How WINPRO Utilizes Affiliate Marketing to Grow Business
Bill Bernardo is the founder of WINPRO, a manufacturer of protein supplements for dogs out of Greater Des Moines (DSM). Bill gave an inside look into how WINPRO uses an Affiliate Marketing program during a recent webinar with the Greater Des Moines Partnership. This included reviewing how their program works and their ideal affiliate, as well as valuable lessons WINPRO has learned through using affiliates as part of their marketing strategy.
Ideal Affiliate Partners
Individuals become affiliate partners through an application and vetting process. WINPRO has an external facing application accessible from their homepage. The application asks for basic information and allows WINPRO to determine whether the applicant is genuine and serious.
For WINPRO, an ideal affiliate has:
- High reach (connected to a large number of people)
- Significant credibility
- The ability to create content (to be used when promoting WINPRO products)
- Passion about WINPRO products
- Savvy social media presence
Oftentimes WINPRO finds affiliate candidates within larger affiliate networks such as thought and opinion leaders, professional bloggers, product review sites, suppliers, complementary brands, passionate consumers and celebrities.
How Affiliate Marketing Works
Affiliate marketing is a marketing process based upon affiliates earning a commission or reward for marketing or promoting a business's product, a performance-based system. The WINPRO affiliate marketing system works like this:
- An affiliate partner promotes a product or services on their site/social media platform or publishes a promo code (given to them by WINPRO) specific to that partner
- The customer clicks on the brand’s promotion on the affiliate’s site and a cookie is stored on the customers’ browser (this is what allows the affiliate network or SaaS platform to track customer’s progress from the affiliate’s website through to the brand’s shopping cart)
- The customer is redirected to the brand’s website and makes a purchase
- The affiliate network or SaaS platform (like Shopify) then automatically pays out a commission to the affiliate (based on rules set by WINPRO) for driving that sale
Bill noted that affiliate programs can be managed either in-house or by an agency. In-house management tends to work best for companies that are running a small, private affiliate marketing program with a few select partners. An agency management program works well for companies on a growth path with more than $8 million in online sales without the resources to manage their affiliate programs.
Tracking + Rewarding Performance
WINPRO uses tracking cookies and a pixel placed on their site to track and measure their affiliates marketing activity. Bill gave several examples of important ROI metrics generated from tracking including:
- Registrations, email sign-ups, giveaway entries
- Sales, orders, subscriptions
- Conversion rates
- New vs. returning customers
- Average order value
- Cost per action
- Customer lifetime value
In addition to tracking the affiliate’s marketing activity, WINPRO consistently recognizes top performing affiliates. Every quarter, a list of the top 10 performers is published and prizes are awarded on a regular basis. Celebrating these successes is important to WINPRO and encourages the affiliate partners to celebrate and recognize each other.
WINPRO Lessons Learned
Bill shared a number of helpful hints in establishing and running a successful affiliate marketing program:
- An affiliate program is one part of the marketing mix, but the affiliates are a valuable part of the sales and marketing team
- To work, you need to prioritize it, put a process around it, keep it fresh, create content for it, etc.
- The 80/20 rule will apply: 80% who sign up won’t be effective affiliates, 20% will and will stick with the company
- Affiliates should receive a product discount
• Start small, be patient, invest in a few good relationships — time, love, consistency, free samples and lots of support
- Make it easy for affiliate candidates to apply but screen them with care (beware of customers “disguised” as affiliates who are just looking for discounts)
- Really good affiliates usually aren’t dealers
- Establish a minimum commission threshold and stick to it — don't be afraid to drop affiliates who don’t meet the threshold
- There is no commission rule of thumb — it will all come down to your business model, your gross margins and what you can afford to spend on acquiring a customer (CAC)
- Your affiliates can be your best marketing research tool and at zero cost
- Good affiliates love “new news” that they will share with their audiences
- Be sure to repurpose to them everything you’re doing in sales and marketing
- It is key to update, inspire, educate, share, ask-of and somehow engage your affiliate network at least quarterly ... and do it with love
See Bill’s entire webinar, in collaboration with the Greater Des Moines Partnership, here:
You can count on The Partnership to continue to share accurate and fact-based updates as well. See more on COVID-19 here.
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