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How to Launch Your Affiliate Program - Pre and Post Launch Checklist

Rewardful Team

Starting an affiliate program can be a daunting task, especially if you've never done it before. 

This checklist covers affiliate marketing for beginners, from preparation to post-live checks. 

We're here to ensure you’ve got everything you need before embarking on this new mission. 

Pre Launch Checklist

1. Assess your business 

Before launching an affiliate program, assess whether your business will benefit from affiliate marketing. For example, does it fit into your strategy, do you have the necessary bandwidth to manage it, and do you have the right tools and infrastructure to track sales and affiliates?

Make sure you answer these questions before launching your program.

2. Check out the competition 

Make sure you familiarize yourself with your competitors and their affiliate programs. 

Understanding what’s working for them can help you improve your own program.

3. Define your goals 

Why do you want to get started with affiliate marketing in the first place? If you want your program to be successful, you will need to define what success looks like. 

Consider your business objectives, marketing goals, and revenue targets. 

4. Set aside a budget and resources 

With your goals in mind, set a budget for your program. This budget will include commission rates, marketing costs, and affiliate software fees. A higher commission will attract better and more enthusiastic affiliates who will work harder to promote your brand, but be careful not to overcommit financially.

5. Choose the best affiliate marketing tool 

The right affiliate management platform can have a direct effect on your program's success.

Look for affiliate marketing software that is user-friendly, customizable, and offers a range of features, including performance tracking, affiliate payouts, and reporting capabilities. 

Most importantly, it should have excellent support, should anything go wrong.

6. Appoint an affiliate marketing manager

Appoint someone on your team to lead the project; preferably someone who knows about affiliate marketing, who can talk to future and current affiliates, and who can steer the program. They can, of course, be part of the marketing team – just make sure they have the necessary time available to dedicate to this aspect of your business.

7. Structure and validate your affiliate program

How you structure your affiliate program can be the difference between success and failure. Set commission rates that are both competitive and profitable for your business. Establish cookie duration periods that don't leave affiliates feeling unsupported, and consider adding incentive programs or bonuses to encourage long-term success.

When you’ve done that, ensure that your affiliate program structure is scalable and sustainable. Be flexible and willing to adapt to any changes that may arise.

Post Launch Checklist 

1. Create marketing content and assets for your affiliates to use

You want to set your affiliates up for success. Make sure you create great-looking and on-brand content for them to use. If they use tools like Canva, you can allow them to make modifications to further personalize materials. Also, make sure to provide them with guidelines and a style guide, and other tips to make the most out of their marketing.

2. Train affiliates to get to know your products better

The better they know your product, the better they can promote it to their network. From guides to e-books to whitepapers: create content that helps affiliates understand what your product is all about. 

3. Choose the right affiliates 

It is essential to have the right types of affiliates that align with your brand's values and goals. Research and target affiliates in your niche, and check their reputation and engagement with their audience.

4. Create a landing page

This is where it starts for most of your affiliates. Create a dedicated landing page for your program. Include not only content that makes your program sound desirable but also answer questions and take away any doubts. 

5. Set up a simple sign-up process 

Make the sign-up process easy for potential affiliates. Provide clear instructions and forms to fill out and establish a smooth onboarding process. The easier it is, the more affiliates will sign up.

6. Write an FAQ for affiliates

This should answer questions for people who are looking to join your affiliate program but also those who have already joined. The more questions you answer in an FAQ, the less emails or messages you will get, and the quicker people can make the decision to join your program.

7. Provide helpful resources around affiliate marketing

Offer educational resources like webinars or tutorials to help your affiliates become more effective marketers and grow their businesses alongside yours. It doesn't even need to be your own content – you can refer them to other expert resources as well. Just make sure it's easy for them to find.

8. Set clear guidelines and expectations 

Provide clear guidelines and expectations for your affiliates to avoid any misunderstandings that may arise. This helps to establish a good working relationship between you and your affiliates. Can they advertise on Google? How do payments work? Make sure all the practicalities are covered before you start.

9. Make sure you measure and report ROI 

This one’s not only important for you but also for your stakeholders. Measure your affiliate program's ROI and report it transparently. Plan how often you will check in to share these results. 

10. Set up a plan for optimization and improvements 

Don’t just think: we’ll act on data when we see it. Set dates with your team to look at the data and make room for meetings and projects that will revolve around making the necessary improvements.

11. Make sure you are compliant

Ensure that your program complies with all regulations and legal requirements. If you’re not sure, get help from an expert – better safe than sorry.

12. Set up a support system and train your team

Your affiliates shouldn't have to find answers through your regular customer support service – especially if they aren't trained or informed about the affiliate side of things. Set up a separate support line or make sure your support agents can answer affiliate questions as well.

13. Create a recruitment plan

The most critical success factor for any affiliate program is recruitment. Identify suitable affiliates and provide them with all the materials, information, and guidance you'd like them to use. Set aside resources to build strong affiliate partnerships and onboard new affiliates effectively. The key is to offer them personalized attention, and build strong relationships with them. You’ll find all the tips you need in this article.

14. Create an onboarding plan

Make sure your affiliates all get a warm welcome. Create an onboarding plan with information, email sequences, all the necessary links, and anything else brand-new affiliates need to hit the ground running.

15. Build your affiliate community

No, it’s not necessary to build a community – but it does have plenty of benefits, and we want to see you win. Whether it's a Facebook group or another platform where affiliates get together and can share tips, wins or a little friendly competition, make sure to have it ready when the first one signs up!

16. Create a promotional plan for your program

Promoting your affiliate program should be a constant effort. Use social media, reach out to your customers, and update your website with dedicated pages showcasing the program. Encourage affiliates to share your content and provide them with valuable resources such as high-converting landing pages and email marketing templates.

17. Keep your affiliates up to date

Communication = appreciation. Whether it’s product updates, launches, changes in your business or milestones hit thanks to affiliate marketers, set up a system that keeps them in the loop.

How Many Boxes Did You Tick?

Setting up an affiliate program is exciting, but it’s important to remember that strategic planning, structuring, and recruiting are critical to your program's success. 

When you make sure everything is ready for your future affiliates, things will likely run smoothly after that, and you can watch your network (and revenue grow).

If you’re looking for the best affiliate tool for SaaS businesses, to help you hit the ground running, check out Rewardful (and all our articles for new affiliate programs!).

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