What should influencers look for in an affiliate program?

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Jun 29, 2020 | Articles

Affiliate marketing for influencers can be an effective channel to grow their business and satisfy their clients expectations. An affiliate program also known as a partner program or referral program allows you to get a commission or referral fees for referring customers to another business or brand. In the digital wellness world, affiliate programs allow practitioners and influencers to recommend products that they believe in, and get paid every-time someone buys through their referral. It’s a win-win situation, the brand finds authority, the influencer gets rewarded and the end user finds a good vetted product.

However, not all affiliate programs are equal. There are different commission rates/structures, tier-levels as well as methods and duration of tracking that affect the commissions and payouts. Here are some time-tested tips on some of the features of affiliate programs that influencers should consider before joining them.

Commission Rates / Structures

Brands and online shops will have a commission rate depending on factors such as their profit margins as well as the strategy of the brand itself. While some brands don’t have any problems giving a good rate such as 20%, others would stoop as low as 5%.

As influencers we would expect a commission that works for us, in terms of how much our time, effort and social capital is worth. We may also agree to market a brand for a smaller commission rate sometimes as the product is something we use daily or really want our audiences to have, and the money doesn’t really matter. On the other hand, if we have a huge following and a smaller brand comes along, it’s expected they provide a better rate.

Commission structure is another important aspect of affiliate marketing. Very few brands today, provide a 2-tier commission structure. A 2-tier or multi-tier commission structure would pay you a smaller commission when one of your referred customers also joins the affiliate program and books a sale. Many times, we ourselves might not find enough time to market that particular product, but someone in our network might buy from our referral and become a long-term brand advocate. It is my opinion, paramount that you get paid long-term for referring long-term opportunities. Same for distributors, your agreement with the brand should ideally include a commission for all future purchases or sales by your down-line not just the first one.

Brands also need to understand, that in today’s competitive world, providing a good rate and deep structure to your partner influencers will allow them to work with you much better by a HUGE factor. Influencers provide market visibility and endless opportunities at the same time, it should be respected and nurtured as such!

Tracking Methods/Linking & Duration

As publishers, influencers and consultants, it’s quite important that the efforts should not go in vain. Therefore, the affiliate program should be able to capture every lead you send their way and also allow some time for it to convert.

Most affiliate programs provide a unique tracking link for you to refer customers to them, and then they would start tracking the lead there on. Some of the ways online shops can track your audience visiting their websites from yours would be by tracking cookies, IP addresses, email addresses, etc. In addition, I would check with the affiliate manager if they allow word-of-mouth referrals.

I really respect affiliate program managers that make every effort to track every sale. It is very important to pay people for their efforts especially when there is no fixed salary, a little dedication is all that is needed to build fruitful long-term relationships.

The time duration for which the affiliate program tracks your lead is quite important as well. I would not join an affiliate program that offers anything less than 1 month, and would really like it if they could make it indefinite once they have my referral’s email address or phone number. Another task to consider is that you should conduct a technical test to verify the tracking of clicks and sales.

I’ve seen an affiliate program offer as little as one day of tracking. Luckily, I was in the niche since more than 10 years and knew that the time it takes for most people to decide on buying the product is usually about 10-14 days (based on data from 10,000 customers). I decided to have a chat with the affiliate program manager of this brand. Without naming them, I will tell you that I decided to quit their affiliate program. Yes, that’s how bad some brands can be! Brands are built on two things – products and relationships, lacking in either will ensure failure!

Amazon Affiliate Program has its pros and cons. The pros are that it is a huge e-commerce platform and it’s possible your lead purchases something else and you get a small commission. The cons are that rates are low, averaging at 4% and the cookie duration is also only 24 hours. There are more cons working with Amazon, but sometimes its necessary so worth learning a little 🙂

Another bad thing with Amazon affiliate program is that there are too many amazon stores, and many of them can’t be connected. This particular pitfall can affect your brand marketing too, make sure the brand you choose does not have multiple websites selling their product, specially themselves, else you will loose commissions if your leads buy elsewhere.

Reporting and Analytics

Without knowing which of our articles or pages are converting into sales, how are we supposed to improve content? Therefore, good stats and analytics are absolutely essential for any online publisher.

Pretty sure, you post 5-10 links on your blog/website and as well as social media posts, newsletters, etc. Sure your own analytics will do some work and give you a little idea. However, when guest posting this becomes impossible in most cases.

For example, if you are a guest on a podcast show and want to mention a product with your affiliate link, you’d like to see how many clicks and sales resulted from the show. Therefore, its necessary for affiliate programs to have detailed stats for every visitor you refer, referral link wise.

The Brand’s Newsletter and Reach

Once you refer a lead to a brand, the conversion rate depends a lot on the website that loads after they land. Apart from a useful high quality product, the brand should have a great website with in-depth content, and great customer support (CRM, chat, knowledge base, phone, etc). They should have a newsletter program or pixel-tracking based advertising program that reminds the visitors about what they read earlier. Newsletters can be very powerful medium for e-commerce sales, I’ve seen brands grow exponentially without any advertising budget, zilch, a good affiliate program + good newsletter + good website is the winning criteria for partnership based marketing programs.

Remember, ads are intrusive, newsletters are subscribed to and read if opened. In case of ads, you’re effectively paying people to ignore you! 😛
So advertise later, after you have good content and engagement. Some enterprise might not need this strategy but know this, they will be wasting a lot of their resources if they don’t apply this strategy – content + customer engagement is king!

So always subscribe and watch the brand communication. Don’t be afraid to give feedback to the company, remember a lot of good product developers do not understand your business, so voice your needs.

Long story short..

Have a conversation with affiliate program management team on a regular basis. Choose reliable products and online shops that offer a good affiliate platform and generous commission rates. You’re worth it!

Is your brand looking to start an affiliate program?

If you’re a brand looking for a good affiliate marketing platforms, we recommend Post Affiliate Pro. With Post Affiliate Pro it becomes possible to track your partners’ efforts life-long and have a platform that provides the growth that you’re looking for. I’ve tested almost every reputable affiliate software in the market, and found this to be the single most comprehensive solution.

99% of the WordPress affiliate program plugins will have horrible stats and tracking. Therefore, solutions like Post Affiliate Pro are essential. Another huge advantage of such a cloud hosted platform that it is independent from your e-commerce website is that it allows you to keep long-term partnerships fulfilled independently of a single brand or website cycle.

Feel free to reach out to us if you want effective affiliate program management. We specialize in affiliate programs for brands that reward the brand and its partners based on real world experience of what will grow sales. Online practitioners and fitness influencers can also grow their digital business faster with a good referral program that nurtures relationships and provides thought-leadership.

<a href="https://digitalwellness.directory/author/siddharth-agrawal/" target="_self">Siddharth Agrawal</a>

Siddharth Agrawal

Siddharth has over 15 years experience in marketing online wellness businesses. Sid has worked with the leading authorities in the wellness world including doctors, Spartans, Olympians, domestic & International Athletes, monks, Hollywood & Bollywood celebrities & their therapists.
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