Affiliate Marketing Communication: 5-Step Strategic Planning Template

You are proud of setting up your affiliate program and, by now, you’ve even succeeded in finding and recruiting quality affiliates into it. Does this mean you can now relax and watch sales flow? Definitely not!

Affiliate communicationYou should rather work on your affiliate communication strategy. Why?

The reasons are numerous but let’s review the five most important of them.

5 Reasons for a Sound Affiliate Communication Plan

Believe it or not, excellent communication is key to:

  1. Convincing affiliates to promote you versus your competitors;
  2. Educating them regarding your products or services and your branding strategy;
  3. Equipping them with the tools they need to successfully promote your products or services;
  4. Activating affiliates and helping them reach their maximum potential;
  5. Motivating them and convincing them to continue promoting your products or services.

As this Refersion post highlights, your affiliates are not your marketing tools but real people, each with their own priorities and preferences. Sometimes, showing your interest in their preferences and priorities, supporting them, and leaving your “door” open will get you more than paying a high commission rate.

Not doing that could cause consequences similar to the Chernobyl disaster, so it is better to manage your program and the communication with your affiliates proactively. You will need a sound plan, tailored to the specifics of your business and affiliates.

We will discuss the steps you need to follow in the following lines. Just remember one thing:

Your goal is to ensure flawless, two-way symmetric communication, not broadcast.

Besides sharing your own views, you need to be open to those of your affiliates. Instead of forcing your affiliates to embrace your approach, you need to meet them half-way and consider their proposals as well. Let’s see how you can do that.

How to Come Up with a Good Affiliate Communication Plan

In Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day, Geno Prussakov dedicates an entire chapter to teaching affiliate managers and merchants to communicate with their affiliates. From his perspective, confirmed by numerous affiliates and affiliate marketing  program managers in response to our blog posts on the subject, planning affiliate communication requires taking the following steps:

  1. Studying and Identifying the Best Affiliate Communication Channels
  2. Deciding on Communication Frequency and Approach
  3. Setting up a Communication Routine
  4. Putting Together the Necessary Materials

Since we were talking about two-way, symmetric communication, you should also remain open to affiliate feedback and adjust your communication strategy accordingly.

Let’s take a closer look at these five steps and see what they involve:

1. Study and Identify the Best Communication Channels

You’ll want to have three types of communication channels:


These are the channels your affiliates can use to get in touch with you directly whenever they have questions or need help related to your affiliate marketing program. For example, at AM Navigator, we encourage merchants and affiliates to contact us directly through the following channels:

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Traditional mail
  • Online form

We also respond promptly to blog comments (leave a comment and see for yourself) and social media messages (see links to our social media accounts in the website footer). If you are serious about ensuring your affiliate program’s success, you should keep at least one, preferably more open communication channels.

Regular or Expected Communications

This category includes the types of communications your affiliates expect or receive regularly, like your newsletter, performance reports, holiday greetings, etc. And yes, you should set up a newsletter, review your affiliates’ performance (praise success, encourage those with average results, and offer your help to those with poor results), and send holiday greetings.


Publishing content online, on your own website and blog, as well as other platforms, will help you recruit new affiliates, retain existing ones, and boost their performance. We will discuss how to make the most of these opportunities later in this post.

Until then, an important step in building an effective affiliate communication plan is to identify your affiliates’ preferred communication channels. If you get a chance, it doesn’t hurt to ask them directly. Otherwise, you can go with industry stats.

According to our findings, affiliates prefer the following channels, listed according to their preferences:

  • Merchant email
  • Affiliate network email
  • Merchant website and blog
  • Network area for merchants
  • Social networks

Generally, affiliates want relationship and communication but on their own terms. They want to be able to get hold of you when they need it and read your communications at their own pace. Calling them too often or without a valid reason is never a good idea.

Through your overall efforts, you need to show them that you are reachable but not demanding, open to affiliate relationships but not willing to force them. What does that mean in terms of frequency and approach? Let’s find out!

