So you’ve got some affiliates interested in promoting you. Now what? How do you onboard your affiliates and get them rocking? That’s what today’s episode is all about. Getting your affiliates started the right way!

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How to Onboard Affiliates the Right Way

So you’ve got some affiliates interested in promoting you. Now what? How do you onboard your affiliates and get them rocking? Well, that’s what today’s episode is all about. Get your affiliates started the right way.

My friend, Alan Thomas came to me the other day. I had referred some people to him as affiliates. Alan’s been rocking, you’ve listened to him in a previous episode. He’s now co-hosting our live lessons every Thursday at 2:00 PM Eastern, shout out for those, but he has his own business. Coaching men on losing weight and he’s, rocking the affiliate world, but he’s like, Matt, you sent me all these affiliates. What do I do now? Like now what? I don’t know what to do. I’m like, well, let me walk you through that. So I never did.

I totally forgot to actually share all this with Alan, but I told him I would record a podcast episode or record something for him. So this is my way of answering Alan’s question.

It kind of depends on where you’re at. Just to be clear, how do you onboard affiliates? It’s very different. If you’re a brand new program, you’re getting like one affiliate per day.

Well, then you set up calls with them all. If you’re an established program, you’re getting 10 new affiliates today. It’s different. What I’m going to do is take you through that journey today from beginner program, maybe you’re getting one or two affiliates a week to a more established program. Most of the stuff is the same.

It’s consistent throughout. If you’re a new program, like I said, you get on the phone with each of them. The key is to establish the program, you want to wow, your early affiliates, get things moving. If you’re an employee working as a new affiliate manager, you want to impress your boss with some early momentum and you want to do those things.

If you’re an established program, like when I ran Shutterfly’s affiliate program or Adidas as an affiliate program, we were getting 300, 400 affiliates per day, especially like the time of year from November 1st through Christmas, it was crazy. There was no way I could get on the phone with any of them, let alone, all 300 or 400 of them. But I want you to think about this from the affiliate’s perspective, what do they want? This is why I recommend being an affiliate. So I recommend doing this. I’m a much better affiliate manager now. I’m also an affiliate because I know what affiliates want. I know what I want. They want it quickly and they want it easily.

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So I’m going to walk you through the steps. You need to take the things you need to do to onboard your affiliates here today, Alan, this one’s for you, bud.

1) You need to set them up if needed.

That kind of goes without saying a few of these early ones. Like, “well, dude, no.” we handle affiliates a little bit differently than a lot of people. We like to white glove it, I personally, as an affiliate again, I go back to rule number one, do what I would want to do as an affiliate. Right? I don’t like it when people send me a link and say, go fill this out. It just ticks me off. I’m like, I’m busy. This is not an ego thing. I just, I might not be able to get around to it. And then I’m like, I forget about it. I’m not signed up four days later. Well, that’s your fault as the affiliate manager, not mine.

So we white-glove things, we sign them up, we set up their account, we get them their links. We do all that. Now you may do it differently and that’s fine. I’m not against that way, but do what you need to do on the tech side, add them to relevant Google sheets or Excel spreadsheets or databases.

One of the things that I highly recommend not doing is we don’t use the system to send most of the emails. So if they’re in Infusionsoft, we don’t email them through Infusionsoft. We don’t email them through ConvertKit. Here’s the reason in convert kit Infusionsoft. If they unsubscribe from my main list, they’re also unsubscribing from affiliate updates.

They may not want to do that. I’m going to give you a really good example of that. I’m on Jeff Walker’s list. Will I was on there twice. I was on there two times. I had an affiliate account and I had opted into some stuff using that email and I had my regular just subscriber account. So every time he sent an email to his list, I got two of them. I clicked unsubscribe. I no longer got affiliate updates. And I have seen this happen time and time again. That’s why we don’t use the system.

We use a mail merge tool called GMass. We also use another one called yet another mail merge. I don’t recommend one over the other. We use both of them pretty interchangeably. There are things I like about both, but we use those tools and we email them through a spreadsheet. Now, if you’ve got 300,000 affiliates like we had at Shutterfly and Adidas, you can’t do that clearly, but as much as possible, I try not to email them through the system. That’s a whole tech conversation. I’m not going to get into that. So you need to add them to whatever database that you’re using beyond your regular irregular system.

