Affiliate Launch

Affiliate program launch checklist

Pressing the launch button on an affiliate program can be a daunting prospect. If you have followed the other resources on this site, you should be in a pretty good place. 

But, there are still some areas you need to cover in order to make your affiliate program launch as successful as possible.

This checklist will enable you to prioritise what additional elements you need to elevate your program. As well as making sure you have the basics covered. I’ve launched numerous affiliate programs, both big and small. But, the best practices are still the best practices no matter the scale.

So, read on to discover my affiliate launch checklist.

I am going to assume at this stage, that you have a network agreement in place. If not, read our resource post on choosing the right network.


Program Management

The success of an affiliate program lies in the hands of the person or team running it. If the responsibility in upkeep is scattered among different departments or lesser experienced staff. It is never going to get the expert management focus that a program needs.

List out the roles and responsibilities of an affiliate manager. Then determine who has the skillset and the time to execute them. This should also highlight whether you need to hire internal or external support to really push the program forward.

It takes a lot of time and effort to run an affiliate program. Just by switching it on, the program won’t immediately start creating orders unless someone is driving it.


Affiliate sign up process

As always, it is crucial to put your affiliate hat on. What are the processes in place for a publisher once they join your program?

I would recommend getting an automated email flow in place for all new affiliates. Not only will it engage with the publishers and encourage promotion, but it can also inform them of all the relevant brand and program information.

Not all networks allow their emails to be automated further than a single acceptance message. So, you may need to use a third-party CRM tool.

These automated emails are potentially the first communication with an affiliate from your brand. Take the time to make them as impactful as possible and needless to say they should all be set up before your launch.

Remember, not to forget those affiliates you decline. Explain what your acceptance guidelines are and why they might not have met them. Never close the door completely on an affiliate relationship. 


Brand assets

This can cover a few different formats. But, to give the various types of publishers on a network the best chance to promote you. We want to be giving them the best assets to work with.

That means a suite of banners that are. A product feed that is updated at least twice a day and an overview of brand guidelines for them to follow.

In addition to this, you could provide affiliates with a list of keywords to use in PPC or a weekly breakdown of bestsellers. Depending on the publisher type and what your program terms allow as promotion.

Put yourself in the shoes of different affiliates and start to understand what they would need to make their lives easier. Then tailor the assets to their requirements. Investing the time and resources at the beginning can benefit your program in the long run.


Publisher hitlist

I don’t expect a brand launching an affiliate program to have a view on every affiliate they are looking to recruit. But, it is crucial to have a hitlist of the big players in each vertical type.

Knowing these affiliates will enable you to prioritise the partners that have larger audiences and higher-order driving potential.


Pre-launch outreach

Following on from your publisher hitlist. Develop a spreadsheet of the contacts for each of your top affiliates.

Understandably, with thousands of affiliate programs in existence, everyone is trying to work with the top guys. Reach out to them in advance of the launch to get a better idea of integration costs and timescales for getting the brand live.

If your outreach discovers that you currently don’t meet their brand requirements or they request a high media cost to get listed. Then that enables you to update your hitlist and focus on more worthwhile partners.


Launch announcement

Take advantage of all your marketing channels to ensure a successful affiliate launch. You can never predict who you might encourage to become an affiliate by sending to your customer database. Or, which affiliates are already following on social waiting for a program to launch.

Direct anyone reading your communications to your program profile on your chosen network or to contact you for more information.

Alternatively, drive traffic towards an affiliate page on your site.


Affiliate sign up page

Aside from your network profile. I would always recommend brands create an affiliate page on their website.

It acts as a prime example of passive affiliate recruitment as opposed to actively reaching out asking partners to join. Plus it gives you a place to direct potential affiliates to which is branded.

Clearly link to your networks profile page and try to include all elements that might encourage an affiliate to join your program.

In addition, I like to include links to subnetworks. Not, every affiliate wants to work through a traditional affiliate network valuing the automation that a subnetwork brings. If you are live with any such as Skimlinks or RewardStyle, label them as a partnership option.


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