Affiliate Marketing: “Pay for Results”
Affiliate marketing’s slogan is best described as “Pay for Results”. This slogan is simple, true, and often is a major selling point for advertisers considering affiliate marketing as an incremental revenue source. There is, however, an inherent assumption made with the slogan, and that assumption is results. The slogan assumes that results are guaranteed. Not only are results not guaranteed in affiliate marketing, and any form of marketing for that matter, but in order to grow your company’s bottom line, you must implement a consistent and well thought out affiliate recruitment strategy.
What I’ve learned through talking with many of the affiliate industry leaders at this year’s Affiliate Summit West conference in Las Vegas is that recruitment is an afterthought for many. This is counterintuitive. Leaving affiliate recruitment at the bottom of your to do list is like a company hiring unqualified sales reps to help grow a product line. The quality time that you put forth towards executing an affiliate recruitment strategy will pay dividends in the number of quality publishers joining your program, resulting in increased revenues. For that reason, I argue that recruitment, both passive and active, is the most important day-to-day activity for an affiliate manager to master. In fact, affiliate marketing expert Geno Prussakov of AM Navigator suggests 80% of your time should be spent on recruiting new partners.
NordicClick employs two forms of recruitment (Active and Passive) and both feature unique tactics that should be implemented for maximum success.
Active vs. Passive Recruitment
Active strategies consist of seeking out and recruiting potential affiliates into the program with a focus on adding quality partners that are well matched to the brand. One example of an active strategy is utilizing a network’s publisher search feature.
Passive recruitment, as it sounds, is less aggressive as it relies on the publisher to make the first move. One example of a passive strategy is creating an on-site affiliate overview page with a sign-up link.
Passive recruitment is similar to the guy waiting for the girl to initiate the conversation in hopes for a dinner date on Valentine’s. Active recruitment is buying flowers and mustering up enough courage to ask out that special someone directly. Both strategies can be effective, but in order for passive recruitment to work, you must have an attractive offer to entice potential publishers to apply to your program. The strategies that I’ve included below consist of both active and passive actions, with emphasis given to the former.
Here are 10 Affiliate Recruitment Tips and Strategies to Grow Your Affiliate Marketing Program:
1. Utilize Network Search Tools
First and arguably the most obvious recruitment strategy is to search for new publishers using your respective affiliate networks. Each network’s search capabilities will vary, but will include similar features such as the ability to search and filter on category, keyword, network rating, and site type (coupon, review, sub-network, ect.). Outside of the obvious on-site quality features such as traffic levels, two important attributes that I look for with a new publisher are contact details and promotional methods.
2. Create an On-site Footer That Links to an Affiliate Page
An on-site affiliate page that promotes a program is an excellent way to passively promote your brand. You may be surprised to find out that many of your current customers and frequent site visitors run affiliate web sites. In terms of page content, start general and work towards specific program detail such as commission payouts, incentives, and where to sign up. General content might be a paragraph or two about the basics of affiliate marketing for someone new to the idea.
3. Use 5IQ’s Chrome Extension.
Ever wonder if a certain web site contains affiliate links? Me too. 5IQ’s free chrome extension app helps identify affiliate sites for you. This tool tells you how many links are on the page and the associated affiliate networks that generated the links.
4. Analyze Backlink Reports
Regardless of the SEO tool that you use, conduct backlink research reports to identify new affiliate partners. I like to start out first by identifying a list of competitors. The next step is determining if your competitors participate in affiliate marketing. This can done by actively searching affiliate networks and directories. After you’ve identified an affiliate competitor, run backlink reports to analyze the number and type of affiliates that are linking to their site.
5. Search for Review, Blog & Content Sites Relevant to Your Industry by Leveraging Search Engines
Simply conduct a Google search for “Top (insert category) Review/Blog/Content Sites”. This is a great starting point. Next, take a few minutes on each site to determine if they participate in affiliate marketing. Look for an affiliate disclaimer under the contact us or advertising policies page. As mentioned above, 5IQ’s tool helps with this process, as well.It might not be obvious whether they participate, so you may have to reach out to their team directly if you’re interested in working together. Doing so is advantageous for multiple reasons. If done correctly, your direct outreach shows that you’re proactive and engaged in your product. It also may open the door to other marketing opportunities. If you find out that they don’t partake in affiliate, so what. More often than not they’ll reply with a response similar to, “unfortunately we don’t have an affiliate program, however, we do offer additional marketing opportunities described in detail in the attached media kit”. If nothing else, you’ve established another contact that may be useful further on down your career.
6. Attend Industry Conferences
There’s no better way to build lasting affiliate relationships than talking face to face. You may gather more information than you bargained for over a few happy hour drinks, but nonetheless, a great strategy to help grow your program.
7. Offer Incentives & Bonus Offerings
Incentives are more of a passive strategy often included in program details or on-site affiliate pages. I’ve also found incentives advantageous to include in direct outreach emails. Affiliates, like any other business or employee, must be motivated if you want to grow a relationship and build a strong program. Examples include offering increased commissions for the first 30-days or a bonus payout for reaching a certain sales threshold.
8. Attend Local Meet Ups Such As Meetup.com
See tip #7.
9. Advertise Within Network Email Blasts or Featured Sponsorships
We all work in the marketing, yet we forget about the opportunities to advertise within the affiliate networks through email newsletters and paid placements. Newsletters are monthly opportunities that perform well for new brands looking to expand awareness.
10. Befriend Your Network Reps
Your network reps are your best friends. They offer valuable advice and updates regarding newly joined publishers and new tools that make your life easier. Take advantage of this service and set up a monthly call with your contact to discuss your strategy.
The Outreach Email
So you’ve identified new affiliate recruitment strategies for your program, and due to your hard work you have a list a highly qualified potential partners. Now what? The process is only half way complete at this point. You must ensure that all of your hard work does not go to waste. The outreach email is just as, if not more important than identifying the new contact in the first place. Employ these communication tips while recruiting your next publisher and watch your contact list grow.
- Give Specific Examples About Their Site– Stand out from the crowd by pointing out unique reasons why their web site is a great fit for your affiliate program. Mention a relevant category, blog, or demographic group that the publisher attracts. Avoid using the phrase, “We think you’re a perfect fit”, it comes off as insincere and cheesy.
- Put Thought Into The Title – Similar to an email campaign, the title must catch the attention of the contact. Publishers receive hundreds of emails every day. I like to keep my title simple and straightforward. I’ve found something like, “Recruiting Email for (Publisher Name)” to be successful.
- Personalize – People enjoy hearing, or in this case, reading their names. Affiliates are people. Use names while addressing your prospect.
- Why Is Your Program Special? – Call out unique incentives, commission payouts, and other details about your program.
- Make It Easy to Join – Include a direct link for publishers to click and join within the email.
The list above is by no means exhaustive, but the 10 strategies that I submit to you are what I found to be successful while managing affiliate marketing campaigns. So what are you waiting for, get your brand’s name out there and start recruiting the top affiliates that your brand deserves.
I’d love to hear other recruiting strategies that you’ve found to be successful so please leave your comments below!