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How to Run an Affiliate Marketing Program (and Have It Succeed)




Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.

Like a customer review or an influencer partnership, an affiliate marketing program relies on the willingness of others to promote your business. Without happy customers and a good reputation, it will be difficult to succeed.

However, creating an affiliate program can be a relatively simple effort if approached the right way, and is often a lucrative endeavor for both you and your affiliates once properly established. To help get you started, the members of Rolling Stone Culture Council shared eight essential steps you and your business will need to take in order to run a successful affiliate marketing program and boost your profits.

Build a Solid Foundation

Build the foundation and make sure that it is solid before beginning the program. This way, you will not have to build the plane while you’re flying, making things more difficult than they need to be. In the age of digital advertising, it is one of the easiest ways to make passive revenue, particularly once the legwork has been done. Identify the key components to your program and make it work. – Marla Matime, Voice Media Ventures

Find a Way to Stand Out

Separate yourself from the competition. Affiliate marketing has become extremely saturated with the continued growth of various social media platforms. In order to be successful, you need to stand out to potential buyers because there are opportunities everywhere they look. Be original, be creative and be realistic so that your customers and your affiliates will always give you their business. – Logan Forbes, Untitledexport MGMT

Set and Track Goals

Set goals for the program and track results regularly. If you are not making progress on your goals, you’ll know before it’s too late and then you can course correct. – Erin Roche, Candy & Flowers

Partner With the Right People

I have found that the most successful affiliate marketing programs are the ones that have established relationships with trustworthy, well-connected affiliates. Having affiliates who are knowledgeable about your product, who believe in your product and who have a strong network of consumers who trust their recommendations can lead to rapid growth in sales. – Craig J. Lewis, Gig Wage

The Rolling Stone Culture Council is an invitation-only community for Influencers, Innovators and Creatives. Do I qualify?

Focus on Education

Ensure your affiliates are properly equipped with material. We invested in creating a high-quality explainer video, as well as detailed info pages on our products and a calculator tool to give our affiliates (whom we call “Partners”) the best chance of successfully communicating the value of our product to potential customers. – Tim Jack, Rise

Consider How Your Partners Add Value

All strategic partnerships are not created equal. Working with partners should add value to everyone. Taking the time to think about how your partners add to your story and enhance its authenticity will create a loyal audience. – Amanda Reiman, Personal Plants

Make Affiliates Feel Like Part of the Team

Make sure the creators feel independently seen, valued and heard, rather than just like a number in a very large campaign. In order for them to truly connect to the brand and feel genuinely compelled to drive business, they need to feel like an imperative and unique member of the team. It’s important for the marketing team to be completely in sync with the affiliates. – Emily Blair, Emily Blair Media

Think Outside Your Own Perspective

You’ve got to get deep inside the heads of the people you want as partners. We tend to only think of the benefits to us, but unless you have an enticing offer for your affiliates, your efforts are a waste of time. – Michael Newman, The Bureau of Small Projects



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