How to Start an Affiliate Program (E119)


Arlen Robinson is a seasoned business owner and co-founder of Omnistar Affiliate Software which gives businesses the opportunity to set up and manage their own affiliate and customer referral programs.

With over 20 years of experience managing and running various aspects of the company, Arlen has a wealth of information that he can share. His current responsibilities involve leading all business development activities for the company as well as hosting a weekly podcast known as the eCommerce Marketing Podcast in which he interviews various marketing experts about successful eCommerce marketing strategies.




Charles (00:00):

In this episode of the Business of eCommerce. I talked with Arlen Robinson about how to set up a successful affiliate program. This is a business of e-commerce, episode one 19. Welcome to the Business of eCommerce, the show that helps eCommerce retailers start, launch and grow the eCommerce business. I’m your host, Charles Palleschi and I’m here today with Arlen Robinson. Arlen is the co founder of Omnistar Interactive software. I’m going to star helps businesses set up and manage their affiliate and customer referral programs. I asked Ireland on the show today to chat about how you can create your own affiliate program. So Arlen, how are you doing today?

Arlen (00:41):

Great. Great. How’s it going, Charles? Good. Awesome to have you on the show.

Charles (00:45):

It say to talk about the whole affiliate program. It’s something we’ve been doing a bit hair [inaudible] and it’s kind of top of mind, so pretty exciting topic. So just to kind of get everyone into it, when you say an affiliate program, which is for us to find it real quick it’s basically, how would you define it? What’s that off there?

Arlen (01:05):

It’s a great question and I’m, I’m glad to define it. A lot of times when people say affiliate program, a lot of times the term referral program gets tossed around as well. But there they’re actually two distinct programs actually. So first off with an affiliate program and if the


program is actually when you get any outside person, whether they’re an actual affiliate and that’s what they do for a living or they’re an influencer. When you get these outside people to promote your product or services to an audience of people that they typically don’t know. So these are, you know, affiliates or influencers, they have a audience of followers and these followers are usually people that they don’t know, people that are just following, you know what it is that they do and these affiliates with the affiliate program, they’re doing this in exchange for some type of commission or you know, or offering whether it’s cash commission per referred sale or whether it is a in exchange for like maybe product free product or things like that.

Arlen (02:04):

So that’s what an affiliate program is. Now the referral program on the other side is when you actually get your customers to refer you other customers and you incentivize your customers. So your customers are going to be, you know, people who of course that are using your products or services. And they’re reaching out to typically people that they do know, people that are in their ecosystem, friends and family, colleagues, anyone in their, in their kind of a sphere of influence. And so that’s what an F referral program is. And with the referral program, the incentive can be the same as well. It could be a percentage of our order total. It can be a fixed amount, it could be free product, it could be bonus items, a gift or whatever you decide they commission it is up to you. And so that’s, that’s really the difference.

Arlen (02:52):

And really the kind of the power of it. As you said, right now it’s a hot topic because there are many businesses these days that are leveraging using affiliate and referral programs. Really the leverage word of mouth marketing, it’s, it’s really more important than ever these days primarily because I, yeah, we’re at a point where people shy away from a lot of the traditional forms of advertising and they use newly, you know, the stats say it themselves, they 92% of people actually will trust recommendations from their friends and family or colleagues over any other types of advertising, which is a huge stat. So that really says it, it says itself that, you know, word of mouth thing is word of mouth. Marketing is where it’s at and that’s why referral marketing and affiliate marketing has exploded over the years.

Charles (03:44):

Yeah, I feel like all of a sudden too, it’s one of these, we’re in like a very unique time where before, let’s go back, I don’t know, 10 plus years ago where if you want to just have someone feature a product that you had, it would be like getting on like Oprah’s show or something like that. But there’s only so many products open can have on, on our show. Like she’s only one person and there’s only, and there was only so many Oprah or level shows and it wasn’t anything, there wasn’t anything like smaller than that or is now with the rise of like Instagram, things like that. You have these influences that have, you know, a million followers or whatever it is. They’re like a micro bruh, basically where, and you could still, but the thing is, as a small brand, you can still, you could work with them. And as a small brand, you’re almost getting on Oprah or a shark tank might actually crush you. But working with some of these small affiliates, these influencers, all of a sudden you can actually, like, it’s the right size for you. I don’t lot of cases. And there’s a lot more of them. So you can find someone who is the right size for your particular business and you can have any of them. So I feel like this whole world is just kind of unlocked in the past few years that didn’t exist even five years ago.

