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A good Checklist for Affiliate Marketing Program

If you want to start an affiliate program, there’s a simple checklist to help you get started. Please note that this list is an array of what you need to do before launching an affiliate program, instead of a guide on how to create one.

1. Assess business readiness for affiliate marketing

Before launching an affiliate program, assess whether your business is suitable for affiliate marketing.

Is your business a good fit for affiliate marketing? This model tends to work well for established brands or small businesses with a strong niche. If your brand is relatively unknown, it may take longer for an affiliate program to gain traction.

Here are what you need to check:

  • You have a well-established business. 
  • You have the necessary resources to manage and afford an affiliate program.  

Do you have the resources to manage it? Running an affiliate program requires both human and financial resources. Some platforms, like BixGrow, can streamline the process, but there is still a learning curve and various tasks to manage.

2. Research your competitors

Analyze your industry to determine if affiliate marketing is commonly used and successful.

Is affiliate marketing a common practice in your industry? Are there notable companies in your niche that have succeeded with it? Examine the structure of successful affiliate programs in your field, as some industries, like app development or gaming, require specific approaches.

Who are the typical affiliates in your industry? This is a critical aspect often overlooked. Identifying the right affiliates can make or break your program.

Finally, consider differentiation. How can you make your affiliate program stand out? Are there unique opportunities for your program to offer something different?

Here are what to check:

  • Success cases of affiliate programs that can work out in your industry.
  • The common characteristic of competitors’ affiliate program 
  • Your points of difference that can make your affiliate program outstanding

3. Define your goals

Goals in affiliate marketing give you a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Whether it’s boosting sales, getting your brand noticed, or reaching new customers, having specific goals helps you stay on track. As it may take at least 6 months (if not longer) to see significant results, setting a (measurable) goal is advised as it make sure you are going in the right direction.

Typically, an affiliate program can enhance all three key areas: revenue, brand awareness, and customer reach. However, you can start with smaller goals.

Use the S.M.A.R.T. framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) to define your goals. This will help ensure your affiliate marketing strategy aligns with your broader business objectives. Here is an example of a goal in affiliate marketing using the S.M.A.R.T framework:

  • Specific: The goal is to increase the number of affiliates by 60 people. It specifies what area of the business is being targeted (affiliate marketing) and what the desired outcome is (60 affiliates).
  • Measurable: 60 affiliates is quantifiable. With an approximate successful affiliate onboard rate of 20%, you will need to reach out to 25 affiliates per week.
  • Achievable: Considering using an affiliate network, you can easily find 25 new affiliates per week.
  • Relevant: The goal aligns with the broader business strategy of increasing revenue through affiliate marketing.
  • Time-bound: The goal has a clear timeframe, specifying that the 60 affiliates increase must be achieved in the next quarter (i.e., within three months).

By following this SMART goal, you can develop a focused approach to increasing sales through affiliate marketing, ensuring clarity and accountability.

Here are what to check:

  • Anticipate the reach of your business via affiliate marketing, consider how it might extend your presence into new regions, and connect you with different customer segments.
  • Determine what you hope to achieve with an affiliate program (e.g., increase sales, expand customer base, enhance brand awareness).
  • Set a goal using a S.M.A.R.T framework.

4. Set commission structure

Decide on your program structure (e.g., multi-level marketing, single-tier, hybrid).

Decide what percentage or fixed amount affiliates will earn for each sale or lead they bring in. You can have different rates for different products or based on how well affiliates perform. Do not forget to think about extra rewards for top affiliates or those who reach performance milestones. This might be bonuses, exclusive products, higher commission rates, or other perks to keep them motivated and happy.

Here are what to check:

  • Define commission rates for affiliates
  • Define rewards for affiliates

5. Choose payment methods

This is pretty intuitive compared to another part of the checklist. Options include e-wallets, bank transfers, or cash payments.

Tip: If you’re running an online business with affiliates from various countries, PayPal is a convenient choice. It allows global transactions, making it easier to work with affiliates from anywhere. For local affiliates, domestic bank transfers are a reliable option. They ensure quick and secure payments for those operating in nearby areas.

Here is what to do:

  • Choose payment methods

6. Allocate budget for affiliate marketing


Review your marketing budget

Consider how much you can allocate to affiliate marketing. This amount includes affiliate commission, affiliate performance bonus, and related costs.

Determine if your profit margins can support affiliate commissions while maintaining profitability.

Also, consider the costs involved, including both financial and time investments. This will help you assess whether the potential return on investment aligns with your business goals.

Tips: The budget for affiliate marketing should be calculated based on product selling price. In this manner, you can easily control expenses in price vitality because your commission rate is nowed anchored with the selling price. For example, the affiliate marketing budget will equal 20% of the product price, including a 15% fixed commission rate and a 5% bonus.

Here is what to check:

  • The budget for affiliate marketing (for commission, performance bonuses, and rewards)
  • Decide how much to reinvest in affiliate marketing.

7. Choose an affiliate marketing tool

Here are two choices for you:

  • Use affiliate marketing software
  • Use an affiliate marketing network.

Both affiliate network & software have their merits, but which one to choose depends on your specific needs and budget for affiliate program maintenance.

What to check when you come to a new affiliate platform? 