2. Decide on Communication Frequency and Approach

Let’s see how you should approach your affiliates and how often you should reach out to them, according to the three types of communication channels.

Open Communication

We’ve already discussed the importance of being and showing that you are open to communication. You can express your availability in your program description, emails, and newsletters, as well as on social media.

The most important thing in terms of communication at this level is to respond promptly. While many merchants take up to one week to respond to affiliate queries, we recommend much shorter response times.

Perhaps you cannot reply within 24 hours but you should not let your affiliates wait more than 48 hours. This is how much they are willing to wait and what they consider reasonable response time. If you wait longer, by the time you respond they may have already moved on to your competitors.

Regular/Expected Communication

As mentioned above, affiliates prefer to receive email communications from their program manager, between once a week and once a month (affiliate newsletter). More frequent unsolicited and unnecessary communication is already too much. What could justify more frequent communication? Awin identifies the following circumstances:

  • Changes to your program agreement, especially to the commission structure, cookie life, etc.
  • Merchant website and affiliate program website downtime
  • New deals and promotions
  • Affiliate account suspension or ban
  • Promotional tools updates (new creatives, new product categories)
  • Changes to your branding/marketing strategy, etc.

Since each business is different, we recommend that you experiment with biweekly and monthly affiliate newsletter and see which option yields the best opening rate. To improve the opening rate of your communications, consider the following tips:

  • Identify the right person to contact, otherwise, your communication will be useless
  • Adjust the content to the receiver, as different types of affiliates will have different needs and expectations
  • Ask for feedback if your communication opening rate drops, as the best ones to help you figure out what went wrong are your affiliates.
  • Personalize your emails to make your affiliates feel important, to show that you treasure their contribution to your program.
  • Don’t suffocate your affiliates with unnecessary communications.


Whether you post on your own blog or contribute to various affiliate marketing blogs, the more content you publish the better. Do not hesitate to follow our lead and put together a Knowledge Base, an FAQ section, and any other databases that could help your affiliates.

Cover everything you would want to know if you were in their shoes. Check out your competitors’ approach for inspiration. Research keywords and topics using tools like UberSuggest, SEMRush, Moz SEO, Google Trends, and Google Keyword Planner.

You can post industry data and news, updates on your company, or advice on how affiliates can better promote your products or services. Video content rules, so don’t hesitate to get in front of or behind the camera and provide your affiliates with new perspectives.

Just remember to provide quality, affiliate- and customer-driven content. After all, that is where the money comes from. If you’re not sure how to create a content strategy, the following resources may help:

Now you have a better understanding of what your affiliates expect and treasure in terms of communication. Meeting their needs and expectations could seem difficult but we have good news: you can turn everything into a routine.

3. Set up an Affiliate Communication Routine

Indeed, it is possible to plan most of your communications and have solutions ready for open inquiries as well. For example, if you set up the above-recommended Knowledge Base and FAQ sections on your website, you will be able to redirect most affiliate inquiries to specific communication pieces providing the necessary information.

Better yet, you can implement search buttons and encourage your affiliates to look for the information you need. Have you tried our blog search option? It lets you browse through nearly 1,500 blog posts to find the information and advice you need.

Things are even simpler when it comes to newsletters and publications. You can plan their content, write them in advance, and schedule their sending/publishing as you see fit. We recommended this approach in our affiliate program launch checklist for your email templates and program launch announcement.

Just do the same with newsletters and publications. You don’t even have to write them yourself. If you work with a competent affiliate program manager, they will see to it. If you prefer to take matters into your own hands, you can always hire an in-house writer or outsource.

This will make the next step easier.

4. Put Together Your Communications Inventory

Are you familiar with Geno’s P’s of effective communication? They have proven their effectiveness time and time again, and they will surely work for you too. As you or your service providers put together your communications inventory, remember to build them around these 6 P’s:


Personalize your communications to the specifics of your affiliates. Use terms they understand, address their needs, and deliver in a format they will like. In your emails, use their names. If you want to establish a relationship with your affiliates, you need to make them feel the target of your communications, and only personalization can secure that.


