Running More Than One Type Of Partnership Programme

The technology involved in running one type of partnership programme can be used to run multiple types of programme in the same business, and at the same time.

Now you might be thinking, why on earth would I want do that?  

Well strap in and let’s have a look…

So firstly, let’s discuss the three types of programme your business could be using right now to drive additional traffic and income. These aren’t all the types of partnership programme, but these are ones most business owners will understand.  Simply put these are:

  • Affiliate Programme
  • Referral Programme
  • Loyalty Programme

Affiliate Programme

An affiliate is a person or business that sends traffic to your website and is paid for any agreed action or sales. You can use affiliates to drive traffic to your business in return for paying them a commission on sales.  In its basic form, this can be a commission only system.  It can be much more complex than that but for the simplicity of this article let’s just say you’re going to pay affiliates a percentage commission on sales.

There are two main ways to run an affiliate programme. Inhouse, which would mean using your own tracking, recruitment and management. Or via a network.  

An affiliate network such as Awin would provide a tracking solution and also give you access to their network of affiliates.  Both need consideration for your own circumstances and requirements, and both will need work and effort to make it a success.  

Having your own inhouse affiliate network can be a great asset for your business, especially in niches where affiliate networks aren’t really focused such as B2B.

Referral Programme

At first glance, a referral programme looks a lot like an affiliate programme, but for me differs in two main ways.  Firstly, an affiliate doesn’t have to be a customer. A referral partner tends to be one.  I say “tends”. A referral programme rewards customers who refer their friends and family to sign up with their service.  

Secondly, another difference between a referral scheme and an affiliate scheme is that a referral scheme doesn’t necessarily mean a commission per sale.  It could be a bonus feature, swag, or discounted or free product usage.   

Most referral schemes in apps tend to be only accessible by customers or users.  So in this way a referral partner will be better placed than an affiliate to refer your product. The downside could be that a referral partner might not have access to lots of people. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it.  You should – a formal referral programme can work wonders for your user numbers or sales when done right.   

There are WordPress plugins to help manage that which we discuss here, or if you are a B2B business, you might want to take a look at PartnerStack which can run multiple types of partnership programme on one platform.

Loyalty Programme

The final type of partnership programmes I want to include is a loyalty programme .  The programme that rewards customers for repeat purchases or activities.  If you are trying include the LTV – life time value of a customer – repeat sales are king.  And one way to inspire more sales is a reward system.  Thinking of it like a store rewards card.  You can acquire points for sales that you can bank and then redeem against future purchases.

A loyalty programme again is a great way to drive more sales from your existing client base.  A loyalty programme can also be used to “pay” clients for activities such as sharing a facebook post, or subscribing to your newsletter.  There are some very clever ways to use a loyalty programme to support your wider marketing efforts.   If you’re running your website on WordPress take a look a the new Loyalty Programme plugin from ACP


It is safe to say, there will be at least one of these options you haven’t considered or maybe none of them.  I would suggest you investigate these ideas further.  In some sectors, there are tools that can help you manage multiple elements in one platform which is a great thing.  For WordPress sites you might need to consider two plugins to manage all three of these elements.  

But the upside potential is huge.  One tip to end with – don’t assume or limit the ability of someone to be one or more type of partner.   This is something I see some businesses limit, and it is a mistake.  If I want to be a referral partner; an affiliate; and, take part in your loyalty scheme – that should be easy to do.  


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