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How to Start an Affiliate Programme

Although it is technically possible for a brand to start its own affiliate programme, that is not something we’d recommend. It takes a lot of resource, and you’ll miss out on all the benefits of joining a network. The cost of joining an affiliate network is low and as advertisers pay on results aside from some modest set-up fees, it is a low-risk investment.

When you join an affiliate network you get access to all of the affiliates signed up to that same network. In Webgains’ case that is over 250,000 publishers in a huge variety of verticals, both niche and general, and on a global scale!

To sign up to a network and to start your programme, kick things off by submitting this form or emailing sales@webgains.com.

Before you choose a network or a service level, consider whether or not you have the capacity to self-manage your programme or need help from the network to do this.

Once you’ve joined a network it is important to use the training and support available to you. This may be a dedicated account manager, online FAQs or other learning resources made available to you as a network client. At Webgains, for instance, we offer a client-only area of our Academy. This contains exclusive client resources such as product demonstrations and walkthroughs.

The most important thing for any advertiser to do when building their affiliate programme is to partner with the right publishers. You can recruit publishers to cover every step of the sales journey – from attracting new customers, to improving conversions, to re-activating the existing customer base.

For the best results, merchants should build a balanced publisher portfolio. This means adding a mixture of different publishers to your affiliate programme. Examples of publisher types include:

  • Cashback
  • Voucher codes
  • Technology e.g. retargeting, overlays, prospecting, cart abandonment, social media
  • Content and bloggers
  • Email and newsletter
  • Paid Search
  • Employee benefits
  • Price comparison
  • Loyalty/incentives

So that the best affiliates want to work with you, it’s important to offer fair terms and commission rates. Your network will tell you what is sensible in each case, however, you can expect to pay anywhere between 1% and 30% in commission to your affiliates on a pay per sales or per click basis.

You can find out much more about the benefits of each publisher type in our “Building a winning affiliate strategy” eBook, available to download for free here.

Beyond affiliate recruitment, to get your programme off the ground, you are going to want to start with clear SMART objectives or each affiliate. This way you can compare them and set goals to achieve to judge success.

SMART Objective are: Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound

Finally, it can be extremely useful to generate and review regular reports of your programme as it grows. It is extremely rare for an affiliate programme to find immediate success right off the bat. Like many things in digital marketing and ecommerce, it is more about making constant small tweaks and improvements to optimise your approach. For example, a key metric to obtain might be how much it is costing you to acquire new customers.