So, you’ve decided to switch affiliate marketing platforms – and you’ve done your research to determine the right platform for your needs. Now it’s time to actually migrate your whole program over.
Whatever the reason for your decision, migrating can seem like quite the task! You’ve got to worry about all of your data, affiliate accounts, links, and cookies, not to mention that you don’t want to do anything to disrupt the rapport you have with your team.
In short, it’s really important to get it right!
Assuming you’ve taken into consideration things like the terms and conditions of your current platform, any contracts you’ve signed (including the opinions of any legal counsel you employ), whether you want to use an affiliate network or in-house platform, and any other potential issues surrounding your decision to switch, your primary concern is logistics.
So, how do you go about actually doing it all?
In this post, we’ve put together a brief guide to migrating from one affiliate marketing platform to another to give you an idea of what to expect, what to prioritize, and how to structure the process so that your transition is as smooth as possible!
Creating a migration timeline
In order to manage all of the different components of your affiliate platform migration and keep things running without a glitch, you’ll want to create a migration timeline. This allows you to visualize everything from a bird’s eye view, and it makes the decision-making and transition processes less stressful for you and your affiliates.
So how long will this all take anyway? As a general rule, you’ll want to allow yourself a minimum of one month for the migration, with anywhere from several weeks to several months of preparation before-hand, depending on your program’s needs.
For the purposes of this post, we will refer to the last day you use your current platform as your closure date and the first day you use your new platform as your launch date.
Now, let’s look at a hypothetical two-month migration process, where the process begins with setting your launch date and notifying your current platform, and ends with the closure date.
Choose a launch date for your new platform
Before you can stop using your current affiliate marketing platform, you’ll need to decide when you want to begin using the new one. Setting a specific launch date is essential, and serves as a reference point for the rest of your timeline.
Of course, your launch date depends on the specifics of your current platform and any contract obligations you’ve agreed to. It’s important to verify that there are no penalties or restrictions when it comes to leaving your current platform before a certain date, or moving affiliates onto another platform, for example.
If you use affiliate software and manage everything yourself, the only thing you really have to worry about (in terms of restrictions) is how you want to handle the platform costs you’ve already paid (or still have left to pay) relative to the costs of your new platform.
Your launch date should not be the same as your closure date; after all, you want to give yourself time to iron out any problems, and give your affiliates time to get acquainted with the new system, update their links, etc.
You want to plan on launching on your new platform at least 4 weeks after you give notice to your current platform, and choose a closure date that’s no less than 4 weeks after your launch date.
This gives you roughly two months to work with from start to finish. You can make your timeline a bit longer if you prefer, but anything less than that can create a risk for making mistakes or displeasing your affiliates – both of which can ultimately result in lost revenue.
4-8 weeks before the launch date
Set a closure date and give notice to your current platform (if applicable)
Along with your launch date, you’ll need to decide when you want to stop using your current platform. At least 4 weeks after launch is recommended, as it may take some time for all of your affiliates to get on board and get updated with new links and materials. This should also allow you plenty of time to deal with any issues that arise.
Designate a final day for tracking and cookie expiration
You’ll need to decide what day you want your old platform to stop tracking clicks, as well as when you want your current cookies to expire. This is critical if you want to make sure your accounting is accurate.
Export and save all of your data and information
It’s important to remember to export and save everything you need from your current platform. This includes affiliate lists, reports you use to track and measure your program, as well as affiliate account and contact information, creatives that you want to move over, email templates, commission rates, materials and resources from your affiliate area or dashboard, and any other important data or information you want to keep.
Maybe you’ve been wanting to catalog all of this data for a while anyway, but you just haven’t gotten around to it. Now’s the perfect time!
Start preparing updated affiliate materials
To make for a smooth changeover, you’ll want to be sure to update your affiliate materials to reflect your new system. This includes your affiliate FAQ page and any other resources you’ve made available to your affiliates.
It’s also worth considering upgrading your affiliate creatives; this gives affiliates something new and interesting to work with – and can motivate them to get engaged with your new platform as quickly as possible. The more you can make this switch a positive thing, the better!
You can start preparing these materials well in advance of your launch date; it doesn’t have to be on the timeline, per se.
3-4 weeks before the launch date
Set up your new platform
Before you inform any of your affiliates about the migration, you’ll want to be sure you have your new platform set up, so that affiliates will actually be able to create their new accounts. You don’t want to make a big announcement directing affiliates to sign up, when the new platform isn’t even fully prepped for them!
