How to Create an Affiliate Program: A Step-by-Step Guide

Tips & Guides — 04 Mar 2020

Affiliate Program from Scratch

How to Create an Affiliate Program: A Step-by-Step Guide

Let’s assume that you have an online business that you want to expand. You are looking for the most effective promotion strategies and, among the other things, considering affiliate marketing. If so, having your own affiliate program might be the perfect digital marketing strategy for you.

How to Create an Affiliate Program: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Under the affiliate program model, you work with partners (affiliates) who promote your product on their websites, blogs, or social media by posting your product referral link. In turn, each time you receive a purchase (or other desired action) from an affiliate link, you pay a respective affiliate a commission.

Affiliate marketing can significantly help you grow your business, but that doesn’t mean it is an easy strategy. Picking the right platform and finding trusted affiliates play a crucial role in the success of affiliate marketing. The preparation process requires time, a well-thought-out strategy, and preliminary research.  There is always a certain amount of risk, but if you have a firm hand on your brand and niche, affiliate marketing can bring incredible results and help you reach new customers.

Anyway, you need to create a high-quality affiliate program to stand out from the ocean of other affiliate marketing programs out there. One of the ways you can learn is from the industry success cases and step-by-step guides. We prepared this guide to help you understand how to start an affiliate program to become recognized among the best affiliate marketers.

5 Key Steps to Start an Own Affiliate Program

1. Select an Affiliate Platform

Managing a partner program is a complex business process that starts with basic but essential things such as communication with your partners and spreads to making payments. But in between, you will find a lot of operational processes that you need to take care of, like:

  • Communicate with partners;
  • Manage offers;
  • Provide analytics reports and campaigns’ performance review;
  • Optimize ad campaigns;
  • Calculate partners’ commissions and make payouts.

When you are deciding on an affiliate management platform, pay attention to the following characteristics first:

  • Interface;
  • Tools & plugins;
  • Fraud protection;
  • Reports & tracking;
  • Creatives management;
  • Support;
  • Trial version & pricing.
How to Create an Affiliate Program: A Step-by-Step Guide

One of the most vital parts of affiliate program management is advanced tracking, detailed reporting tools, and performance optimization features. It gives you the ability to evaluate affiliate program performance, predict future results, and adjust campaigns for higher profits.

For example, traffic sources analytics is one of the essentials in any digital marketing niche. Knowing what’s your best performing traffic source, PPC, SEO, social media, influencers, bloggers, or email lists, you could grow your affiliate sales and number of affiliates faster.

How to Create an Affiliate Program: A Step-by-Step Guide

Read more about rich analytics for data-driven decision-making in the article Top Four Features of Affiliate Marketing Platform.

2. Affiliate Commissions

The next essential step in creating an affiliate program is choosing a payout structure. The way you plan to pay your partners largely determines the profile of potential affiliates you can attract.

So, let’s explore the most effective payment methods for your affiliate program.

The most attractive payment method for affiliates is considered the percentage of each sale, pay-per-sale method. Every cash reward is equal to the percentage of the sold affiliate product value. You choose what percentage of the product price to pay your affiliates.

Sometimes, not only sales can bring you value. Subscribers to a free trial or email newsletters can be decent enough leads. In this case, it’s quite suitable for affiliate managers to implement a pay-per-lead payment method.

There are also pay-per-click and pay-per-mile (one thousand impressions) payment methods, but they are becoming more and more outdated as today brands are willing to pay affiliates only for specific results. It is a prime example of how affiliate marketing shifts to performance marketing, which means that you no longer have to pay for impressions or clicks, but for completed transactions from the affiliate link.

How to calculate an affiliate commission?

You can’t follow the simple route and pay higher commissions than your competitors. For the payment system to be beneficial for both you and your affiliate partners, it’s mandatory to weigh several things.

It would be best to consider your customer acquisition costs, retention rate, and average customer lifetime value. Use all of this information to calculate a commission rate that will be sustainable, especially for a small business.

3. Affiliate Program Policy & Rules

An affiliate program policy is a binding agreement between you and your affiliate partners. Properly drafted, this documentation describes the rules, responsibilities, and dispute resolution mechanisms that both parties must follow. The affiliate program policy serves to restrict shady promotion methods, marketing channels, and payment issues and help recruit new affiliates.

If you decide to draft your affiliate program policy and rules yourself, we recommend addressing the following subjects:

  • When you make payouts to affiliates and how;
  • Which promotional methods or marketing channels are allowed and which are restricted;
  • Which keywords are allowed;
  • What physical products or affiliate product categories (discounted, low priced, etc.) excluded from your program;
  • Other cases when affiliate action will be banned.

Affiliate marketing can do amazing things with a well-managed affiliate program

4. Find Affiliates to Your Program

Almost alongside the affiliate program policy & rules development, you should start thinking about recruiting affiliates to your program. Affiliates or publishers/media partners are the key to the program’s success. They will be one of the main driving forces in an affiliate program growth. Respectively, it’s in your primary interest to recruit the best-performing publishers and nurture your business relations along the way. 

To simplify the process and save time, you can use the dedicated services that bring together media partners and product owners to help both sides to find reliable partners and grow together. You can also trust this solution quality-wise, as they verify affiliates and vendors before admitting them into their space.

Also, there is always a range of proven techniques on how to find affiliates on your own:

  • Include a link to your affiliate program landing page on your website;
  • Run a series of email for your customers to encourage them to join your program;
  • Go to industry-related forums, communities, and groups in social media;
  • Search for influencers and niche bloggers to review your products;
  • Use Facebook Ads, Twitter, LinkedIn, or even Google Ads to market the program;
  • Build trustful relationships with your affiliates to prove your reputation and win high-performing successful affiliates.

Read more on how to grow the total number of affiliates in our article.

5. Affiliate Marketing Collateral

It’s essential to offer your affiliates clear and qualitative marketing collateral. 

When offering marketing collateral, you create a database of content that publishers can use for ad campaigns, such as samples of ad banners, articles, promotional emails, etc. Make it clear which tone and usage of the logo are acceptable. 

By doing so, you’re making it easier for them to promote your affiliate product. And what is more important, you ensure that your affiliates will use the most useful promotion materials.

For example, you found out that banner ads with your product outperform text links in conversion rate. Consequently, you mention it in your collateral material to help your affiliates understand what performs better.

Even before applying to an affiliate program, typically, affiliates are looking for collateral or creative materials. They want to see what they will work with. So, it’s crucial to offer them as many useful and incisive data as possible.

Best Software Solution for Setting-up Online Advertising Campaigns

The creation of a fully functional affiliate marketing project requires a lot of time, knowledge, and money. In the video below, we explain in all detail how a ready-made affiliate platform makes the whole process much easier with automation tools, CPAPI data transfer, ad fraud control, etc.

As you can see, Affise, as an all-in-one platform for advertisers, online marketing agencies, and affiliate networks, allows you to manage, track, analyze, and optimize online advertising campaigns in real-time.

Try Affise today! Submit for a free trial and
check out the platform’s functionality
by yourself!

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Edgar is a Content Marketer obsessed with analytics & performance statistics. Edgar loves leveling up professionally and search for new effective ways to deliver quality content. After that, he’ll take every opportunity to take on exciting adventures with his GF.

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