Top 10 Rules of Engagement for Affiliate Relationships

There are lots of blogs and articles about what it takes to be successful in affiliate marketing and business. For me, the most important element of success has always been supported by relationships. It’s true that people do business with the people they like. Therefore, it is extremely important to develop personal relationships with your affiliate partners. For some this comes naturally, while for others this takes some work.

Below I will outline some tips that have proven successful for me and that are key to developing relationships.

Top 10 Rules of Engagement

1. Be Personal

While the ideal situation is to spend face to face time with those you do business with, that is not always feasible – especially in the affiliate marketing context. With e-commerce, our partners can live on the other side of the world; so it makes it more challenging to build rapport.

There are several ways to develop a relationship with partners that don’t involve traveling to visit with them.

Set Up Regular Calls

communicating with affiliates by phoneThese calls are a great opportunity to see how you can help your affiliates grow along with time to get to know the person that you are working with. Don’t always be in a hurry to talk business. Find areas of common interest. You could both be from the same state, have attended the same college, have kids – you will always find something in common!

Send Personal Emails

Send personal emails to top partners at least once a month. These will vary in content based on the affiliate but could be as simple as thanking them for the sales the previous month or asking if they need any assistance.

Follow Them on Twitter/Linkedin

Comment on articles, congratulate them on professional achievements or answer questions that they may post.

Handwritten Notes

These seem to be a lost art but there is nothing nicer than receiving a heartfelt note. I just received one the other day and it made my day to think that someone took the time to write it and send to me. These can be birthday cards, a thank you card or simply send a fun one for no reason!

2. Understand their Needs

Learn to listen. We use the word “partnership” but that only works if the relationship is mutually beneficial. Take time to listen to your affiliates and see what you can do to help them. They may want to brainstorm with you about ways to grow their business or may want to hear about what works for other partners. By actively listening you may get the opportunity to give advice and gain credibility and trust.

Everyone has a WHY. Find out their “why”. Why are they in business? Why do they want to succeed? By figuring out their “why” you have a greater understanding of their needs.

3. Be Responsive

The golden rule is to follow up. Do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it. I can’t stress this enough. Take notes during conversations and make sure you follow up in a timely manner on any action items. Even if there was nothing to follow up on, it’s nice to send a quick follow up email thanking them for their time. Be quick to respond to emails. I try to respond to emails as soon as they hit my inbox, but make a rule to answer by close of business that same day.

4. Communication

Each affiliate has a preferred method of communication. Some may prefer Skype chat over email. Find out what works best for them. This can be a game changer as if you communicate by the means that works best for them, they are more likely to respond and promote your offer.

5. Schedule Time to Build Relationships

Relationships take time. Set aside time each week for outreach. This can be as simple as a quick email checking in on a partner who returned from vacation or a ‘how are you surviving’ email to the affiliate who has kids on fall break. These interactions mean a lot and show that you care about the person.

6. Attend Industry Events

These are a great way to connect with partners and spend face to face time with them. It’s also a great way to make other connections in the industry and find out what others are doing (which in turn you can share with partners). I always follow up with every person I met with after an event, whether it was a business meeting or someone new I chatted to at a networking event.

7. Publish a Monthly Newsletter

These don’t have to be lengthy but rather a short and sweet update. No one wants to be bombarded with sales emails so make sure they are relevant. Your affiliate newsletter subject line should be catchy so it doesn’t get lost in their inbox. Remember you want to build a relationship with each affiliate so the more personal it looks the better. You may be sending a newsletter to notify about upcoming promotions or share new creatives so they have something NEW to share with their customers.

Let affiliates know that you are easy to get in touch with if they have questions or concerns. Encourage them to reach out. As I stated earlier, each affiliate has a preferred method of communication, so maybe include various ways that you can be reached – email address, Skype handle or phone number. Affiliates will appreciate knowing that you are there to help them and are more likely to promote your program.

8. Show Gratitude

Apart from all the obvious ways that I have listed earlier, another way to show your affiliate partners that you appreciate them is through giveaways. Who doesn’t love something for free? By participating in a giveaway, you help your affiliate engage with their customers while promoting your brand.

9. Be Honest

You are going to make mistakes and be honest when you do. Affiliates are people and will appreciate the honesty more and will probably continue to be a great partner. Allow them to be honest with their mistakes also.

10. All Affiliates are Equal

While we all have super affiliates and top partners, all affiliates should be treated the same. All should be responded to in a timely manner and made feel special. This will have amazing rewards for your program. Remember, people like to do business with people they like.

I’d love to hear if you have any tips or tricks to help you grow your relationships. Please do share them using the “Comments” area under this post. If you have any questions, please contact us and we’d be delighted to help.

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