How to Set Your Affiliate Program Up for Success in Q3 and Beyond

By Rick Snopek on July 2, 2020

As marketers, we all rolled into 2020 with great optimism and grand strategies to take our affiliate programs to the next level. Soon after, COVID-19 hit and we were thrown out of proactive and into a reactive response mode. As we sit at the beginning of Q3, now is a great time to re-evaluate your affiliate program foundation to ensure a successful second half of 2020.

With that in mind, the end goal of any affiliate program strategy should be two-fold. First is to achieve your KPIs. Second, you want to build and strengthen relationships with your partners. And of course, it is never too early to start thinking of Q4 with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Cyber Week.

How should you set your program up for success?

We may be in a COVID-19 economy, but we have the tools in the Ascend™ Affiliate Cloud platform to help inform our decisions and strengthen our partner relationships as we navigate through it.

Therefore, it's critical that the first step in setting up your affiliate program for success is to set clearly defined goals. A clearly defined goal will help you look at the correct data in the correct way to pull the appropriate strategic levers. For example, a goal of "increasing revenue by 10% in Q3" is simply too broad and you may quickly find yourself losing focus when you aren't more specific. We can turn that broad goal into a more clearly defined approach by adjusting it to one of the following:  

  • • Increase Loyalty partner revenue by 10% in Q3
  • • Increase New Customer revenue by 10% in Q3
  • • Increase Mobile revenue by 10% in Q3

Each of these examples set forth a clearly defined piece of your program to target for strengthening. Once your goal is defined, you can then begin pulling the levers to achieve those goals, which can be easily set up in the Ascend™ platform dashboard.

As mentioned, the ideal strategy should not only achieve your clearly defined goals, but also strengthen, or build, relationships with your partners. At the end of the day, it will be these relationships that will dictate the success, or failure, of your program. In general, know that no two partners are alike, so you need to treat each according to the value they provide in your commissioning, promotional and placement strategies.

Last, certainly not least, but often overlooked: Keep the lines of communication open and easily accessible. This doesn’t mean that you should have daily or weekly conversations with your partners, but updates through newsletters and emails ensures that you maintain the correct contact and continue to build upon relationships.

Here are some simple, additional best practices to help make sure you’re setting up your affiliate program in the best way possible:

  • • Ensure your Product Feed is up to date and accurate. Publishers, specifically content and fashion partners, rely heavily on product feeds to keep up to date with product-specific pricing and new product launches.

  • • Ensure your links are appended with the correct tracking for your analytics provider to properly attribute conversions to affiliate in your reporting source of truth. This ensures that tracking is accurate, and publishers are being attributed for the traffic and sales they are generating.
  • • Perform weekly audits of text and coupon links to ensure partners are receiving the current sales you want to promote and ensuring that customers are experiencing positive shopping journeys.


As we move into the back of half 2020, the only real certainty is the uncertainty that lies ahead. Setting a strong affiliate program foundation, the right way now will ensure you can be proactive to these changes instead of being reactive, a position many advertisers and publishers don’t want to find themselves in again.

For more information on you can better optimize your affiliate program, visit us here.