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How Can Marketers Learn Affiliate Marketing as Beginners?

Rewardful Team

If you're looking to add another powerful instrument to your marketing toolkit, you've come to the right place. Many brands are dipping their toes into affiliate marketing, but doing so requires a lot of consideration. This article will help you do that.

While you might have a basic grasp of affiliate marketing, mastering it requires a bit more finesse—whether you're working in SaaS, e-commerce, B2B, or B2C. This guide touches on the basics but mainly discusses some of the less talked-about steps to setting up an affiliate program that will make a measurable impact on your marketing results. 

We'll also show you our new (and free) affiliate marketing training course for beginners.

Understand the Fundamentals of Affiliate Marketing 

Let's start with a quick refresh: affiliate marketing is where you, the business, reward individuals (affiliates) for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate's own marketing efforts. It's a particularly effective technique for digital products and services because it leverages the power of human recommendation, which can feel more personal and trustworthy than traditional ads.

However, there's more to it than setting up a program and letting affiliates do all the work. As an affiliate program manager, you're in charge of creating content, supporting affiliates, identifying new opportunities, and so much more. 

To make all of that easier, it helps to have software in place that lets you manage it all from one platform, making it almost impossible to miss a thing. Rewardful is exactly that, but there's more. You can also set yourself up for success with our brand new affiliate marketing course for aspiring affiliate program managers.

Here's What to Do:

  • Train yourself on best practices for affiliate programs in your industry. 
  • Develop a clear affiliate agreement outlining expectations and compensation.
  • Research successful affiliate programs in your industry for inspiration.

A good read for beginners: Affiliate Management Common Mistakes 

Set a Clear Objective for Your Future Affiliate Program

What do you hope to achieve with your affiliate program in the most practical, quantifiable terms possible? Many marketers make the mistake of setting up an affiliate program as a side quest, a sort of passive marketing technique. This approach usually yields disappointing results because resources simply weren't set up to be used effectively.

We suggest you do things differently and start at the results: from there, work backward in designing and setting up an affiliate marketing program that directly impacts your goals. Whether it's boosting brand visibility, driving sales, or retaining customers, your goals should shape your program's strategy, meaning there is no copy-paste method. 

Even more importantly, you want to constantly track those goals. So, below we've listed a couple of example objectives, and what type of tracking would be involved in reaching them.  

Examples of Objectives and How to Track Them

Boost Brand Visibility

  • Objective: increase brand awareness by 30% over the next six months.
  • How to track: monitor brand mentions and social media engagement. Use tools like Google Alerts and Hootsuite.

Drive Sales

  • Objective: increase sales through affiliate channels by 20% in the next quarter.
  • How to track: use conversion tracking tools and review sales data from your e-commerce platform.

Retain Customers

  • Objective: improve customer retention by 15% over the next year.
  • How to track: track repeat purchases and loyalty program sign-ups using your CRM software.

Here's What to Do:

  • Identify your objectives: list the top three goals for your affiliate program.
  • Align with business goals: make sure these objectives fit with your overall business strategy.
  • Develop tracking methods: set up tools and processes to monitor your progress.

Choosing the Right Affiliates

Another crucial part of your program will be the affiliates you work with. Whether you opt for a vast network of smaller affiliates, work with some mega influencers in your industry, or a mix of both, it's all about choosing the right people. Because a large pool of average affiliates will give you average results, but a smaller pool of stellar affiliates, well – you get the picture. 

You're looking for people who understand your industry, are admired and trusted by your target audience, and know how to communicate with them. 

Want to learn affiliate marketing from the best? You'll want to read this: advice from real-life affiliate managers on how to attract top quality affiliates to your program.

Here's What to Do:

  • Make a list of potential affiliates: identify the types of affiliates who align with your brand values and target audience.
  • Reach out with personalized proposals: create personalized partnership proposals that highlight the benefits of working together.
  • Develop a vetting process: establish criteria to evaluate potential affiliates, ensuring they meet your standards for quality and alignment.

Integrate Your Program with Other Marketing Efforts

Your affiliate program shouldn’t operate in isolation. It should work in harmony with your other marketing strategies. After all, they're trying to reach the same goals.

To create a comprehensive marketing mix that contributes to the success of all your marketing efforts at once, you should be thinking about these synergies:

  • Providing your affiliates with content optimized for SEO.
  • Using affiliate promotions in your email marketing campaigns. 
  • Syncing with social media campaigns to make sure your affiliates' promotions align with your social media calendar.

A big tip here is to share your marketing insights with your affiliates. They are ''part of the team,'' and they can optimize their strategies when they have the full picture of performance data and other insights.

Here's What to Do:

  • Create SEO-optimized content: develop content for affiliates that’s optimized for search engines to increase visibility.
  • Plan joint marketing campaigns: collaborate with your affiliates on joint marketing campaigns that capitalize on both your team's efforts and theirs.
  • Use analytics to track performance: set up tracking tools to monitor how well affiliate promotions perform within your overall marketing strategy, and share those insights with them.

Choose Your Tools and Platforms

As mentioned earlier, hsing software that centralizes all your affiliate program admin is a game changer. Having tracking software that monitors affiliate performance and communication platforms that keep you connected with your team will enable you to be proactive and data-driven, which can make all the difference in the results your program yields.

Here's What to Do:

  • Research and list essential tools for tracking and managing your affiliates.
  • Set up demos and sign up for free trials to explore all possible features and benefits.
  • Integrate these tools into your existing systems to streamline operations.

Read more: Top 10 Features a Reliable Affiliate Management Software Should Have 

Build a Training Program for Affiliates

Even when working with experienced, talented affiliates, you will have to provide them with some support. A comprehensive, personalized training session will optimize their output and help you build a great relationship with your affiliates right from the start.

A robust training program doesn't just stop at the basics. You want to give them more than just a summary of your product. Make sure they know how the affiliate program works, where they can get support, submit ideas and how they can leverage the tools you provide them with.

Tailored training paths based on affiliates’ experience levels will be hugely beneficial. For instance, new affiliates might need more foundational knowledge, whereas seasoned marketers could benefit from advanced strategies and market insights. 

Don't forget that your affiliates can also learn from each other. Consider setting up (and fostering!) a community where they can share tips and support each other to enhance their learning experience and even build a sense of camaraderie—which can make a big difference in their loyalty and engagement levels.

Here's What to Do:

  • Develop a comprehensive training manual for new affiliates.
  • Create video tutorials and webinars to cover key aspects of your product and marketing strategy.
  • Schedule regular training sessions and updates to keep affiliates informed and engaged.

Long-Term Growth and Scaling

Think about the future. As your program grows, you might need to adjust your strategies, explore new markets, or even adapt your commission structures. Planning for growth and building an adaptable program will help you scale your affiliate program sustainably when the time is right.

It’s crucial to involve the right stakeholders from the start. That means engaging your marketing, sales, and customer support teams to adopt a holistic approach to managing and growing the program. 

A tight-knit collaboration across departments ensures that your program covers all aspects, from promotional strategies to handling affiliate inquiries. This team effort will drive more strategic decisions and foster a supportive environment for your affiliates, ultimately leading to more sustainable growth.

Here's What to Do:

  • Develop a growth plan outlining how to scale your program.
  • Explore new markets and demographics for expansion.
  • Adjust commission structures as needed to stay competitive and motivate affiliates.


Ready to start but looking for more in-depth guidance? Check out our free course on launching and growing an affiliate program. It's packed with insights tailored specifically for businesses like yours, ready to make a mark with affiliate marketing. Explore our course on affiliate marketing here.

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