Unless you’re able to migrate all affiliate accounts yourself, you need to account for the time it will take for affiliates to actually complete the sign-up process.
Put together all of the details
Collect everything you need to inform and prepare your affiliates for the migration. You might consider creating an FAQ page specifically for the migration, so that affiliates have everything they need to successfully transition.
This can also cut down on potential confusion, frustration, and the amount of one-on-one help you need to provide.
Inform high-profile and top-performing affiliates first
Your high-profile affiliates and top performers are your A-team – and they deserve some special treatment, especially if you’re going to change up the entire foundation they stand on. It’s worth reaching out to them individually to let them know that things will be changing, and that they have your support if they need it.
Explain to your top performers the reason for the change, and if anything will be significantly different for them, let them know what to expect. The last thing you want to do is disrupt your relationships with these affiliates, so it’s critical that you make an effort to communicate effectively with them and give them plenty of notice.
1-2 weeks before the launch date
Send out an email to your entire affiliate list
It’s time to notify everybody – and along with notifying them, you’ll want to be sure you’re arming them with all of the information and resources they need. If you’ve created a migration FAQ page, link them to it. If you have a specific affiliate manager assigned to oversee the process, be sure to clearly display the relevant contact information.
Let your affiliates know what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how they will be affected. Anticipate their questions: What day will my old account be closed? How do I register my new account? When do cookies expire? What’s the last day for tracking? When will I be paid my remaining funds?
On the launch date
Publish and update content and communications to reflect your new platform
Whether it’s your affiliate emails, other affiliate information, or pages on your site, you’ll want to be sure everything is updated to reflect your new platform. All old links, materials, and information should now be replaced with the most up-to-date versions.
Send out an affiliate newsletter announcing the launch
Even though you’ve already notified your affiliates, it’s time to announce the official launch date. This can be a great time to re-invigorate your affiliates by letting them know about any exciting new features, fresh new creatives (like new affiliate landing pages), and anything that makes promoting your products easier and more efficient using the new system.
You might also consider introducing some kind of bonus or incentive to reward affiliates for sticking with you during the process. Use this period of change to your advantage and position the migration as an upgrade more than anything.
Address dormant affiliates
Migrating your affiliate program can be illuminating when it comes to assessing who’s a good match for your program and who’s not; it can also be a good time to approach dormant affiliates to see if you can get them promoting again.
For example, you could give them a limited-time window for joining your new platform, to see if you can inspire some action. If not, it might be a good time to let them go and start fresh!
1-2 weeks after the launch date
Check in with your affiliates
It’s so important to make sure that your affiliates are doing okay with a transition like this. Check in with them after you launch on the new platform to see if they need any help – or get your affiliate manager on the task (if you have one).
You may need to send reminder emails, and you’ll probably run into affiliates using old links, promotions, or creatives. That’s normal! Just be patient, and continue to do your best to keep everyone as informed as possible.
Ask your top performing affiliates for feedback, too. You want to be aware of any pain points, and their opinions about the new platform can help you make adjustments where necessary.
3-4 weeks after the launch date
Get ready for your closure date
As your closure date approaches, make sure you haven’t forgotten to save anything from your old platform, and be sure that all affiliates have made their way over to the new one. If anything still needs to be wrapped up, now’s the time to do it.
If needed, delete old creatives, links, tracking pixels (once cookies have expired), and landing pages, and make sure any creatives you want to keep are re-imported into your new platform.
Send a final email reminder to your affiliate list
If you have affiliates who are lagging behind, give them one last chance to get enrolled on your new platform. Maybe some of them accidentally overlooked previous emails, or maybe they’re just particularly busy.
If unresponsive affiliates still don’t act after your final reminder, they might not be the best match for your program anyway.
Send final payouts to your affiliates
To make your accounting transition a bit easier, send your final payouts for any remaining funds on your old platform right before your closure date. If you can keep the timing of your payment consistent with your normal payouts, as well as your closure date, even better.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
There’s a lot to oversee when it comes to making this switch, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it! Depending on the size of your program, migrating from one affiliate platform to another can be a lot for one person to handle.
If you don’t already have an affiliate manager, this could be the right time to hire one. You might even have a well-performing affiliate who’s eager to take on more responsibility and help you out!
Hopefully this post has given you some guidance when it comes to your own migration process; if done correctly, you just might find that the change inspires a fresh outlook, more action, and more sales from your affiliates!
Do you have experience with migrating your own affiliate program to a new platform? What problems did you run into and how did you overcome them? Drop us a comment below and join the conversation!