Affiliate marketing is an excellent tool for brands to drive brand awareness, expand their audience reach, and ultimately increase sales. It has tremendously grown in popularity among brands and is expected to surpass $30 billion in sales by 2025.
But, similarly to how a tradesman is only as good as his tools, an affiliate program is only as successful as the affiliate platform it’s managed on. In today’s highly-competitive affiliate marketing industry, an affiliate platform can make or break a brand’s affiliate program.
For example, suppose an affiliate platform doesn’t provide brands and affiliate partners alike with the right tools and resources to collaborate productively. In that case, a brand’s affiliate program won’t stand much of a chance against its competitors. This is why brands need to do their due diligence on researching affiliate platforms and not rush the process before deciding which affiliate platform to launch their affiliate program on.
The decision as to which affiliate platform matches the needs of a brand and their affiliate program is even more critical when you consider that switching affiliate platforms once you’ve launched an affiliate program is not always so quick and easy. Brands may have various reasons for switching affiliate platforms, from high monthly fees that make it challenging to manage to a lack of robust tracking and reporting capabilities on their current affiliate platforms.
Sometimes, brands simply outgrow their existing affiliate platforms, and the platform no longer matches their brand image. Whatever their reasons, an affiliate platform migration can be a time-consuming and headache-inducing endeavor, depending on the new affiliate platform you choose and how simple or complex their migration procedure is.
But, just like any bad relationship, breakups are necessary. Given the vast amount of affiliate program data, accounts, links, and contracts that typically accompany any affiliate program, getting an affiliate platform migration right is crucial to avoid disrupting affiliate program workflows and rapports. To get an affiliate platform migration right, brands need a strategy in place that allows them to plan, communicate, and execute a migration effectively with no hiccups.
This article will walk you through some simple steps to follow to make an affiliate platform migration as painless and straightforward as possible for everyone involved. We’ll go over why brands migrate their affiliate programs to new affiliate platforms, what prevents them from migrating, and the things brands should seek in their new affiliate platforms that will make their transition as smooth as possible.
Why Do Brands Migrate to New Affiliate Platforms?
Sometimes, brands aren’t left with much choice when migrating their affiliate program to new platforms. This can simply happen when an affiliate network ceases to exist, as was the case with the Google Affiliate Network shutting down. In situations such as this, brands usually spot the red flags that signal that things are headed south on their affiliate platforms, or the affiliate platform informs them ahead of time that they will be shutting down. Though this isn’t always the case, brands should always have a contingency plan in place if they are forced to migrate to a new affiliate platform at the last minute.
Other times, there can be a combination of reasons that lead to overall dissatisfaction with a brand’s current affiliate platform due to things such as frequent issues with affiliate tracking not functioning correctly or lack of valuable reporting and features that leave brands with no choice but to switch affiliate platforms.
Additionally, if an affiliate platform charges monthly and transaction fees that make it difficult for brands to run profitable affiliate platforms, brands aren’t left with much choice but to migrate to greener pastures purely for survival. Conversely, a brand may run a successful affiliate program but be stuck on an affiliate platform that inhibits growth by not effectively providing the tools and resources necessary to scale their affiliate program.
What Stops Brands from Migrating to New Affiliate Platforms?
It would be a lie to say that migrating your existing affiliate program to a new affiliate platform is a piece of cake and can be done instantaneously in a matter of minutes. As such, most brands tend to be intimidated by the idea of change and what it all entails because of the perceived amount of effort and time it would take for them to migrate.
As a result, many brands simply stay complacent where they are at the moment with their affiliate platform because they are already too heavily invested in their affiliate platform to make a change. Unfortunately, many brands never entertain the idea of what a migration to a new affiliate platform can mean for their affiliate program because of their fear that such a task would be too daunting for them to undertake.
Where Should You Migrate, Anyways? Do Your Research First!
Ok, whatever your reasons, you’ve finally decided to make the switch. But, where should you migrate your affiliate program to, anyway? With the rapid growth of affiliate marketing in recent years, consisting of over 11,400 separate affiliate programs with over 900,000 active affiliates in the U.S. alone that are scattered across hundreds of affiliate platforms, it can be hard to decide on which affiliate platform to choose. Therefore, brands must do their research when comparing affiliate platforms to understand their differences. In addition, brands should understand the technology each affiliate platform utilizes, the affiliate and merchant tools each platform offers, and the fees they charge.
Good affiliate platforms should make onboarding affiliates and running campaigns easy to do, regardless of your level of technical know-how. In addition, they should boast many third-party integration capabilities, offer custom commissions and automated payments to affiliates, and a large marketplace where brands can easily connect with potential affiliates. Finally, they should provide brands and affiliates alike with the peace of mind by offering the highest security and fraud detection capabilities. Refersion delivers all of this, plus more, at plans starting at only $89 per month.
Steps to Successfully Migrate to a New Affiliate Platform
1. Set a realistic launch date for your new platform
Migrating your affiliate platform will undoubtedly take some time. Therefore, you should set a realistic launch date for your affiliate program on your new affiliate platform. This will allow you to make the transition less stressful and give you and your team enough time to finish up all ongoing tasks on your existing affiliate platform and close it out entirely. Additionally, it will provide you with time to customize your new affiliate platform and get it launched and ready for your migration. A recommended amount of time is usually around 2 weeks for a successful migration.
2. Communicate with your affiliates and give them a heads up
Put together an email to let your affiliates know that you’re switching to a new affiliate platform. For the most part, affiliates primarily need to worry about updating their referral links. Refersion makes it easy for affiliates to login in and grab links, check on their performance, and much more from one dashboard.
3. Import affiliates into your new affiliate platform
This is usually one of the very first steps with any migration. Refersion makes it easy for brands to import their affiliates through a Bulk Upload CSV template.
4. Export data and reports from your existing affiliate platform to your new one
While Refersion makes it easy to import affiliates and your existing affiliate program, any historical sales or payment data on your existing affiliate platform will need to be manually imported. This is pretty much the standard protocol with any affiliate platform for various security and privacy-related reasons.
5. Payout any standing commissions on your existing platform
Before migrating to any new platform, you must make sure to pay out any owed commissions on your existing affiliate platform before you can close out entirely. Refersion allows brands to process current payments to affiliates from their previous affiliate platforms. But this isn’t always recommended as Refersion would not be able to provide complete reporting since those conversions were not tracked in Refersion from start to finish.
6. Connect your store
Once you’ve imported your affiliates and any valuable sales and tracking data from your previous affiliate platform, the next step is to connect your store to your new affiliate platform. Again, Refersion makes connecting your store as simple as following a few easy steps.
7. Configure, personalize, and launch!
Now that you’ve got your previous affiliate platform fully closed out and taken care of the fundamentals for launching your affiliate program on your new platform, it’s time to get personal. You’ll want to get your affiliate offers and emails set up and personalized and get your branding fully built out on your new platform before fully launching your affiliate program. Fully launch your affiliate program by activating your affiliates so they can get back to promoting your brand!
Ready To Make the Switch?
We understand that switching to a new affiliate platform is never an easy decision to make. This is why Refersion makes a whole-hearted effort to answer any standing questions brands may have and have a casual conversation about what a switch to Refersion can mean for your brand. Additionally, for added peace of mind, we offer a 14-day free trial for brands to get a feel for the platform with no obligations. Brands ready to talk about what a migration to Refersion can do for their program can contact a Refersion expert today.