Arlen (04:49):

Yeah, that, that’s true. And it’s interesting you mentioned Oprah. We’re back in the day. You’re right, it was just, it was only platforms like that where a brand could really quote unquote go viral where you could just really explode. But at the same time, that type of growth as you had mentioned could also be really the kiss of death for a brand because you know, as you know, yeah, cause I know you’ve dealt with a lot of retail businesses before and you, you know, the ins and outs of fulfilling products you know, if you get a glut of orders and in a short amount of time and you can’t fulfill them you know, it’s, the word of mouth is going to spread. You know, you’re going to get a bunch of people making all of these orders. If you can’t fulfill them, the word spreads. And people are eventually going to, you know, cancel their orders, do charge bags, tell their friends, and then your whole online reputation is ruined. And so at that point you’re really almost worse off than never having that recommendation by, you know, a huge icon like an Oprah or, or something like that. So that’s where the affiliate marketing and referral marketing is. You, it’s, it’s really, you know, you can really tailor it for your needs and for your type of business and, and look for those influencers that are just right for you.

Charles (06:07):

So that’s kind of the first part of this. How do you actually go out and find those influences? How do you approach them? What, and I think a lot of people even get lost in like, what’s like the initial value proposition? What are you offering them? How do you know what to offer? Is it like, is it your program and you say, Hey, I’m willing to pay you X for this, or are you going to them and saying, what do you usually get? Like how does this engagement typically work?

Arlen (06:31):

Yes. Well that’s a good question. [inaudible] To answer the first question and that’s the number one question that most of our customers have as far as, you know, with our OmniSTAR affiliate software, which is our, our platform that allows businesses to create an affiliate program. The, the number one question after it’s set up and integrated into their, their website and it’s up and running. Okay. They’re like, okay, how do I get affiliates? How do I get influencers? And the thing is you’re in luck these days because there’s a number of ways that you can go about doing it. Well first off, if you’re looking to go on the kind of the outside route and you’re looking to get people outside of your company, so you’re looking to recruit people that are not your customers, let’s say outside influencers. The first thing I would say is do searches via social media.

Arlen (07:22):

You can just do your own little ground grow grassroots research, so to speak. And so I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you are a a woman’s fashion business. Let’s say you’re located in the Chicago area and you’re saying, okay, great, I’ve got this affiliate program. I need to get some influencers. I need some influencers to push my brand to their audience. And you’re like, okay, I don’t have any existing relationships. How do I go about doing it? Well, all you need is a, an account, let’s say an Instagram account for instance. And one of the things that’s really, I think very under and a lot of people don’t do and realize is that with Instagram and even with, with Twitter and actually even with Facebook, but I’m focused on Instagram right now, you can do searches for specific hashtags to try to find out who these influencers are.

Arlen (08:11):

So for instance, the example I mentioned was a fashion brand in Chicago selling women’s fashion. You could go into Instagram and do a search for a Chicago fashion blogger. And so if you do a search for that right now I did this not too long ago, you’re going to get several thousands of results. And what that means is if you do a search for that specific hashtag, you’re going to get a result of people that have actually used that particular hashtag in their posts. And so obviously that’s a really specific hashtag anybody that uses that hashtag Chicago fashion blogger, obviously they’re either a blogger, maybe they’re an influencer, you know, they could be trying to attract one of those. But I would say 90% of the do you have a 90% chance that they are blogger or some type of influencer in the fashion arena in Chicago.

Arlen (09:04):

And all you have to do is, you know, there’s nothing that really can I guess you could say D get around the, the regular outreach that you’re going to have to do to approach these people. So once you find out who’s using these brands, go into their profiles and see how active they are, see how many followers they are. And one of the things that you can do because of course, just like anything with the internet and as I’m sure you’re aware of the fact that Charles, there’s a lot of, a lot of fraud stuff going on. There’s a lot of people out there scamming companies and trying to take advantage of people. People that get a, you know, a ton of fake followers. But there’s things that you can do to uncover that. One of the things you want to look for is not only a high follower account, but you want to look for the engagement that these influencers have on their posts.

