Resources for Small Business

7 Reasons Your Affiliate Program Isn’t Working

Let me start this article with a tip for a minor attitude adjustment for small businesses & Affiliate Managers. This tip stems from my own guilt of doing this while working for the last company that I was at, and also from casual conversations had with other Functional Heads or Affiliate Managers regarding their Affiliate Program.

My Tip – STOP BLAMING Your Affiliate Program For Non Performance

It’s a well understood fact that Startups, or functional heads within those Startups or Established Businesses, are strapped for an ambit of resources. This could include time, man power, bandwidth and generic resources, but it’s absurd to believe that operating an Affiliate Program is as simple as setting it up and making it live. Just because it’s free for an Affiliate to start with your program doesn’t automatically make it popular.

So how do you get Affiliate Marketing, a Channel that could probably add 20%+ to your bottom line, work for your Business?

Steer And Not Just Launch Your Affiliate Program

Similar to how you’re working hard to build awareness for your business, which eventually translates into conversions and a successful business, you need to invest time, love and strategy into building your Affiliate Program. This will ensure that you’ve a channel with a brilliantly awesome extended sales team (Affiliates) that along with your in-house Marketing Team is promoting your Products in the most efficient manner possible.

So without expending more time, let me discuss the 7 Reasons that if not treated could result in the decay of your Affiliate Program.

1. Zero Proactive Hiring

One of the core keys that can unlock success for any organisation is its Team. A well hired team eases up the day to day stress for its founders and functional heads since it’s the team that becomes the driving force behind achieving set Goals & Objectives.Similarly it’s imperative to invest a fair share of time into hiring and activating the right Affiliates for your program. Sourcing a rich mix of Content, Social, Email and Coupon Affiliates should be the No. 1 priority for your Affiliate Program. You can do this by using Indiblogger, a network of Blogs, to source Blogs that are directly related to your Product or Service or a topic that concerns your product or service. You could also use a tool like Google Trends Explore to get an idea of the search traffic for a keyword that’s important for you. This will also generate alternate but relevant search queries that people are using in the search engine.For instance, I have used the Google Trends Tool to gauge the density of search for Kerala Tourism. If you scroll down you’ll get a list of Similar Search Queries being used by people. Make a list of these search queries and look at the results that are delivered in the first two pages on Google. This could include individuals with a strong know-how of your topic and lucrative Affiliates whose Website or Social traffic you could leverage on.

2. Completely Outsourced Affiliate Program

Having an outsourced program is not a problem, however, completely depending on the agency to drive results for your Affiliate Program is not ideal. There is no one who understands your business and the value that it offers better than you. Who else could better research on Affiliates that would synergize with your business, and explain the awesome value that your solution can offer. Moreover you’re able to build a strong personal relationship with your Affiliate which in the current situation, contrary to what any agency manager would tell you, is very much appreciated and respected by Affiliates.With that fact in mind, it would sincerely help if you got down and serious in setting up your own in-house Affiliate Program. Create a simple page for an Affiliate Program on your website highlighting the benefits, and glorify the link on your homepage. It might be a tad bit tough for you to source good Affiliates from the ample Affiliates that exist. However, it’s relatively easier for an Affiliate to research and partner with companies they would like to promote. Not having a link on your homepage is like not placing the “Welcome” door mat for your Affiliates.

3. Not Supporting Your Affiliate

While working at my previous company I strived hard to source and recruit potential Affiliates, and that was just one part of the challenge. The other and most important aspect was to activate them and have them promote the value of our service.I had Affiliates tell me that they’re interested in giving this a try and that they would be writing an article on us soon. Subsequent follow-up calls would result in a status message of them being busy promoting my competitor since they were a lot more popular, and they paid heftier commissions as opposed to the company I represented.That’s when I would personally draft an unbiased article about my company explaining the value our services offered, some of the features available, how we managed to help our customers and certain points that we’ve been criticized on. Having that reviewed by an Affiliate and published on their Blog was a lot easier, rather than waiting for them to create an article. Yes it involved an effort, but the resulting traffic, leads and conversions was totally worth it.

