Affiliate Marketing Case Study: Dramatic Affiliate Program Growth Using Relevant Publishers Only

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These affiliate channel charts come from an affiliate program my agency, Experience Advertising, manages on one of the largest affiliate networks in the U.S. My agency manages mainly large scale affiliate programs on affiliate networks like CJ, Rakuten/Linkshare, Shareasale, and other select affiliate networks. We are responsible for both recruiting new affiliates as well as managing and motivating current affiliates and web publishers to become producers. We utilize a few different affiliate recruiting techniques that set us apart from other agencies and companies trying to do it themselves. Firstly, we implement a proactive affiliate recruiting process.  Then, we implement a proactive and helpful affiliate messaging strategy, which gets affiliates producing and the affiliate channel expanding with traffic and sales. This type of approach needs to be implemented consistently, over time, to ensure that your affiliate program grows over time.

Affiliate Sales Growth Chart

When growing an affiliate program, you want to go about it strategically, so it unfolds the way you envision it should. Most companies, from my experience, need to recalibrate their expectations about how quickly their affiliate program will take to grow to the type of sales numbers they are looking to get out of the channel. Affiliate programs grow over time, but only when you have the right approach to affiliate recruiting and affiliate management. The other intangible factor is how well your website converts traffic in general. Often times, I have to work with a client to get their website or landing page converting well enough to properly capitalize on affiliate traffic, otherwise the sales are completely lacking although traffic is increasing. This is because some types of affiliate traffic convert less well than other forms of traffic like paid search or retargeting. Once we go through that conversion boosting exercise/process, then growing the affiliate channel gains traction at the rate it should and therefore many affiliates will start producing. Another aspect that a lot of merchants miss the boat on are the running of promotions. Affiliates in general like promoting promotions to their audience since they tend to convert better than no promotion at all. However, because of the coupon affiliate phenomenon, merchants are hesitant about using promotions with their affiliates, which hurts the channels performance. In fact, you have to divide up your affiliates into groups by type, and then run promotions through the types you want to, and payout commission rates based on affiliate type as well. You should never payout all affiliates the same rate or in fact consider all affiliates similar or the same, since there are numerous different types of affiliates that generate their sales through means that need to be reviewed by the merchant to make sure they are 100% OK with their promotional methods. So keep that in mind when growing your affiliate program into the 1000’s of affiliates.

Affiliate Channel Sales Numbers Growing Over Time

It’s always necessary to have an affiliate recruiting strategy in place to pull in new affiliates every month, because you will have some attrition in your affiliate program, so it’s very important to have proactive affiliate recruiting strategies in place. This could include proactive affiliate outreach/inviting, running ads on search engines for affiliates, advertising on Facebook, and targeted affiliate outreach. As an agency that has been operating in the affiliate channel for 15+ years, we have access to 100’s of thousands of affiliates and web publishers that we can prospect on our client’s behalf to grow their affiliate programs into the thousands of affiliates per each account we manage, which is a tremendous advantage to growing your affiliate channel as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is worth it’s weight in gold to clients that really get what we are able to do at Experience Advertising. Our long history in the affiliate channel also allows us to leverage our affiliate relationships to build affiliate programs faster than other agencies or advertisers themselves. This is one of the main reasons companies will hire my affiliate agency.

New Affiliates and Publishers Recruiting on a Monthly Basis

But recruiting affiliates is 1/2 of the battle in growing an affiliate program. The other side of the coin is how well your affiliates are being managed, messaged, doted on, helped, educated, motivated, and facilitated. Our approach to “managing” affiliates is to provide proprietary education, knowledge, and strategies that make affiliates more effective affiliates. We have built real relationships with 10’s of 1000’s of affiliates and publishers over the years, that are loyalty to our agency and are always looking forward to my latest post. I know this because they tell me so.

I hope this post helped to demystify the affiliate marketing channel for some of you, and motivated some of you to get going on growing your affiliate program to be a truly formidable revenue generator for your company.

Evan is the CEO and Founder of Experience Advertising. He has more than 20 years experience and background with ecommerce website marketing. His skill sets include: search engine marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, conversion rate optimization, and other traffic driving and community building strategies.

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