How to Create an Affiliate Program – From A to Z Guide 

21 mins read
How to Create an Affiliate Program - From A to Z Guide 

How to create an affiliate program? From deciding on your affiliate strategy, commissions, and the products/services your affiliate partners will work with, this in-depth guide covers all the steps you should follow when launching an affiliate program. 

Starting an affiliate program is easier than it seems. However, if it’s the first time that you try your hand at developing a successful affiliate marketing strategy, starting from scratch can be challenging. This guide covers everything you need to know to get on the right foot with the affiliate marketing strategy that perfectly suits your business model. It will appeal to your partners and customers. With that said, let’s see how to create an affiliate program from scratch. 

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a part of a company’s marketing strategy, the main goal of which is to encourage content creators to promote services and products of a particular company and link to its website. As a reward, content creators earn a commission every time they bring a sale. 

Affiliate marketing programs encourage content creators, writers, bloggers, and social media managers spread the word about other companies whose services they promote. In most cases, affiliate marketing programs work this way – a content creator places clickable and trackable affiliate links within the content on their website or social media. Companies pay these affiliates a commission each time someone purchases using an affiliate link.

Affiliate marketing should be the best choice for companies selling physical and digital products. If you want to run a successful affiliate marketing campaign, your company should meet the following standards. 

  • Affiliate marketing should be a great fit for your business if you want other companies to promote your products or services on their channels. Your affiliate partners won’t resell your products. Instead, they will recommend your offers and link back to your store.
  • It would help if you were willing to pay your affiliates a commission from every sale made through their referral link.
  • You need access to affiliates whose niche and target audience match yours. 
  • Please sell products that target a wide audience.
  • An affiliate marketing program should perfectly fit your business if your company has high customer retention rates. You can easily afford repeated commissions if a client brings in continued profits for your business. 

When you start wondering how to create an affiliate program, you should remember that since your affiliate partners promote your products on their websites, they will potentially reach customers they do not know personally. If you prefer your partners to promote your offers to the individuals they know, you’d better opt for a referral program. 

A referral program should be the best choice for you if:

  • You’d like to encourage your customers to spread the word about your business among their family members, friends, colleagues, etc.
  • You sell products or services that target a micro-niche market. 
  • Your business has recently launched, and you find recruiting content creators as affiliate partners difficult. 

Affiliates are different from influencers. They communicate with the group of followers they have built relationships with. Unlike affiliates, influencers are focused on showing how they use your products rather than promoting them the way you would. Regarding payments, influencers are paid by the campaign rather than the sales. 

Affiliate marketing benefits

If you hesitate about whether starting an affiliate program should be a good decision for your business, mind the following advantages the program can bring you: 

  • An affiliate marketing program helps you rapidly increase brand awareness among new audiences. 
  • Customers are more likely to trust affiliates’ recommendations than ads and messages that come directly from the brand. 
  • You can easily track the ROI of word-of-mouth by keeping a close eye on the sales every particular affiliate partner is responsible for. 
  • An affiliate program lets you access customers that are your ideal audience type. 
  • The last but not the least important benefit of affiliate programs is that affiliate programs are cost-effective and low-risk solutions. You only need to pay the commission to affiliates who generate sales. 

How to create an affiliate program step-by-step 

After you determine an affiliate program should be the right choice for your brand and you’ve seen the benefits it can bring to you, it’s time to get straight to practice and learn how to create an affiliate program by yourself. 

Start by setting your goals 

Like other marketing programs, you should start working on the affiliate marketing campaign by setting your goals. 

First, you should decide what audience you’d like to reach with your affiliate marketing campaign. Once the target audience is chosen, you can clearly understand what types of affiliates should help you reach those customers. 

Next, you need to set the KPIs for your affiliate program. By setting several top measurable goals, you can realize whether your program is successful or not. 