  • Is it integrated with an ecommerce system? It is pretty easy to search for platforms such as Shopify (you just need to find them on the app store). For another platform like WooCommerce, you can totally find them on their default app storage. 
  • The payment method and commission structure do they support? You can simply check out or ask on their communication channel, for example, social accounts. Send them a brief of strategy and they may offer how the app will work with your business. 
  • How do they charge a monthly fee? Many affiliate software require a share of affiliate commission, which means the bigger your brand is, the higher the fee paid to the platform. 
  • How about their support team? If you have no experience using an affiliate platform or affiliate marketing, the learning curve could take around 02 weeks. So good customer support reviews might be. 

Here are what to check:

  • Work on your eCommerce platform
  • Support your payment method and commission structure
  • Monthly expenses are fit for your budget.
  • The support team is responsive.

8. Hire an affiliate manager 

It is NOT a compulsory step, but it might save time & effort, especially if you’re managing a large business. Or simply take time to talk to the support team of BixGrow!  

Overall, hiring an affiliate manager is simply a good choice if you need a helping hand.

Here is what to check:

  • Hire an affiliate manager

9. Build affiliate management workflow

Affiliate recruitment requires the manager to create clear criteria for who you want to recruit. Are they social media influencers, bloggers, content creators, or simply marketers? Plus, influencers with a strong following in your niche may be ideal for promoting your products or services.

Once you’ve identified the right affiliates, the next step is onboarding. How many affiliates can you manage effectively? An affiliate management platform can help automate some aspects of the process, but you’ll still need to ensure that new affiliates understand your brand, products, and expectations.

Managing affiliates may be more complicated than it seems. Beyond the automated connections provided by your affiliate platform, you’ll need to maintain ongoing communication and engagement. Most importantly, to keep affiliates up-to-date, it is a must to provide newsletters or updates to your affiliates!

Here are what to check:

  • Affiliate standards
  • The expected number of affiliates in your program
  • List of affiliates for special outreach
  • Onboarding process
  • Notification period

10. Write affiliate terms & conditions 

Affiliate terms and conditions are guidelines created by advertisers to mandate cooperation activities between an affiliate and a business running an affiliate program. Legal requirements for affiliate marketing are a must for most countries. Begin by researching the specific laws and regulations in your region, covering areas like advertising, disclosures, taxation, and consumer protection.

If you’re in the United States, you need to do research on Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines, which mandate transparency and disclosure of affiliates’ promotion. If your affiliate is based in the European Union, ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which governs personal data protection and privacy.

Plus, terms & conditions also guide affiliates on how to promote your brand, and what they cannot do while promoting. That is essential to keep the promotional content clean and the brand image consistent.

Here are what to check:

  • Create a term and condition framework
  • Modify terms & conditions to make them suitable with regional regulation (e.g. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guidelines & General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)).

Read more: Best practices of your affiliate marketing program

11. Create affiliate marketing assets & training materials

Merchant promotional materiasl & traning resource should be easy to understand and clear.

Eye-catching banners and product images? Well, it is not necessary all the time.

The affiliate assets need to keep your brand image consistent yet still have room for affiliates to show their creativity. These should be available in different sizes so they can be used on websites, social media, and emails. Add some simple text links with strong phrases like “Shop Now” or “Get Exclusive Deals” to encourage people to click.

Don’t forget to create an affiliate guide that explains how the program works. It should cover information like commission affiliates earnings, payment method & terms & conditions. Offer extra training through webinars, video tutorials, and a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section to answer common queries.

Tip: hire experts who are good at creating content and design. A professional writer can make engaging text, and a graphic designer can create attractive visuals.

What to do:

  • Create material for affiliate training
  • Create marketing assets for promotional purposes.

12. Build your affiliate community

This part is optional. Plus, it is not easy for every merchant to build a whole community. If you’re a smaller business, you might not need one, but if you’re a big company, it can be really important.

Many free social platforms allow you to build a community. Social media groups like Facebook or LinkedIn are good options. You could also use community software like Slack or Discord, which gives you more control. The key is to create a place where affiliates can talk, ask questions, and find useful information.

What to do?

  • Build a community

13. Test your program

Before running your program, consider launching a small-scale pilot affiliate program to gauge interest and results.

  • Start with a small group of programs. You can use clone emails to create your affiliate program. Have pilot participants (like your staff or, even better, your affiliate marketing team) join in.
  • Test your tracking system, commission structure, and overall affiliate experience (from affiliate program windows).

(By the way, BixGrow allows you to test multiple programs at the same time)

This step is important to big companies as sometimes their commission structures only show flaws at a bigger scale. can envision how the program would look like from the viewpoint of affiliates & program managers when it is launched. 

What to check:

  • Run one (or multiple) program to test effectiveness.
  • Gather feedback from pilot participants to identify areas for improvement. 

14. Set a plan to promote your affiliate program

A plan to promote your program will end this checklist.

Creating a plan to promote your affiliate program is essential if you want people to know about your brand. It’s a crucial step in addition to active affiliate outreach. This plan not only helps attract the right affiliates but also ensures a consistent approach to marketing.

Here are what to do:

  • Define your point of difference
  • Create promotional content
  • Choose places to promote your program

Did you finish the checklist?

Starting an affiliate program can be really exciting, but you’ll need to stick with strategic planning to achieve success.

Once you have everything set up with BixGrow, the program should run smoothly, and you’ll be able to watch your network—and revenue—grow.

If you’re searching for the best affiliate tool for SaaS businesses to get started quickly, try out BixGrow. And don’t forget to read all our articles about launching new affiliate programs!

I have been working in marketing for four years, passionate about creative writing and copy writing. Love to be alone at watersides, sip coffee, play games or read anything that is thought provoking.


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