If you’ve performed your competitive analysis before launching your affiliate program, you’ve surely come across vague program descriptions saying something like: we pay some of the highest commissions or our products have an excellent conversion rate.

Your affiliates don’t care about your opinion. They want numbers so that they can compare data and draw their own conclusions. Check out our brief description of our client’s, Evite, affiliate program in the screenshot below. See the numbers?

Evite affiliate program description


If you want your communications to draw, engage, and retain affiliates, you need to make them practical. Don’t write or tweet for the sake of doing it or complying with your content schedule! Do it to provide value and drive results.

  • Provide your affiliates with bestsellers lists, best-performing links, coupons, new tools, etc.
  • Teach them how to make the most of the data and tools you provide
  • Answer their immediate needs
  • Keep your advice simple and easy to follow

If you do that, chances are you too will receive feedback like our reader’s response in the below screenshot.

affiliate feedback to AM Navigator blog post


It may seem insignificant, and maybe it’s just a personal obsession, but when I see grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes, I lose track of everything else. In his book, Geno warns that typos and other mistakes discredit brands and negatively affect business relationships.

If you don’t have someone to proofread your communications, take a break from them and return to proofread them before hitting the send or publish button. Keep in mind that, as the author, you are prone to overlook your own mistakes, so pay attention.


Another thing you need to do before hitting the send or publish button is to preview the material you’ve been working on. Make sure the formatting is right, the text is easy to scan, and the overall text looks cohesive and sends the right message.

Think of each communication piece you write as your only chance to engage readers, namely affiliates. If you make a bad first impression, you may never get a second chance. Therefore, take the time to ensure everything is perfect from the beginning.

Providing Options

Whenever possible, give your affiliates the freedom of choice. Let them decide how they want to receive your communications, how they want to keep in touch, and more. Give them a chance to subscribe to your affiliate newsletter and your social media channels. Remind them of the available options in your communications. They will appreciate your efforts to meet their needs and your flexibility.

5. Reevaluate and Adjust Your Affiliate Communication Plan

At this point, you already have a sound communication plan and at least part of the resources required to implement it. But what if your first choices and decisions weren’t the best ones? What if your affiliates don’t resonate with your communications?

As mentioned above, we all make mistakes. What matters is to discover them in time and correct them as soon as possible. To do that, we recommend that you monitor your affiliates’ responses. If you find out what type of communications drove the most responses and engaged the widest audience, you can create more of them.

Also, whether you manage your program yourself or working with an affiliate management agency, do not hesitate to ask your affiliates for feedback and act on it. Ask them what they want to read about and cover those topics. Keep track of their social media inquiries and discuss the most frequent ones in separate communications.

It is not that difficult, and you don’t even have to do it alone. In Affiliate Program Management: An Hour A Day, Geno provides even more in-depth advice, communications templates, topics ideas, and case studies.

Moreover, at AM Navigator, we do more than just operate as an outsourced affiliate manager and educate both merchants and affiliates through our communications. We also provide affiliate program audit and training services. You can take advantage and get a clear assessment of your affiliate program, help steering it in the right direction, or training on doing everything yourself. Give us a chance to prove that we take affiliate communication seriously and we implement the above advice ourselves!

Also, we’d love for you leave your comments below, sharing your thoughts, experiences, needs, and/or expectations. It doesn’t matter whether you are an affiliate manager or an affiliates. Everyone’s feedback is warmly welcomed!


How to Use CJ’s New Insights Tool

In October 2018, CJ introduced a new data driven feature called, “Insights”. According to CJ:

Insights provides actionable, on-demand data in an intuitive, streamlined, and easy-to-use platform that will help you identify where to take action.

I have been able to use Insights and test out using two of its main features, which include:

  • Trends throughout your program that may help you make changes to your program. For example, you may see a trend of more coupon code sites vs content creator sites.
  • Being able to look at reports compared to another time frame. Previously, CJ reports didn’t allow an easy comparison. You had to look at one time period, record the numbers, then look at the next time period and record those numbers before comparing. Now, comparing time period is much easier.