2) You need to send them a welcome message.

You need to make it warm and inviting, right? Well, this is going to have some of the elements that we’re going to talk about here. But the big thing is, just make them feel like,

you’re really glad that they’re a part of your affiliate program, make them feel welcome. It’s called a welcome message for a reason. I want this to feel warm and inviting. Think about it. Like I’m welcoming you into my home. I wouldn’t use a bunch of corporate-speak, “Dear, sir. Thank you for being a part of our affiliate program.

We are honored and humble.” Like what the heck is that? I feel like I should just do like entire episodes where I read emails that affiliate managers send and critique them. You guys, you know what? Let me know if you’re interested in that, do me a favor. Text me at 2 6 0 2 1 7 4 6 1 9 and just let me know if you’d be interested in me, critiquing affiliate programs, like different things, like things that I’m seeing, and then commenting on it could be good or bad. If you’re interested in that kind of content text me. That’s actually not a bad idea. I may just do it anyway, but I’d love to hear from you if you’re interested. All right. So number two, you got to have that welcome message.

3) You need to give them their tools.

Now I’ve done a whole episode on this. I want to focus on just a few things very quickly. Number one, you got to give them swipe copy, right?

One of the most important things you can give them killer swipe, copy. They can use for every part of your promotion, whether it’s a launch or whatever. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail. I’ve shared this before, but number one, you got to hire a copywriter, you got to hire somebody that can write it up objectively. You’re too close to the product to be objective.

Number two, you need to include images that your affiliates might need.

Number three, you need to have different versions for different audiences. So if you’ve got different target audiences, write, different swipe copy for each of those.

Number four, you need different links. So you need some short to 300-word emails. You need some thousand-word emails, and then you need some blurbs for things like newsletters, right? And maybe the 32nd clip from a podcast.

Then number five, you need to teach your affiliates that swipe copies of the guide only. I talked about this in the last episode, don’t copy and paste the swipe copy as an affiliate. The worst thing you can have happen is a hundred affiliates all sending the exact same identical emails. Tell them to make the emails personal, and only use the swipe copy as a starting point. Share my guide on that with them. I, the links in the last episode, share that with them, right? You need to give them social media posts and images and links of course and give them the login information and all those things. So give them the tools that they need to succeed.

4) You need to do is ask about them.

Learn about them, get to know the affiliate, learn who they are, learn about their website and their promotional methods is they get as much as possible. Get 300 affiliates. That’s different early on. You should know all kinds of stuff about them. I think back to my early affiliates, I can still name them. I can still tell you stories about them.

I still know, remember their URLs. As my programs got bigger and bigger, I began to know less and less, but early on learn about them. Keep a database where things like their wife’s name, their husband’s name, their kid’s name. Do you at least know their, okay, what sports did their kids play?

What activities are they in? Where do they live? Like when you’re talking to an affiliate for the fifth time and you’re going, oh, remind me again, what part of the country? And you sound like an idiot. That’s just ridiculous. Like, no, I should not have to remind you where I live. You should know. You should know. I mean, when I talk to my friends, they don’t ask me questions that be their friend to ask about them, learn about them.

5) Learn how they like to communicate.

You need to learn their preferred method of communication in the news. It, I know I work with affiliates that only do WhatsApp. That’s all they use. So I have to use that period. I’ve got two that I can think of. That’s it. But I have to use Skype, if it wasn’t for affiliates, I would literally never use Skype, but I have some affiliates that prefer Skype. There’s Voxer, there’s email, there are text messages. There’s you know, some people like getting phone calls. It’s weird, but no, I’m cool with that actually. But some people prefer Facebook, DMs, or Instagram DMs, things like that. The easiest way is just to ask them like you could do a survey, send out a quick survey, you could just hit reply and let me know.

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You know, initially, all you have is their email hit reply and let me know what’s your favorite way to communicate. I want to make sure I communicate in a way that you most prefer. You’re going to get better replies that way, which is going to benefit you. So I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I’ve got somebody that prefers text message and something big is happening, I’m going to text them, not going to send them an email or a Facebook message.

6) Make sure they understand the basics.

