Too often, affiliates sign up, add a page to their website or a mini-site dedicated to your product or service, and then sit back and wait to see if sales happen. Good communication provides a foundation for stronger, more productive affiliate relationships.
At the most basic level, you must provide your affiliates with the information they need to participate fully in your program. This includes clear instructions for making use of the platform and the product details they’ll need to make sales.
Typically, you’ll communicate this through:
- an onboarding email or call;
- a platform demo or video;
- product literature; and/or
- product demos.
Many busy affiliate members stop there, but those initial steps provide only the bare foundation for effective communication. Additional scheduled communications that help strengthen relationships and facilitate strong performance include regular newsletters and scheduled check-in calls.
Regular affiliate newsletters do more than just provide an opportunity to touch base on a regular basis. Email newsletters allow you to quickly and effectively communicate information about product changes, sales and special promotions, tips for increasing sales and special affiliate opportunities and incentives. How often you send newsletters will depend upon the nature of your affiliate relationships and your products or services. Groupon affiliates receive multiple emails each week, while companies with more static product lines may find weekly newsletters sufficient. The key is to ensure that each newsletter contains useful information.
Scheduled calls with your affiliates provide an opportunity to find out what they need from you in order to deliver their best efforts. An affiliate who isn’t happy with some aspect of the program or lacks information may become lackluster and not reach out, so a scheduled call allows you to ask questions and prevent problems.
In addition, scheduled calls allow you to learn from your affiliates. They’re interacting with prospects, so they may have valuable information about how your products are perceived, which techniques or content are most effective, and what obstacles to closing they’re encountering.
Schedule calls frequently enough to gather information in a timely manner but not so frequently that they burden the affiliate or your affiliate manager. A call after the first 30 days of participation and then quarterly thereafter may strike the right balance.
Phone calls aren’t the only way to gather useful information from your affiliates. Additional methods include:
- comment opportunities within your platform; or
- a bonus or other incentive for the best tips submitted.
Finally, make sure that your affiliates have a human being to contact. Strong affiliate programs are built on relationships. They won’t be loyal to a website or a platform, but they’ll build a relationship with the person they see as the face of your program.