Everyone on your team worked hard to meet the AvantLink tracking and datafeed specifications, perform the appropriate test measures, collect collateral and program materials, etc. Now your Affiliate program is open for business on the premiere Affiliate network, but you are a little confused on what comes next. Let’s discuss the first 100 days of your Affiliate program in AvantLink.

Retailers that are new to Affiliate marketing, and those that have been in the space for a while can both benefit from this outline on what to expect.

Once we flip the switch to active status your program will automatically hit the new merchant RSS notifications, and your branded info page will be linked up from our homepage and the merchant directory. Next, several hand-built launch announcements get distributed via Twitter and Facebook as well as our Affiliate network blog at AvantShare.com. We also send an email blast to the network opt in list announcing each new Affiliate program.

Since we’re selective with merchants there are large, branded shopping sites that sign-up for just about every new program, and start driving traffic immediately. They have the technical infrastructure to add new products, stores or promotions quickly. And they know that if AvantLink brings the program on board, they’re ready for prime time. Expect to see anywhere from 2 to 5 dozen high-value Affiliates sign up within the first week.

This initial wave of Affiliates from our announcements will likely be enough to show you an ROI on your set-up fees in a matter of months. The key is to compel them to add your links or feeds right away. To do this be sure there are at least a couple of Affiliate-exclusive coupons or promotions available in your ad list. Also consider an activation bonus of some kind, for example “First 5 Affiliates to send $1000 in sales gets a $100 cash bonus.

Special coupon offers or an activation bonus are two great reasons to email, or “get in the face” of the first wave of Affiliates who sign up.

We offer a robust email tool where you can contact all Affiliates at once or specific subsets of Affiliates. Establish the reputation early of being a good communicator. Update ads and feature fresh promos as often as possible, following up regularly with communication using the email tool. Be sure to embed your campaigns directly in your emails. This will increase the likelihood that Affiliates will feature your coupon or promo. It’s also encouraged to send out structured quarterly or monthly newsletters.

Once you get eight or ten weeks into your program, view the list of your active Affiliates and note the column that says “Recent Traffic”. That column holds a yes or no value which tells you whether or not the Affiliate has sent a click within the last 30 days. Sort that column and start going through the list. If you see an Affiliate that looks perfect for your program, and they have not sent recent traffic, drop them a line. Ask how you can work together and what they need from you to get started.

This one-to-one contact is much more effective then mass emails; in terms of motivating Affiliates.

Your active Affiliate list is always the first place to start in terms of optimizing your program. All Affiliates are qualified for network acceptance based on a set of standards that hold the objective of bringing our merchants value. If 50% of your active Affiliates are not sending traffic yet, that’s the best place to start. They signed up, so they must have some level of interest in your product line.

As stated above we take advantage of several distribution channels to get the word out on new Affiliate programs. This comes with launch and it’s a great jump start for branding your program, which is essential. A positive brand for your program tells prospective Affiliates that you are the authority for your category, and that they should be sending their traffic to you instead of one of your competitors. Convince them that you’ll convert their traffic better, and you win.

The AvantLink network email tool is a must for communication, but consider maintaining your own branded channels for your program news as well. There are social networks that work well for this. But you can also take advantage of Affiliate industry specific channels like ABestWeb.com or AvantShare.com. Email us for more info on our Branding Package.

Here is a summary list of what to expect from the article above, and how to approach your first 100 days of Affiliate marketing on AvantLink.

  • Be sure there are a few good promotions for Affiliates to feature as soon as you go live. You could also consider some kind of activation bonus to create a buzz around the launch of your program.
  • Follow-up on launch announcements by engaging readers on those articles with comments and/or participation in the discussions.
  • Maintain your own branded communication channels for Affiliates. Be creative with the news on your own blog, Twitter account, press releases, etc.
  • Communicate often with your active Affiliates using the AvantLink email tool. Embed ad creative directly in the emails you send out.
  • Consider creating a newsletter for Affiliates that will keep them informed of promotions, seasonal best sellers, and new product additions.
  • Make sure to view your active Affiliate list often to see who is sending recent traffic, and who isn’t. This is the best place to start when working to optimize your program.

All the above set aside, the single best tool for building a strong Affiliate program is communication. Having someone engaged on a daily basis is also key. Building a strong program is a process, and done correctly it is the most cost effective advertising model online…especially with the value proposition AvantLink brings to the table.

After your first 100 days I suggest using our internal recruitment tool to solicit new partnerships, recruit from outside of the network and of course commit to an ongoing effort of communicating via our network email tool, and through the external channels mentioned above. You’ll get out what you put into this effort, and in the meantime (until transactions start moving through the network) we won’t be sending you a bill 😉

Gary for AvantLink

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