The CJ Insights tool is still new and is not the Holy Grail of data centers. However, CJ has stated that they are committed to this tool and will continue to roll out new features and enhancements.

Let’s dive into how to use the Insights tool now.

*Please note, your screen may look different.

Where to Find CJ’s Insights Tool

When you first log into your CJ dashboard, you can find the link to the Insights tool at the top of the toolbar. For now, it even has a nice, blue “New” image above it. Just simply click on the Insights link.

Where to find Insights Tool

Default Insights Dashboard

Once logged in, you will be directed to the default Insights dashboard. From here, you will see the following reports:

  • Revenue
  • Publisher Commissions
  • Clicks
  • Actions
  • Average Order Value
  • Return on Ad Spend

Default CJ Insights Dashboard

Selecting Dates to Compare

At the top of the dashboard, you will find the date selection tool. This is where you can select the  time period you want to view vs. the time period that you want to compare to.

If you are running a monthly affiliate marketing dashboard report and need to compare the current month vs the previous month, this is a perfect place to do that.

Dates to Compare CJ Insights

As mentioned above, these are the only reports and features available in the Insights report as of now, but they are already much more valuable than the basic reports within CJ’s current reporting tool in the dashboard.

Expanding Reports

The Insights tool allows you to expand on each of the reports that were listed above. Simply click on the Expand button, and a daily graph will pop up along with the top 8-10 performing Partners, Links, and Websites.

The expansion part of these reports is where you can really pull out granular data as opposed to just looking at the high level graphs to find trends.

These reports are also exportable as a .csv file.

CJ Insights Expanded Look

Why Is The Insights Tool Useful

The Insights tool from CJ can help your reporting (and therefore next plan of action) go to the next level. Being able to compare data easier allows you to find trends that can help you prepare for the next month or quarter. For example, it is much easier to find a trend in the Insights report on a specific day of the week that performs better, than it is with the reporting tool within the dashboard.

Quickly Compare Top Performing Links

With CJ’s new Insight tool, you are able to quickly compare your top performing links. Sure, you could do this with the reporting tool in the dashboard (as we have mentioned this above multiple times), but you will save time by utilizing the Insights Tool.

Let’s use an example of why this will be helpful for you.

As the dedicated affiliate manager, you are working on sending out an affiliate newsletter and you would like to include the top 3-4 performing links. You could run a report over the last 90 days in the reports tool in the dashboard and just grab the 3 with the most sales, but that may be misleading.

For example, one of those links may have had majority of it sales at the very beginning of the 3 month report period and since then has faded away and is not a top performer anymore. This could be because of seasonality, a sale/special that was ran, or a myriad of other reasons.

By utilizing Insights, you can quickly compare two time periods and look at the numbers, as well as graphs to see which are your top performing links. With Insights, you will be able to compare two time periods and see an upward trend for a few links, telling you that those are the 3 links you should include in your newsletter to affiliates.

Data is only powerful when used properly. Make sure to use this data properly.

If you have any questions on how to use the CJ Insights tool or how to utilize the data that you see within the tool, than please contact us right away.

How To Group Affiliates in Rakuten Affiliate Network

As an affiliate manager, do you group affiliates or do they all reside in one single cohort (unassigned)? Many program managers do not group their affiliates, but they should be. Do you send all affiliates the same message all the time? I sure hope not. By grouping affiliates, it allows you (as the affiliate manager) to target specific group of affiliates with special promos, exclusive deals, activation incentives, etc. In this post, I will outline how to group affiliates on the Rakuten Affiliate Network.

The first step is to log in to your Rakuten Affiliate Network merchant account. Next, hover over the “Publishers” tab and click “Publisher Groups”.

From there, simply input the group name and click “Add”. This will create the group and it will be shown with the rest of your available groups (if you have any). By default, RAN adds all publishers to the “Unassigned” group until you move them.