The basics around your program’s rules, what are they allowed to do and not allowed to do commissions? You know, are there any particular commission structures, any nuances, special commissions, like you get 50% on core sales, 30% on the membership, things like that. They need to know the products and the pricing. If you have ranges of prices, they need to know what those are and for one they’re gonna market it better, for two, you’re going to have less questions on the back end.

They need to know important dates and time periods and of course, if it’s a launch, they need to know, not only when does the launch start, okay, the launch starts April 21st, but when does the promotion start? Well, it starts on April 10th. When does the warm-up start?It starts in late March. They need to know those things. You need to tell them and be clear about that. They needed a, when you pay, do you pay monthly for the previous month? Do you pay on the 15th? Do you pay, net 30? What do they, what do you pay? When do you pay, how do you pay? They need to know what bonuses are up for grabs.

I mean, this is kind of one on one right? If you’re going to offer bonuses and prizes and contests, they need to know that they need to know how to contact you. So I’m not going to list like I’m gonna know my affiliates preferred methods but in my signature, I’m going to list, a phone number that they can contact me at. And I’m probably gonna list like one alternative means my preferred method because maybe they don’t have a preferred method. Maybe they don’t care. So I’m going to give them like two ways to contact me in addition to email.

7) Get on a strategy call with them.

I’ve talked about this before, but one of the best things you can do to get your affiliates to mail more and promote early and get them going is just to create a personal promotion plan with them. When you meet with your affiliates, one-on-one before the promotion, you’re able to craft a custom plan. Now we actually call it a commitment plan.

Now that’s something we changed a couple of years ago, we found like this, you know, Robert Cialdini, right? The principles of commitment and consistency means that people stick to this plan. So we call them commitment plans. Usually what we found is that if we can get them, one-on-one do a plan. They agree to at least a few extra emails that they’d previously planned on sending. So this is a personalized plan.

I’ve got a sample template that you can download. I will put the link in the show notes. I think it’s just Mattmcwilliams.com/AFFplan and you can go download that these work. They only work when you’re small or you’re only picking up like a few affiliates or maybe you can do it with your top 20 or 30. It’s hard to do with more than two people a day. That gets a little bit out of hand. With the bigger programs, do them once or twice a week in small groups. So, everybody that signed up this week, we’re going to get together and do a promotion plan. In fact, well, this is something we used to do with some of our bigger programs.

We would just do it twice a month, just regularly. And like anybody could sign up. When you signed up for the program, you could be a part of these calls. And we basically do kind of more of a generic one and craft them together on those calls.

8) You should do to onboard people is give them a quick start guide.

Like this is one to three pages. Really it should be two, like on the high end, if it dips into a third page, that’s fine. But it’s a very quick guide. How do I get my links? How do I create custom links? How do I find a swipe copy? How do I find images? How do I find a blank?

Like, where is it? You know, how do I access my stats? How do I log in? How do I contact you? What are the basic no-nos what’s working for others? You know, what are the mailing plans? When are the dates like this is all in one spot, all these things I’ve been talking about in one spot, right there in one spot, what’s the commission, the products like all this in a, in a quick start guide, that’s important. What are these mailing plans, for example.

It goes back to what we just talked about, like doing the kind of the generic meeting, where you create those promo plans. I’ll meet with 2025 affiliates for a big launch personally, we have a thousand affiliates. So what I do is I give them our mailing plans. We call them our ABC plans. The A stands for All in or Aggressive. The C stands for conservatives. So all inner aggressive might be like 15 emails. Conservative might be five emails. And then a balanced plan, which is the B would be five emails. And so we outline like, here’s what to do. You know, June six, do this June 8th, do this June 9th mail to this group, then mail, here’s what to do each of these days.

Our objective here, just like the personalized commitment plans, is just to get them to commit to some level of participation. All I want them to do is commit to a minimum number of emails, minimum promotion. And what we found is that people who commit to that C you know, that conservative level will often move up to the balanced or even the all-in level as the launch progresses. They just want to dip their toe in the water. Right. You know, like, is this promo gonna work for me? And if it looks like it’s working, then they’ll get more aggressive as they go. But the key here is to get them to commit to something on the front end. So we make it very easy, super easy for them to commit on the conservative level, like the conservative levels, usually going to be by five total emails, maybe six, like two, possibly three to your whole list, maybe one or two to unopens or non-clicks one or two to, you know, engage contacts and maybe six emails, pretty easy commitment level, you know, only two, maybe three to your whole list. Like that’s super easy.

