An increasing number of brands are beginning to build in-house affiliate programs, and for good reason. When organizations build their own programs, they have increased ownership and complete visibility into how their affiliates promote their brand. There’s a lower risk of fraud, it’s typically cheaper (no network fees), and you have the opportunity to foster better relationships with your partners. With that said, developing an in-house program comes with challenges of its own, and recruiting successful partner networks requires careful planning and execution. If you’re getting ready to launch an in-house program, here’s 5 questions to be asking to get you started on the right track:
1. What are the characteristics of an ideal partner for my brand?
Answering this question requires a deep understanding of your brand’s target audience, and research into what types of content creators and influencers have already tapped into it successfully. Identifying the key attributes of a good partner significantly accelerates both affiliate discovery and the qualification process. You want to avoid wasting time reaching out to partners that will not suit your needs. Examples of partner attributes include:
Affiliate type: are you looking for bloggers? Youtube creators? Influencers? Are you open to coupon or deal sites? All of the above?
Traffic: are you looking exclusively for high-traffic partners (millions of followers/subscribers/visitors)? Or do mid-to-low traffic partners suit your needs (hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands of followers/subscribers/visitors)
Payout Structure: Are you looking exclusively for partners that work on a performance model? Or are you open to flat-rate paid placements? This attribute is tied closely to traffic. The higher the affiliate’s traffic, the more likely they will only work on a flat-rate paid placement. The lower the traffic, the more likely they will be open to a performance model.
2. What is my partner recruitment outreach strategy?
Once you’ve identified what types of partners you’re looking for, you have to develop a strategy for reaching out to them! Here it’s important to put some thought into partner messaging – you have to understand that many affiliates get hundreds of inquiries a day. How will you make your program stand out?
You also have to think about how you’ll scale your outreach efforts. Do you have the bandwidth to reach out to enough partners individually to sustainably grow your program? If you don’t have the bandwidth, you may need to either hire recruitment support, invest in email outreach software, or reach out to a partner recruitment agency.
3. What terms & conditions should I develop to ensure brand safety and fraud prevention?
In the performance marketing space, properly aligned incentives and restrictions are paramount to both your programs success and your brands safety. There are a number of considerations when developing your affiliate offer that can make or break your program, including payout, currency, content restrictions, chargeback policy, incent traffic, trademark bidding, and conversion timing.
4. How should I decide on a commission amount?
Deciding on a commission amount is a careful balance of ensuring your program is enticing to affiliates, while staying profitable in the long-run. For example, many subscription brands choose to pay out higher commissions to their affiliates, often breaking even on the first sale, then profiting from the customer’s LTV through recurring revenues. This goes for eCommerce brands too. You may offer a higher payout to affiliates resulting in a less desirable profit margin, but you’ll see the benefit in the long-run through customer loyalty, customer referrals, and better data for building lookalike audiences and remarketing.
Another important factor to consider is your competitor’s affiliate payouts. If you sell TVs online and Samsung is offering a 25% revenue share, why should an affiliate work with you instead of Samsung. Perhaps you have better TVs or a higher converting website which make for a more compelling offer, but your commission amount will still need to remain competitive
5. How do I enable my partners to effectively promote my brand? How can I accomplish this at scale?
To start seeing conversions from the partner channel, you need to ensure you’ve enabled them for success in promoting you brand. You need to develop your activation strategy, and this may include:
Hopping on a call with every new partner, to personally welcome them and discuss promotion strategies and program details.
Developing a Welcome Kit that includes everything a new partner needs to get started, including a brand-kit, affiliate links, crystal-clear program terms & conditions, discount codes, freebies, and/or enablement content.
Automating the onboarding process within your affiliate tracking software.
These are the questions brands come to us asking. Without experienced management of the affiliate channel, we often see companies overlooking steps that ensure their programs get off on the right foot. As a result, many of these programs face the following challenges:
Stagnant programs with little to no sales generated through the partner channel
Unprofitable affiliate programs, due to poorly planned commission structures
Difficulty measuring or communicating the business value of the affiliate channel
Time-consuming and expensive recruitment and partner activation
Fraudulent or brand-damaging affiliates
Reliance on affiliate networks, leading to expensive commission payments
Misaligned incentives that promote poor affiliate behavior
Ultimately, some of these companies end up with the belief that the affiliate channel “isn’t right for their business”. In contrast, we find that with proper management, scalable recruitment, any carefully planned terms and incentives, nearly any company can benefit from sustainable growth through the partner channel. That’s why we started Grovia Partners.
Grovia Partners helps brands kickstart their affiliate programs for long-term, sustainable growth. We help companies answer the above questions, accelerate partner recruitment, and avoid the pitfalls that many companies new to the affiliate space run into. If you’re interested in learning more, click here to chat with a Grovia Partners expert!