Some view the communication channel as “the means by which messages get from one individual to another” (Rogers, E.M. (1983), Diffusion of Innovations, p. 17). To me, such a definition allows for a one-way street scenario — when the messages do get announced, but the feedback/cooperation component is lacking. I personally believe that an effective communication channel involves (a) an announcement part, (b) a feedback part, and (c) a response part. In the context of the affiliate program management, it means not only (a) communicating to/at your affiliates, but also (b) encouraging their input, and (c) listening to their proposals/comments/ideas, and responding to them.
When looking at the methods of communicating with the affiliates, I find it helpful to divide the communication methods into 3 groups:
1. Ongoing Communication
Provide for a channel of communication that they can always turn to, and be confident that they will find you there. I am taking about phone, e-mail, instant messengers, communicating via your blog, affiliate marketing forums and internal system of communication that your affiliate network may be providing.
It is also worth remembering that the top 3 communication channels that affiliates prefer are (i) e-mail, (ii) blogs, and (iii) network internal e-mail [more here, see graph #4]
2. Regular (Expected) Communication
Here I am talking about your affiliate newsletters, seasonal greeting cards/gifts in the mail, and other types of keeping in touch with your affiliates on a regular/recurring basis.
Yes, publishing articles in magazines and on various online platforms will both help you recruit new affiliates, and help your current partners to achieve newer heights. Therefore, there is no reason to ignore these.
As always, if you have your own thoughts/techniques to share, be my guest by posting them in the comments section below.