How to build a Partner Program from scratch
Your brand is scaling.
You are buying traffic on Google, have a Facebook page, an Instagram account, SEO is optimised….
The Influencer / Affiliate space is a HUGE opportunity for challenger brands to drive incremental sales and work on a performance basis. Affiliates, bloggers, Influencers come in all shapes and sizes, so let’s call them Partners.
Here is a route map to get you from A to Z.
First up, plan. Set up your long term goals. Starting a Partner Program is a long term play
- Think about metrics like ARPU, Customer Lifetime Value and beyond just a sale value
- Have a tracking platform in place
- Have solid data on conversion rates etc before putting out stuff to Partners
- Don’t use your Partner Program as a testing ground
Understand what your competitors are doing first
- Sign up to sites like CJ.com and Impact
- Snoop around on your competitors
- What are the average payouts to Partners?
- What are the creatives that are working?
- What are the payment terms?
This is the bit that sucks. When you create your forecast, it all looks so easy.
Partners will sign on, get started and be scaling quickly….Nope.
It’s going to take some work.
Find Partners through going to trade shows, sites like Affpaying.com or industry blogs. Search your niche and target sites that rank highly.
Automate your outreach
Start the outreach program to Partners. Use SAAS resources like Apollo.io, Hubspot. Email sequences are essential. Test and test your subject lines and creatives. The idea is to generate curiosity and interest, not to get them to sign up immediately.
One touch point is never enough. At least seven is what you should be aiming for.
Really think about the offer you can make to your Partner to sign up.
Ask specific questions on the registration page.
The above is a good layout for asking registration questions. Other ones to throw in the mix might be:
- How did you hear about us?
- Which other brands do you work with?
- What are you hobbies or passions? (We sometimes give prizes to Partners and we want you to love it)
Terms and Conditions
This is a big one
Get your T + Cs nailed down. Here are some things to bear in mind.
Don’t allow Partners to compete with you on your own search terms. This just pushes your marketing spend up.
Set very clear penalties with regards to copyright Infringement. Don’t allow Partners to create landing pages or banners that “look” like your site.
The same goes for branded domains. If you are www.zachboatinggear.com don’t allow www.zachwindsurfinggear.com as a domain that Partners can use.
Think very carefully before allowing this style of promotion
Make sure that any presell landing page cannot manipulate user behavior, for example by redirecting them automatically to you. Users must choose to click on Partner links.
Reject the wrong affiliates
This is controversial but don’t spend time on Partners that are not a fit. Yes, you could be leaving money on the table, but at this stage you want to manage the early Partners like they are your first born. Don’t waste time on that student gmailer with no experience who wants to become your Partner.
After Sign up
You have spent blood, sweat and tears recruiting these Partners.
Be proactive, responsive and build relationships. Get off email as quickly as possible. Set up zoom calls. Get to know your Partners. What do they want?
Provide them with some assets on how your Partner Program works. Give them access to creatives and share with them a case study, metrics on other data points so they can get a sense of how this is going to work for them.
Set up reporting and give data on activity. This is the lifeblood of the affiliate space. If a Partner can’t see their efforts, they will go elsewhere.
Partner contests work. Use prize draws, leader boards and newsletters promoting the best Partner. Make your top Partners feel valued and have a high status. For others, share tips on how they can do the same.
Look at First touch attribution as a way of tracking these. Influencers often provide clicks and potential customers right at the top of the sales funnel.
These eat up Last touch attribution. Use Click to Conversion time thresholds to monitor this
Watch out for these as they will erode other channels. If you do you use them, pay them a low rate.
Make sure you can manage scale as the channel grows. Use tools like Everflow.io to help with this.
Pay as soon as you can and on time
If you are going to be delayed with payments, give a time and stick to it.
Ignore Partner payouts at your peril.