Affiliate onboarding can be the difference between consistent, valuable affiliate sales and a trickle of stop-start transactions. 

Lots of people start an affiliate marketing program full of optimism but soon find that motivating affiliates to make sales isn’t as easy as they expect. Sound familiar?

Well, good affiliate marketing is a process, and one of the most important parts of that process is your affiliate onboarding. 

Here’s everything you need to know about creating a successful onboarding process. 

Why is Affiliate Onboarding Important?

Affiliate onboarding is important because the early days of any relationship are crucial. You’re sizing each other up, wondering if the relationship is going to be of value, and deciding how far you want to take things. 

When it comes to affiliate programs, affiliates are spoiled for choice. 

Not all of these programs offer the potential yours does, but affiliates don’t know this. They’re trying to make a quick decision about which affiliate program can make them money, and if you can’t showcase this, then they’ll likely move on to the next one quite quickly. 

affiliate onboarding email sequence

This makes your affiliate onboarding process essential because it can give affiliates assurances:

  • That you’re invested in their success
  • That you’ll get them sales
  • That you’ll follow through on your promises
  • That you’re committed to improving your program

It’s a bit like when you walk into a restaurant and there’s nobody there to greet you. You sit at a table looking around, hoping someone is going to give you a menu. Once you get the menu, you can relax a bit because you know the waiter is on it, and the chances are, you’re going to get your food in the near future. 

Affiliate onboarding does the same thing. 

It tells your affiliates that you’re there for them, and you’re going to help them achieve their goals. 

8 Tips to Improve Your Affiliate Onboarding 

What do you think affiliates love more than anything else? 

It’s probably seeing that notification when they’ve made a sale. Who doesn’t love that feeling of knowing they’ve just made some money?

What your affiliate onboarding should aim to do is cut the learning curve so your affiliates get that feeling of making sales more quickly. Luckily, if there’s anyone who’s an expert at selling your product it’s you, so you’ll have lots of helpful information to share. 

1. Make Your Affiliates Feel Welcome

If you want your affiliates to thrive, they should feel welcome as a part of your team, and that all starts with onboarding.

What better way to start the relationship than with a gift?

You could give them a copy of your product, a free trial, a demo, or a branded t-shirt, for example. This not only helps to make sure they really understand the product they are promoting; it also helps to establish a good rapport.

You might also invite them to Facebook groups, forums, or relevant Slack teams. Or, maybe you decide to introduce them to your existing team in some creative way, such as putting a spotlight on them in your newsletter.

The bottom line is that you want to set up your onboarding process to make your affiliates feel like they are a part of something – like they just joined a cool club and they’re warmly welcomed.

Remember that social proof and FOMO (fear of missing out) are powerful tools. If you can incorporate your affiliates into this happy, thriving community you’ve created, then it’s going to give them added motivation. 

Bonus Tip: RafflePress is a great way to make your affiliates feel like they’re part of a team. You can set up raffles where affiliates earn entries for completing certain onboarding actions. The more they do, the greater the chance they win an exciting prize.

RafflePress features

2. Clearly State Your Affiliate Terms and Conditions

Part of the affiliate onboarding process is setting expectations and one of the best ways to do this is with your affiliate terms and conditions. Your affiliates will have seen this information when they signed up, but it’s important you continue to stress the value of this document. 

You can’t expect people to understand what you want from them if you make your terms and conditions incredibly complicated though. 

When was the last time you enjoyed reading through a mind-numbing set of overly-complex terms and conditions? My guess is…never?

Too much technical jargon and excessive information can intimidate your affiliates and maybe even turn them off from your program entirely. Keeping this stuff simple helps you onboard your affiliates faster and leaves less room for confusion and misunderstandings.

affiliate onboarding - terms and conditions
Example of affiliate terms and conditions from OptinMonster

As much as possible, try to create your terms and conditions in plain English. There’s no need for anything more complicated!

3. Think About Everything from the Affiliate’s Perspective 

When setting up your affiliate onboarding, consider all aspects from the affiliate’s perspective. Think about what you would want to know or have access to if you were a new affiliate, including:

  • Where to find creatives
  • How to set up links correctly
  • How to choose products to promote
  • How to get started promoting
  • Who to contact
  • Incentives
  • Payment specifics

Consider creating a “getting started” guide with all of the most important information your affiliates need. This not only makes the onboarding process smoother for them; it also cuts down on the amount of support you (or your affiliate managers) need to provide.

One thing we say all the time at AffiliateWP is that it’s one thing to create an affiliate program, it’s another to successfully grow it. You can create a program in a few minutes, but to grow it, you need tools that give your affiliates what they need to succeed. 

That’s why we focus on making our affiliate area powerful and customizable. With Affiliate Area Tabs, you can create custom tabs where you can add all the important information your affiliates need. 

