The relationship between you, the merchant, and your affiliate partners needs to be harmonious if you want your program to achieve maximum success. Unfortunately, a lack of trust or commitment is more often the norm when examining attitudes of both merchants towards their affiliates and visa versa. This situation is a real one and needs to be addressed and overcome.
In order to develop healthy relationships with your affiliates, you must start by taking stock in your current merchant mindset. Are you influenced by negative past experiences that continue to cloud your perspective? If so, the first step is to set these experiences aside as they will result in counter-productive behavior.
Once you’ve taken that deep, cleansing breath, you’re then ready to create a whole new, positive approach to your relationships with your affiliates. Use the following advice to go down the ‘healthy relationship path’ in order to realize the full potential of your affiliate marketing channel.
First, you must keep in mind, affiliates are not your employees; they are independent entrepreneurs. They do not work for you, but rather work alongside like a teammate. Avoid dictating to your affiliates, and don’t expect them to follow any sort of structured schedule. Affiliates work at their own pace and follow their personal schedules.
Acknowledge that your affiliates often have a number of other affiliate programs they are promoting, so the don’t expect them to immediately produce results for your program. Affiliates are free to work for whomever they want, and they divide their time between the programs they believe to be the most secure and represent the greatest income potential.
Your merchant mindset needs to be as accommodating and flexible as possible. Take the initiative to make sure your valued affiliate partners have everything they require to evaluate your opportunity and to best promote you to their audience. Make sure they know how to contact you and are encouraged to do so. Are you doing everything you can to foster trust with your affiliates? Are you providing one-on-one training and guidance? This is where your focus needs to be.
As I have often said, affiliate marketing is all about establishing trusted relationships. With greater trust comes greater exposure, greater sales, greater commissions… The most successful affiliates do not need more new programs to promote, but rather it is you the merchant who needs these super affiliates. Gaining the attention and interest of these affiliate gems is a challenge and is often best achieved by affiliate program managers who are well-known and trusted by top affiliates. This is where the hiring of an experience and respected affiliate program manager can be extremely valuable.
Regardless who is managing your affiliate program, they should exemplify a successful merchant mindset of teamwork and equality. They must help affiliates become successful in order to achieve success for you. They must view affiliates as team members with a common goal. Let this be their mantra…