Next step is to select the publishers you want to move to the newly created group. You will want to go to hover over the “Publishers” tab and click “My Publishers”. You can filter your current affiliates in various ways, but if you want to see the complete list just click “Search” (do not apply any filters). After all your affiliates are listed check the box in the left column of the ones you want to move to the new group. After the box is checked, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the “Move to Group” button and it will give you a drop-down menu to choose the “Selected” affiliates or “All matches”, you will click “Selected”.



The final step is to choose the group to move the selected affiliates to. The newly created group will be available in the drop-down menu, select it and hit submit. You will get a success message and that is it, you created and moved affiliates to groups.



How To Use Rakuten’s Deal Dispatcher

If you are an advertiser that runs an affiliate program on Rakuten Affiliate Network, then this post is important to read. With Q4 officially under way, it is time to start planning for the key online shopping days leading up to Christmas. Getting your deals/coupons in front of your affiliates will be critical and I will show you how to do that with a step-by-step guide to using RAN’s Deal Dispatcher tool. The Deal Dispatcher is a monthly newsletter sent to subscribing publishers that allows you to advertise special promotions and even publisher promotions (ex. Commission increases, bonuses, etc.).

Step – 1

Log in to your RAN merchant (advertiser) account. Navigate to and hover over “Messaging” in the top navigation and click “Deal Dispatcher”.


Step 2 –

Now, this is where the deals (consumer facing or publisher facing) are entered. There are a few things to keep in mind when planning to use RAN’s Deal Dispatcher:

  1. All deals must be entered before the 15th of the month.
  2. You can pay a flat fee and be placed as a “Featured Promotion” To inquire about this just contact your RAN account rep.

It is a very straight forward process to enter and submit deals. The following information must be included:

  1. Promotion Type – use the drop own menu to select the appropriate promotion. The options include: consumer – coupons, consumer – free shipping, consumer – sales/percentage off, publisher – increased commissions/return days, publisher – new creative/link type, just to name a few.
  2. Destination Link –  It could be the homepage or a product specific landing page. The link must properly correspond with the offer being entered.
  3. Promotion Text – there is a 125 character limit, but be as detailed as possible and make sure the deal is worded so that it cannot be interpreted a different way.
  4. Offer – This is the offer going to be used for publishers (aka – terms). Will you be using the baseline offer or create a completely new offer for this promo?
  5. Stat and End Date – make sure to make the deal valid for at least 30 days so that affiliates who may have missed it can still act.

Once everything is filled out, hit “Submit”. If anything is wrong it will let you know what needs to be fixed.


If you want to see a sample of the Deal Dispatcher you can do so by clicking the “View the most recent Deal Dispatcher” (you must be logged in to your RAN account) link . Below is a screenshot of a recent Deal Dispatcher newsletter.

us-deal-dispatcher-publisher-help-center-rakuten-affiliate-networkThis is just one step in the process to making sure you are optimizing your affiliate program for the upcoming holiday season.

Creating Publisher Groups in CJ Affiliate Network

Do you have trouble communicating with your affiliates? Do you have messages for different types of affiliates? Are you unsure of how to send different messages to different affiliates? If you answered yes to any of the three questions I am here to help. I have seen it numerous times when we take over management of affiliate programs for clients and their affiliate database is a complete mess, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are a merchant with your affiliate program on CJ Affiliate I am going to show you how to create groups for your affiliates and how to put them in the appropriate group(s). After you read this article you will have one of the most organized affiliate databases out there.

Step # 1 – Go to “Groups” tab

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After you are logged in to your CJ Affiliate account click the “Publishers” tab and then click the “Groups” tab. This will take you to the page where you will create groups to place your affiliates in.

Step # 2 – Create Affiliate Group

There will be groups already created, but they were done so by CJ Affiliate. To create a new group click the “Create Publisher Group” button to the far right of the screen. A pop-up box will appear next.

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Step # 3 – Name your new publisher group

This is where you name the group. You want to be as clear as possible so in the future you know exactly who is in the group. Once you complete inputting the name click “Save”. Your new group has been created and the next step is filling it with affiliates.

