Create an Affiliate Program Smartly to Boost Sales

published on 08 November 2023

Introduction to Creating a Successful Affiliate Program

An affiliate program is a powerful marketing strategy where businesses reward partners for promoting products and generating new sales. Studies show affiliate marketing can increase annual revenue by over 20% for many startups and small businesses.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the key steps to create an affiliate program successfully:

  • Choosing the ideal affiliate network for your niche
  • Finding engaged affiliates with targeted audiences
  • Setting fair commissions and tracking sales accurately
  • Optimizing the program for growth

By following these tips, you can build an affiliate program tailored for your startup. With strategic planning and execution, your program can drive steady new business from relevant partners promoting your offerings to their audiences.

Choosing the Right Affiliate Network

An affiliate network acts as an intermediary between merchants and affiliates. They provide a platform to manage affiliates, track sales, process payments and offer performance monitoring tools.

Some popular affiliate networks include:

  • ClickBank - Focuses on digital products. Charges $49.95/year + 7.5% per sale. Pro: Extensive reach. Con: More competitive niches.
  • Rakuten - Offers 8-20% commissions starting at $225/month. Pro: Robust analytics. Con: Interface not as user-friendly.
  • CJ Affiliate - Customizable commissions from $175/month. Pro: Dedicated affiliate managers. Con: More manual work to set up.
  • ShareASale - Charges a $650 setup fee then $500/year. Commissions from 3.5-20%. Pro: Specializes in fashion and beauty. Con: Lead generation tracking can be tricky.

For startups in specific verticals, niche networks like TravelPayouts (travel) or Pepperjam (fashion) often perform better as they cater to relevant affiliates.

Evaluate networks based on pricing, reach, tracking abilities, affiliate tools, and startup-friendliness. Unicorn Platform integrates with top networks to easily track sales and commissions.

Finding the Best Affiliates for Your Products

The types of affiliates who work best depends on your niche but may include:

  • Influencers like Natalie Ellis (SaaS) or Lucy Moon (beauty) who promote products to engaged followers.
  • Deal sites like that list special offers and coupons.
  • Review sites like Wirecutter that feature in-depth product comparisons.

Research affiliates running promotions for competitors in your space. Look for creators well-aligned with your target customers.

Consider special incentives for influencers with big reach. Aim for a mix of micro, mid-tier and some macro influencers.

Setting Commissions and Tracking Sales

When setting commissions, research competitors and industry averages. Consider volume-based tiers - pay more at higher sales thresholds.

To accurately attribute sales, install affiliate tracking pixels and integrate with your CRM. Unicorn Platform provides robust affiliate tracking and payout automation out of the box.

Optimizing the Program for Continued Growth

Analyze performance data to see which affiliates drive the most conversions and increase their commissions to incentivize them further.

Actively recruit new affiliates in top verticals. Run contests for affiliates with prizes for top sales.

Continuously test new commission structures and promotions. Unicorn's analytics provide data to optimize your program.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

In summary, the key steps to building a successful affiliate program are:

  • Choosing the right affiliate network for your niche
  • Finding engaged affiliates aligned with your audience
  • Accurately tracking sales and setting fair commissions
  • Optimizing the program by incentivizing top performers

With the right strategy, an affiliate program can significantly boost revenue for startups through engaged partnerships. Learn more about how Unicorn Platform's affiliate tools can help you easily create, manage and scale your startup's affiliate program.

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