Introduction:

Research from Business Insider suggests that affiliate marketing is responsible for driving up to 16% of all U.S. eCommerce sales.

Skeptical? The Wirecutter (now owned by The New York Times) generated $150 million in online sales in just one year from affiliate referral links leading to the various products they were featuring.

Metrics are all well and good to read about, but to make a difference in your company's revenue and overall performance with affiliate marketing, you need a plan of attack to support high quality, high performing affiliate onboarding.

Ask yourself, who can access your affiliate program? Is there quality control? Recruiting new partners is not easy, and success rarely comes from quantity alone when it comes to affiliate marketing. Rather, the success of your affiliate program is built atop the quality of affiliates you enter into relationships with

That's why you need a solid process for onboarding the best affiliates to maximize your company's performance. To help you along the way, we've prepared this checklist that runs over some common considerations for picking out the affiliates that are the best fit for you.

Let's get started!

Review:

Gather applicant's information

This task serves two purposes:

  1. Streamline the decision-making process
  2. Let's you know who's serious

Gathering everything together you need at the beginning of the onboarding process will save you time further down the line, and help you to make a quicker decision about whether or not the partnership is a good fit.

As well as this, asking for sample content up-front (ideally this will be a custom-crafted guest post or something similar) is a great way to weed out all of the non-serious applicants.

Record the information in the form fields below.

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    Afrikaans
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    Albanian
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    Amharic
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    Arabic (Egyptian Spoken)
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    Arabic (Levantine)
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    Arabic (Modern Standard)
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    Arabic (Moroccan Spoken)
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    Arabic (Overview)
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    Aramaic
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    Armenian
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    Assamese
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    Aymara
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    Azerbaijani
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    Balochi
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    Bamanankan
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    Bashkort (Bashkir)
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    Basque
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    Belarusan
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    Bengali
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    Bhojpuri
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    Bislama
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    Bosnian
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    Brahui
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    Bulgarian
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    Burmese
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    Cantonese
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    Catalan
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    Cebuano
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    Chechen
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    Cherokee
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    Croatian
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    Czech
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    Dakota
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    Danish
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    Dari
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    Dholuo
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    Dutch
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    English
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    Esperanto
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    Estonian
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    Éwé
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    Finnish
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    French
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    Georgian
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    German
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    Gikuyu
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    Greek
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    Guarani
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    Gujarati
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    Haitian Creole
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    Hausa
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    Hawaiian
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    Hawaiian Creole
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    Hebrew
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    Hiligaynon
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    Hindi
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    Hungarian
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    Icelandic
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    Igbo
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    Ilocano
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    Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia)
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    Inuit/Inupiaq
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    Irish Gaelic
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    Italian
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    Japanese
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    Jarai
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    Javanese
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    K’iche’
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    Kabyle
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    Kannada
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    Kashmiri
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    Kazakh
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    Khmer
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    KhoekhoeKorean
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    Kurdish
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    Kyrgyz
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    Lao
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    Latin
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    Latvian
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    Lingala
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    Lithuanian
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    Macedonian
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    Maithili
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    Malagasy
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    Malay (Bahasa Melayu)
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    Malayalam
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    Mandarin (Chinese)
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    Marathi
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    Mende
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    Mongolian
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    Nahuatl
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    Navajo
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    Nepali
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    Norwegian
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    Ojibwa
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    Oriya
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    Oromo
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    Pashto
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    Persian
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    Polish
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    Portuguese
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    Punjabi
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    Quechua
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    Romani
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    Romanian
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    Russian
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    Rwanda
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    Samoan
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    Sanskrit
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    SerbianShona
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    Sindhi
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    Sinhala
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    Slovak
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    Slovene
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    Somali
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    Spanish
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    Swahili
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    Swedish
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    Tachelhit
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    Tagalog
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    Tajiki
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    Tamil
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    Tatar
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    Telugu
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    Thai
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    Tibetic languages
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    Tigrigna
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    Tok Pisin
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    Turkish
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    Turkmen
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    Ukrainian
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    Urdu
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    Uyghur
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    Uzbek
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    Vietnamese
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    Warlpiri
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    Welsh
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    Wolof
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    Xhosa
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    Yakut
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    Yiddish
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    Yoruba
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    Yucatec
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    Zapotec
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    Zulu

Conduct an interview with the applicant

It should be clear to any potential affiliates exactly what kind of relationship they are getting into. They need to understand your perspective, including what it is you expected of them and what role they will be playing in your strategy.

Taking time to make sure this is clear early on in the process can prevent unnecessary complications and wasted time further down the line.

Talking to the applicant in an interview is a great way to build a more personal, direct relationship; when you talk to them, you want to make sure you do the following:

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    Clearly communicate your goals for the partnership
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    Clearly communicate what you expect from them
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    Clearly communicate their responsibilities

Don't forget to talk about the payment plan.

This should never be overlooked during the onboarding process as it is a crucial part of trust building and also prevents complications further down the line when one or more parties are less than satisfied with payment arrangements.