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Step # 4 – Add affiliate to a group

Go to your affiliate list (through “Publishers” – Manage by Program Terms”) and check affiliates that you want to include in your newly created group and then click “Add to Group”.

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After you click “Add to Group” a pop-up window will appear and you will select the group to place the affiliate in from the drop down box. After the group is selected click “Add” and then you are finished.

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That is it. Instead of sending all your affiliates the same message, this functionality allows you to now segment message to specific affiliates. You may have a bonus opportunity for content affiliates, but do not want coupon/deal affiliates to see this, so having groups set up will allow you to send to the audience you want.

How to Send an Affiliate Newsletter Through CJ Affiliate

Communication is one of the keys to success in affiliate marketing (as a merchant). What do I mean by that? Communicating with your affiliates is a vital piece (behind recruiting/activation) to a successful program and letting them know the happenings within your affiliate program is a must for many reasons. Newsletters are the #1 option for communicating with affiliates. For merchants that use CJ Affiliate I will be going step-by-step on how to send a newsletter through the CJ Affiliate interface.

Step 1 – How to Get Started

Once logged in to your CJ Affiliate merchant interface you will want to click the “Mail” tab. A drop-down box will appear and then click the “Email Campaigns” tab. You will then be directed to the page that will guide you through the rest of the set-up and sending process.

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Step 2 – Create New Email Campaign

This step is where you can see any old newsletters that were sent, along with the statistics of them. This is useful for gauging the open rates by your affiliates. For the purpose of this post we are going to click the “Create New Campaign”.

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Step 3 – Input General Information

You want to name the campaign (something relevant to the content), plus add the name of the email, but most importantly you want to select the audience to target. Select joined and the next step will get into specifics of what groups and affiliates you can target with your newsletter.

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Step 4 – Select Targeting Options

You can select all joined, a specific group of affiliates (only if you have them broken into groups), active affiliates, their network ranking, and their country.

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Step 5 – Compose the Affiliate Newsletter

You have the option to create an HTML to text version of the newsletter, but I recommend an HTML version. Here you will create the newsletter subject, who the newsletter is from, and select the reply-to address (make sure it is an inbox that is monitored closely), and paste the HTML into the rectangle box.  CJ Affiliate also provides you the ability to add quick links to the newsletter by simply clicking on them in the box next to the HTML message.

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Step 6 – Send a Test Email

Insert the email address you want the test to go to and hit “Send Test”. Make sure to review the newsletter carefully for any spelling, grammar, or formatting errors. Once the test has been review hit the “next” button.

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Step 7 – Send Newsletter

The final step is where you review the important details of the newsletter. Ensure the information provided is correct. The last thing to do is hit the “send” button.

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CJ affiliate has made it rather easy to send a newsletter to your affiliates. Make sure to communicate any important changes or special deals to your affiliates as they happen. The affiliates need to know what is going on in the program to effectively promote it and to make money for them and you.


How to Give an Affiliate a Bonus Using ShareASale

A few weeks ago I wrote a post that showed advertisers that operate their affiliate program on CJ Affiliate how to provide their affiliates a bonus. In today’s post I am going to show merchants how to manually bonus their affiliates that operate on the ShareASale affiliate network. I will provide a step – by – step guide to follow during the process.

Step 1 – Log in to Merchant Account and Click “Affiliate List” under the tab of “Affiliates”

After logging into your ShareASale merchant account you want to hover over the “Affiliates” tab in the main navigation and click “Affiliate List.” The affiliate list will show you all your current affiliates in order of performance to date. The top performers will be at the top of the list.SaS 1

Step 2 – Locate Affiliate You Want to Bonus

Once you are in your affiliate list scroll down the list until you locate the one to manual bonus. Once located click the “Details” link under their name. It will take you to their individual affiliate page where the bonus activity will take place.

