7 Essentials When Making Affiliate Program Changes – By Jamie Birch

by FeedFront Staff on August 28, 2009

Times are tough. There is no escaping the fact that our industry is not immune to the high unemployment rates and falling consumer spending. It is affecting all of us and merchants may need to adjust their programs due to the changing landscape; sometimes even just to keep them open to affiliates.

As Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant is change”. But you shouldn’t make changes without thoughtful, in-depth consideration and accurate information.

Nothing will upset your partners more and reduce the overall performance of a program than affiliates finding an email in their inbox that tells of a dramatic change taking place immediately.

If you find yourself under pressure to change the cookie days (also known as commission duration or return days), overall commission rate, and/or other aspects of your program, here are some guidelines and things to consider:

• Accurate data: When making changes to commission rates, for example, be sure to know the lifetime value of affiliate customers and look at the profitability of each partner before making a decision. Accurate data will guide you in your decisions.

• Proven assumptions: Are your theories supported by data or simply the thoughts of someone outside of the marketing department? Good analysis will often stop bad decisions from being made.

• Testing: Test out your assumptions in your program.

• Top affiliate involvement: Affiliates are your partners. You shouldn’t make any big changes without consulting them first. It may serve only as a forewarning in the end, but bringing them into the process will help them understand any decisions you decide to make. Additionally, many affiliates have been in business longer than the affiliate managers themselves, they may have some ideas that you may not have thought of.

Sometimes there is simply no way to avoid making changes to your program. Following these guidelines can help lessen the pain:

• Involve your affiliates and be able to explain the issues and reasons for your decision
• Have data to back up your position
• Be prepared to offer concessions to ease the impact on your partners
• Provide adequate lead time (60-90 days)
• Send email notices before changes are made and follow up with individual calls to your top-producing affiliates

Accurate data, partner consultation, and adequate lead time will help you and your program maintain trust and the performance that we all need during these tough times.

Jamie Birch is the owner of the affiliate management agency JEBCommerce.com, MyAffiliateCoach.net, and NewsForAffiliates.com.

Download the entire FeedFront issue 7 here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/17376069/FeedFront-Magazine-Issue-7
FeedFront issue 7 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article00date/2009/08