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    Clearly communicate how much they will get paid/reimbursed
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    Clearly communicate when they will get paid/reimbursed
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    Clearly communicate how they will get paid/reimbursed

Some questions you might want to ask during the interview (if you can't otherwise find answers on the internet):

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    How long have they been in business?
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    What makes them a good fit for marketing your product?
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    Who is their primary audience?
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    What other kinds products do they sell?

You should also consider, on behalf of your higher level business strategy:

Review applicant's profile

Now that you've gathered the sample content, it's time to review all of the information you have on them and make a decision as to whether or not they are a good fit.

Check on all of the following elements and mark them complete as you do so:

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    Review applicant's sample content
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    Review their online brand identity
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    Check how often they post on social media
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    Check what kind of content they post on social media
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    Check their social following

The applicant's profile might look great, but in this day and age, you never know who's legitimate. You'll need to sniff out the suspicious or fraudulent profiles.

There are tools available for checking the validity of certain metrics, such as TwitterAudit for weeding out bot followers. 

There are some things that require a more personal level of investigation. So, ask yourself the following questions:

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    Is their social profile legitimate?
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    Are their followers real people and not bots?
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    Do they publish often enough to benefit your metrics?
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    Are they posting consistently in terms of quality and quantity?

Approval:

Decide whether or not to approve the applicant

Consider everything thus far. Do they seem like a good fit? Make a decision, and record whether the applicant was successful or unsuccessful in the form field below.

Let the new affiliate partner know they were successful

You've got yourself a brand new affiliate, so go ahead and give them the news!

Below you will find an auto-filled email widget, with your new affiliate's email address and a template message congratulating them.

All you need to do is make sure the content of the email looks okay and then hit "Send".

Let the applicant know they were unsuccessful

Unfortunately, the applicant was not successful - best to let them know sooner rather than later.

Below is an email widget that has been auto-populated with the applicant's email address, alongside a template email notifying them of their unsuccessful application. 

Just check that everything in the email is as it should be and hit the "Send" button.

Add new affiliate to your affiliate management tool

If the affiliate passes the interview and has been notified of their successful application, you can add their information to your affiliate management tool (such as Omnistar or Tapfiliate) or mark them as approved if they're already in the system.

This process can be automated by connecting Process Street to Zapier.

Zapier makes it easy to run checklists in Process Street and trigger customized actions in over 1,000 apps, including Slack, Evernote, Salesforce, Trello, and more, with new integrations being added all the time.

There is plenty of documentation for getting started with API integrations for Process Street. Just head on over to our knowledge base.

Paperwork:

Come to agreement on partnership terms

Your partnership terms should be a legal document, with information specific to the kind of affiliate partnership you are offering.

Biztree has a great template to use for getting started with drafting your contract if you don't already have a standard document on hand.

Make sure to cover the following:

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    Description of program
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    Enrollment
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    Links on affiliate site
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    Program requirements
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    Responsibility of affiliates
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    Ordering processing
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    Advertising fees
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    Fee payment
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    Policies
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    Identifying self as affiliate
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    Limited license
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    Reservation of rights
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    Term and termination
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    Compliance with laws

Upload the finished document to the form field below.

Using the Members form field below, assign the individual who will approve the partnership terms document.

Approval: Partnership terms

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Come to agreement on partnership terms
    Will be submitted

Send off and received back a signed copy of the document

Then, ensure you have sent off and received back a signed copy of this document before proceeding.

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    Send off the finished partnership agreement for signature
  • 2
    Receive signed agreement

Guidelines and resources:

Give instructions on how to identify as an affiliate

You need to give instructions on how the new affiliate will identify themselves in relation to your brand; the relationship should be clear to their audience.

It's also important to make the distinction between affiliate and the brand they're promoting, so guidelines for disclaimers will have to be communicated up-front as well.

Make sure you tell the new affiliate what they need to do to identify as one of your affiliates.

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    Company logo on their affiliate list landing page
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    Affiliate disclaimer for blog posts and emails
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    Product added to their list of recommended products

Provide them with everything they need to perform their role

Most of the heavy lifting is over and done with at this point. Right now, your priority for onboarding the new affiliate is to make sure they have everything they need to perform their responsibilities to the best of their ability.

This will include:

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    Information and documentation about the promoted product
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    Media packs
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    Logos and promotional images
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    Pre-made content

Communicate logo and image usage guidelines

Edit this task to include a clear diagram displaying your logo and branding usage guidelines.

For example...

Announcements:

Promote new affiliate partnership

Announce and promote your new affiliate partnership across your own social media and email channels.

This exposure can help build your brand's reputation whilst also encouraging followers to learn more about your affiliate program and apply themselves.

Promoting your new affiliates highlights the benefits of being an affiliate in order to attract more interest.

Make announcements across the following channels:

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    Facebook
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    Twitter
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    Instagram
  • 4
    LinkedIn
  • 5
    Google+
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    Email
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    Your website

Sources:

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