SaS 2

Step 3 – Submit the Bonus

Once you are on the affiliates ShareASale page you will need to scroll down until you get to the section titled “Affiliate Actions”. From there you will put the desired bonus amount and the type of transaction. You will fill in the field “Specific Amount to Give Affiliate” (i.e. the dollar amount) and change the drop down box to “Bonus”. Once complete you must hit “Submit Transaction” for it to be complete.

Please note: Even though it is not a sale/lead tracked through ShareASale there will still be a 20% fee charged to you for the manual bonus transaction.

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Using the manual bonus feature in ShareASale is straight forward process and necessary for rewarding performance, paying for placements with affiliates, and even correcting transactions (I will dive into this next week).

How to View ShareASale Newsletter Performance Reports

Your affiliate newsletter has been sent to your affiliates, but how to you find out who is opening it? It is important to analyze such things as the open rate, bounce rate, and the individual affiliates that are reading the newsletter. I will provide a step-by-step guide to finding and reading your affiliate newsletter performance reports.

Step 1 – Locate and Click on the “Send Newsletter” Icon

Once logged in you will need to hover over the “Affiliates” tab and click the “Send Newsletter” icon.

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Step 2 – Click on the “Full Archive Page” Link

After you click on the “Send Newsletter” icon you will need to scroll down and click the “Full Archive Page” link. The link will take you to a page where it will show you all your previous newsletters sent.

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Step 3 – Choose “Report” from Newsletter Archive

This section will show you every single newsletter sent along with other pertinent information including: newsletter ID, the send date, how many affiliate it was sent to, the option to view the newsletter, and report. For the purpose of this post we are going to click on “Report”.

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Step 4  – Review Data for Specific Newsletters

Here is the data for each newsletter you chose. The rectangle box at the top will have the entire selection of available newsletters that have performance data. I removed all the sensitive information from the image, but you should see a few choices (if you have sent them in the past).

The information provided below provides exact numbers of opens, the open percentage, bounces, the bounce percentage, and the individual affiliates that opened the newsletter. To find out who the affiliates are that opened it simply click the “plus sign” (red square).

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Why are affiliate newsletter open rates and bounce rates important? They help in determining the best method to communicate with affiliates as well as the best times and days. The bounce rate could be a combination of invalid email addresses, mailboxes full, etc. To determine the best day and time to send affiliate newsletters we recommend A/B testing. Send a newsletter out on different days of the week, at different times, with different subject lines. Once you have completed the tests, simply review the data, learning from your successes, and constantly refining how you handle your future mailings.


How To Create and Send ShareASale Affiliate Newsletters

Affiliate newsletters are an important component in managing relationship with your affiliates. Communicating with your affiliates is extremely important to keeping them engaged and active. Newsletters should have a personal touch and provide affiliates with information they can use to further promote your products. In January I wrote a post on writing effective newsletters, but today I am going to show you how to send a newsletter through the ShareASale interface. I will provide a step-by-step guide to this very important, but sometimes overlooked piece.

Step 1 – Locate the “Send Newsletter” Icon

After you log in to your ShareASale merchant account, hover over the “Affiliates” tab and you will see a “Send Newsletter” icon (looks like a stack of newspapers). Click the “Send Newsletter” icon.

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Step 2 – Choose the Format You Want to Send the Newsletter In

You have three (3) options on how to send the newsletter to your affiliates:

  1. Text
  2. HTML
  3. Split Campaign.

When I send newsletters out for clients I use the HTML option because it allows me to create a robust newsletter with images and clickable links. The split campaign option is available when you want to maximize your open rate.

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Step 3 – Determine the Recipients of the Newsletter

By default is provides a list of ALL affiliates to send to, but if you do not want to send it to all affiliates ShareASale allows you to search affiliates in many ways including: groups, tags, commissions earned, clicks, country they reside in, or even past newsletter recipients. Once you determine who is getting the newsletter you will see them in the recipients section to the right.

