How to Start a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program

By Chloe Nawrocki, Account Strategist on August 12, 2020

Any e-commerce brand can utilize affiliate marketing, but the recipe for starting a successful affiliate program involves several ingredients. For starters, following an OGSM (objectives, goals, strategies and measures) model provides the necessary framework for identifying the overarching objective and the layers of support needed to develop a well-designed program. OGSM is a planning framework that specializes in helping people and organizations actualize their long-term outcomes and strategies by tying them to shorter-term goals, actions and measures. It enables progress tracking along the way so you can adjust course as necessary and is extremely effective at keeping focus on the tasks at hand.

When it comes to your affiliate program, establish the program’s objectives and goals then develop the strategies to support and the measures that need to be taken to ensure those strategies are executed successfully. For instance, when defining your objectives, you may want to consider whether your brand wants to use affiliate to ultimately gain more brand exposure or is the main focus more on revenue growth? It’s questions like these that help establish the appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs) and allow you to develop the short-term strategies that map directly to achieving your overall objective. Setting these objectives and aligning on expectations in the beginning is critical as it allows all other initiatives to flow from this central starting point.

Next, it’s critical that your affiliate marketing efforts aren’t siloed but instead work in conjunction with other components of your digital marketing mix. This allows for cohesion when it comes to the brand’s messaging, promotes consistency and is essential to creating a symbiotic marketing campaign that will yield optimal results across the board. Coordinating your affiliate efforts across your broader digital marketing mix, is not to be outdone by another main ingredient: effective communication. Strong lines of communication across the broader affiliate team and partner themselves, is vital. If there’s one thing just about every affiliate marketer can agree upon it’s that a healthy and successful affiliate program is built on the shoulders of strong relationships with publisher partners. This includes leveraging relationships and ensuring fair commission rates so that publisher partners are incented to deliver quality traffic and coveted conversions.

Finally—and this a point that we believe strongly in as a key pillar to building a successful affiliate program—is establishing a diversified publisher partner base. Having a diverse publisher partner base will help your brand reach a broader audience, bolster brand exposure, drive new customer acquisition, and build meaningful customer lifetime value (CLTV). This means having a program that includes all the major publisher partner business models including loyalty, coupon, deal, content, shopping comparison (CSE), sub-affiliate networks, abandonment and Asian-focused. This robust base of publisher partners will help you create strategic value and reduce risk: a win-win for everyone.

The takeaway? Every brand has an important story to tell and affiliate marketing is the vehicle to deliver your brand into the hands of ready and waiting consumers. Following this simple yet effective recipe will help set you and your brand up for a successful, healthy and lasting affiliate marketing program.