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Now that you’ve decided to launch your first affiliate marketing campaign, you’re probably trying to decide where to start. While it might seem like a daunting task, there are several basic components you’ll need to consider as you get your program started.

The Promotion
Before you start looking for places to promote your product or service, think about what exactly it is you want to promote and how you want to promote it. Will you be promoting your brand in general or a specific product/service? How are you going to entice consumers to click on your ad? Many brands use offers to attract consumers. Popular (and often successful) offers include free shipping, discounts on new or seasonal products, and free trials.

What kind of advertising are you looking to do – banner ads, search results, social media plugs, coupon codes? You’re going to need to develop the appropriate creative for your campaign. If you’re doing banner ads, remember to create them in multiple sizes so they can be used on multiple sites, in different placements. If you’re doing text based advertising in your campaign, get creative with your writing.

The Insertion Order
The nature of the insertion order is what differentiates affiliate marketing from all other forms of marketing. There are two primary components of the insertion order: transaction qualification and payout rate. A qualified transaction is the desired consumer action you want from an affiliate’s promotion such as the generation of a sale or lead. Payout rate is the amount you will reward an affiliate per qualified transaction. Percent of sale, fixed rate per sale or lead, and cost per click are all common methods of calculating payout rates.

There are plenty of other things to consider including in insertion orders. You may want to include exceptions or different payout rates for different categories of products. To incentivize partners, you may want to include performance bonuses for achieving a level of qualified transactions. Most advertisers will also want to include a click referral period to limit how long a consumer is considered to be referred from an affiliate.

Affiliate Partners
Once you have determined your promotion, come up with the creative, and created an insertion order, you’re ready to find affiliate partners. You can find partners in a number of ways, such as posting an offer in an affiliate network or contacting potential partners directly. The real key here is in picking the right partners.

Affiliate partners should attract the consumers you are looking to turn into customers but without competing for the business you are already generating via your existing marketing channels. If you’re considering adding partners that promote in the same channel you currently have in place (e.g. search or email), ensure your insertion order terms clearly define their limitations so that affiliates’ efforts do not cannibalize your internal efforts. For online partners, take a moment to review their website. Make sure the content on their site is information that is relevant to your target audience. See which other brands they are promoting and in what manner. You’ll also want to take into consideration how different partners will interact with each other to ensure you build a harmonious channel.

Getting Started
With these basic components in place, you’re ready to get started with affiliate marketing. As you begin to build out your affiliate channel, ensure your messages are consistent with those in your other channels and that your partnerships make sense in the context of those messages. Continually evaluate the effectiveness of your campaigns and your partnerships and you’ll be well on your way to a valuable affiliate marketing program. Now all you need is a platform to power your program!

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