And then next thing they add a couple more to their non-clicks and then they add, “oh, well, when I’m promoting the sales, I only promote it to my engaged contacts. Oh, I can send six or seven. Now, all of a sudden there are 13 emails,” which is really cool.

9) We want to do when we’re onboarding our affiliates is get them their first sale quickly.

We want them to make the first sale ASAP. Now, if it’s a launch like, “Hey, we’re launching in April, it’s January. I can’t really do anything for you there.” But if it’s a regular program, like get them a first sale quickly incentivize it like, “Hey, on your first sale, if you make your first sale within 10 days,

I’m going to give you a hundred percent commission, a double commission” maybe you can’t do a hundred percent because you got the cost of goods or something. But even then it’s like, maybe I want to, I don’t mind if I lose a few bucks on the first sale if you make three sales in your first month and you’re going to get whatever, so it’s like, let’s say you got a thousand dollar product $500 commission, 50% commission.

If you make three sales in the first month, I might give you a thousand dollar bonus. You’re basically, you’re going to make almost no money on those three sales. That’s fine. It gets them going, right. We want to give them a low barrier, get them some, some movement here rather than do the three sales in the first month. You get, you’re guaranteed a thousand dollars. Maybe it’s you make three sales in the first month. And we’re going to enter you into a drawing for $5,000, a pretty impressive prize.

If you have enough affiliates, it’s actually costing you less money, but again, low barrier, fast-moving. That’s what we’re trying to get them to do.

10) You need to make it clear that you are there to help.

Be available beyond the multiple channels like we talked about when they email reply fairly quickly, make it clear, tell them I’m here to help and not just in a generic way, tell them I’m here to help. Here are the ways I can help you. What can I do to serve you, make it abundantly clear that you are there to help.

Then the last thing, and we’ll talk more about this coming up, but once you’ve onboarded them, give them regular updates, educate them and share what’s working and we’re going to talk about how to teach your affiliates and talk about the different ways that you should communicate with your affiliates, but there’s a lot to do, but now you have the onboarding plan, what to do when your affiliates sign up and how to get them started fast with making some sales. So I mentioned that upcoming episode that’ll be coming up in two or three episodes.

In our next episode, we’re gonna be talking about how to use leaderboards, to find affiliates, which I’m super excited about.

I’m going to share kind of a secret strategy there that I’ve kind of touched on it in some other content, but I don’t know if I’ve ever shared the exact strategy. And I’m pretty excited about that. I shared it with a coaching client recently and I am pretty excited to share that publicly for what I believe is for the first time.

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So you’ve got the plan, my question for you, and I’d love it if you would text me your answer at 2 6 0 2 1 7 4 6 1 9. That’s the number you, I mean, you can text me anytime. I’m going to be the one that responds like this is not my team or anything doing this. Just to be clear. I want to know like, which one of these things are you maybe not doing?

Which one of these things can you implement? Which one of these things do you think maybe you’re doing poorly and you’re going to improve and how are you going to improve it? What’d you get out of this episode? So please text me, let me know your thoughts. 2 6 0 2 1 7 4 6 1 9, and let me know what you’re going to be doing as a result of this episode.

Make sure you hit subscribe, because again, the next episode is all about Finding affiliates using a leaderboard, and then we’re gonna be talking soon about that communication plan for that ongoing communication. You’ve onboarded them. They’re up and running now, where a month later like, “oh, what do I do?” Oh, we’re going to be talking about that soon.

So I will see you in those upcoming episodes. Bye-bye thank you so much for listening today.

Remember to check out all of our deep dives into affiliate marketing at theaffiliateguy.TV and if you have a question, ask it at, asktheaffiliateguy.com who knows maybe you even be featured on an upcoming episode. And lastly, if you haven’t yet make sure to leave a rating and review wherever you’re listening to this episode. See you soon.


Text me anytime at (260) 217-4619.

Or…check out some of my free reports to help you get on the right track:

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