Arlen (09:52):

So when I talk about engagement, I’m talking about the comments, are there a lot of people commenting on their posts? Is there back and forth commenting it or is it just these influencers are putting something out? You don’t see any engagement. You don’t see them dialoguing with the people in their particular common stream. And you can easily tell really active influencers are going to be in there because they know that’s their job. That’s, that’s how they make their bread and butter. So they’re going to be in there talking to people, responding to people in their common stream. And so that’s what you can uncover them. So one of the things that you can do once you find some people that you want to target you can just do your outreach. You know, send them a DM, let them know that you’ve got an affiliate program.

Arlen (10:35):

You know, kind of shoot your shot, do your pitch, let them know what they can make. And it’s just gonna be a, a series of followups. Just as most people are aware of the fact that any type of outreach, you’ve got to have followups in place because you know, a lot of these top influencers, they’re not going to respond at that first bite. You know, either not going to really respond when you first reach out to them. They’ve got a ton of things going on. So you’ve got to do that consistent follow up. So you get your systems in place, whether you, whether you’re using some type of CRM to remind you whether you’ve got people in your staff or whether you have maybe even a virtual assistant that you could task to do these things and do consistent follow up. And then once you’ve got their ear, do your pitch and you know, see who you can actually pull into your affiliate program.

Arlen (11:24):

So that’s, that’s one piece of advice that I have is searching for those hashtags on. It can say not only in Instagram and you can just search for specific ones in your particular niche. And a lot of people really don’t do that, but that’s something you can do and you can actually also follow specific hashtags. I don’t, people are more accustomed to following actual actual people’s profiles on Instagrams, but you can actually follow hashtags as well. So if you want to kind of a stay abreast of people that are using a particular hashtag, anytime a post happens, that’s a great way to do it as well. Yeah, so that’s, that’s one thing to reach out to the influencers and find influencers. Another way to, to get influencers for your particular or to get really any affiliates for your affiliate program is going to be to search out the online forums or online communities where affiliates and influencers hang out.

Arlen (12:19):

Facebook groups is a great way to do it as well. These days Facebook groups are really popular and a lot of these groups are communities of people that are like minded. And so if you were to search for affiliate program communities or you know, affiliate marketing types of communities, you know, create some type of engagement. Now you can’t kind of just come blindly into these communities and just kind of start doing your pitch. Of course, you know, you will be shunned because you know, that’s not what it’s about. But the main thing that you have to do is start forming those relationships. And once you’ve got those relationships, then you can of course get to know people, see what types of products they’re pitching, let and then you know, have the connections happen organically. So those are some, some ways that I would definitely recommend reaching out to affiliates. And these are things anyone can do, any business can do no matter what size.

Charles (13:12):

One thing I actually mentioned using a CRM, but I found that doing stuff like this, just as an aside, having a Trello board and just kind of moving people through this process it’s very visual and you can kind of track, Hey, reach out this influencer. You know, having replied back, replied back, pitched like and you kind of move them through the process. I found that just a easy, inexpensive way. It’s very visual and very nice. So people don’t have a CRM, but one thing you mentioned is reaching out and pitching to them. What would you actually, how do you know what to pitch? Like what is the template you out there with of saying, Hey, you know, it’s a woman’s fashion blogger in Chicago, you’re selling women’s shirts. W what do you lead with? Like what do you, are you giving some sort of monetary thing right off the bat? Are you offering like, what do you know what to offer? Are you basing it on their size? Like how do you know, you know, influence a is a order of magnitude larger than B. So how do you kind of run those numbers?

Arlen (14:11):

Very good question. And a lot of people ask that because you know, as a, let’s say you’re a startup business, you just getting into affiliate marketing, you know, you may not know what, what, what you’re going to offer, what are, what’s going to excite people. So you know, what I always say to that is, you know, and I hate to say it, but it does vary. It definitely does depend. But what I recommend that you do is when I say it depends because it’s going to depend on that particular influencer. So before just, you know, blindly approaching someone and say, let’s say you did that search on Chicago fashion blogger, you found some people that seem there’ll be pretty good that you want to approach. Instead of just blindly reaching out to them and saying, I’ve got an affiliate program, they’re offering a 20% commission on all referred sales.