  • The main goal of your affiliate campaign should be the amount of revenue you want your affiliate partners to bring you in a month, quarter, and year. 
  • It would be best to decide how often you’d like people who click on the affiliate link to make a purchase. 
  • Also, set the goal on the unique number of affiliate sales you want your partners to generate in a given time. 
  • Set your goals for conversion rates, like the frequency of how often you’d like customers to click on affiliate links to make a purchase. 
  • Set your goals on the number of unique affiliate sales anticipated to be placed in a given time. 
  • Set goals on impressions, leads, and clicks you wish the affiliates to bring within a specific time. 

Look into competitors’ affiliate programs

Whatever project you will bring online, checking out similar solutions launched by your competitors is always a good idea. Learning the offers of competitor websites should help you find their weak points and decide how to launch an affiliate program that would let your business stand out. 

Running a competitive analysis before launching your affiliate marketing program is easier than you think, provided that you know how to do it right. Let’s check out the main recommendations on positioning your affiliate program competitively. 

  • Firstly, you need to find at least two competitors with affiliate programs. In a perfect scenario, these should be companies with an audience similar to yours. 
  • Next, check out the structure of their affiliate programs and their affiliate commissions. Are affiliates paid a set amount for each action or a percentage of each sale? You should also find out if affiliates are paid in cash or in credits for the brand’s products. 
  • You should also find out how each brand finds its affiliates –  on its own or through an affiliate network. Should potential affiliate partners sign up for the program to be accepted? 
  • Find out the terms and conditions of each affiliate program. 
  • Run a SWOT analysis that would help you find out each program’s strong and weak points, the opportunities a competing program missed so that you could catch them up, and the threats competing for affiliate programs pose to yours. 

Choose the commission structure

The next step that should be mentioned in the ultimate guide on creating an affiliate program is deciding on the structure of your affiliate program. First and foremost, when deciding on the compensation paid to affiliates for the generated sales, remember that you pay only for sales, not impressions or clicks. 

You need to decide if you pay a set amount for each sale or a percentage of an affiliate’s sales. In most cases, paying a percentage commission proves to be the most effective strategy. 

You can also consider offering commission bonuses to your top-performing affiliates. This will make your affiliate program more attractive to your partners and encourage users to apply more effort when they promote your brand’s offers. 

Work on the affiliate program’s structure 

Besides specifying the commission, you need to decide on the following aspects of your affiliate program’s structure: 

  • How will your affiliates distribute their affiliate links, and which marketing channels can they use?
  • For how long will the cookies be active? 
  • What are the terms and conditions of your affiliate program? 
  • What makes your affiliate program stand out from the competition? 
  • Will you hire a dedicated affiliate manager or designate someone from your team? 

Find affiliates

At this point, you need to decide how to find your potential affiliate partners. One of the decisions you should make is whether you would like to use an existing network of affiliates or form your own network. 

Using an existing affiliate network lets you quickly build a base of potential affiliate partners. However, there is also a significant disadvantage to using such affiliate networks. As a rule, they charge you a “finder’s fee” on top of the commission you directly pay your affiliates. Sometimes, you need to pay up to 30% of the commission you charge. If you do some math, you will find out how significant the difference may be.  If you pay $10,000 to your affiliates per year, an affiliate network may require you to pay them an extra $30,000 because that network found affiliates for your company. 

If you decide to form your own network of affiliates, you can still track their efficiency using affiliate marketing software. As a rule, such solutions cost much less than existing affiliate networks. Besides, choosing the right affiliate software offers plenty of advantages over using an existing affiliate network.

When you form your own network of affiliates, choose only reputable websites, bloggers, and social media influencers whose target audience can be potentially interested in the products and services you sell. Then, make a list of users standing behind those accounts. 

Another way of building your own network of affiliates is by placing an open affiliate application on your website. Screen them carefully based on your needs and accept requests only from those applicants who fit well with your niche and whose audience matches yours. You can also join LinkedIn groups for affiliate networking. Simply join the group that matches your search criteria, post your message, and wait for affiliates to contact you. 

Choose the best candidates

Your goal should be to find the best-fit candidates willing to join your affiliate marketing program. So, ensure you carefully scan potential candidates manually or with business intelligence tools. 

