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Affiliate programs can be hugely successful for both the advertiser and affiliate. With the right combination of effort and knowledge, your affiliates can spread the word about your products and drive traffic right where you want it – your checkout page. Of course, it’s not as simple as “if you build it, they will come”. Every successful affiliate program has one thing in common: it is managed effectively. Here are five tips to help get you on track to a well managed program.

1. Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut

One of the first things to understand is that there’s no “one true path” to affiliate marketing success. This channel changes quickly, and you need to change with it. You (or your affiliate program management team) need to stay on top of those changes, and be both willing and able to modify your efforts to take advantage of emerging opportunities and adopt the latest best practices.

2. Invest in the Right Affiliate Management Solution

Not all affiliate managements solutions are created equal. Even basic affiliate programs require advanced capabilities to be competitive and deliver a costs-effective ROI. The larger the program becomes, the more capable and robust that solution needs to be. Good program management solutions automate vital processes — such as tracking, reporting, contracting, and payment of affiliates — while providing the data insights you need to know what is working and what needs to be optimized. Choose your solution carefully, however, as not all are equal in capabilities or ease-of-use. It is important to determine your specific needs and potential pain points you need to solve before shopping for a solution to ensure it meets your needs.

3. Commit to Clear Communications

In order to operate your affiliate program successfully, you will need to communicate with affiliates consistently. Make sure your communications are clear, direct and concise. Affiliates are very busy and by being concise and consistent in your communications you will get the best responses. You should also have multiple communication options, including email, chat and forums if possible, and remember to use them regularly.

4. Give Your Affiliates Tools and Resources

While some affiliates will be skilled at marketing your products, that won’t be true across the board. Consequently, you must ensure that all your affiliates have access to the tools and resources needed to be successful. If you don’t, you’ll find they may walk away in frustration. So make sure each affiliate has the media necessary to promote your product in an attractive, compelling way, and that they have access to information about what makes your business appealing to your customers.

5. Ensure Your Affiliates Are Driving Value

Affiliate program management involves optimization of partnerships. This begins with vetting each new partner to ensure they are aligned with your brand and business objectives. Ongoing you need to be able to determine the value of each of your affiliates. How are they marketing you? How are they engaging your customers? What is the total cost of each sale they send you (don’t forget to include the cost of discounts or other promotions along with the commission and any other fees)?

Affiliate program management requires a proactive strategy, the willingness to make changes as the industry evolves, and ensuring that the affiliates are adding value. Doing anything less will result in a marketing channel that is not living up to its potential.

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