What Goes Into A Successful Affiliate Program?

What Goes Into A Successful Affiliate Program?

When Dan and I seriously started talking about partnering on LinuxExpert.tech we knew we wanted a great affiliate program. But we knew most affiliate programs fail to live up to their projections. I decided to look at any and every affiliate program I could find and if possible try to gather some metrics on how it performed. That last part is extremely difficult but some specialized search engines helped. 

If an affiliate program didn’t place any kind of limit on who could participate and didn’t have other limiting factors like protected territories I used the proliferation of current links for a program as a stand in for effectiveness. The idea being the more people actively promoting an affiliate program, the more value they see in that program.  When possible I also tried to see how interest in a program fared over time. For example, if someone was actively promoting it six months ago but not now might be an indicator the program didn’t have lasting value to the affiliates.

Yes, I know none of this is scientific. But I wasn’t trying to solve a scientific problem. I was trying to identify aspects of an affiliate program most likely to attract and keep active affiliates. 

Most affiliate programs are tied to sales. Yeah, no surprise there. Most will payout based on a new customer actually buying something. For affiliate programs related to an on-going service the payout is either limited to the initial sale or trailing off over some period of time. Because LinuxExpert.tech is a service offering, these are the kind of affiliate programs of interest to us.

The problem with them seems to be they reach saturation relatively quickly and then trail off over time.

We wanted something different.

Dan and I both have sales management experience and our discussions usually morphed to trying to figure out how affiliates could be more like a sales force than some short term approach to client growth. A successful service offering is dependent on long term and repeat customers who are more partner than client. We realized we wanted some way to make sure the affiliate kept some skin in the game to help keep the client happy.

This means we knew we were going to have some kind of weeding out process for affiliate approval. 

Dan’s sales management experience is in software sales through partners while my sales management experience was in computer hardware distribution.

We know the target market for our affiliate program is going to be web and application developers who don’t provide server and environment management. Or they provide it solely because they have to do so.

We know if we can properly structure this their participation in the program will also provide a value add to their clients.

We know many web and application developers are great at building things but don’t have time to stay on top of the security threats and continual management tasks required to keep any site or internet facing application secure and running optimally. Servers have to be updated and upgraded. Frameworks must have security patches installed to keep them secure. E-commerce sites face PCI compliance issues.

The list goes on and on and all of these can distract and even derail web site and web application developers from their primary revenue stream.

We are still fleshing out the details but at the 50,000 foot level we know if an affiliate brings us a client they will receive revenue for as long as the client stays with us and the affiliate continues to meet the requirements of the program. 

Our goal with LinuxExpert.tech is for our affiliates and clients to be more like partners in a very symbiotic relationship where everyone benefits and everyone sees value.

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