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How to Manage and Nurture Successful Affiliate Marketing Relationships in Good Times and Bad

May 28, 2020

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Successful affiliate marketing programs are fostered by the ability to regularly meet the demands of your customers. If you can find a way to speak directly to them, you can adequately take hold of their attention, hopefully helping to guide them to engage with your brand further.

But successfully engaging with your customers depends on your affiliates. Through their promotion, you’re able to find your intended audience and properly present your brand, products, and services. While you might know how to foster strong affiliate marketing relationships during good times, how do you manage them even during the bad? The COVID-19 economic downturn has shown us how quickly our day-to-day reality can change.

The truth is that you don’t have to change much between the good and bad times. By following certain moral guidelines, you can create a respectful partnership with your affiliates, all managed through your affiliate tracking software.

The Importance of Positive Affiliate Relationships

When crafting your affiliate marketing program, you need to consider creating positive affiliate relationships right off the bat. Why is this so important, though?

Referrals are more authentic

Consumers want authenticity when evaluating brands. An affiliate relationship won’t feel authentic if you’re forcing affiliates to use pre-crafted content and messaging, all while not valuing their own voice. You should work to foster a real relationship with your affiliates, as it will make the referral process feel far more genuine to their own audience.

You’ll find the right customer

Positive affiliate relationships are more than fostering a hospitable relationship. It also involves creating relationships that provide value to both parties. This means ensuring your affiliates receive positive outcomes just the same as you. While you want to increase engagement with your site and improve conversion rates, your affiliates should earn a fair commision rate while promoting products that fit their audience’s needs.

You’ll enjoy positive growth

Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is still a popular means of referral marketing. To make the most of your affiliate program, you should rely on creating great relationships to foster the feeling of WOMM. Positive affiliate relationships will make referrals and promotions feel far more natural, making it more likely for their audience to engage with your brand or for your affiliate to recommend other affiliates to your network.

You’ll boost conversions

Freelancers, affiliates, contractors: Whatever the position, they’re more likely to prioritize partners that they respect and value. Fostering positive affiliate relationships is a great way to get your affiliates truly working for you, helping to create a network of promoters boosting conversions for your company. Furthermore, incentivizing them through competitive commission rates is a surefire way to boost business.

You’ll avoid conflict

Valuing strong affiliate relationships can help deter conflict down the road. This is due to honesty being valued by both partners, making the other party aware of expectations, goals, needs, and more. Furthermore, the establishment of a program policy through your affiliate tracking software will make it clear about how your professional relationship will work out — from what is expected of work to how and when affiliates will be paid.

Time is valuable

You don’t want to leave your affiliates guessing, running through the usual gamut with an uncertain client to meet whatever expectations haven’t been blatantly spoken. Respect their time by putting in your own effort from the start — it will help your professional relationship run smoothly, and that effective communication will help your affiliates better value your own business.

What Makes a Successful Affiliate Marketing Partnership?

Successful affiliate marketing partnerships are guided by a few key characteristics. At their core, these are characteristics that should become synonymous with your brand, both in and out of your affiliate marketing strategy.

  • Clarity

Your affiliates shouldn’t have to guess-and-check about what type of content works for business. Furthermore, they shouldn’t have to find out your company’s brand voice by reading through your website. Provide your affiliates with brand guidelines, drafted content, and concrete examples to make it easy for them to readily promote your business. Remove the guesswork by being as clear as possible from the start of your partnership.

  • Consistency

It should be said that clarity can extend beyond the content creation process, too. Affiliates are bound to stick around if you present them with payment guidelines and scheduling. They should know exactly how much they earn per-conversion and what their payment schedule will look like. In this case, clarity will come in the form of remaining consistent. Pay affiliates on time, hold true to your business promises, and let affiliates know of planned marketing reformatting as soon as it is approved.

  • Flexibility

While it’s smart to have an affiliate marketing strategy planned for the future, life can have a way of making our plans obsolete — the COVID-19 pandemic is a significant example of just that. Successful marketing strategies rely on flexibility, as partners need to be able to communicate and make changes on the fly, whenever needed.

This can include talking to affiliates about expanding to different social media networks or reformatting your approach if engagement and conversions seem to have slowed. Affiliate tracking software, thankfully, makes it easy to analyze your business’s strategy and communicate one-on-one with affiliates.

  • Honest transparency

Your affiliates won’t be able to properly promote your business unless they can put as much trust into your business as your customers. This comes from remaining honest, putting the interests of your clients first, and marketing your products as they truthfully are. This honesty will make it easier for affiliates to promote your products and services, as they’ll be able to take that truthful, client-first messaging and present it with their audience in mind.