Arlen (14:57):

Are you interested? That would be the wrong way to do it. And the reason why I say that’s the wrong way to do it is because every influencer, every affiliate is going to be different. And are, they’re all going to be motivated by different things. So again, you are going to have to do your research and find out what’s interesting that interests them. And this can be done by looking at their social posts across a variety of their platforms. You’ll have, and you can kind of group these influencers into certain categories. There are going to be some influencers where it’s going to be clear that, you know, they’re promoting things, you know, for, for money. A lot of times you’ll be able to see SPOs posts where they’re obviously a sponsored post and that’ll be clear. And you know, they’ll, their whole motivation is to get as many people exposed to these products and services as possible.

Arlen (15:49):

And so you can tell that from their social posts. You can also ask them, you know, what, what is your interest? What are, what are you passionate about? So there’s going to be some people that are really just mainly interested in getting a, just a blanket commission and that’s their focus. But on the other hand, there’s going to be a type of influencer or affiliate that may be on the, I guess you could say a social conscious aspect of it because that’s really big these days. There’s a lot of affiliates and influencers where they’ll say you know, I’m not only am I doing this to art, make a living, but I want to, I’m doing this on behalf of a certain organization or a certain charity where whatever I make from all of my referrals, a percentage of whatever I make from all of these referrals, I’m going to give away, you know, X percent to, you know, my local homeless shelter or whatever it is.

Arlen (16:48):

That’s just an example. So there’s going to be people in that group that are social conscious these days. One of the things that I’ve seen just from kind of looking at the landscape millennials are, are these days coming up, are very social conscious, socially conscious, and they’re always interested in kind of the behind the scenes. What’s, what’s going on with this brand? What does this brand doing? Where are they sourcing their products? Who’s working behind these you know the wall, so to speak, or the wall of the internet who’s supposed filling their products, who’s in their whole supply chain, are they ethically sourcing their products? That type of thing. So the, a lot of the millennials these days are, are really hip to all of that. And those that are actual influencers, I would say, you know, that could be some things that are going to motivate them where it’s not going to just be money, but they want, they want to help a cost.

Arlen (17:41):

So you really have to identify that. And so that’s why I say, do your research, look at their social posts, see what it is that they’re posting about. And you know, if you kind of get the feel where, you know, it’s not just all about money. If it’s other things, then you know, see what you can do to, to, to, I guess you could say, kind of sweeten the pot for them and then over, you know, really just, just ask them, really ask them what would make sense for them as far as an incentive. And then and then really just go from there.

Charles (18:10):

You see it’s more normal for folks to offer, Hey, post this and we’ll give you a 20% you know, of what we get, whatever that kind of percentages or is it we will pay you 500 per post. Like which direction is more normal? Like what direction is more common and then what direction it’s more advantageous for you as an eCommerce retailer.

Arlen (18:34):

The one that’s more common I would say is going to be a percentage of the, of the sale percentage of the order total because that’s, that’s more palatable because you’re, you’re really, you’re just, you’re just incentivizing them for an actual referral as a direct straight referral. And you know, there’s nothing coming out of your pocket up front. As a business owner, you’re, you’re giving them a percentage of that referral. So essentially you’re really coming off in a better situation because that’s a sale that you wouldn’t have received otherwise. So I’d say on the, on the business, the EAD, the retail or e-tailers side of things, I say the percentage commission, like a 20% is something that I see a lot more of. But you know, there are you know, some types of businesses where they may do a, a pay per post.

Arlen (19:19):

Usually I see the bigger brands going, going that route where they have a larger marketing budget and they, they really want to kind of blanket a certain segment with their particular brand, with their product, with their service. And doing a paid proposal is a, is a, is a way to do that because that gives the influencer or the affiliate of the opportunity to just kind of blast that out on several you know, outside several different points, several different days. And you know, it, it’s more of an exposure type thing where they, of course they want to get a return on that, but there may be those businesses in that particular sphere are more thinking about actually the brand awareness aspect of it. And so I would say that’s really what I see these days. But it’s so, it really depends. But I would say the majority of the businesses, especially the smaller businesses, startup type businesses, the percentage of the order total is one of the ones that I see most commonly. And it’s probably more palatable for most businesses.