Here are several useful tips on how to screen affiliates on your shortlist: 

  • Carefully check their blogs, websites, and social media profiles to see if the style meshes well with your brand. 
  • Your best candidate to join the affiliate marketing program should be consistently active in content creation and communication with the audience. 
  • Ensure they have never been engaged in questionable behavior. 
  • If possible, contact them to ask a few questions about their previous experience with other affiliate marketing programs. 

After you choose the best candidates, reach out with personalized messages. Your message should appeal to the candidate with luring terms and conditions of how your affiliate program works, the affiliate commission, the benefits your affiliate program provides, and a summary of the affiliate’s responsibilities. The aim of sending such messages is to convince the potential affiliate that your affiliate program is worth joining. 

After an individual agrees to participate in your affiliate program, send them a brief of your program’s terms and conditions and an agreement to abide by these rules. 

Train your affiliate partners 

To let users succeed in your affiliate program, you need to train them on the program’s fundamentals, give advice on promoting their affiliate links, and use branded banners, images, and videos of your products. Send them updates and announcements on time. Remember that affiliate relationships are meant to be long-term and you should nurture them to achieve the best results. 

It’s also a good idea to schedule monthly webinars or Zoom meetings with your affiliate partners. Whenever you release a new feature or update to your program, you can send them notifications via an exclusive Slack channel, LinkedIn, or Facebook group. 

Ensure your partners know how to reach you whenever they have any questions about the program or need your advice. Decide which way of getting in touch with you works best and put the respective information in the contact details on your affiliate program’s page. For example, you can share your email address, phone, or online contact form. 

Follow your affiliate partners’ success

After your affiliate marketing program is successfully launched and partners start to join in, you need to regularly track their success and check which affiliates bring in the most sales and who needs your help. Also, check how well your affiliate marketing program meets your goals before its launch, including the amount of revenue it brings to you, conversion rates, special sales, etc. Suppose you notice that your affiliate marketing campaign doesn’t meet the set goals. In that case, you might need to rethink your affiliate lineup and apply some changes to the affiliate commissions you pay. 

Become a PRNEWS.IO Affiliate

PRNEWS.IO welcomes you to join the community of affiliate partners to earn a 2% commission on every sale made with your affiliate link. Achieving success is easier using the ready-made affiliate marketing materials the company provides. It includes promotional banners and affiliate marketing tools. Sharing is easy with just one click. You can spread the word about the PRNEWS.IO services while sharing affiliate materials with your unique link to your social media profiles or simply copying and pasting your affiliate link on your blog or website. 

Joining the PRNEWS.IO affiliate marketing program is as simple as taking the following steps: 

  1. Signing up at https://prnews.io/affiliate/;
  2. Setting up your personal Pressroom; 
  3. Choosing ‘Affiliate Program’ in the ‘Settings’ menu.

Once done, you will be provided with access to your affiliate dashboard, where you can find all the necessary affiliate links and banners of all sizes. You can also add affiliate links to your social media posts, website and blog. 

You’ll earn a commission from every order when a customer signs up for PRNEWS.io through your link.

Bottom line

Now that you know how to create an affiliate program, you are ready to start yours. Check the competitors’ landscape, and think about how to set up an affiliate strategy that would let your brand stand apart in the affiliates’ eyes and lure them with a good commission. 

Affiliate Program FAQ

What is an affiliate program?

Affiliate marketing is a process where content writers, social media users, and publishers earn commissions by promoting products or services made by another company using an affiliate link. An affiliate partner is rewarded with a payout for providing a certain result for the retailer or advertiser. 

How does an affiliate program work?

Affiliate marketing involves publishers referring products or services by sharing affiliate links to them on social media, blogs, and websites. An affiliate partner earns a commission from every sale placed through an affiliate link associated with their recommendation. 

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How to Create an Affiliate Program - From A to Z Guide 

Alex Nigmatulin

Chief Marketing Officer - PRNEWS.IO. Coordinating sales and marketing for more than 10 years (with interruptions for product design, getting the team together and partner management).

I went along with B2Blogger | PRNEWS.IO from the blog with press releases to the global marketplace of sponsored posts and native ads.

Believes that only useful advertising will survive.

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