For example, think about your target market; is there any related information you’re willing to share with your affiliates? If you’ve already studied your audience, why not pass along those insights?

  • Where do your prospects hang out online? 
  • What topics do they want more of? 
  • What keywords do they search for? 
  • What competitors do they consider? 

Affiliates can take that information and turn it into sales for your product, but you’ve got to provide them with the information first.

4. Personalize the Experience 

Every affiliate is different and you want to make their affiliate onboarding experience as personalized as possible. 

This starts from the moment someone applies to join your program. Recognize that not every would-be affiliate is the right fit for your business, and make sure you’re only accepting people who are a good match. 

While you’re doing your research, learn as much as possible about your affiliate’s business model and use this to personalize the onboarding process. With time, you’ll find different ways to segment your affiliates to give them the best possible affiliate onboarding. 

You might look to create different segments based on:

  • The platforms they use: Blog, social media, email marketing
  • The size of their audience: Macro vs micro-influencers
  • Level of experience with affiliate marketing: Someone who has been running their blog for 10-years is different from someone just starting out
  • Level of experience with your product: Someone who has been your customer for years is different from someone who is new to your brand

Again, you know your business best, so use this knowledge to offer your affiliates a personalized experience. 

5. Help Your Affiliates Make their First Sale

Part of onboarding affiliates is actually motivating them! After all, you want them to be enthused about promoting your products, right?

Momentum is a powerful thing and helping your affiliates make their first sale can be all it takes to catapult them into becoming thriving members of your team.

This can be as simple as guiding them to the right products for their audiences, giving them trendy creatives, or offering marketing suggestions for first-time affiliates. If there are certain products that convert particularly well, let them know!

You could even send your affiliates success stories to give them good examples to follow, illustrating some promotional techniques or strategies that have worked for you or others in the past helps to give them a head start!

Another great way to get started with this is to create a personalized landing page for each affiliate using our affiliate landing pages pro-add-on. This is a huge sign that you’re invested in the relationship and a great opportunity to collaborate with your affiliate during the onboarding process. 

Create landing pages during the affiliate onboarding

Use the affiliate onboarding to find out about your affiliates’ business and work together with them to build the perfect landing page that’s going to earn sales for both of you

6. Make Communication Easy

In order to get to know your affiliates and build meaningful relationships with them, it’s important to foster a sense of trust and transparency. 

Communication should be straightforward and easy. After all, you want your affiliates to feel comfortable investing time in your program, and you want them to stick around!

Whether you oversee everything yourself or you have an affiliate manager, make sure your affiliates know who they should talk to if they have questions or concerns, and make it as easy as possible for them to get in touch.

It might also be worth setting up an automatic follow-up one month after affiliates join to check in with them and see how they’re doing. This makes it easy (and inviting) for them to respond to you with questions or concerns if they haven’t already.

7. Simplify the Payment Process 

Your affiliate onboarding is a perfect opportunity to showcase how simple and reliable your payment process is. Of course, to do this, you need a great payment process to begin with, which is why we created our integrated payouts service

Getting paid is important for any affiliate, and when they join a bespoke, independent program, it might be something they’re concerned about. Use this time to collect all the information you need to make the payment process seamless, and show that timely, consistent payments are important to you. 

When affiliates know they’re going to get paid regularly and without hassle, it just offers that extra piece of motivation to go out and make sales. 

8. Use Your Affiliate Onboarding to Learn 

Affiliate onboarding is great because it opens a conversation and you can use this to get important insights into how you can improve your program. 

Make sure you add a survey form to your onboarding process so you can find out:

  • What attracted your affiliates to your program
  • What they love about the program
  • What they don’t love about the program
  • Features they’d like to see that would help them make more sales

You don’t want to take up too much of your affiliates’ time, so make sure to keep forms brief and make them as easy as possible to fill out. 

We love WPForms’ conversational forms for this because they don’t bombard people with too many questions all in one go. They allow you to ask questions in a more natural way, keeping your affiliates engaged and helping you to maximize the insights you get. 

Affiliate Onboarding is a Key Part of Your Program

Affiliate onboarding is about creating a connection, sharing knowledge, and highlighting the features of your program that will help your affiliates make sales. 

To do this you’ve got to start with the right platform and that’s what AffiliateWP provides you with. We don’t want you to simply start an affiliate marketing program, we want you to grow it into a thriving revenue earner. 

Your software and your affiliate onboarding will be a big part of that journey, but when you get it right, it opens up big opportunities.

Get started with AffiliateWP today!

William Palmer

About the author: William is a technical writer for Awesome Motive. He's passionate about helping small businesses unlock the power of affiliate marketing, and summit the rankings with great SEO. In his spare time, you'll find him exploring the wonderful scenery of Cantabria, Spain.


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