How to Start Affiliate Marketing: Your Ultimate Checklist

As a marketer planning an affiliate marketing campaign, it’s easy to be overwhelmed about launching a new campaign. You probably have a to-do list as long as your arm, and you want to make sure that nothing is forgotten. With this in mind, we want to show you how to start affiliate marketing with a complete checklist of everything you need to do before, during and after your campaign.  

Perhaps this will be your first affiliate marketing campaign? Or maybe you’re looking for ways to optimize your current campaign process? Share this checklist with your team to make sure you’ve planned every aspect of your campaign. 

Analysis

  • Competitor research

It’s a good idea to investigate how your competitors are running their affiliate programs so you can learn from their strengths and weaknesses. You should look at how your competitors are recruiting affiliates? How much commission are they offering? Which networks are they using? These details can guide how you will structure your program. After all, your affiliate program will need to stand out from the crowd and you will need to create an attractive offer to hire enough affiliates to outperform your competitors. 

plan affiliate program
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Planning

  • Choose your goals

Set measurable goals that you can work towards with your affiliate program; You should have a clear idea of how many affiliates you want to work with. As well as, how many sales you’re expecting to be generated through the program, plus what percentage of your overall revenue you want to be generated through affiliation. 

  • Select the right KPIs

With your goals in mind, you can decide how you will measure success. Decide what metrics you need to measure. For example, you can measure the number of sales generated per affiliate, the average order value of your customers, the amount of revenue generated for your business, and the conversion rate. You should measure the success of your program as a whole, and look at the individual performance of each affiliate to compensate them accordingly. 

  • Create a budget

When planning your affiliate marketing budget, you need to think about your return on investment. You want to be sure that your affiliate marketing spending is sustainable and is generating increased revenue for your business. You need to think about the costs of your program such as: joining affiliate networks, buying an affiliate software, paying affiliate commissions, paid media campaigns, etc. The amount of revenue generated from affiliate sales needs to be superior to the amount you’ve invested in the program in order to be ROI-positive. 

  • Get the right tools

Managing an affiliate campaign manually will be a huge drain on resources. To be able to effectively hire affiliates and accurately track sales and pay commissions, you’ll need a robust tool to help you. Using a platform such as Upfluence, offers end-to-end affiliate management from recruitment, to contracts, generating affiliate links, tracking and payouts. At this stage, it’s important to do your research and see which tools are best-suited to helping you reach your goals and stay within your budget!

  • Decide on your affiliate compensation model 

To get the most from your affiliates you need to have an attractive compensation model that incentivizes them to get results for your brand and offers them a sustainable way to make an income. As a brand, you also need to be aware of how much you’re investing into the program to ensure you maintain a positive ROI. 

Depending on the goals of your business you will likely pay a commission based on clicks, leads or sales. You can decide to pay a flat fee per conversion or a % of the profits. You decide the terms of your payment structure, including payment method, the timeline for sending payouts and if an affiliate needs to generate a minimum amount of revenue to receive their first payment. 

affiliate recruitment
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Affiliate recruitment

  • Create a landing page

Next on your list is putting together a landing page where new affiliates can apply to your program. It should contain all the necessary information about what affiliates you’re looking to work with, your expectations for the program and your offer of compensation. 

  • Promote your affiliate program

Then you should distribute your landing page through your brand channels such as your newsletter, paid ads, blog, and social media. Communicating widely about your campaign to your network will help you to attract relevant affiliates to sign up. 

  • Post your offer through an affiliate network

To increase your chances of recruiting suitable influencers you can use a dedicated affiliate network to publish your offer to affiliates within a certain network. You will be able to directly target experienced affiliates with this method of recruitment. 

  • Use an affiliate agency 

You can also hire an affiliate agency that will manage the entire recruitment process for you. If you’re new to affiliate marketing and need some expert advice, then this could help you secure top affiliates for your campaign. Working with an agency can be expensive, so remember to factor this into your budget if you decide to go down this route. 

  • Search an affiliate database

Using a database can help you to quickly find the most relevant affiliates for your campaign. Instead of hoping that suitable people apply to your campaign, you can hand-pick the best affiliates who are aligned with your brand and your goals. Upfluence’s creator database offers over 20+ advanced search filters, plus the opportunity to identify potential affiliates within your own customer database. It’s a great option if you want to scale your program quickly! 

  • Create an affiliate agreement 

Your affiliate agreement should set out the terms and expectations of the program. It should also include clauses for fraudulent behavior, canceled orders, and returned orders. You should also include all the details of the compensation here, including how the commission is calculated for maximum transparency.

Onboarding and management

  • Provide marketing materials

Make sure your affiliates are equipped with everything they need to create promotional content for your brand. This includes sending them copy, messaging, logos, images and other collateral they can use in their own content. Be sure to communicate new materials with them regularly and share product updates and tips to support them in their efforts. 

  • Distribute links and promo codes

Affiliate campaigns are centered around generating conversions, so you need to provide tracked links or promo codes so that your affiliates can enable sales through their content. Using tracked links will help you to measure and attribute sales easily. 

affiliate performance tracking
Image credit: Freepik.com

Tracking and payment

  • Measure performance

Once your affiliates are actively promoting your products and generating sales, it’s time to start measuring their success! You should track the KPIs you chose at the start of your campaign and create monthly, quarterly and yearly reporting to see the progress of your program. You should track clicks, conversions, and sales, as well as the amount of commissions you’re paying to calculate your program’s ROI.

  • Pay affiliates on time

Using Upfluence’s performance dashboard you can track sales and calculate commissions in no time! Having all the data in one place makes it easier for you to make affiliate payments on time, and make any improvements needed in real-time.

  • Incentivize affiliates 

As your program matures you’ll need to keep affiliates motivated to keep working with your brand. You can do this by offering cash bonuses, store credit and other VIP goodies to your best-performers. 

Looking forward

  • Review and improve marketing materials

Keep your affiliates up-to-date with news from your business and new product launches. Make sure they have updated marketing materials, and gather their feedback and suggestions on what materials they’d like for the future. 

  • Blacklist fraudulent affiliates 

Although it is very rare, you might come across fraud in your affiliate program. Only 2% of affiliate transactions are fraudulent, but it’s worth keeping an eye on certain metrics like clicks, traffic quality and conversion rate and to investigate any unusual patterns. 

  • Continue recruitment 

Grow your campaign with continued recruitment efforts to find new affiliates and activate people within your brand community. Check out this article for more tips on how to scale your affiliate marketing program. 

There you have it, a 20 point checklist to help every marketer execute a top-performing affiliate program. If you’re new to affiliate marketing, then use this as a guide to help you start affiliate marketing and develop a successful new sales strategy. Remember, that investing time and effort to properly plan your program and recruit the best affiliates will pay off in the long run. Be sure to keep this checklist handy and share it with the rest of your team! 

Find out more in this in-depth guide to Building an eCommerce Affiliate Marketing Strategy.

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