explain your proposition, affiliate program terms (commission rate etc) and explain that you have an unbeatable offer for the first month that is going to have sky high conversion rates.
Save some fat in the promotional spend plan for the top affiliates so that you can offer them something special for a great location on their site.
Once you have the top 10 on board and are recruiting the long tail through the email then get on the phone and work your way down the list getting more and more affiliates on board, there will be many that you cannot get hold of and/or who do not reply; do not be disheartened as this is normal, affiliates are busy people. Just try to think of good ways to grab their attention and leverage all contacts at the network to aid you in getting in contact with the affiliates.
Keep in close contact with the network – let them know that you will make them work for their commission, be thankful and complimentary when they are good but beware of them being more lazy after the initial flurry – you need to hold the pace for at least the first 3 months and then it should start to get easier as you have some secure relationships that do not need too much maintenance. This applies to both affiliates and the networks.
New affiliate promotions to get the affiliates promoting you instead of your competitors This is obviously a tricky one with no clear right/wrong way. There are a few rules that I would stick to though:
Keep things fairly simple – as mentioned above affiliates are busy so if you come up with a highly complex (however fun) promotional idea they may just switch off before you sell it in to them.
Keep things fresh – do not just dole out the same old promos every month to the affiliates, there will be no real incentive for them to keep promoting you and trying new things for you if they already know how it will perform on their site.
If possible base your promotions for the top affiliates around their site and what works well for them e.g. if you sell T-shirts and cushions and one site is flying on the cushions then give them special offers around cushions.
Use the data you have after each promo – see what works for who and try to understand their site use profile so that you can meet their needs.
Show your face at affiliate events, make friends in the industry, do people favours and just generally enjoy yourself as if people see you being fun and positive socially then it will impact the business relationship you have with them.
If anyone has anything that they think could be added to this post then just let me know and I will add it in. All the best with your affiliate marketing!
Joel Chudleigh is Director of Deep Foot Prints Online Marketing Ltd which is a UK based Online Marketing Consultancy which focuses on helping small and medium sized businesses to excel in the online space. I focus on affiliate marketing so am keen to share my experiences in this space with others so use EzineArticles for this purpose. If you would like to find out more about my business as an affiliate marketing consultant then please visit this link.