Careers Business Ownership How to Create a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program Share PINTEREST Email Print Westend61 / Getty Images Business Ownership Operations & Success Marketing Sustainable Businesses Supply Chain Management Operations & Technology Market Research Business Law & Taxes Business Insurance Business Finance Accounting Industries Becoming an Owner By Laura Lake Laura Lake Laura Lake is a marketing professional with experience working for agencies and as an independent consultant. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 12/02/19 Affiliate marketing is often termed as one of the best online marketing programs that are available to small businesses. Why? There is no risk when it comes to affiliate marketing; you only pay after the results are delivered. Using an affiliate marketing program, you agree to pay your affiliate partners a referral fee for each lead or sale that is generated. Affiliate marketing is often referred to as partnership marketing because you are partnering with others to help sell your products and/or services. There are many affiliate programs available on the Internet today, so it's important to make yours stand out and catch the attention of professional affiliate marketers. Once you've done that, you are well on your way to a successful campaign. Niche Markets and Partners Claim a niche market. Don't try to sell everything to everyone. It is the quickest way to fail in your adventure. Once you've claimed your niche market research and find websites that have viewers interested in your niche market. You will want to find partners that have already built traffic and would benefit from your affiliate offer. Your offer should be a win-win for both you and your affiliate partners. Provide your affiliate partners with creative and promotional materials. You want to make their job of marketing your products or services as easy as possible. The less work they have to do and the more conversions they see, the more likely they are to promote your products or services. Don't rest on your laurels just because you have a few good partners; you never know when they may decide to jump ship. Protect yourself by actively recruiting new partners. You can find new partners by advertising your affiliate program on your website, listing or advertising in affiliate directories, or by contacting potential affiliates directly. Once you get partners, you want to take good care of them. Communicate with them by welcoming them to your affiliate program send out updates on product additions or changes. Give them tips and advice on how to be successful in marketing your products. Always pay them on time. A successful affiliate marketing program takes time to build, but with a bit of effort, it can increase your internet sales noticeably. It's worth the effort, and it can become one of the best time and financial investments in your marketing plan. Affiliate Program Challenges With any new marketing program, affiliate marketing programs don't come without their own set of challenges. Finding Quality Affiliates Starting an affiliate program isn't difficult to set up, but finding good quality affiliates that can assist in driving business can be challenging. With affiliates it's about relationships, they will only promote products and services with businesses that they trust. Many of them have been burned in the past, so getting super affiliates in your program can be a challenge, and it is also what will make or break your affiliate marketing program. Technology When building a program, you must find technology that will track affiliate sales accurately, but even beyond that, it must be a system that is easy to use. If it's too complicated and doesn't provide accurate reporting affiliates will bail. Time Investment Affiliate marketing is not a plug-and-play solution that doesn't require a time investment. You need to invest time into your program to get it set up, recruit affiliates and then provide ongoing affiliate management. You'll find that most of your time will be spent on keeping affiliates happy, resolving issues and managing expectations. Be Clear on Tactics and Strategies You don't want to cannibalize your affiliate program with your own marketing tactics. Keep in mind that affiliates drive a lot of their business through search marketing. If you are both competing on the same keywords, this can often cause issues. For example, if you don't want them to bid on your brand terms be upfront about this at the very beginning of the program.