  • Cooperation

While it’s important to provide your affiliates with content, insight, and direction, you should also trust their own judgment. A successful affiliate relationship depends on being able to respect and trust one another. This involves listening to what the other person has to say, hearing their opinion, and working together to effectively promote your company and support one another.

How to Nurture a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program

While you should respect the professionalism and ability of your affiliates, you shouldn’t just leave them to their own devices once being partnered with your affiliate tracking software. Creating a successful affiliate marketing program requires personal attention, constantly working to make it the best you can.

1. Create a personal affiliate network

You need to provide your affiliates with the resources to be successful. This means providing them guidance to craft stellar content, follow brand voice guidelines, and understand what products and services you most want to focus on.

Your affiliate tracking software’s platform should be used to its maximum potential, creating a personalized space where affiliates can interact with one another, find useful resources, and ask you promotion-related questions. Giving them a personalized hub is just one of many ways to motivate your affiliates.

2. Work with the right affiliates

Not every affiliate has to be a household-name influencer. Micro-influencers and fellow businesses can be perfect for your affiliate marketing program. The size of the influencer doesn’t necessarily matter; what matters most is that their brand image and voice most closely align with your business’s. That alignment is important, as they’ll be able to offer your brand credibility that larger influencers might not be able to — with the latter, it might feel inauthentic, as in an apparent referral-for-commission promotion.

3. Support your affiliates

During good times or bad times, your affiliates deserve your support. Whether it’s personal or professional is not so specific. Your greatest goal is to provide them with support throughout your relationship together. This can involve having regular check-ins during economic downturns to ensure they’re doing all right, providing them with brand training when onboarding with your business, and regularly giving them brand content to ensure they can successfully promote your business and, potentially, increase their conversions rates.

4. Incentivize your affiliates and their audience

You need to occasionally put in some work beyond just supporting your affiliates. Part of that, during the difficult times of life, is to provide affiliates and their customers with deals.

Simple deals can be a way to attract greater engagement while increasing the chances of your affiliates getting conversions from their audience. Ideas can include offering one-time sale codes, adding gifts whenever a purchase is made, or giving free shipping on specific purchases.

5. Provide office hours

Rather than just regularly updating your business’s affiliate tracking software’s program page, you should consider providing affiliates with your personal time. Sometimes they may have a question that can be answered by email, but it might not be as personal to do so all the time.

Office hours offered through Zoom or Skype are a great way to support your affiliates, offering them one-on-one or conference-style time when questions concerning promotional materials, commission rates, and referral tactics can be discussed. You could offer this once every few weeks or every Tuesday for an hour, giving them ample, scheduled time when communication is prioritized.

6. Simplify the relationship

To keep your affiliates onboard, you should show them how much you value your relationship. Part of this self-value is established through being direct — not having an affiliate strategy that is regularly changing, unmotivated, and horribly confusing. Such complications will be an immediate red flag for an affiliate, making them wary of working for you going forward, or even prioritizing your business among other affiliate programs.

To promote successful affiliate relationships, you should make your program as simple as possible. This should include having your affiliate marketing strategy distinctly outlined before taking on affiliates, providing them with regular updates to brand language, products, and services, and providing them with support whenever necessary, remaining active in the relationship while staying on top of your own business.

7. Rely on trusted customers

While you might go scouring Instagram or YouTube for affiliates, you would be looking in the wrong direction. Your best bet is to rely on trusted customers who have shopped with your business in the past and who have made regular purchases of your products and services. Supporting such strong customer relationships is a key way to finding some of the best affiliates, as you’ll be relying on people who are already well-versed with your company, products, and messaging.

Some onboarding might be required, particularly to help them understand the exact language you want to use, but it’s a great idea to use them to your advantage. Consider reaching out to past customers via email, asking if they’d be interested in joining your referral program.

8. Make it easy for affiliates to find you

You shouldn’t always have to go looking for affiliates — it should be easy for affiliates to find your business. The easiest way to gather affiliate attention is to create a compelling affiliate sign-up landing page through your affiliate tracking software’s page. Optimizing the SEO of this page will increase organic traffic from potential affiliates, meaning you’ll get more submissions while putting in less overall effort.

9. Offer competitive commissions

One of the easiest ways to keep your affiliates happy, thus nurturing healthy and successful affiliate marketing relationships, is to offer competitive commission rates. Finding out what a competitive rate requires research, from finding out what the industry averages are to knowing how much you can afford to spend on affiliates.

Consider offering incentivizing commission rates to get affiliates to sign on with your network; furthermore, consider providing competitive raises the longer an affiliate stays with your business, helping them to prioritize your brand above others.

The Bottom Line

Supporting your affiliates doesn’t have to be overly complicated. By providing them with support, you can incentivize them to continue promoting your business, making your affiliate marketing program successful through good and bad times.

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey