11 Strategies for Building Long-Term Influencer and Affiliate Relationships

Blog cover: Affiliate Relationship in Affiliate Marketing

When building a solid and successful influencer or affiliate program for your business, you want to make sure you find great influencers and quality affiliates.

Relationship building and nurturing are essential steps to keep your partners engaged. By having clear communication and a strong relationship with your affiliates, they’ll feel better about promoting your business and likely have more success.

How can you get started? We’ve put together this guide on building long-term relationships that will keep influencers and affiliates sending you new customers again and again.

Why You Should Build Relationships

You’ve put all this effort into finding great influencers and affiliates to work with and promote your business.

After you’ve found that perfect influencer or affiliate – one whose audience aligns nearly perfectly with your own – you want to ensure they continue to want to promote your products.

That’s why it’s crucial to put in that same level of work to maintain these relationships and help them get the most out of your influencer or affiliate program.

Not only does this help your brand seem more trustworthy and credible to their audience, but it’s also more time and cost-effective on your end.
Additionally, by building influencer relationships and affiliate relationships, you could reach more potential influencers and affiliates. If you have a good relationship, you can ask them to put you in touch with others in their network who might be interested in promoting your brand.

However, suppose you’re not providing clear-cut tips and communication on how your influencer partners and affiliates can maximize their profit potential. In that case, you’re potentially setting them up for failure and ruining any chance you had to reach their audience.

To help combat this, we’ve put together 11 strategies for relationship building with your influencers and affiliates.

How to Build Relationships

You’ve created an influencer or affiliate program, you’ve set your commission rates, you’ve brought in influencers and affiliates who share your target audience, and now you’re all finished, right?

Wrong.

Now you need to nurture those relationships and ensure the affiliates you’ve worked so hard to bring in see success.

Here are 11 tips for managing your influencer marketing relationships and affiliate relationships for the best results.

1. Be Transparent

First and foremost, you always want to be open and transparent with your partners about your expectations and what they should expect from you.

For your social media influencers: For each influencer campaign, a great way to be transparent is to have an influencer agreement in place for any campaigns you plan to run. You could also include an influencer marketing brief to help the influencer create the most relevant content.

It’s the best way to keep influencer relations on the right path so you know what to expect from one another.

For your affiliates: A great way to do this is by putting together a document or packet that lays out everything your affiliates need to know from the start, so there’s no missing or hidden information.
This document can include information like commissions, fees, payment terms, terms & conditions, etc.

By setting everything out clearly from the beginning, you set up your affiliate marketing relationships for success. Here we see one example of what an affiliate document could look like from HubSpot.

Affiliate agreement

While theirs includes much more legal jargon than you might want, it showcases the kinds of information and fine print you’d like to have readily available for your affiliates.

2. Communicate Regularly

Don’t just bring in influencers and affiliates and then immediately leave them to their own devices. You want to set them up for success right off the bat and maintain that success throughout your relationship.

There are several ways that you can do this, but all of them require regular communication.

Keep in touch by creating a blog filled with resources and helpful information on how to succeed. Use a content calendar to make sure you update it regularly with new information, including any sales, product launches, and promotions your influencer partners and affiliates might want to know about ahead of time.

Having a calendar can help you plan for any influencer marketing campaigns or affiliate campaigns in advance. If your partners know something is happening ahead of time and have a great relationship with them, it can help you get extra promotional opportunities.

You can also create an email newsletter specifically for your partners and use this to let them know about any updates/changes or put together a weekly status report to keep everyone on the same page.

Share animated videos that get your partners excited about your products or screen record tutorials, and how-to’s so your partners are well-versed in what you have to offer.

It might even be worth hiring an influencer partnerships manager (for influencer relationship management) or a dedicated affiliate manager to help ensure none of your partners feel neglected or left out.

These regular communications are also great ways to give your partners even more ideas of how to promote your product(s) best so they make more money and you generate more customers.

Take a look at this newsletter from Printful to get an idea of what you could include in your own. Personalize the email by including their affiliate earnings for the month, share helpful resources, have affiliate program news/updates, and end with tips for improving their sales.

Affiliate Newsletter

3. Ask for Feedback

To truly succeed at anything, you have to be receptive to feedback and willing to make improvements. Just like any strategy, you likely won’t get it right the first time, and asking for feedback can be a great way to make appropriate changes.

Create an open area for influencers and affiliates to give you feedback – good or bad – or even for them to request changes or make suggestions. Regularly put together affiliate surveys and influencer surveys to ask what everyone thinks of your program and offers.

Letting your partners have some of the power when it comes to decision-making helps them feel valued and like you care about them.
Here’s an example of an email Amazon sent to its affiliates back in 2018, prompting them to take a survey of their experience.

4. Showcase Top Affiliates

One great way to help your partners feel valued is by recognizing when they do great work. When influencers or affiliates over-perform, always make sure to acknowledge them.

You might base Performance on many different things, depending on how your business model runs. An e-commerce site might want to focus on overall volume, while SaaS products might focus more on the plan tier.

You can choose to spotlight the top-performing influencer or affiliate or include a list of the top 3-5 partners in your newsletter or blog. Other ideas include offering a reward/bonus when they meet specific benchmarks or even sharing the spotlight on your brand’s social media platforms.

Spotlighting influencers and affiliates is also a great way to promote your program to new potential partners. For example, Campus Protein features its partners to showcase the benefits of becoming an affiliate — this highlights unique perks such as partner discounts, the ability to gain marketing and sales experience, and even the opportunity to land a full-time job with the team.

