Your Guide To Affiliate Onboarding
You’ve started your own affiliate program. And you’ve found affiliates. What’s next?
Onboarding your affiliates.
Affiliate onboarding is the first step in building a positive affiliate relationship. This is crucial to not only the success of individual affiliates, but also the success of your overall affiliate program.
Effective affiliate onboarding can help empower new affiliates and retain high-quality affiliates so your brand gets the most out of affiliate-driven promotions.
Here’s our complete guide for successfully onboarding affiliates.
What is affiliate onboarding?
This is the process of getting new affiliates acquainted with your program and prepared to start promoting your products and services. An effective affiliate onboarding involves communication, guidance, and support from the moment they sign up to important milestones such as their first conversion.
This is an important part of every affiliate program. How you onboard affiliates will impact their ability to successfully promote your brand and refer paying customers.
Next to that, affiliate onboarding is significant to the overall growth of your affiliate program — primarily affiliate retention, which will consequently impact affiliate revenue. The more affiliates you have actively promoting your brand, the more conversions you are likely to have.
Strategies for successful affiliate onboarding
The following strategies will help you successfully onboard affiliates to your program.
1. Complete your affiliate program checklist
Before getting started, make sure you are prepared and you have completed setting up your Tapfiliate account. This step involves several important details that are important to affiliate onboarding.
This checklist includes:
- Testing your integration with Tapfiliate’s Integration Checker
- Setting up your program details such as cookie time and payout methods
- Creating a Terms of Service agreement
- Uploading marketing materials
- Setting email triggers and welcome messages
- Customizing your sign up page
With Tapfiliate’s Pro Plan, set custom onboarding fields to easily gather more information about your affiliates. For example, For instance, you can ask affiliates to provide their social media handles and what channels they plan to promote on. If an affiliate uses Instagram, you can prepare promo codes and visually appealing marketing images.
2. Communicate program details with affiliates
It’s important to communicate the details of your program with affiliates. Being upfront and transparent will benefit both parties in the long run.
This information can be shared on your affiliate signup page, and/or in affiliate communications like a welcome email or getting started guide. Regardless of where you share it, it’s important that these details are clearly conveyed to affiliates right away.
Key details to communicate includes:
Commission: Decide what affiliates will be paid a commission for and the commission amount. This is typically a flat rate or % of the sale.
Cookie Length: Cookie Length refers to the amount of time (in days) between the last click and the conversion. During this time, the affiliate will still be credited for the conversion.
Terms of Service: A Terms of Service establishes the parameters of your program, and provides an agreement between your brand and your affiliates.
The terms of service for your affiliate program can include promotion restrictions, such as prohibiting Pay-Per-Click campaigns on certain keywords or using spamming tactics. Affiliates must agree to the terms you’ve set by ticking the checkbox in the sign-up section. However, it could be useful to provide this information in more detail so affiliates are absolutely clear about your affiliate policies.
Payout details: Set your payout method, payout threshold and payout time. This lets affiliates know how and when they will be paid their commissions.
3. Set up communication channels
To make the most of your affiliate relationship, make communicating easy. Set up communication channels so affiliates know exactly who and where to contact your business for anything affiliate related.
Provide affiliates with an email they can send all affiliate-related questions and inquiries to. This could be a dedicated email address for your affiliate program, or the email address of your affiliate manager or team members overseeing your program. Either way, have one email that affiliates know to contact when needed.
In addition to having a dedicated email, you may also want to add a time to meet affiliates face-to-face through video conferencing. This could be a required step in your onboarding process or given as an option for those affiliates looking to have a more in-depth conversation.
Also consider other communication channels such as online groups or forums. These types of communication channels provide a more convenient and casual space for affiliates to come together, fostering a digital community.
4. Provide marketing materials
Have marketing materials readily available for affiliates so they can begin promoting right away.