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Step 4 – Compose your Newsletter

This is the section where you actually compose your newsletter. For this articles purpose I have chosen the HTML format. You must enter a compelling subject line (you want affiliates to open it) and the body of the newsletter. ShareASale offers ways to customize and personalize newsletter using Macros. You can insert a Macro and have the affiliates name automatically populate when it is sent to them and also include specific creatives that will embed the affiliates ID automatically.

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Step 5 – Preview your Newsletter

Once the subject line and body of the affiliate newsletter are complete you can preview it and make sure it is formatted the way you want and it is mistake free. In this step you can send a test to yourself to make sure all is good.

Blog Post 5

Step 6 – Finalize the Newsletter and Prepare to Send

This is the final step before the newsletter is sent to your affiliates. To the right you will see a summary that will include any items that need your attention. The ones that require your attention will be in red. Here you will choose a From/Reply-to address and the delivery date and time. You have the option to schedule it, but not for a specific time, only certain times during the day. Please note that Friday’s are not a recommended day to send newsletters.

Blog Post 6

There you have it, a guide to sending an affiliate newsletter through ShareASale. Like many of the other tasks in ShareASale it is straight forward. Next week I will show you how to locate affiliate newsletter open rate information.

Tips For an Effective Affiliate Newsletter

Affiliate newsletters are an integral part of creating and maintaining solid relationships with affiliates. However, it isn’t unusual for merchants to miss some of the key ingredients of an effective newsletter. I have seen newsletters that include only new or upcoming deals or a brief announcement about the program, but what lack structure, personalization, and other important elements. Not that there is anything wrong with sending new deals to your affiliates, but it should be in a manner that catches their attention. Affiliates may get hundreds of newsletters a month, so making yours stand out is critical.

The goal of affiliate newsletters is to show your affiliates that you care about them and want them to succeed. By showing you care the chances the newsletter is successful is greater. Affiliates are busy professionals too and a newsletter should be personalized, helpful, and motivating.  Here are the elements I include in newsletters to affiliates:

1.       Introduction

Thank the affiliates for being aboard your program and then outline what the newsletter is going to include (deals, contests, new banners, etc.). This will let them know what to expect when reading it.

2.       Promotions/Deals

This is the section where you want to inform your affiliates of any new promotions/deals that will be run during the next 30 days or so. Provide as much information about the deals as possible including any promo codes, expiration dates, and ready-made links to the deals that include the affiliates unique ID. Providing ready-made links with the affiliates ID embedded allows them to simply copy and paste instead of creating it themselves. If you cannot provide the ready-made links then you should provide them clear instructions on where they can locate them within the network interface (CJ, ShareASale, LinkShare, etc.).

3.       Top Performing Creatives

Pick out your 5 top performing creatives (banners and/or text links) and include them in this section of the newsletter. As with the promotions/deals section you want to provide them with ready-made links so that the affiliate can simply copy and paste. Affiliates want to promote your products using creatives that convert, so provide it to them. They do not have access to the analytics data for each creative, so by providing it to them they know which ones are going to make them the most money.

4.       Bonus Opportunities/Contests

This touches upon the motivating piece of affiliate newsletters. Providing affiliates additional ways to earn more money will keep them motivated and also push them to promote the product/service harder. Bonuses can be first sale bonuses (to inactive affiliates) or include a sales threshold to receive additional money (i.e. refer 10 sales in 30 days and receive a $50 bonus). Contests are also a fun way to get all your affiliates involved. By having cash prizes or highly sought after electronics (iPads) will help motivate your affiliate base.

5.       Conclusion

Reiterate any important information and be sure to let your affiliates know that you are there for them at any time. In this section I include the email address I can be reached at and also my twitter handle so if so some reason I cannot be reached via email they can tweet me. Providing affiliates with as much contact information as possible is our (AM Navigator’s) rule of thumb.

To recap: affiliate newsletters should be personalized, helpful, and motivating. Your newsletter is one of many they receive and you must make it stand out among your competitors. Including the 5 above elements (not all 5 need to be included in each newsletter) into your newsletters will show the affiliates of your program that you care and want them to succeed.