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4.8 Setting Up a Campaign

Learning Objective

  1. Learn how best to set up an affiliate marketing campaign.

Affiliate marketing is becoming an integral part of eMarketing—how would you go about setting up and launching a new campaign without it? Affiliate marketing should grow your business, and grow with your business, so it’s important to plan and prepare for long-lasting success.

First, you need a clear idea of your business’s identity, goals and unique selling points. No doubt you will have competitors that affiliates already promote; you need to be able to give affiliates compelling reasons why your program is better.

With this in mind, you need to determine the goal of your affiliate marketing. If you are a new business, you might just want to build traffic and brand awareness. Depending on what industry you are in, your goal could be new customer leads or it could be increased retail sales. Make sure you are clear on what you want and that your Web site reflects this.

Then, you need to decide whether you are going to run your own program, from affiliate recruitment to tracking and paying, or whether you are going to use an affiliate network. If you are using an affiliate network, you’ll need to do your homework on the best network or networks to join. Look at the following:

  • Where your competitors are
  • Who has the kind of affiliates you want
  • What the joining fees and monthly fees are
  • How much support they can offer you
  • What countries the network is in

You’ll also need to decide whether you will hire an affiliate manager to run your program, whether you might outsource your program management, or whether you already have the resources to run the program yourself. You need to do a full competitor analysis, focusing on your competitors’ affiliate programs. Look at the following:

  • Commission tiers
  • Cookie periods
  • Creative offerings
  • Affiliates they work with
  • Networks
  • Incentives offered to affiliates

Prepare the basics that you’ll need to start a program:

  • Product feed
  • Banners and other creative offerings

Using your competitor research, decide on commission, commission tiers, cookie period, and incentives.

Test the tracking software on your site and make sure that it does not conflict with any other tracking you are using.

Recruit affiliates. Use your competitor analysis to contact potential affiliates, promote your program through affiliate forums, use your affiliate network contact channels to approach affiliates, and approach sites that you think fit your user demographic.

And it doesn’t all stop once you’ve launched! The key to successful affiliate marketing is ongoing communication and marketing to your affiliates. You need to make sure you are on top of validating sales, so they get their commission. You need to ensure that you stay competitive with your commission offering, and you need to keep your affiliates up to date with any information that could make them send more customers your way—more revenue for you and thus more cash for them!

Key Takeaways

  • Determine the goal of your affiliate marketing.
  • Decide if you will run your own program or if you’ll use an affiliate network.
  • Decide if you’ll hire an affiliate manager or outsource the management.
  • Do a competitive analysis.
  • Test the tracking software on your site to avoid conflicts.
  • Recruit affiliates.
  • Make communication ongoing! One of the keys to successful affiliate marketing is ongoing communication between merchants and affiliates. This can be thought of as the merchant marketing the affiliate program to affiliates so that the affiliates in turn will market the merchant’s offering.


  1. When do you think it would be best for a merchant to manage an affiliate in-house versus outsource it to an agency?
  2. When do you think it’s appropriate to run your own affiliate program versus hiring a manager? Versus outsourcing?
  3. Why do you think performing a competitor analysis is important?