Charles (20:29):

Yeah, I could see a brand, if you’re, let’s say blanketing the entire, you know, Chicago fashion segment at that point you don’t even know which influencer you got this. Like is it the first influence that they saw or the last, cause they might see four different ones with the exact same, you know, a similar product right. From the same brand. So you don’t even know at that point. Do you pay commission to all of them? The last one, the first one, it, that’s getting into a weird territory verus like you’re saying, if it’s just one, you know, they must disarm from, you know, they must start from this Instagram account. We just have, you know, a couple folks. It’s a lot cleaner that way. But it can also see, it’s probably a bigger ask to the influencer, right? Because then you’re basically asking them, trust me as a brand that you know, are the influence basically has to trust your entire funnel.

Charles (21:16):

Works at that point that Hey, we’re going to promote this product and you can drop people on the site, but can they actually get them through, you know, the rest of the process, the checkout, this and that. Are they really going to track it? Who’s in a track it. So it is a little bit more of an ask, I’m guessing for the influencer. So if you’re a very small brand, so it’s almost, if you’re a very large brand you can pay per post or extremely small, but everyone in the middle, once you kind of have some sort of track record then it’s easier to kind of do though. Percentage.

Arlen (21:44):

Yes, exactly. Yup. That’s a good way to look at it.

Charles (21:47):

Okay. So then when you, so you kind of do it, are you approaching them with a particular product and then saying, Hey, you know, we have this one thing, can you promote this? And if you do that, what do you do next? Like after they promote it. Once, but does it die off after a month or how do you kind of keep them motivated to keep going?

Arlen (22:07):

Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah, great question. And Oh yeah, you do want to hone in on a specific product that you think that that particular affiliate or influencer would be interested in promoting. So yeah, you want to catch their attention with a specific niche that you have. And so,

Charles (22:25):

Hey, we saw your posts, you post a lot of women’s, you know, shirts. I’m trying to think of the name. Hale, I don’t know blouses, if that’s like a thing that you women’s clothing. I think, you know, this one would go great with what you’re posting. You know, it fits in line. It’s kind of the same style, whatever. What do you think? Okay. So that’s kind of the, so you go in with them, you’re leading with that. So let’s say you have shirts, pants, shoes, but you know, they talk a lot about shirts, you off to the shirts and push that first.

Arlen (22:55):

Exactly. You identify that first because you’re really kind of just narrowing down to something that you know, that they kind of have a track record of talking about or promoting in their kind of whole social history. And you know, you’re really just kind of making it easy for them. You’re making something really kind of clear to them that it would make sense for them to promote your, you know, your brand and they don’t have to go through a whole a whole lot of hoops you know, to actually go through and you know, and do that. And then at that time as far as kind of taking it to the next step. So it’s not just really kind of a, a one off thing. You have to think of it is you are creating a relationship with these influencers and affiliates, so you can’t, it’s more than to just say, okay, I’ve identified this particular fashion blogger he’s going to promote my, my woman’s blouse and that’s it.

Arlen (23:50):

You know, of course that you want more than that. So you do have to have an entire followup plan. So the next piece to that is going to be to really get them exposed to your entire brand and all of your whole product lines and really let them know what your offering is. And so in order to really do that in, in order to really see which particular products of yours or services of yours make sense for them as you, you’re going to have to do a little bit of digging. You’re going to have to look at their past social history, what are the things that they’re talking about? And you’re going to have to do a little bit of the leg work for them on reference, certain posts that they’ve had in the past, certain things that they talked about, maybe even certain places that they were when they were promoting it and, and let them know.

Arlen (24:34):

Okay, great. I see that you you know, you were promoting these women’s dresses on your holiday vacation at the Florida keys. I have an excellent woman’s handbag that we’d go, would have gone great with that, that you could have used in that out of, you know, things like that where you’re kind of doing the leg work for them. Cause the bottom line is, you know, these are people that you’re just approaching out of the blue. They don’t know. You don’t have a relationship with you at all. So you want to make their job as easy as possible. And so once you’ve identified other things that they could promote based on their kind of social history, so to speak, and the things that they’ve talked about, the places that they’ve been, you can suggest things that they can promote. If you have a, let’s say maybe it’s kind of a sliding scale type of affiliate program where they can get a higher commission based on a certain product, let them know about that.

