Q: How long does it usually take to setup a successful affiliate program? And what do you suggest to speed up the process? I started as an Affiliate Manager 2 months ago, and launched our program about 1 month ago through a couple of affiliate networks. Our company didn’t have any affiliate programs before I started. So far, I haven’t seem much result yet despite signing up a few dozen affiliates. I’m new in the role, and learning a great deal. In the last couple of weeks, I’m under pressure to show results from my manager. In the future, I plan to sign up new affiliate networks upon approval from our legal department, and actively reach out to existing affiliates.
A: One big factor is your definition of a successful affiliate program. Some big brands are very happy seeing incremental sales of a few percent through their affiliate program, while other companies expect the affiliate program to carry them.
Not knowing your precise goals, the nature of your business, your affiliate solution provider, etc., I cannot really give you a concrete timeline.
That said, one of the keys to having a successful affiliate program is to have an attractive affiliate program. Before you put too much energy into recruiting and activating affiliates, be sure that your affiliate program has a similar or better payout than your competition.
Also, become an affiliate yourself and join the affiliate programs of the competition, so you can get an idea how their conversion rates compare with yours.
When you contact affiliates about your affiliate programs, the savvy affiliates are going to want to know your conversion rate and EPC – not just your payout.
As far as forecasting the sales for your affiliate program, which will ultimately determine how successful it is, take a look at my answer to a question about affiliate sales forecasting.