Executing an effective and transparent affiliate programme migration which benefits both advertisers and affiliates is not easy. The full migration process ideally takes between two to three months, therefore it takes significant time and effort. The following steps will make the transition as smooth as possible.
A Step-by-step Guide to a Successful Affiliate Program Migration
1. Stakeholder Visibility on Affiliate Migration
Before starting the migration process, advertisers should have a checklist to manage their priorities and provide direction. The best way to do this is by building a shareable document and allocating tasks to minimise risks, keep track, and create accountability. Shareable document tools, such as Google Docs, are a great way to do this.
2. Affiliate Audit Before Migration
Advertisers should review their current affiliate list and decide on whether all or some affiliates should migrate to the new network. This decision can depend on channel-specific or broader company goals. From there, an advertiser can evaluate which affiliates bring the most volume and value. After advertisers have decided on which affiliates to migrate, it is crucial to know whether those affiliates are available on the new platform and whether new affiliates will need to be recruited.
3. Successful Migration with Communication
Good communication is key to a successful migration. Advertisers should have a communication plan, maintain regular contact with the affiliates, and ensure communication is personalised and relevant. Affiliates can receive hundreds of emails daily, so it is easy for an email to be missed or end up in spam. Therefore, using eye-catching subject lines can also be a good way to make a message stand out from the crowd.
Advertisers should divide their affiliates into different tiers. Top partners should be contacted and moved first. Advertisers should ensure the affiliates receive a clear and personalised message to explain the entire process, including key dates. Long-tail affiliates should be contacted next. Advertisers should include instructions on how to sign up to the new platform and switch links, and where to find new creatives. We recommend advertisers schedule a follow-up email after a few weeks if they do not receive a response or if affiliates have not switched links. Advertisers should track those that are already live, so they know which affiliates need additional help with the process. Some affiliates may need dashboard training or help setting up their payment details.
4. Forward Planning
Advertisers should allow themselves time and plan ahead. We recommend advertisers migrate their program over a six-week period. Advertisers should provide affiliates with at least a month’s notice and several reminders before the programme closes. Advertisers who provide as much guidance as possible on applying to the new programme and exact timeframes for affiliates to swap links will ensure the programme continues its momentum.
5. Keep Track of Everything
An affiliate migration tracker will provide advertiser visibility on the progress of the migration. Keeping up-to-date records on affiliates who have swapped links to the new programme, all changes and updates of migrated publishers to click or sale active, and the dates this occurred will provide a good overview.
An advertiser’s migration tracker should include affiliate ID, name, URL and (most importantly) their contact details, date of contact, activation status, as well as divide the publisher list by top, mid and long-tail affiliates, to help prioritise them during migration. There are many other fields you can include in this tracker; however, the above are the primary columns to have.
6. Incentivise Publishers to Encourage Activation
Advertisers should consider a launch promotion or other incentive to encourage publishers to switch links quickly. For example, a short-term Costs Per Acquisition (CPA) increase, or a competition to win a bonus payment for the top ten performing affiliates. These kinds of incentives can help reduce the time affiliates take to switch their respective links and motivate them to push the programme even more.
7. Attract and Retain Affiliates
Advertisers should create an invitation email and welcome deck to attract new publishers to a programme and ensure their information is accessible. Starting regular newsletters or communications as soon as possible will also help to maintain engagement, and also distribute information about the product, offers and programme.
8. Identify Top Affiliates and Diversify the Programme’s Publisher Mix
After two to three months, advertisers should revisit their publisher list and identify top-performing publishers from similar programmes to recruit. Diversifying the publisher mix means that the programme does not rely on one publisher type only, keeping the programme healthy long-term.
9. Build Long-lasting Relationships
Finally, advertisers must build relationships with the top-performing affiliates and consider testing incentives periodically. It is important to remember affiliates operate like businesses, just like advertisers, and so proposals need to make financial sense to be viable.
There's no shortcut for a smooth migration, however, the tips above should ensure minimal disruption for publishers and advertiser.