4. Zero Discounts & Giveaways

The best way to get noticed and to increase customer acquisition is to offer Discount Coupons on affiliate websites like CouponDunia, CouponRaja, Cuponation, Cashkaro, and to organize giveaways on prominent Blogs. Customers love it for sure because it makes it easier and exciting for them to try out your service, and reduces the amount of monetary risk and anxiety that they experience while experimenting on a relatively new business. Affiliates certainly love Merchants who offer them this giveaway opportunity because it helps generate more traffic, authority and engagement on their website. For instance, look at the number of shares and comments that Harsh Agrawal has garnered on his blog for the giveaway of a really nifty tool that he’s promoting. It involves people having to key in their email address, promote it on Social Media and leave in a comment. Through this giveaway, SEMRUSH benefits tremendously through Lead Generation and Virality. Later they could also offer an exclusive discount coupon for all leads coming in through Harsh’s website and increase conversions.

5. No Data Analysis

Any type of number pertinent to your business is very important. It helps you look at things from a practical perspective, removes the speculation, and helps you with your next strategic decision.Similarly it’s important to monitor numbers associated with your Affiliate Program. This would involve Clicks on Website, Top Performing Affiliates on the basis of Lead Generation and Conversions, Amount of Commissions paid out, Revenue generated through Leads or Sales, No of Sales & Leads received in a month and so on. Once you derive these numbers don’t just add them to an excel sheet and circulate it within the company, share it with your Affiliates as well.You can give out performance data to your Affiliates, tell them what worked and what didn’t, set targets for your Affiliates and so on. If you care about your Affiliates business and assist them with how they can perform better, be rest assured that they will also be having your best interest in mind.

6. Not Monitoring Competition

If you’re not keeping a close eye on your competition then that’s tantamount to you trying to hit the bullseye for success in the dark. In today’s online trade scenario, which is rampant with competition, you can be sure that every Startup is looking out for the best and cost efficient method that they could adopt to promote their business. More often than not every Startup would be resorting to an Affiliate Program given the advantages that they can leverage through the channel.If posed in a similar scenario study your competitions Affiliate Program, pay much heed to the type of Commissions they offer, the marketing banners and collaterals they provide, the added benefits they provide their Affiliates, Bonus Commissions or Targets if any.I would suggest going on a call with your competitor, as a pseudo Affiliate, and trying to source your information.

7. Not Being Contactable

If there’s anything worst than a disorganized Affiliate Program, it’s an Affiliate Program whose concerned person (Affiliate or Marketing Manager) cannot be contacted.Imagine how much bad it would do for your business if your Customer Service team would be non-contactable when the customer needed you’ll the most which is why you go to lengths creating a Toll-Free Number, Dedicated Email Address, Chat Application, Social Media Accounts and so on. Please apply the same logic to your Affiliate Program; include a Dedicated Telephone Number and an Email Address that your Affiliates could use to connect with your business when required.It will make it easier for them to discuss ideas regarding a promotional campaign that they may have thought about for your business.

Conclusion: Affiliate Marketing, if done well, can prove to be an excellent channel available for Startups, and could serve as an effective growth hack tool. It can also help you achieve a significant percentage of the incremental revenue that you would forecast. All that’s important is how you manage the Affiliate Program for your business.

Are you currently running an Affiliate Program for your StartUp? What are the problems you face while managing your Affiliate Program? You can leave in a comment to discuss them.

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Rahul Nair

Rahul Nair

Rahul Nair is an Affiliate Marketing Consultant and also a founder of www.trackbox.co, an Affiliate Management & Tracking Software. He loves to play Badminton & Videogames. While not doing that he is extremely passionate about Affiliate Marketing and enjoys discussing how Startups can leverage on the Pay For Performance Channel.

  • Thank you.

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  • Hi Raj,

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