Setting up an affiliate network for your existing Volusion store is quick and easy, but what do you need to do to manage it? Below are some affiliate network best practices to help you run a successful affiliate network.
- Communicate Affiliate Terms Clearly Make sure that anyone who clicks on the “Become an Affiliate” link on your site knows what they are signing up for exactly. Have a separate page on your website or write a welcome email that explains the purpose of your affiliate network as well as commission structure and terms and conditions. This will help you later if any issues arise.
- Pay Affiliates in a Timely Manner With the Volusion affiliate system you will set an affiliate payment threshold (say $100) that will need to be crossed before an affiliate is paid. This ensures that when you go to pay your affiliates you are not printing checks to affiliates every time they earn a couple of dollars.There is nothing more disconcerting as an affiliate than being paid late, so to keep your affiliates happy make checking in on their earnings a priority. Regularly check to see if there are affiliates that need to be paid. In your admin area under Marketing > Affiliates > Pay Affiliates you can check which affiliates have met the threshold to be paid and by simply clicking the link at the top their checks can be printed.
- Remember to Inform Affiliates When You Add/Change/Remove Products Your affiliates are an extension of your company so make sure they are aware of changes to your product offerings like your regular employees. The information you give them the more effectively they can drive targeted traffic to your site.
- Never Delete an Affiliate Let’s repeat that again: NEVER delete an affiliate customer record. Just as you wouldn’t delete a customer’s record after he/she received their product don’t delete an affiliate even if they leave. If you delete an affiliate record the data the contained is lost. Let’s say the affiliate wants to come back at some point down the road; not only do you have to recreate the customer record but you have no record of their previous performance unless you jotted it down somewhere else. Also, by not deleting any affiliate customer records you eliminate the risk of accidentally deleting the wrong one and muddling a current affiliate’s payout.
- Remember to Account for Sales The most common way to set affiliate commission is as x% of the product price. Any special sale or promotion will decrease the commissionable value as a default (since it will be the same percentage off a smaller total value) but you have the option to override that calculation if you want the commissionable value to remain at what it was before the sale started. Under the advanced product options in your product details area you can override the commissionable value by entering a number in the “Affiliate Commissionable Value” field and saving the changes.
- Make Offline Marketing Easier For Affiliates One way to help your affiliates market your site offline is to set up a 301 redirect for them. A 301 redirect will allow an affiliate to send customers to an easy to remember URL. For instance, instead of having to tell their friends to visit www.MyVolusionStore.com/?click=100 the affiliate can say “Check it out at www.MyVolusionStore.com/Kate”.The simplicity of the second URL has two benefits. First of all, it encourages traffic by making the URL personal to them (www.MyVolusionStore.com/?click=100 is just a confusing URL to remember, but www.MyVolusionStore.com/Kate reminds them of the nice woman Kate that told them about this great site). Secondly, it makes the affiliate reporting more accurate because if an affiliate had to tell people to visit www.MyVolusionStore.com/?click=100 the likelihood of people remembering that is slim, so they would probably just type www.MyVolusionStore.com into their browser and be counted as a regular visitor.To set up a 301 redirect of this sort, login to your admin area under Settings > Maintenance > Manage 301 Redirects and in the “Source Path” field enter what you want the URL to display as and in the “Target Path” field enter the affiliate tracking link information and then just save the changes you’ve made. Using our last example, the fields would look like this- Source Path: /kate Target Path: /?click=100If your products lend themselves well to more personal offline marketing (say at a party at an affiliate’s house or full time job) you can also try sending your affiliates some samples to try so that when they talk about your products through word of mouth they have first hand experience. They’ll be more convincing and you’ll likely see your sales and the size of your affiliate network increase.
-Kate Pierce eCommerce Specialist