Build a Low-Cost Referral or Affiliate Programme Using Google Free Tools

Andrew Allen

Co-Founder

Please note, this is NOT a big detailed guide about affiliate marketing.  This is about finding a low-cost simple way to start an introducer, referral or affiliate programme.  

It is to give you a quick start solution. And what’s more, it’s free.

This can run for any type of business or any platform selling any product or service online.

This tends to work best for lead generation/enquiry form campaigns or for single product sites that have a fixed value.  So a t-shirt store that sells all t-shirts at £9.99 – can work.  

But when you start adding in discounts, codes and multi-buys it becomes a huge amount of admin to manage. 

At that point, you will need to look at some kind of affiliate software platform. There are a number of different technical options for those but we are not covering those here either.

What we are covering

I am going to show you how to create an introducer/affiliate/referral programme that you can use to share attracting business from other traffic sources and only paying on receipt of the lead, enquiry or sale.

So it can be a highly profitable yet low-risk marketing strategy.

So let’s look at how we can set up a programme using Google Tools.

Two Provisos Before We Start

First, that you have Google Analytics installed and have conversion tracking implemented.

And second, that you use the Google Campaign URL builder. Which I’ll detail more below.

This whole system is built on the Google Analytics tracking platform.  If you don’t have that installed, then do it. Or get your developer/designer to do it for you.

If you don’t want Google to know this much about your site or you are tin foil hat wearing – then you’re not going to get very far!

They will know more about your business than you do right now. You might as well use this information to your advantage.

1. Set-up Google Analytics

Using Google Analytics you can see which referrer sent you a conversion. Set it up easily using this link…

https://www.google.co.uk/analytics/

2. Set-up Conversion tracking

To set up conversion tracking if you haven’t already, then read these…

https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/1722022
https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/6095821

… or speak to your technical team.

Google Campaign Builder

Without having to build a huge number of extra website pages, you can use the Google Campaign Builder to generate tracking links to give to each of your referral or affiliate partners.

Some suggestions for completing the form above.

1. Campaign Source = this will be the actual referral partner name or give them a code so you can’t easily be ripped off by the competition. Something like…

aa01
aa02 
aa03
etc…

(Have a spreadsheet so you know who they actually are.  This is very important.)

2. Campaign Medium = Affiliates or Referrer

Don’t worry too much about the other elements on the form.

Once these have been created you need to send the right links to the right partners – so make sure you cut and paste them into your spreadsheet for ease of management.

You don’t have to send people to your homepage either – you can create campaign URLs for any page on your site. 

Don’t be lazy, make sure you help affiliates to help you.  Treat them like the partners they are.

Where do I find the stats for referrers?

When you need to run reports or check data you can do this in your Google  Analytics control panel. 

Using the conversion overview page you can use Source /Medium data on the table below:

Macintosh HD:Users:jasonhulott:Desktop:Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 21.59.57.png

This will show you all the conversions completed on the site via each referral partner over the period you choose.

Attracting Partners

So partner recruitment is a vital part of building a programme, and you want to ensure:

  1. You attract the right affiliates
  2. They understand how to drive traffic

Use Google, Social Media and even HikeSEO to look at possible partners you can approach.

Make sure to add a page to your site for affiliates to apply to your programme – this way you can get all their contact and payment details (PayPal) in one place.

You can use a Google Form to manage applications. 

Have a set price per converted referral or lead. This makes life so much easier.

Reporting and Payments

For reporting back to partners, do this once a month.  Normally day 15 of the following month – this will help alleviate issues with clawbacks and refund requests.

Pay affiliates by Paypal – again this makes life much easier.

Summary and next steps

Yes, there are much more complicated systems available to build and manage affiliate programmes but this can be the easiest way to get a small programme running quickly.

If it works and why wouldn’t it – then you can invest in an upgrade or fuller affiliate management solution to expand out if you want to.

Author bio: Jason Hulott is a digital agency owner that specialises in the Finance and Insurance space. He also helps and advises small businesses on how to build referral and affiliate systems into their business. Find out more about that by joining our Facebook group Affiliate Programme Management for Business Owners.

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