Arlen (25:32):

Let them know that, you know, if you promote these other particular items, that’s going to guarantee you are higher commission and that’s something that they may be interested in. And then the next thing you want to do is, because a lot of this promotion of course as we know, is really happening online. It’s going to be happening via social media. You’ve got to make sure that you’ve got all of your social media resources all readily available for them to easily promote. So that can consist of graphical banners for their websites, for their blogs. That can also consist of specific graphics for social pulse. And you’ve got to make sure you cover all of the bases because there’s of course, certain graphic sizes and formats that are going to be more applicable for, excuse me, for Facebook versus Twitter versus Instagram. You’ve got to have all of that ready to go.

Arlen (26:26):

So they already kind of have access to this library of resources, of, of social media materials that they can easily just that dive into. Because the last thing that you want is for these affiliates or for these influencers to have to do digging or to have to reach out to you and say, Hey, you know, I’m trying to do a post on a, you know, on, on Instagram I want to promote this, you know, this particular shoe. I can’t find the right size. Things like that because they’re not going to do it. You know, bottom line is they’re, they’re, they’re not gonna go through all those hoops to try to find the correct you know, media files for them to do that. So you’ve gotta make that easily and make it readily available for them. And so whatever platform it use, affiliate or referral platform that you use, you want to make sure that it’s clear where they can get these materials and you people point that out to them in your correspondence and in your communications with them.

Charles (27:22):

Yeah. Then it’s one of those things, people don’t realize it before they do this. There’s a lot of like, support you’re gonna need. Not like technical support, but actual like, like informational support to these affiliates. They’re going to have questions. They’re gonna, this is gonna be so much back and forth. Like you said, you need a library of information. I think people really underestimate that. And then also kind of the other thing to note is at the end of the day, this is an acquisition strategy, right? Like this, that’s, that’s overall what we’re doing here, right? So it’s a very top of the funnel acquisition strategy. This is where you bring people in, but to get the top of the funnel to, to get the funnel to actually work, it’s not just top of the funnel. You need the other pieces kind of ready to go.

Charles (28:05):

You need, you know, you need things like your retargeting ad set up. You need things like your shopping cart, you know, the cart to checkout conversion ratio already looking good. So you need a lot of legwork and this is something that then you’re saying, okay, we’re, you know, we’re doing well with our PBC or social, our SEO, whatever that is. Let’s plug in this other acquisition strategy on top of that. I feel like that’s one of the things people miss at this is, you know, you’re just plugging in a strategy on top of a hopefully already existing funnel and not using the influences to like test your strategy. Cause I see a lot of people kind of trying to run before they can walk through it.

Arlen (28:41):

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Especially these days because I was just talking to someone else about it, you know, because there’s so many different marketing strategies that are out there and so many channels that you have to, you know, you really have to go through as a business these days. It’s, you know, it’s, it’s like it’s, it’s, it’s not your father, it’s not your grandfather’s marketing arena. Things are a lot different these days. And so a lot of times business owners kind of look at these activities like, you know, affiliate program or referral program, social media marketing. They’d look at it as almost like a, a check box and a list of things that they have to do and they kind of just jump into it. And so, okay, I got my social media accounts down, I’ve got my social media ads down, I’ve got to do my affiliate program or referral program. I got that check and they kind of go into it just looking at it like that. But there’s a lot more intuitive. It’s, it’s more than just a check box on a marketing list of activities. You’ve got to do your research, you got to have things in place prior to launching things because otherwise you know, you’re going to frustrate yourself in your staff as well as these influencers or affiliates. So you definitely want to make sure, you know, you do your due due diligence before diving into it.

