eCommerce Insiders

3 Truths About Reviving Affiliate Programs From the Dead

Starting an affiliate program might have seemed like a great way for your e-commerce store to generate fresh revenue, but now it seems as if your program has developed gangrene and died!

In spite of this, there’s a healthy prognosis on the horizon for your program once you understand three truths that are fatal your your marketing program – and how to bring it back from the brink.

Poor Affiliate Management Leadership Will Dig Your Program’s Grave

Quick question: Who is responsible for monitoring the success of your affiliate management program? Is it your social media person? Is it your content manager? Do you have a dedicated person assigned to managing your affiliate program?

The answer is important, because it will identify a couple of things:

  • How you understand the roles of your affiliate management team.
  • How you play to the strengths of your marketing team.

By the way, the best answer to the question is this:

A CMO, or a Chief Marketing Officer is responsible overall for the success of your affiliate program. However, your CMO should assign at least a few people to the task of creating momentum within your affiliate program.

As a matter of fact, assigning the right type of employees to oversee your affiliate program is one of the first steps you should take if you have any hopes of breathing life back into your program.

Who are the players who are skilled enough to pump fresh blood into your program? You’ll have to perform an audit to determine which one of your employees is a great fit, but consider assigning the task to employees who:

  • Show an aptitude for numbers and data. You’ll need someone excellent at tracking your marketing metrics.
  • Someone who is extremely familiar with the industry, and has access to hungry affiliates to recruit.
  • Someone who oozes creativity. You’ll want to use them for program strategy implementation.

Often, a CMO will make the mistake of assigning everything to an already-overworked affiliate manager. Not only is this a poor use of talent resources, but one person can’t possibly ensure that all of the components of a success marketing program get accomplished correctly, if at all.

Inevitably, they’ll drop the ball. Either they’ll train their focus on the base-level operations of the program (at the expense of high-level strategic planning), or they’ll abandon non-essential tasks altogether. And, before you know it, your affiliate program dies.

Using more of your in-house talent to revive your program is a great start. In addition, make sure that your team understands the importance of identifying their key affiliate marketers. They should also understand that relationship building and nurturing with the affiliates is crucial to the long-term success of your program.

Affiliate relationship building and nurturing keeps them in line, and on message. In turn, this will prevent your program from dying in the first place.

Unsuitable Social Strategies Blast Bullets Through Your Campaign

Here’s another question: Do you understand which social media platforms work best for each of your affiliate marketing campaigns?

If not, then here’s the answer: Not every social media platform is right for your goals. If you understand nothing else, understand the following:

  1. How to use each social media platform natively
  2. The audience that each platform targets, and how they respond to the platform’s media

Otherwise, you’ll bombard your company’s followers with marketing links that will confuse them, or you’ll blast out marketing content that will turn them off. Like many other e-retailers, you’ll learn the hard way when no one responds to your messages, and your messages aren’t generating traffic to your site.

You’ll waste the two most important resources your business has in its arsenal: Time, and money.

If your affiliate marketing program is on life support due to taking stabs in the dark, then there’s good news-you can stop hurting your campaign and implement strategies that will place your program on the road to healing.

First, learn how to engage social media marketing deliberately. Don’t delve into the social platform of the moment. Stick to the proven winners.

It’s true that social media marketing is still a new medium, and that fact alone leads to a lot of mixed messages and confusion. There’s a lot of gurus both online and offline who will prescribe their own brand of treatment, promising restorative results for your link marketing campaign.

But, don’t make the mistake of believing quackery. Make sure that your marketing teams are fully aware of which specific platforms are right for your brand. Create your own marketing prescription, and stick to it for dear life!

Learn how to use the proven winners natively. Then, once you stumble upon how to use each one successfully, stick to the formula.

Resuscitate Inactive Affiliate Marketers With Goodies

While it’s true that many independent affiliate marketers fall to the wayside due to shiny object syndrome, it’s also true that some of your relationships with motivated marketers die due to a lack of incentive.

Independent marketers work hard, and they use their own resources to perform cheerleading duties for your company’s brand, products, and services. All they ask for in return in a respectable share of your company’s revenue. While you might not have any issue with this, you should certainly keep in mind that there’s no shortage of marketing opportunities for hungry marketers.

Also, there’s no shortage of e-commerce retailers who are all too willing to reward an independent marketer for joining their team. So, why not do the same? At the very least, help them to help you!

Can you provide them with coupon codes to give to their site visitors? Do you have any content for their site visitors to download, in order to help the marketer to develop an email marketing list? Can you think of a special rewards program for high-performing affiliates?

All of these will get your affiliates’s blood racing, as they envision ways to develop a successful marketing partnership with your online store.

Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time.

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