rrGiven that industry analysts at Forrester predict that the affiliate marketing industry will grow to $4.5B by 2016, now is the perfect time to refine your program, pick up some new, good habits, and set the foundation for a record setting 2014.

Here are 10 recommendations to help in this.

1. Leverage the channel’s strengths.
Affiliate marketing is great for driving new customers, closing repeat customer sales, and driving volume. Yet it can be even more effective when you seamlessly integrate it with other marketing channels. Why not increase your distribution by carrying the same promotions such as discounts, gifts with purchase or site-wide deals in the affiliate channel just as you would in other channels?

2. Collaborate with your affiliate network.
Account managers exist to help you drive successful affiliate programs. Tap into their expertise to foster introductions and facilitate regular brainstorming sessions with your partners. Share your goals and be sure everyone is working
toward the same objectives. Is profitability most important to you? Be sure you give affiliates a preview to the new season’s high margin merchandise. Do you want to drive more new customers? Be sure you share new customer data with your publishers through the reporting in your network. Are you launching a TV campaign to drive more customers to your site? Let advertisers know how you’re building your base via your account manager.

3. Closely analyze your results.
While it may initially seem like you don’t have enough time to conduct deep dive analytics, you’ll find that if you spend time understanding traffic, conversions, and the overall health of your affiliate program, you’ll actually save time in the long run. If your
network has the capability to automatically email reports to your inbox weekly, take advantage of this feature to remind yourself to focus on the numbers.

4. Participate in industry events.
One of the best ways to drive a successful affiliate program is to get out from behind your desk and shake hands with the community. Often you get more done in a twenty minute meeting than many phone calls over a month. A few of the events
to put on your calendar this year are Affiliate Summit, Brand Innovators, eTail, Shop.org and the Rakuten LinkShare Symposiums.

5. Be social on social media.
In between meeting your colleagues in person, you’ll want to keep up with them on social media. More  specifically, Twitter is a great way to connect and engage with the affiliate marketing community.

6. Follow the industry news.
If you track what’s happening in the industry, you’ll have an advantage when it comes to being able to respond to industry shifts and trends as well as learn about the latest technology being offered by your performance marketing network. Some of the
best resources for keeping up-to-date on the news are mThink (of course), as well as the Affiliate Tip blog and the Performance Marketing Association website. You’ll also want to read the blogs of your performance marketing networks. This will give you more insight into what’s
happening at the companies while also presenting another opportunity to engage colleagues by joining online discussions.

7. Reach consumers everywhere.
Think globally to be sure your audience is as big as possible. Advertisers, be clear with consumers about your international shipping policies and consider finding partners to expand your reach globally. Publishers have global audiences. Don’t just look at the country where they are based – know that their loyal users will be everywhere. And, if you want to test how your
products will sell in a given country, consider launching a test with your publisher partners to leverage their consumer distribution there to gauge your sales volume.

8. Expand your program to include mobile.
This holiday season kicked off with record-breaking levels of mobile traffic and transactions, and we’ve moved beyond just tracking to optimizing for 2014. If you’re an advertiser, test mobile only offers with publisher partners and consider linking apps to track in app purchases from traffic generated on a publisher’s app. If you’re a publisher, ask your performance marketing network what exactly they’re doing to ensure affiliates are properly credited for mobile transactions, and customize marketing programs with advertisers who want to test new mobile promotions.

9. Take charge.
The most successful affiliates and advertisers are those that hop in the driver’s seat and immerse themselves in their program as opposed to taking a passive stance. While we’ve all heard that success requires hard work, this maxim rings especially true when it comes to affiliate marketing.

10. Be the type of partner you want to do business with.
The easier you make it to earn commissions, the more popular your program or site will be to your partners. Follow the terms and conditions, and always bring new ideas to the table to test.

Here’s to a great 2014!