Web Marketing: How to Create an Affiliate Program

By John Arnold, Michael Becker, Marty Dickinson, Ian Lurie, Elizabeth Marsten

Even a moderately successful web marketing affiliate program (in which other businesses can earn a commission for referrals to your website) can quickly propel your business to a new level that would’ve been impossible (or at least extremely difficult) to attain on your own.

How to set up affiliate tracking

All web-based affiliate programs require three essential components:

  • An affiliate center: This is where affiliates can add an account for themselves, check their sales, and get links, ads, and scripts to promote.

  • A reliable, integrated connection to the product being sold: Don’t allow an affiliate to promote your products with links that don’t work! Best case, you’ll be embarrassed. Worst case, your affiliate will likely never promote your products again.

  • A payment-tracking system: To stay on an affiliate’s good side, you need a mechanized way to determine when and how much you need to pay each affiliate.

Fortunately, Premium Web Cart offers all these features rolled into one, which is why it’s a good choice to use as an affiliate program.

Register for your own affiliate program so that you can identify areas of the sign-up process that need improvement.

How to attract affiliates

After your affiliate center is complete, announce to your clients that you’re looking for people to recommend your products and services to others and that you pay referral fees. The easiest people to recruit for promoting your products to others are those who have used your products and services. Your customers often become your best salespeople.

Send a letter to your client lists announcing any products that are part of your affiliate program for them to market.

How to train affiliates

Having a small network of affiliates will bring in some additional sales, but the general rule is that you will need 20 affiliates for everyone who produces any measurable sales. That means to have 50 producers, you would need to have more than 1,000 registered affiliates. This ratio can be greatly reduced through continuous opportunities for training. Here are some ways you can train your affiliates:

  • Conduct a weekly conference call. Keep this call short, say, no more than 40 minutes. And always have someone on the call who is being interviewed — maybe an industry expert or a sales trainer.

    Conference calls where one person talks the whole time are boring and are usually long-winded and disorganized. Create an agenda for what will be covered on the call and follow it. Always start on time and end on time.

    Try Free Audio Conferencing for your conference calls. It allows you to have as many as 85 people on a call.

  • Record the conference calls. Most conferencing systems provide a means for recording your calls at the press of a button. Send an e-mail to your affiliate list with a link to the recorded call immediately after the call is complete so that any affiliate can listen to it again and share it with others.

    If some folks missed the call, you can give a little promotion in the e-mail about what was covered and why they should listen.

  • Provide one-on-one assistance. Until your affiliate group gets too large to manage by phone, provide some individual coaching to each new affiliate beginning right after a member signs up.

  • Provide the tools to use in their promotions. Most of your affiliates won’t want to write their own sales copy and pay a designer to create banner ads for your products. So be willing to provide the sales copy, images, promotions, audio, and even potentially video for your affiliates to use in their efforts to promote your products.