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Digital Marketing Strategy Affiliate Marketing

Why onboarding affiliates is just as important as recruiting them!



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July 29, 2020 | 5 min read

As an affiliate marketer, you may find yourself having to pick and choose between partner recruitment, a vital part of growing an affiliate program and the heavy lifting of managing daily administration within your affiliate program

Time is one of the biggest things affiliate managers typically have little of and why many choose to focus on new affiliate recruitment to meet targets versus implementing marketing automation processes that can improve affiliate onboarding and sales activation.

An automated onboarding process is vital as it is one of the first things your affiliate’s experiences within your program. Let’s take a look at the onboarding process in more detail, and why it should be one of the most crucial parts of your day to day operation in affiliate marketing.

What is Needed in an Onboarding Process?

I spoke about the importance of having a customer culture in your affiliate program in my last article. Your onboarding process should flow from this and help you establish your program culture from day one. Many affiliate managers tend to focus on the recruitment aspects of their business. While this is a great strategy, it can result in some affiliates signing up and then being left adrift with no resources to help them get started promoting your brand.

As a result, you need to make sure that the onboarding process is packed with the right information for them to absorb. You can do this with a simple automated email sequence. This is nice and simple as it can be used to welcome new partners to your business (let them see your program culture) and orient them to your tracking and platform solutions so that they know exactly how to access the information they need about your products and services. From there, you can invite them to contact their affiliate manager using a direct method like live chat or skype and then you can get to know them a bit better and direct them through to any free documentation and educational content that they can use to orientate themselves on how to get the best out of your program offering.

If your affiliates require additional compliance checks (some regulated markets and sectors have these requirements) the ID verification and business paperwork process can be automated too. The faster you can onboard an affiliate and get them ready to promote you the quicker your sales can roll in. Try to implement these processes and build an expectation for it in your first touch responses so that affiliates can gather the documentations they need ahead of time. Affiliates are busy people, they work with upwards of 30-50 brands and the longer it takes to get a link, be onboarded and get started promoting your offer, the slower the results for your brand.

Taking assertive action to onboard affiliates at the same point of action they are taking to join your program can increase your program effectiveness immensely. Often lead times for onboarding to activation can be 2-4 weeks long which has a direct impact on your sales targets and delivery in the channel. In this time, an affiliate could also drift away from your brand and refocus on another to drive sales and revenue for their own needs, so its important to really set the bar high and keep on top of these processes to ensure your activity ratios’ are always optimised within the program.

Work Smart, Not Hard

Affiliate managers can often feel like there are too many areas that they need to be focused on at once. This is a complex business and the role has many facets and responsibilities to manage. You have to be able to multi-task and also provide a high personalised account management touchpoint for many. Affiliate program management is a skill. Spend some time focusing on your onboarding process and automation at the start of your program so that you do not have to come back to it again and again or waste time manually sending the same things over and over again. At the same time, you need to make sure that this information is finely tuned and packed with valuable insight that they can actually use.

On top of this, use your onboarding process to your advantage. Collect affiliates’ testimonials that you can push out on your social media as referrals and word of mouth promotional messaging. If they specifically talk about your onboarding process in a positive manner, this could be what you need to help indicate that you are different from your competitors and this encourages new affiliates to come try your program too. You should also look into awards and other events that could help you stand out. In a highly competitive industry PR and Accolades can go a long way to influencing new affiliate recruitment and that directly results in targets being met.

It only takes a minute to get prepared

Onboarding is one of the most crucial parts of an affiliate program but it is one that is often neglected. Take the time to review and revitalise yours. Whether you are improving the actual content or just automating a lot of the administrative processes so you can focus on other strategic areas, there are some great choices you can make that should help to multiply your affiliate program efforts overall.

For more information about affiliate program management or strategic affiliate marketing consulting get in touch with me here:

Digital Marketing Strategy Affiliate Marketing


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