Many affiliate programs focus on the acquisition of affiliates without a plan on how they will be retained once after the initial connections are established. Creating a positive customer culture in the affiliate program plays a crucial role in this sustainability.
Customer culture does not refer to customer service, and this is where marketers get the most confused. The process in which businesses understand the customers’ demand is all about creating the customer culture. Defining it helps them to develop services and products to meet these needs accordingly.
In affiliate programs, especially, customer culture is really the actual link that is formed
between affiliate manager and the affiliate -and the functions of that working relationship as a portion of the overall execution of delivery and support task. Too often, affiliates are seen as a lead generation channel of digital marketing vs. being an extension of the actual marketing team. Fixing this perception and disconnect can be the difference between a program that performs well, and one that really doesn’t.
A big part of getting the customer culture right in the affiliate program relies on the account management team understanding the actual journey of the affiliate end to end versus just trying to push for more exposure and sales. The art of building a customer culture is built by an initial outreach that remains the key to ensure affiliates stay aligned to the brand and stay loyal to the offering. It starts with comprehending exactly how the affiliates come to find what processes are in place to take them forward to actively collaborate.
Understanding the affiliate’s customer journey can really help to improve the customer culture to keep the affiliates engaged and to promote the active promotion of the program offerings in comparison to the competition, which impacts the program performance, driving consistent sales. It’s a win-win situation for all sides, but it takes a bit longer to implement and nurture both outwardly and internally in the affiliate community too.
Having regular direct interaction with the program and the account management team allows businesses to collect responses to offers, ways, and processes in which affiliates wish to be supported. Listening instead of talking is the key to getting this done.
The best customer cultures are built around a relationship between customers and businesses. It is important that the affiliates feel like they are a valuable part of the business community and are an extension of the staff or team instead of being just another cog in the machine.
It’s also recommended to educate the affiliate managers about the customer service and
strategic management techniques that can help them to optimize their affiliate relationships even post difficult conversations need to be had. Many affiliate managers slip into the trap of only contacting their affiliates since they first join the program and then leave to find success on their own. They give them the tools required to get started, but then they ultimately fail to follow up regularly. This leads to the affiliate either irregular away or even potentially jumping to other programs to start the cycle again.
Businesses need to promote the best possible customer culture in place to really help retain the affiliates and make them feel valued as a part of the brand. Retention is just as critical as acquisition, and businesses need to make sure that they are targeting both parts within their individual affiliate strategy.
During these uncertain times, it’s vital to ensure the digital marketing and affiliate teams are ready to combat in a competitive way they manage their relationships. It is evident that the affiliate industry is still expanding fast, and it’s getting even more fierce. Brands who wish to benefit from performance marketing required to ensure they stand out and get heard.