Affiliate Marketing Program

5 Steps to Setting Up an Affiliate Marketing Program

As a new business, it’s hard to generate new sales leads. Affiliate marketing can help. With affiliate marketing, you pay a small commission every time your partner brings a new sale.

When you sign up a new affiliate partner, they’ll get a unique link to your products or services. They can share that link on their blog and social media profiles. Every time someone purchases an item through that link, you’ll pay your affiliate partner a commission. Having a large network of affiliate partners means that you’ll be generate a lot of new leads, without having to put in the legwork yourself.

Types of Affiliate Marketing Programs

There are several different ways to decide when to pay your affiliate partners. The most common are pay-per-click, pay-per-lead, and pay-per-sale.


With a pay-per-click strategy, you pay your partner each time someone clicks through to your website from the affiliate’s unique link. This generates higher commission levels for your affiliate partners because they’ll get paid even if the person doesn’t make a purchase.


With a pay-per-lead strategy, you pay your partner each time they generate a new lead. You would decide what constitutes a lead – whether it’s someone signing up for your newsletter, signing up for a trial, etc.


With a pay-per-sale strategy, you only pay your partner if someone purchases your products or services through the partner’s link. Pay-per-sale strategies offer the best value for you and higher commission percentages for your partners.

Choosing a pay-per-sale strategy carries very little risk for you. You’ll only pay your partners when they make a sale, so you won’t have to pay anything upfront.

How to Set Up an Affiliate Marketing Program

1.     Determine How Much to Pay

Before you set up your affiliate marketing program, determine what percentage of your sales you’re willing to pay your affiliate partners.

Are you able to part with 5%? 10%? The higher percentage you’re able to pay your affiliate partners, the more traffic you’ll get because your affiliate partners will work harder.

You should also keep in mind that your affiliate partners aren’t just bringing you one new sale, they are bringing new customers. Consider how much a customer will spend with you over the course of their relationship. Paying your affiliate partners a little more for that initial sale is worth it.

2.     Find Your Target Market

Don’t try to sell your products to everyone, just your target market. When you’re looking for new affiliate partners, try to find people that are already involved in your industry. For example, if you run an online clothing boutique, look for fashion bloggers to become your affiliate partners.

3.     Join an Affiliate Network

An affiliate network will act like a matchmaker between you and affiliate partners, so you’re not out there looking for affiliates yourself (which can be just as hard as generating new sales leads).

A lot of affiliate marketers have been burned by companies in the past, but affiliate networks can take care of a lot of the trust issues. They’ll provide tracking software for your affiliate partners, so your partners know they’re getting paid for every sale they make.

Before you join an affiliate network, keep in mind that they will also take a cut of your sales or charge you fees for using their services.

4.     Build Your Own Tracking System

If you don’t want to use an affiliate network, build your own tracking system. If you use WordPress or Shopify to run your online store, you can download extensions that are pre-programmed with all the analytics, forms, and payment options you need to sign up new affiliate partners, track their sales, and pay commissions.

5.     Communicate with Your Affiliate Partners

After you’ve recruited your affiliate partners, make sure to communicate with them regularly, including updating them on any product changes and sharing tips on how to successfully market your products.

Provide your partners with creative promotional materials to get them started. The less work your partners have to do initially, the more time they can spend promoting your products or services. Once they’ve started, they can start to create their own material in their own voice.