Campus protein affiliate

5. Provide Discounts to New Affiliates

For influencers, it’s common practice for a brand to provide discounted or free goods so they can familiarize themselves with your company. Influencers often use products to create their sponsored posts.

For affiliate partners, when you start your affiliate program, most of your new partners will likely be familiar with your product or service. However, as you grow, you’ll reach more and more interested parties, and you want to make sure they’re well-versed in what you offer so they can adequately promote you.

That’s why you should consider offering free or discounted products to brand new affiliates and influencers so they can get the full scope of what they’ll be promoting to their audience. By being thorough at this point, you are likely to get more affiliates promoting you, increasing your brand awareness.

Even if you vet your partners to ensure they’re already users of your product, providing a discount is still a great way to let them try out new offerings that you launch over the years.

6. Offer Incentives

We touched on this briefly when talking about ways to showcase top influencers and affiliates, but it’s important, so I want to do a bit of a deeper dive.

Yes, you may already be giving your partners a percentage of the sales they bring in. But one way to keep affiliates excited about your program and continuously promoting your products or services is by offering additional incentives.

You can do this by creating a tiered commission structure that pays out a higher percentage based on how many new customers your partners refer. Or you might decide to give out rewards and free products when your partners hit certain milestones.

Whatever makes sense for your affiliate program works, but consider that offering incentives is a great way to keep your affiliates excited about your program and loyal to your brand.

To get an idea of what has worked for other businesses, here’s how Leadpages sets up its commission structure.

Affiliate marketing incentives

7. Personalize Communication

Helping your partners feel valued is key to keeping them around for the long run. You can do that by personalizing your communication, so you’re sending the most helpful information.

Be in regular personal contact with your top-performing influencers and affiliates to help them maximize their success and sales.

You can segment your influencers and affiliates based on their niche or their level of influence - it can help you send information as specific and personalized as possible to the types of marketing they’d be doing for you.

You should also try to get to know all of your influencers and affiliates and show that you care about each of them individually. Try creating a Facebook group or other online community that gives you a more one-on-one communication method.

Or you can pull a page out of Constant contact’s book and offer personalized, dedicated support for all of your affiliates.

Affiliate personalized communication

8. Choose Affiliates Wisely

When you first create an influencer or affiliate program, it can be tempting to approve anyone and everyone who applies. But you want to be sure you’re always purposeful about approving affiliates, so you have the best, most closely aligned people working with you.

Some companies auto-approve anyone, but others like Kajabi require you to be a user of their software if you’re going to promote it.

Regardless of how you want to choose your influencers or affiliates, it’s essential to set up a process.

For influencers, you’ll want to include things in your application form like:

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Social media handles
  • Address
  • Website
  • Audience Demographics
  • Number of Followers
  • Rates

For affiliates, you’ll want to include things in your affiliate application like:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Company
  • Address
  • Method of Promotion
  • Website
  • Social Media Platforms
  • Audience Demographics
  • Number of Followers
  • Number of Email List Subscribers

You can take a look at Teachable’s application form to get an idea.

Affiliate application

9. Provide Branded Assets

If your influencers and affiliates need to promote your brand and see success, you want to make sure their graphics and promotional materials look good and are on-brand.

The best way to do this is to put together brand guidelines that help your influencers and affiliates know the exact colors, fonts, and messaging to you. Include download files as well as high-resolution versions of your logo.

To make things even easier, consider providing a variety of pre-made promotional assets like banners, social media graphics, story graphics, website banners, and more. This makes things easy on your partners and helps you ensure that you get advertised in the right way.

Shopify’s help section for affiliates links to their brand guidelines, so each partner knows the appropriate way to use their logo and branding.

Affiliate brand assets

10. Be Responsive

While we can probably all agree that responsiveness helps with nearly any working relationship, it also rings true with keeping your partners happy and engaged.

If you have a support team, that can help.

Ensure those in charge are responsive and consistent in providing help promptly, so your influencer and affiliate programs have a good reputation.

You don’t want to lose valued partners because you or your support team couldn’t help them out quickly enough.

It’s a good idea to put a process in place – or even consider project management software or an agile marketing strategy – to ensure no communication gets left behind.

11. Stay on Top of Payments

Last but not least, one of the best ways to keep influencers and affiliates for the long run is to ensure your payment process is quick, easy, and always on time.

Be clear and upfront about how you transmit payments as soon as your affiliates apply. As we mentioned earlier in Teachable’s application, they ask for a PayPal email address right from the start, so there’s no miscommunication where commissions will get sent.

Include pay periods, commission structure, and any other essential information about sending payments in your guidelines so that everyone knows when to expect their earnings.

More importantly, make sure you are not late with your payments - this is the fastest way to ruin relationships and cause your partners to lose faith in your program.

Start Building Relationships Today

Working with influencers and affiliates can be simple if you have great relationships. It doesn’t matter if they are micro-influencers or mega bloggers, as long as you keep nurturing those relationships.

Keep these 11 tips in mind, and always be sure to stay on top of influencer and affiliate marketing trends each year. If you do, you’re sure to have a top-notch affiliate program that influencers are excited to join.


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Chloe West

Chloe West is a digital marketer and freelance writer, focusing on topics surrounding social media, content, and digital marketing. She’s based in Charleston, SC, and when she’s not working you’ll find her at brunch or hanging out with her son. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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