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The phone’s ringing… you pick it up… it’s one of your affiliates. They launch into questions, but you’re not even sure who it is! You scramble to find emails, but to no avail – you’ll have to talk later. How embarrassing!

Building a successful affiliate program requires solid partner relationship management skills. Your affiliates count on you to provide them with the support they need to be successful, but it’s easy to lose track when you are working with many partners. Take the time to develop good habits for organizing communication and staying on top of your relationships. I promise, it will pay off. Below are a few tips to help you get going.

Set Clear Expectations

Whether you’re starting a new relationship or working to improve an old one, it is important to clearly communicate your expectations. This might seem elementary, but it’s surprising how often this step is skipped.

Arrange a meeting with your affiliate partner to discuss how you run your affiliate program, where important information can be found and how you will communicate. Ask your partner to come prepared to share how things work on their end as well. And leave plenty of time for questions and discussion.

After the meeting, send a recap email that documents everything you discussed. This will help to establish a collaborative relationship and allow you to openly address concerns before they become problems.

Schedule Time for Relationship Maintenance

Being responsive is certainly important, but take it a step further and schedule time to proactivity nurture your relationships. Staying in touch with positive encouragement will motivate your partners to scale up their productivity.

A nice way to do this is take a screenshot of their performance report and email it to them, pointing out their earnings per click and encouraging them to ramp up. They may have not even realized their progress and will appreciate the check-in!

The goal is to build long-lasting fruitful relationships. This takes trust and frequent communication. And don’t forget that it’s a two-way street. Ask your affiliates for feedback on what’s working and what’s not and make sure they have the assets they need to be successful. Personalization and personality go a long way in cultivating relationships.

Develop an Organizational System

Of course, being organized is crucial to accomplishing all of this. Developing a system that allows you to track your interactions with partners will save you tons of time and frustration.

We’re excited about the new CRM functionality we are introducing to our Partner Manager product that does just that. It tracks partner relationships and allows affiliate managers to nurture them more efficiently. There is a log for each partner where you can store files and notes about meetings and emails, so you have a quick history to review, rather than wasting time searching through your inbox. Here’s a sneak peek of what it looks like:

CRM notes

Partnership notes are visible to your whole team. This ensures that everyone stays aware of what others have been up to and balls aren’t dropped. Notes are helpful as you evaluate new partners, as well as for checking on your top partners to keep those relationships strong. This is also a great place for keeping information about your affiliates – preferred communication methods and times, their business model and where it fits with yours, ideas for exclusive promotions and so on… then you won’t forget!

Nurturing relationships with your affiliates is one of the big keys to growing your affiliate program, and having the right tools can make you much more effective. For more helpful tips, check out this free webinar “Best Practices for Working with Performance-Based Media Partners” featuring top affiliates and Todd Crawford, our VP Strategic Initiatives and Co-Founder.

There’s more cool stuff coming in this domain for Impact Radius, stay tuned!

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