How To Start An Affiliate Program For Your Business: The Complete Guide
Affiliate marketing as severally written about on the blog, is one of the best ways bloggers can earn money online. But while it’s a great source of income, it is run by companies whose goals are to rapidly increase their sales and customer acquisition rates.
Running an affiliate program can come with a lot of headaches, challenges, and frustrations on the part of the business starting the program. But when the basics are understood and the right steps for execution are carefully followed, starting and running a successful affiliate program bloggers would gladly jump on, would come a whole lot easier
First, What Is An Affiliate Program?
To understand what an affiliate program is, you first have to understand what affiliate marketing is:
Affiliate marketing is a performance based type of marketing where a business rewards its affiliate marketers in cash and kind, for successful referrals they bring to their businesses through their affiliate program.
As explained in the definition, the referral links that affiliate marketers share on their blogs and social media accounts to get people to click and either successfully sign up, perform a certain action, or purchase a product or service is gotten from the affiliate program.
So an affiliate program in simple terms, is a marketing scheme where a business sells its products using multiple individuals or businesses who get rewarded with a certain commission upon every successful action recorded.
Why Start An Affiliate Program?
Running an affiliate marketing program is one of the fastest ways to quickly grow a business, especially for a new product that people don’t really trust or know yet about.
Affiliate programs are mostly ran by internet companies, since it’s a lot relatively easier to motivate so many people to click, read a convincing sales copy, and immediately make a purchase with a call-to-action at the bottom, than and to convince a person to buy over the television.
Since hundreds or maybe thousands of bloggers who join your affiliate program would tend to write deeply and passionately about your products or services, the links of your products they put on their websites will not just create widespread awareness, popularity, and trust for the items, but could greatly improve your website’s SEO rankings.
By running an affiliate program, you’ll have a platoon of marketers who’re aggressively promoting your products and only getting paid whenever they successfully sell any product.
Types Of Commission Structures
Depending on the type of business you run, there are four major types of commission structures for an affiliate program. These structures are:
1). Cost Per Sale (CPS):
In this commission structure, you will pay a percentage or fixed price to the affiliate marketer for every sale that happens on your website.
2). Cost Per Click (CPC):
In this commission structure, you will pay for each successful click to your website.
3). Cost Per Lead (CPL):
In this commission structure, you will pay for each successful enquiry that happens via a web form.
4). Cost Per Action (CPA):
In this commission structure, you will pay for each successful action like a mobile app download, email signup, and a whole lot more.
As stated above, the commission structure your business will run its affiliate program on is largely dependent on what type of business you’re running. While there are no entirely right or wrong commission structures to follow, they have their advantages and disadvantages, and as such, show that it is important you test and examine which will work best for your business on the long run.
How to Create An Affiliate Program with WordPress
While creating your affiliate program, you’ll have to decide if you want to either run it in-house or outsource it. By running it in-house, you’ll use plugins you can install on your WordPress site to track leads, while outsourcing would require you use the popular and very advanced affiliate marketing platforms that are widely available.
Step 1: Create A Product Or Service People Want To Buy
No matter how hard an army of affiliate marketers try to promote a product no one wants to buy, the sales volume will remain pitiful.
The first thing to do when starting an affiliate program is to create a product people actually want to buy. It could be a re-make of another successful product, which could now be priced cheaper and carry a lot more value than its copy.
By starting an affiliate program with a product or service that already has a large market, you can be more certain of running a successful program in a period of one to two years.
Remember: Avoid promoting bad products because it can cost you your company’s reputation, make you lose a lot of money on wasted promotions, and cause a heavy flow of refunds requested by your customers who would have by now, totally lost any form of trust they may have had for your business.
Step 2: Choose The Best Affiliate Program Platform Or Plugin For You
The next step is to either choose an affiliate plugin that will be installed in your WordPress site or one that’s housed on an external platform.
Choosing a platform or a plugin both have their advantages and disadvantages, but the decision ultimately lies in your hands.
If you pick a platform, it makes you more transparent and ensures that the data is almost never lost and is very accurate. Whereas if you choose to go with a plugin, a site crash could make you lose all the data overnight, especially if you have no backups.
While going the platform route comes at a substantial cost, it is usually the best and most popular method.
Step 3: Get A Lot Of Affiliates To Start Promoting Your Products Or Services
Now that you’ve setup your affiliate programs and have a product or service people want to buy, you can go on a promotion spree to attract thousands of affiliate marketers.
If you don’t have a large budget to promote your affiliate program, you could choose instead, to setup your affiliate program on a platform rather than hosting it in-house, as these platforms usually have thousands of affiliate marketers registered on their websites, that are always in search of new products that have a fast selling rate, coupled with a great commission on it.
Step 4: Closely Monitor And Manage Your Affiliate Program
After setting up and having recruited a minimum critical mass of affiliate marketers, you have to closely monitor your affiliate program to ensure everything runs smoothly.
A very important reason you must closely follow up is in respect to fraudulent activities. People would naturally want to game the system so they can make a whole lot more money, and as such, you have to be on the lookout to immediately delete those set of individuals.
Affiliate Marketing Platforms
Some great affiliate platforms to start your affiliate program on are:
Just as there are thousands of affiliate programs running on the affiliate maketing platform, there are also thousands of affiliate marketers promoting products listed on the platform.
Businesses from almost every part of the world can register and create their affiliate program on this platform.
This is another affiliate marketing platform, although far smaller than Commission Junction and several other affiliate marketing platforms.
Just like Commission Junction, people from almost every part of the world can register and create their affiliate programs on GrowSumo.
This is another great affiliate marketing platform, and people from almost every part of the world can register and create their affiliate programs on their platform.
This is just as popular as Commission Junction, but was saved for last because people from many parts of the world can’t easily sign up on the platform. They fiercely filter their potential affiliates and as such, millions of people, especially from certain parts of Africa have difficulties getting approved on the platform.
Note: These affiliate platforms listed above usually charge a large first time sign up fee which could be as high as $600, then a monthly premium for their continued use.
Affiliate Plugins For WordPress
Some affiliate plugins you could install on your WordPress site instead of registering on an affiliate platform include:
AffiliateWP is one of the best affiliate plugins on the internet. It offers a wide range of features affiliate platforms offer, and has a one time fee for installation on your website.
Some of the amazing benefits you get with this includes:
- Accurate affiliate tracking
- Unlimited affiliates
- Individual affiliate reports
- Easy affiliate registrations
- Coupon codes
- Affiliate dashboard
- Real time reporting
- Custom referral rates e.g using percentage or flat rates
This is another great affiliate plugin, but has fewer features that AffiliateWP and other affiliate platforms. It can go for a one time fee of just $39 for your website.
To Sum It Up
Starting an affiliate program can sure be a great way to aggressively grow your product and service revenues, but not going about it the right way can lead to a lot of complications and a terrible loss of both money and customers.
If you want to start an affiliate program but don’t know how to, you can either follow this guide or hire a professional to help you every single step of the way.
What are your thoughts on this article about how to start an affiliate program for your business in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Africa, or anywhere else around the world? Let me know by leaving a comment below.