Charles (29:55):

Yeah. No one wants to go to your, you know, your business social account, a blog and be like last updated three years ago and you’re like, that doesn’t like whichever one of these things did you do on our, what does have one of these paths you want to go down, you want to really commit to it. And then if it doesn’t work, you can kill it or do whatever you want to do. But you don’t want to do a lot of them not so good. That’s, that’s like actually the worst thing you can do is do a little bit of like dip your toe in the affiliate to be a toe in the PBC. Cause you’ll just be doing a lot of, a lot of things not well and it’s almost better just saying, let’s try this one. We’ll focus on it for, you know, two months, four months, six, whatever that number is. Go dive right into the pool headfirst. And if it works then we’ll double, triple down. And if it doesn’t work, we’ll just kill the affiliate program, move on to PPCO, whatever that is. So that’s a, that’s an important note. Yeah, for sure. Sure. Gotcha. What else do you kind of see people missing when they’re starting an affiliate program? Like what are some of the things that you wish people would be a little more aware of going into it?

Arlen (30:57):

Good question. Though, one of the things that I see a lot of businesses really kind of don’t do initially is really establishing a, you know, kind of a set structure beforehand. Or when I say structure, I’m talking about who it is that they’re going after beforehand. You know, a lot of times I think people have idea of who would be an ideal affiliate, who would that be an ideal customer that’s gonna refer other customers. But they don’t really kind of clearly identify that and they kind of jump into it searching in different areas, but they’re not really searching in the right area. So what I, what I mean to say is that what you have to do is okay, define who the ideal affiliate is. I’m upfront and create that affiliate avatar or a affiliate persona, you know, in a similar way that you would create your customer persona. This is an exercise that I know most marketing experts have people go through when you’re creating that avatar of your ideal customer.

Charles (32:06):

It’s funny because I’ve had people on the show before and I tell this every time and every time someone mentions that, I know people who skip right past this part, but, and I say every time, please don’t skip past this part cause it, it really is super important, like eyeopening that you kind of like this is the power. Everyone’s like, Hey the avatar got it. And they just like hit the gas just like cruise right past and you’re like, no, no, no. You really do want to take your time at this party. It really is important. So I’ve said this before and someone’s still just going to hit the gas and go right past. But sorry, gone. No problem. And I understand

Arlen (32:40):

Because it’s, you know, it takes a little bit of work and you know, these days, I know, I know how it is. As a business owner, you’re, you’re excited. You know, you’ll see all of these influencers on all of these platforms that are promoting all these brands and you’re like, wow, you know, that can be my brand. I want to get F, I want to go after them. And you know, you’re, like you said, you’re, you’re quick to try to hit the gas and try to approach them. But yeah, before you do that, you’ve got identify who’s going to be right for you. And so, you know, it’s an exercise. It doesn’t have to take a whole lot of time, just takes a little bit of thought and you know, and a little bit of patience of getting together. Okay. what is, what are my goals?

Arlen (33:15):

Who are these types of affiliates that I’m going to try to reach? Where are they, what social media platforms do they frequent? What is the size of their audience? How many followers do they have? Where do they posts on how frequently do they post? You know, those types of things, you know, create that persona of a person that you think is going to be fit for you. And, and if you have trouble doing this, you know, and what you can do is, you know, look at try to follow some existing brands that may be similar to yours, maybe similar to yours but may be at a little higher level. See who is promoting them and kind of work it backwards and see, okay, this particular brand that’s a, you know, selling these fashions, they’ve got these affiliates and influencers that are promoting them.

Arlen (34:04):

Would these guys be a good fit for me? You know, that’s another way to do it. You know, create those particular avatars and now you can also do the same thing with your customers because I also recommend creating your own internal customer referral program as well. Because you’re, the main thing is with regards to word of mouth marketing, you don’t, you don’t want to leave any, anything on the table. You don’t want to, you want to basically make sure that you cover all the bases. Because what I tell business owners all the time is that even if you don’t have a formal referral program, nine times out, it’s in your customers and your satisfied customers. They’re telling people, they’re telling people that they know, that are in their ecosystem. You know if you’ve bought a particular product and you know, you love it, you know, that’s, that’s what people do these days.

Arlen (34:52):

They talk about it and the social platforms make it so easy to do that. If you got, you know, the new pair of you know, headphones or wireless headphones, whatever it is, you’re excited about it. You had to tell your friend, you can say, these are awesome. I got to the new air pod pros, noise canceling is great. I was on a plane, I couldn’t hear anything else. I couldn’t see or hear any outside noise. You’re, you’re telling people because you had a positive experience with that particular product. So people are going to do it anyway. So the main thing you want to do is make sure you’ve got something formalized in place so that you can incentivize them for doing that because they’re going to take that extra step. You know, they’re going to already do it. But if you’ve got a formal referral program, you can get them to, you know, go that mile.

