Setting Up An Affiliate Program

Without question, affiliate marketing can add sales. But it can also cause you headaches if you’re not careful in establishing and maintaining your program. Here, some tips to get you started:

  • Set your financial and marketing goals prior to launching the program. Base your goals on sales objectives and margins to determine a targeted return on investment.
  • Establish strategic relationships that have long-term potential during the early stages of your program.
  • When choosing partners, be sure their customers and target market are consistent with the image you want your brand to project.
  • Remember that the top tier of your affiliate base will drive the majority of your business (i.e., the 80/20 rule). Identify high-volume partners early in a program, and devote time and resources to make the most of those deals. Test creative and placements on the partner sites and communicate with them frequently. In short, spend your time, energy, and focus where you get the best results.
  • Identify other affiliates whose audience and business models are similar to those of your high-volume partners and put a recruitment and communication plan in place to improve the performance of those affiliates.
  • Don’t limit your efforts to the busier months of the year. Leverage your affiliate relationships to help drive business during off-peak seasons.
  • Understand how your best affiliate partners drive Website traffic. Do they advertise online? If so, where? Are they building an opt-in e-mail list? If so, how often do they contact their names? Do they purchase search engine keywords? Once you understand the affiliates’ source of traffic and the value proposition they offer their customers, you can tailor offers and media placements to most effectively advertise to those customers.

Where can you hear Spiegel Catalog president/CEO Geralynn Madonna, Alloy chairman/CEO Matt Diamond, School Specialty president/CEO Dave Vander Zanden, and Crosstown Traders president/CEO Steve Lightman talk about industry trends?

Only at the Annual Catalog Conference 2003 Power Forum. Cosponsored by Catalog Age and the Direct Marketing Association, the Annual Catalog Conference runs June 1-3 in San Francisco. For more information, visit or call 800-927-5007.