user experience & design

How To Start An Affiliate Program

February 6th, 2017

More and more businesses are beginning to recognize the benefits of affiliate marketing. But when it comes to starting an affiliate program, many companies can find themselves overwhelmed or confused. That’s why we put together a step-by-step checklist of everything you need to know when creating an affiliate program.

Step 1: Set Up Some Program Guidelines

Before you even start advertising your affiliate program to potential promoters, make sure you have some solid guidelines in place. What do you want them to promote? Is the entire store fair game or do you want them to promote a specific product? Should you allow them to advertise directly on their site or would you prefer them to broadcast on social media? Can anyone apply to your affiliate program?

These are the types of questions you need to sit down and figure out when creating your program’s guidelines. Of course it goes without saying that your site’s UX design should be user-friendly and you should not be ignoring your customers’ mobile experience. If you’re unsure how to improve these aspects, then team up with a ux design agency, or mobile app development company.

But that’s not all…

Step 2: Commission Structure

How exactly will you be paying your affiliates for sales that they generate? This question is integral during the inception of any affiliate program.

You have a few different options here:

1. You can go flat rate which keeps things nice and simple since affiliates simply earn the same commission amount for every sale.

2. You can opt for a percent of sale commission which is based on the amount of sales revenue that affiliates generate.

3. You can even set up a tiered commission structure, which essentially means that commission rate automatically changes based on volume of sales.

Step 3: Getting Affiliates

So, now that you have some program policies and a commission structure in mind, it’s time to start getting promoters to join your program.

In order to attract influencers and affiliates there are a few simple steps you can follow.

First, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right people. People are more apt to get behind a product that actually interests them or, if they’re an influencer, is in the same niche.

Strategically commenting on an influencer’s work and sharing their posts is another smart strategy. When the time comes to approach someone to join your program, they may be more receptive if you’ve shown an understanding and appreciation of their content and audience.

Making sure you sound like a human being is another tip that can’t be emphasized enough. Don’t copy and paste the same email or Twitter direct message to every person you’re reaching out to. Get used to personalizing each of your messages, including making references to the influencer’s past work, interests, and social posts.

Lastly, you need to get out of the habit of ignoring your affiliates after they promote your product or start generating sales. Keeping the lines of communication open or offering special incentives for your top performers is key to their success — and retention.

Step 4: Managing And Keeping Track Of Everything

As you can probably tell by now, there’s a lot that goes into managing and maintaining a successful affiliate program. It can be a lot work and very time consuming if you don’t have the proper system in place.

That’s why Refersion was created. Our software allows you to promote your program to affiliates (and even turn your own customers into affiliates!), add and approve these promoters, set commissions, track sales, and simplify payments. It’s essentially an easy, one-stop shop for managing an affiliate program.

Guest Post by Marisa Thayer at Refersion

Jenna Erickson


Jenna is the Marketing Manager at Codal, blogger, and technology + startup enthusiast. With a responsibility of Codal's marketing programs and brand management, she is always strategizing new ways to reach clients through content and inbound marketing tactics. In her free time, Jenna enjoys traveling, cooking and reading.


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