These materials can include:
- Image Banners
- Facebook posts
- Youtube & Vimeo videos
- Text links
- Product feeds
- (HTML5) banners
Once you upload assets to your program, your affiliates will have access to these on their “Assets Wall” and be able to share them directly to their social channels, or embed them on their websites.
Also consider additional materials that will enhance your affiliate’s promotions such as providing a branding kit. A branding kit will ensure that affiliate promotions are consistent and recognizable to audiences. This includes your brand’s logos, color profiles, typography, slogans, company images etc.
Other useful materials can include any awards, rankings, media mentions or endorsements. See example below.
5. Personalize the experience
The onboarding process goes beyond just a welcome email. Instead it’s a continuous process that requires personalization.
Each affiliate will be at a different level of experience. Some will be influencers familiar with the process. Others might be your existing customers new to the world of affiliate marketing.
Understand who your customers are and tailor the experience to this. For example, if an affiliate has a YouTube channel, consider reaching out to them to set up a brainstorming session to help them develop unique video content. Or if your affiliate is new to the industry, provide them with more hand-holding support, such as explaining your affiliate program in detail or giving examples of other affiliate promotions for guidance.
Affiliate onboarding steps
The steps you use for onboarding adequately prepare affiliates to be successful in promoting your brand. The onboarding process will vary affiliate to affiliate, depending on their individual needs.
Here are the most effective ways to get affiliates started.
1. Welcome message
Once an affiliate is signed up (and if you have the automatic notifications of your program enabled), they will receive a welcome email with their referral link and temporary password. They can use this to log in.
You can also compose your own welcome message that will be shown on the affiliate dashboard when they log in.
Aside from giving a warm welcome, this is also an opportunity to share the important program details mentioned. This can include:
- Login information
- Affiliate link
- Commission structures
- Payout details
You can learn more about customizing these emails here.
2. Getting started newsletter
While must-know information is sent in the welcome message, there’s likely still a lot you can share with affiliates to help them get started.
Set up drip campaigns to send emails and newsletters to your affiliates in the first few weeks.
The content in these campaigns should be focused primarily on strategy and inspiration. This can include:
- Knowledge base of products and services
- Glossary of relevant terms
- Marketing materials and branding kits
- Examples of other affiliate promotions
- List of affiliate marketing blogs
3. Send congratulations
Celebrate your affiliate’s hard work! You can set up email triggers for different events and customized with different messages.
Tapfiliate offers several events which you can set triggers to, some of them are:
Conversion created: This event is triggered whenever a conversion is created.
Commission created: This event is triggered whenever a commission is created. This can be the result of a conversion, an automatic recurring commission, an MLM commission, or a commission added through the API.
Commission updated: This event is triggered whenever a commission is (dis)approved or edited.
Payment created: This event is triggered when an affiliate’s balance is settled in Tapfiliate.
4. Support message
A key factor in successful onboarding is making sure affiliates have everything they need to be successful. If you find affiliates without any conversions, it’s best to reach out and see how you can help.
Generally, this is best to do on a personal level rather than setting general email triggers. Consider sending a check in email or scheduling a time to call to talk face-to-face.
5. Routine updates
As we’ve said throughout this article, affiliate onboarding is all about preparing affiliates for success. This means routinely checking in to provide them with everything they need.
Check in monthly or quarterly with newsletters, product updates, upcoming sales, media mentions and any bonus offers. This is also a good time to offer the option for meeting individually with affiliates, if they would like to.
It’s important to understand how your affiliate program is going, and what can be improved.
Consider sending a survey to affiliates that have recently joined your affiliate program and completed onboarding, typically after their first conversion or commission payment. This survey should be focused primarily on the signup and onboarding process.
Some useful questions to ask:
- How easy (or difficult) was it to sign up?
- Do you feel like you have everything you need to be successful?
- What has been challenging?
- What has been most helpful?
- What was missing from the process?
Start onboarding your affiliates today
Despite often being overlooked, affiliate onboarding is key to successful affiliate promotions. To create a positive onboarding experience, take time to prepare affiliate communications and resources which will ultimately help in the long run.