How long does it take for my new program to produce sales?
It is a classic conundrum. You have built it, when will they come? In this case the build being the launch of your new affiliate program, “they” being the many sales you are expecting. But how long does it take for an affiliate program to become productive? How long is the ramp up for new affiliate programs? And what are the different phases the program will be going through on its way to ROI monster?
A Different Channel
The first thing to understand is that affiliate marketing is a different type of channel. It is not switch on / switch off, unlike other paid channels like social and SEM. It does not automatically take off the moment you launch it. Indeed, it does not even necessarily allow you to spend your full affiliate marketing budget right away. Indeed, instead of being a fast starter, like social and SEM campaigns, affiliate marketing is different. Rather than a speed boat, it is a super tanker. It takes more to get it started but once you get it going, it will keep going for you.
Ramp up of a program
So how does this Ramp up normally look. For a brand new program, it is generally split into 3 main phases.
Launch: This part is heavily focused on publisher and partnership recruitment, outreach, setting commercials etc. The focus is to get the right publishers on board with the program.
Activation: The focus is increasingly shifting to getting publishers in the program active and producing. During this time, there will be a mix of publishers live on the program starting to drive sales. Meanwhile, more key partnerships will also be negotiation.
Optimization: Focus is increasingly shifting towards optimizing the relationships with existing publishers in order to drive ever more sales from them. Recruitment and activation will still be ongoing.
It is at the time of the optimization that the program will really start delivering sales for you. From then on, the monthly contribution from the channel will continue to increase at the ROI of your choice.
Seems Hard, Why Bother
Given this slower start, an obvious question is “why bother”. Looking at the above, I know how long it will take for my affiliate channel to produce sales, and it is not immediate. However, there are numerous reasons why you not only should set up an affiliate channel but indeed need to do it.
First and foremost, in the affiliate channel, you control the ROI. This is in clear contrast to social and SEM where you are always fighting to reach your target ROI. That is not the case in the affiliate channel. Here, you dictate the ROI and as the channel grows, you continue to hit your ROI on ever larger sales. This makes the affiliate channel a unique driver of value. In fact, in many companies, the affiliate channel ends up being the cash cow that pays for a lot of the other online channels. This makes the affiliate channel an essential part of your marketing mix.
You also only pay for sales. However, affiliates will be promoting you across their platforms to generate those sales. This means that even if you do not get any sales, you still get promoted across many sites at no extra cost.
The affiliate channel also gives you access to a number of websites and platforms you would not otherwise be able to access, or would at great cost. This includes loyalty and rewards sites, comparison sites, influencers, blogs, B2B partnerships, brand partnerships and much more.
Are you looking to add a successful affiliate channel to your marketing mix? Then get in touch with us here at Lodestar Marketing.