Affiliate marketing is an interesting space because brands tend to prefer to pay content creators based on performance while content creators tend to prefer an upfront fee for their posts. For brands to get content creators excited about their brand, there are a few ways to breathe some life into this marketing tactic that honestly has developed a bit of a spammy reputation due to brands doing it wrong.

There are 2 ways to go about implementing or modernizing an affiliate marketing strategy. The first way is to partner with one of many affiliate marketing companies who already have strong relationships in place and have a firm grasp on running successful affiliate marketing campaigns. The second way is to run affiliate marketing in-house and if you decide to do it this way, be sure that the person running it has a lot of time to dedicate to this strategy in order to do it right. Whether you go with an agency or run it in-house, be sure that your affiliate marketing strategy embraces these 3 steps to maximize success.

Start on the Right Foot with Filters

Before you start reaching out to affiliate partners, be sure to vet them thoroughly for brand fit. Take your buyer personas a step further to develop affiliate personas by thinking through the types of content creators that your target consumer would follow. The last thing you want to do is waste your time or an affiliate’s time producing content to reach the wrong consumers. Next, check out their social channels and comments on their blog posts to ensure that they engage with their audience. Last, check their social reach and make sure they have at least 10,000 followers on any given channel as you don’t want awesome content to get lost in internet space.

Once you’re ready to reach out to affiliate partners, be sure to communicate clear goals. Let them know what you are looking for, how you plan to compensate them and what you consider success to look like. For example, if you’re an online clothing brand, let the content creator know that you are tracking sales and giving them a certain commission on said sales. If you’re a software company, let them know you are tracking demos scheduled and will give them a certain amount of money per demo that you land from their content.

Implement a Multi-Channel Approach

Successful affiliate marketing campaigns are set up to reach consumers on different channels. Once you’ve made sure that your content partners are active on the desired channels, be sure to equip them with the right assets so that they can share your brand on a variety of social channels and their blog. Take it a step further and provide your affiliates with the content needed to include your brand in a newsletter that they email out to their followers.

High res images are crucial for social media while a paragraph of engaging content may power their newsletter. A blog post is most often an honest product review so make sure your affiliates are trying out the product that you are trying to sell for themselves and ask them to authentically include your brand into their content so that it doesn’t come across as a sales pitch.

Open the Lines of Communication

A lot of marketers make the mistake of reaching out to affiliate partners and lining them up and then consider their job done. The best way to keep your brand on the brain of content creators and to keep the content fresh and flowing is to continuously communicate with them and make sure that you’re around for any questions or new ideas they may have.

A good way to keep communication continuous but not annoying is to “drip” campaign details. Start with the outreach, let them know they’ve been chosen, update them on when their product ships, give them campaign details spread out through a few emails, let them know how the campaign is going, thank them for their awesome content, give them ideas on ways they can keep writing about your brand and ask them for their input on future campaigns. Content creators tend to do better with small amounts of information at a time as all of the campaign details at once can be overwhelming. Asking them how they prefer to work with your brand is a great strategy because it makes affiliates feel like part of your brand instead of an extension of your brand and when they feel part of the team, they’ll produce content that converts.

One way to keep an affiliate excited about your brand is to run a contest and reward your top performers above what their commission is. For example, you could do an Instagram contest and tell a group of 40 affiliates that the most creative Instagram post will earn an extra $250. Keep them updated on who is winning so that they keep the images coming because a little competition makes your campaign more fun and engaging.

Do you have any strategies that you would like to share on running a modern affiliate marketing campaign? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!