A startup ode to time. Part 2 – When to launch your affiliate programme

Moving swiftly on to Part 2.
Next stop about this ever important question of time is ‘when’. When to launch your affiliate programme when you are starting up.

We have already covered what is an affiliate programme, its benefits and why to bother. At this point it is important to figure out when to actually launch it.

So you are starting up, and be it a retail or any transactional business with an online presence, so you need to gradually add traffic sources and start converting it into your customers.

We have also covered, or at leasts started to cover, the subject of commercial deals structure and how to approach affiliate deal setup. Heading quickly to the requirement of when to actually do it.

I must warn you, you will find dozens if not hundreds of reasons to delay it. Your peers will also start saying something along the lines of ‘It is too soon’, ‘You need to sort out other things first’. And whereas most of it is actually true, it doesn’t mean you need to delay your launch. You will never be ready 100%, so why not to wait for that elusive perfection?

How to assess if the required things on affiliate launch are done?

Let’s list them:
1. Affiliate commercial deal set up. You know how much you will pay, for what and what are the criteria and restrictions you will like to enforce.
2. Terms and Conditions are written. Refer to my post about biggest mistakes and spend a few hours and craft your T&Cs in the best possible manner. You can hire someone to have a fresh look on it.
3. Platform is chosen. You have a few options: develop your own, use a third-party software or application and finally go through an affiliate network route. It is a question of further discussion, but you need to decide on it.
4. You have populated your programme with some banners and landing pages. Affiliates need to work with some assets – think of product reviews and interactive widgets too.
5. You have tested a conversion. This is very important as you in no possible scenario want to find out that your affiliate’s sales are not recorded correctly. It will create a negative snowballing effect of a bad reputation and affiliates rejecting to work with you.
6. You can provide answers to your potential affiliates. You need to operate your business for a while for that. Most affiliate networks require you to be trading for a while before they will accept you as a merchant. Yet even if you go down an independent route, affiliates will ask you questions. For retail businesses it would be average basket size (i.e. for my https://organicwineclub.co.uk it is over £100 so affiliates know how much revenue a conversion will bring), conversion rates (click to sign up, signup to purchase); for iGaming businesses it can be LifeTime Value, churn rates and also conversion rates from click to signup and deposit.

At this point you see that the list of required things to cover isn’t that big. Go and crack on this and when finished just have enough confidence (balls, guts, you name it) to make a move.

On the day one of my own wine affiliate programme’s start I have recruited just one affiliate, who brought less than 10 clicks and referred one customer. One is less than zero, some money in my pocket (and affiliate’s too), so everyone’s happy!

I wish you all possible luck with your own startup and speak soon. Cheers

About The Author

Dimitri Safonov

Digital marketing, affiliate and performance marketing pro. Get in touch if you've got questions or need help with affiliate marketing.