You Can Learn Lots from a Survey – By Wade Sisson

by Colleen on December 14, 2011

Success in affiliate marketing comes from a number of factors – not the least of which is communication between the merchant, the affiliate, and the affiliate manager.

Creating an affiliate survey is a very effective way of aiding such communication.

An affiliate survey benefits more than the agency or program manager who created the survey. It also benefits:

1) the survey creator, who wants answers;
2) the merchant, who wants affiliate feedback;
3) and affiliates, who want to feel their thoughts, wants, and needs are heard and addressed.

Here are a few steps that will help you effectively create, distribute, and collect an affiliate survey.

Ask the right questions.

Your survey has a lot of ground to cover. You want to gain information about the affiliate, such as what tools he/she uses to promote the brand (blog content, coupons, data feeds) and what would inspire him/her to do more (better creative, higher commission).

You also want to learn about the effectiveness of the current program. Is it competitive? Do the affiliates feel they have everything they need to succeed?

Keep it simple.

Try to keep your survey at ten questions or less. Remember – you want answers. If this starts to feel more like the SATs than a survey, your response rate will plummet.

If a question might only pertain to a small segment, such as a question meant only for coupon affiliates, do another survey later that targets only that segment. Don’t risk alienating your entire affiliate base.

Give the respondent the freedom to offer additional feedback.

Include a comment box with each question. Also acknowledge that the affiliate may want to talk about things you didn’t ask by including a “Share any other feedback you may have” comment box at the end of the survey.

Ensure your affiliates that their feedback matters.

Actions speak louder than words. Make the time to thank each affiliate for his or her feedback. And if someone asked to be contacted for more discussion or assistance, do it.

Follow up!

The information you gain from the survey is only valuable if you act on it. Use the responses to develop a plan of action – and present it to the merchant and /or network.

If the majority of respondents say that taking a certain course of action would greatly improve their effectiveness, you will be able to make a strong case for that course of action. The best case scenario: to be able to deliver on your affiliates’ wants and needs.

Offer an incentive if you can.

Remember – affiliates are entrepreneurs, and their time is valuable. If you can offer value, beyond the inherent value of gathering information that can make the program stronger, you’ll get a better response rate.

Wade Sisson is Director of Marketing for affiliate program management agency Schaaf-PartnerCentric.

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