Arlen (35:38):

Do polls, you know, a daily basis, weekly basis, reach out to people and all of the social networks. Whereas if you didn’t have something in place, you know, they’re not gonna think to do it. You know, people are busy, but if they know they can get a commission, they’re going to do that. So you want to cover the basis, you want to not only, like I said, include their affiliate program, creating that customer avatar, excuse me, they affiliate avatar, create the customer avatar. And now the customer avatar is a lot easier because a customer avatar is going to be obviously your satisfied customers and those people that have had a positive experience with your brand and a great way to uncover it, who those ares is, who those people are are going to be through surveys. That’s one of the things that we actually offer.

Arlen (36:21):

At Omni star, it’s kind of a bonus tool where all of our customers, we give them the ability to add a easy one question survey on their order. Thank you page. They could even just email the customers a link to this and you’re basically just asking your customers, you know, how was their exp, your experience with our brand on a scale from one to 10. And you know, those people on the higher end that are the nine or a 10, let them know about your referral program, let them know what the incentive is that they can get and you know, get them into it. And so those, that’s basically how you quantify the customer. So it’s, you know, it’s pretty easy cause obviously those people that are satisfied and have had a great experience are going to be loyal and I’m much more likely to consider joining your referral program. And so those are the mistakes that I see a lot of businesses make. They don’t create those avatars up front, they dive into it and they try to get, they get all of these different types of customers and affiliates that aren’t the right match. And that’s kind of where, you know, they, they kind of lead into into problems.

Charles (37:26):

Yeah, that’s a good tip right there. I like using that and that one 10 kind of net promoter score type of thing of basically where I you and using that to kind of gauge, you know, if there are eight, nine, 10, Hey, your first customer is, and if you’re a two don’t eat like you want it. That’s a whole different cohort. You want to talk to them about, you know, what did we do wrong? How can we make it better? Do you want to try to move them towards the eight nines and tens, but, and you know, there’s no point of, you know, hitting up a two. I’d be like, Hey, want to refer some customers? Like go you much spend your time on those segments and very differently. So I liked that idea of doing that. That’s awesome. Cool. Well thank you for that. I definitely, yeah, super helpful. If folks want to kind of find you learn more about you or if there’s anything you want to plug and actually about the podcast as well, what can they find all that info?

Arlen (38:14):

Oh yeah, no, not a problem. Well, I would say to, to find about all things myself and all things OmniSTAR or OmniSTAR affiliate software probably the best place to get info on our affiliate software or if you’re an online business and you’re interested in starting your own affiliate program the quick way to get to it is just go to get, get is a, the domain that’ll get you right to our main site, ghetto And you can also get to all of my social media handles. If you want to pick my brain anymore about affiliate marketing, referral marketing, you can get to all of my social handles just at my website, which is Arlen I’m a R L E N And you can get all of my social handles from there. So I’m always interested in and, and, and happy and excited to work with and, and talk to different business owners that, that have questions because you know, there’s a lot out there and it’s it’s, it’s, it can be tough to navigate these waters these days. I’m, I’m always you know, open to helping people

Charles (39:16):

Appreciate it. I will definitely drop some links in the show notes, so thank you much for coming on. Appreciate everything.

Arlen (39:21):

Yes, not a problem. Charles, and I want to, one last thing that I’ll let everybody know that I did mention that one of the ways to kind of help create that avatar of your customer is via survey. And we, we actually have that survey tool, which for limited time is actually available for free across all of our plans. And when you go to our site, you’re going to see something that says you will get a bonus thank you page survey, but that Nope, it’s available across all appointments. It was previously only available with our professional and premium plans, but for the new year we’ve kinda got a promotion where we’re offering that for free across all plans and we can help any business set that up and get it integrated into their own websites. So we have a team dedicated to that. And so I definitely encourage people to take advantage of that offer.

Charles (40:10):

Awesome. Well, I’ll definitely make sure I link to all that. I appreciate you coming on today.

Arlen (40:15):

All right, no problem, Charles. It was great being on here and I appreciate the opportunity.

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