Q: Our company is considering using a third party network to help grow our affiliate program. We’ve had our program in place for over a year now with our own tracking tools. What do companies typically do with their existing systems when they sign on with a network? Do they completely convert to the network’s system? What happens to the existing affiliates we already have?
A: Keep the in-house program, if you have a good reason to do so.
The first thing you’ll want to address is whether the contract with your future network permits you to continue running the in-house program concurrently with the network affiliate program. Ask about this, and also examine the contract to confirm this information.
Assuming you are free to run both programs, then you should establish a strategy for running both programs.
Are your current top performers willing to stay on the home grown platform, or are you moving to a network at the request of your super affiliates?
Financially, the preferred course would be to keep your best affiliates running at the in-house program to save money on affiliate network costs. Then, you can use the network as a tool to recruit new affiliates.
If the affiliates that traditionally generated the most volume for your affiliate program do not wish to stay in-house, it’s probably not worth the effort to keep that program going.
Either way, devise a plan to notify the affiliates and migrate them over to the network version of your program. If you are going to close the in-house program, wait until you’ve communicated the move to your affiliates and give them a chance to convert their links. Have an overlap of 60 days or so.