Managing Affiliates with CRM

By Lars Helgeson

As with other marketing strategies, you can use your CRM to manage affiliates. Affiliate marketing is using other people, companies, and websites to drive traffic to your website in exchange for paying for those referrals. Sometimes affiliates are paid for each inbound link; sometimes they’re paid when those leads become paying clients. In either case, you must have an affiliate tracking system so you can pay for those leads.

Affiliate marketing can be a powerful way to bring new clients to you. Many affiliate management systems track people who refer you business, and then can attribute sales to them.

Connecting campaigns to affiliate codes in your CRM

Associating campaigns to affiliates gives you the ability to track more than just sales. Affiliate tracking can be done in the same way you manage campaigns, assigning campaign IDs to each affiliate. These campaign IDs connect website traffic, buyer journeys, and conversions to individual contacts in your CRM. This connection then associates all your sales and marketing tracking data with your campaigns, and therefore your affiliates.

By tracking conversions and connecting them to campaigns and affiliates, you can easily calculate how much each affiliate should be paid. You can also view the rest of the traffic associated with contacts who came from that affiliate. You get a more precise overview of the quality of leads coming from that affiliate source.

CRM affiliates
Tracking payout by campaign ID.

Defining tiers for payment

The reason why affiliates are in the game of being affiliates is so they can be paid to refer you business. It’s pretty straightforward to calculate payment from an affiliate when you offer a simple commission (for example, 10 percent of every dollar paid to you by clients they refer for the first six months).

Paying in tiers gives you the flexibility to pay an affiliate based on whom they’ve referred. In other words, an affiliate can refer another affiliate and receive another payment based on all the revenue brought in by that new affiliate. This multi-tiered payment is useful for bringing in larger groups of affiliates to promote your brand.