Communication is Key!
When building an affiliate network communicating with affiliates is important for merchants to maintain a good relationship. An affiliate's web site targets visitors, who may not necessarily view a merchant's web site, and therefore expands a merchants market. An affiliate may not be able to actively keep up with the merchants product, it is important for a merchant to keep affiliate's informed about new product information, sales, new releases, links, graphics, promotions and special offers.
Keep in mind, not all affiliates are going to produce a high volume of traffic, and importantly, visitors who want to purchase a merchant's products or services. The occasional gem makes the time taken well worth your effort. Talk with successful affiliates, find out what they are doing to effectively promote your software, and use that information to assist those affiliates who are not as successful.
Assist affiliates in understanding your product; no one knows your products like you do. For affiliates to drive traffic that will convert to sales, they need to understand the benefits of the product they are marketing. Once an affiliate knows the product, they will be better able to act as an extended sales force. In order for the affiliate to make the effort, you simply must support them!
Make Communication Easy
Many 3rd party affiliate-tracking programs notify both the affiliate and merchant of a sale. This can often be automated and will create positive communication between merchants and affiliates. Making an affiliate's role easier will help them increase earnings and further promote a merchants site.
Provide affiliates with great looking graphics and sample text. Graphics that work best are those that highlight your web site, yet fit the look of an affiliate's web site.
Newsletters are another great way to get information to affiliates. Include tips and specific for affiliates, along with general marketing advice that helps with site promotion. If you are looking for software to manage newsletters, I highly recommend Group Mail - http://tinyurl.com/23ljy
An affiliate generates a sale for a product and the merchant promptly decreases the commission. This sends a very negative message to the affiliate, in many cases they've taken a lot of time to place links, promote products and because they've driven effective traffic their commission is decreased. If its necessary to decrease a commission for whatever reason, be sure to include a personal note detailing the reason and letting the affiliate know that you still support their efforts.
An affiliate sale occurs, you go to their website and don't find any links you decide they must be cheating you! This conclusion is simply a based on poor communication and reporting. Many, many affiliates have multiple sites, very few affiliate tracking programs allow affiliates to list multiple sites, and in many cases the number of sites listed do not accurately reflect the number of sites owned and managed by the affiliate. Additionally many affiliates manage opt-in newsletters that may result in sales, but links are not visible on a website. An example of a popular ezine often promoting affiliates is Lockergnome!
Links, Links, Links
Keep your links valid! If you update a section of the site or remove an offer provide a redirect or retain the link saying that such and such offer has expired and a new one has replaced it. It seems a waste to discard targeted traffic because a special has expired. Be sure to communicate with your affiliates, and if a link will only be good for a specified length of time tell them up front. When an offer expires notify affiliates a week prior to the expiration with a reminder. This will give them ample time to make any needed updates.
Affiliates love added bonuses for reaching goals or specified levels of sales. Many of the 3rd party affiliate vendors run contests and provide large incentives for their top performing ones. Reward and praise successful affiliates.
Affiliates tend to be experts in other areas, which relate to a merchants business; therefore, by communicating useful information, and helping affiliates increase their earnings, they will give added exposure and increase your sales. Communicating with affiliates will ultimately benefit visitors of both sites. A little effort in the beginning can mean big rewards in the long run.
About The Author
Sharon Housley manages marketing for NotePage, Inc. http://www.notepage.net a company specializing in alphanumeric paging, SMS and wireless messaging software solutions. Other sites by Sharon can be found at http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com and http://www.small-business-software.net