Running your own Affiliate Program means new customers, more revenue, extensive business growth. But it also means a lot of hard work and dedication. We asked a marketing professional with more than 8 years of experience to share his advice on how to make the most of an Affiliate Program. We give the floor to Ravshan Abitov.

Affiliate industry is still relatively new in the region, but a rapidly developing marketing channel. At this point in time, UAE has about 10 major advertisers and a few publishers. In the retail sector the biggest players, and are doing an excellent job in conducting their Affiliate Programs (AP) with easy to use in-house platforms., and are among the top publishers with the consistent offers and effective email marketing campaigns across the country. Despite a small number of affiliates, they have shown a steady growth in monthly performances, which is a good sign for the industry.

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There are 5 key ingredients for running a successful AP:

1. Recruiting

A quick win solution for recruiting new publishers would be to work in close proximity with the affiliate networks you already use in order to approach every publisher related to your field. That is why it is vital to choose a network platform that is strong in a specific industry and region.

Another recommendation is to have a dedicated AP landing page with a clear call to action. This is helpful when an independent publisher tries to find your company’s program on the web. Affiliate management agencies can also help you get wider exposure for your program to their pool of existing affiliates.

2. Activation

It is important to provide very clear terms and conditions of your AP, description of the entire activation process (manual on ads and deep links implementations) and what should be expected from mutual partnership. Once the publisher is live on your network, it is in your interest to keep this relationship active by sending newsletters, questionnaires and other program updates.

It is also critical for every publisher to know the exact setup of your affiliate ecosystem: how the financial cycle, tracking and reporting works on a daily basis.

3. Communication

Without exaggeration, communication is the key element of every successful AP. The publisher should know that you are available 24/7. You should have an individual approach to every publisher on the network. Merchants should treat their publishers as their own teammates, since affiliates can deliver more effective marketing than you in certain geo-locations and demographics.

4. Win-win cooperation

At the end of the day, all affiliates are there to make money. It is important to know the strength and weakness of each of your partners and, depending on that, cooperate using each one’s core competence. For example, if you know that X affiliate brings a lot of traffic to your site but not many conversions, instead of offering him a CPA commission model, propose him a CPM incentive structure. This would be an ideal setup for creating brand awareness in your customer acquisition funnel. This way, besides generating traffic to your site, you will reward and retain the publisher in your network. Otherwise, if an affiliate is lost, it is extremely hard bringing him back to your program.

5. Evaluation

Merchants should constantly monitor the performance of their AP. In most of the cases, 15-20% of affiliates will bring 80% of your revenue. That is why it is important to continuously reward your top 'money-makers' and at the same time individually grow smaller, promising affiliates.  

Another part of the evaluation process is the constant assessment of your company’s underperforming products and services. Based on seasonality, past and current trends, companies can push specific product promotions in a particular market or period of time. One of the strategies is to lower a product price and/or incentivize your affiliates with an additional commission.

Closing remarks

Despite of all your marketing strategies and network activations, do not forget that the real key to a successful Affiliate Program is to establish a healthy and honest partnership where both sides can leverage their competences and resources towards achieving a common rewarding goal.

November 16, passionate marketers will gather in Dubai and will deliberate and discuss relevant topics of the industry such as: content marketing, social media, affiliate and influencer marketing, customer online behaviour and much more. See all sessions and speakers here.