Top Tips for Creating a Successful Affinity Program

Jannan Poppen


We recently shared how to get started with an affinity program, but how do you ensure that you are creating a successful affinity program? Not all affinity programs are created equal. Creating an affinity program just for the sake of having another program will not likely take you very far. Instead, make sure you create a lasting and successful affinity program built on strategy and best practices. Let’s dive into our top tips for creating a successful and sustainable affinity program for your association.

Choose the Right Partner

Affinity programs are sometimes referred to as partnership programs, because successful affinity programs are built upon strong, mutually beneficial partnerships. The right partner should offer value for your members since creating value-packed offers helps to build loyalty among members. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a partner:

  • Do they understand your members’ needs and the unique considerations of your association?
  • Will your members genuinely benefit from the partnership?
  • Does the partner have experience with affinity programs?
  • Are expectations regarding communication and performance clear?

The partners you choose can make or break your affinity program, so take your time and ask questions to determine if it’s the right fit. You also want to continually check in to make sure both partners are truly benefiting from the relationship and expectations are being met.


group of people chatting at an affinity program conference

Set Goals

In order to determine if your affinity program is a success, it’s important to set goals and regularly check progress. The goals should be specific and measurable. Examples of specific goals may look like this:

  • Increase member engagement by xx%. Also be sure to define what member engagement means to your association.
  • Increase member retention by xx%.
  • Achieve xx% of members utilizing affinity benefits.
  • Increase brand awareness, measured by increase in website visits or social media followers.

Once goals are met, create new goals. If something doesn’t seem to be working, it’s time to troubleshoot and find solutions. Remember that your affinity partner should be a true partner and help come up with creative ideas to make the partnership a success on both ends. 

Get Creative

The best affinity programs don’t follow a rinse and repeat formula, but instead focus on the uniqueness of each partner to create something new. When you build something that can not be found anywhere else to meet members’ needs, you are automatically creating endless value for your members. Value equals engagement and retention plus the likelihood you will reach your shared goals. Here are a few questions to ask as you are developing ideas:

  • What do our members need that we can provide through this partnership?
  • Where are there gaps in the industry that we can fill?
  • Where do the association and partnership overlap?
  • What feels exciting and fresh?

Successful affinity programs rely on creative collaboration, clear communication, and shared goals between partners. With these foundations in place, you will be on your way to creating an effective affinity program that benefits all involved.