By John Allen
Affiliate marketing is one of the most effective forms of advertising on the internet. Affiliate marketing drives sales and significant conversions. 81% of brands use affiliate marketing as part of their marketing strategy, and 38% consider it to be one of the best customer acquisition methods.
Building long-lasting affiliate relationships is key to having an affiliate program that churns out conversions and leads by the thousands. Companies that maintain a good relationship with their affiliates and have crafted exceptional customer experiences have better brand loyalty from both customers and affiliates.
If you have already found the right affiliate partner(s), that’s half the battle won. The next challenge is to retain these affiliates and ensure they remain steadfast promoters of your brand.
Here are seven ways to tie affiliates into a long-term partnership with you.
1. Offer extraordinary customer service
Affiliates are often customers who’ve been through your brand’s buyer journey. If you need them to speak to other customers on your behalf, you have to ensure they had an exceptional experience.
Work on your customer service experience and make it flawless, so customers are interested in referring you to others. Make a brand image that is likable and affable. People like to do business with people they like, so make sure your service supports this.
2. Reward them appropriately
While you might have a great brand, no one’s going to market it for free. Affiliate marketing is a symbiotic relationship, and the best way to keep your affiliates motivated is to reward them as they deserve.
For some people, affiliate marketing is a passive income; for others, it is their bread and butter. Many people have made lucrative careers out of affiliate marketing while working from home. That’s because they are good at what they do, and they certainly do manage to bring a lot of traffic to brands’ websites.
If you want to maintain a good and long-lasting relationship with your affiliates, reward them well. Share the revenue you make from their hard work, and they will be motivated to work harder.
3. Free products and discounts will go a long way
Say you have a business specializing in cloud communication solutions. You want to educate the masses on a particular topic, such as ‘what is SIP trunking’, informing them of why they should buy your product.
You need an affiliate to use their website or social media to convince consumers. After all, it’s a complicated bit of technology. Do you know how an affiliate might be able to sell your product better? By using it.
Giving your affiliates free products can make them a true advocate for your brand. They have experienced the product, and they owe you for giving it to them for free.
If you have a B2B business and find it hard to provide freebies to affiliates, make sure they are paid what they’re worth in cash instead. Don’t try to get free promotions.
Airdroid Business offers mobile device management solutions, for example. They obviously cannot hand out their unattended remote control access solutions for free to every affiliate, so they make sure they pay them well for advocating their product line.
4. Hire the right affiliates
Many outsourcing digital agency services can help you find affiliate marketers, but those you source from among your customers are the ones that will last the longest. Partnering with customers who actually enjoy your brand guarantees their marketing pitch will be genuine and heartfelt.
The right affiliate is the one that actively promotes your brand, so look to continue relationships and reward those affiliates who bring in more clicks. They need to strongly represent the values your company stands for because they are one of the main representatives for your brand.
5. Give your affiliates time
Don’t expect results from affiliates as soon as they join your affiliate program. Let them make their way slowly but surely. They need to feel invested in your business before they can promote it on your behalf. A brand that pushes its affiliates to show results too soon will lose out on those who could have performed well with a little more time and a little less pressure.
Back to the example of a company that offers complicated technology like VoIP phones or PBX systems. It will take a while for an affiliate to figure out questions such as ‘how does a virtual phone service work?’ They will, eventually. So be patient before pushing for results.
6. Engage often
You need to keep in touch with your affiliates. Don’t limit your interactions to financial transactions. You need to build a rapport in order to foster a long-term relationship.
The following can help you do this:
- Phone calls, ucaas platform, or video conferencing software. Even if your affiliate is on the other side of the world, you can set up regular calls.
- Send personalized newsletters to keep them up to date with your latest product developments.
- Engage on social media.
7. Be pleasant to work with
We’re in an era of transition. We’re virtual and we are real. We still have our fax machines and we’re also figuring out how to send a fax from email. We’re at the deep end with our obsession with technology, but we’re clinging on to our human aspects.
Don’t forget that human emotions play an important part in all relationships. Be nice to your affiliates. If they enjoy working with you, they’re less likely to leave.
Be grateful to your affiliates and be honest with them. Don’t be hard to reach or hard to approach, and try to create a transparent relationship. What is the worst public relations strategy? Being difficult to work with.
Once you manage to find an affiliate, give them leverage and time to prove their mettle. This will instill confidence and motivate them to do their best for you.
As a business owner who has 1,000 things on their mind, from having to track inventory to needing to do the books, taking anything off your plate is invaluable. Pass on some marketing responsibility to affiliates who know your brand and speak the language of your customers.
Affiliate marketing is a marketing machine that needs a little effort to get started. If you create valuable partnerships with your affiliates, though, you can watch your business soar to new heights.
About the Author
John Allen is the Director of SEO for 8×8, a leading communication platform with integrated contact center, voice, video, and chat functionality, and voip services. John is a marketing professional with over 14 years experience in the field, and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs across SEM, SEO, and a myriad of services. This is his LinkedIn.