Finding affiliates can be one of the most challenging parts of launching and growing an affiliate program. It takes hard work and creativity, but it can become a significant revenue source for your business. The following guide will help you better understand the types of affiliates, strategies to reach out to them, and how to get them to join your program. Affiliate recruitment isn’t a one-time effort. It should be part of your ongoing affiliate marketing strategy, and as with most things, quality is more important than quantity. The Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) applies to affiliates, and most businesses find that 80% of your affiliates’ sales will come from 20% of your affiliates. 

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Types of Affiliates

Types of affiliates

An affiliate is any individual or company that will help market or promote your product or service in return for a commission or a percentage of the sale. Affiliates have a variety of ways of promoting your product or service. There is a lot of variation in the quality and effectiveness of the methods used by affiliates. Understanding the types of affiliates is essential for your approach to recruitment, engagement, and retention of the affiliates over time. Below are some examples of ways affiliates might promote your product or service.

Couponers

Everyone is looking for a good deal. Coupon websites typically feature discounts on their homepage, make coupons searchable by industry or brand, and have an email newsletter with curated deals. In some cases, publishing coupons on certain coupon websites may allow you to reach more customers. However, publishing coupons doesn’t always result in new customers. Customers frequently search Google for things like “your brand coupon” the results are coupon focused websites. Allowing affiliates to publish coupons works best in highly competitive or commoditized markets to help compel a shopper to buy from you at a discount rather than your competitors.

The coupon industry is big business, and there is a spectrum in websites that promote coupons that range from legitimate to spammy. For this reason, it is best to be selective in the types of coupon affiliate websites that join your program and stick with ones that are trustworthy and most relevant to your brand. If you allow coupon websites to publish coupons, make sure to review any sites that appear on the first page of Google for your brand. Check that coupon websites use valid coupons and do not use shady tactics to get potential customers to click links for invalid coupons. 

Content creators

Content creators are any person or company that creates content to educate, entertain, or entice an audience. The content types may include articles, e-books, videos, podcasts, visual graphics (such as infographics) online commentary, or photography. That content is distributed across various channels that may include a blog, website, newsletter, podcast, videos, or social media channel. 

Review Websites

Product reviews focus on what a reviewer likes and doesn’t like about a product or service. The content typically provides a lot of detail about a product, such as the features, pros/cons, product images, ratings, and pricing. Other review sites will create roundup articles that compare and contrast similar products with titles such as “Top 10…”, “Best Choice for…”. It is common for someone to search for your product, service, or brand, such as “your brand review.” Getting your product reviewed generally provides more brand awareness and increases consumer confidence when shopping. 

Video Creators

Many content creators will create detailed videos about a specific product or service that may include a tutorial, best of video, walkthrough, unboxing, or a product review. The particular product is mentioned in the video, and the affiliate adds their links in the video description or direct viewers to their website or an intermediary page for further information. 

Email marketing 

Some affiliates have extensive lists of targeted audiences. The affiliate might send include daily, weekly or monthly newsletters. Newsletters are a great way to get exposure to new audiences. Make sure to monitor affiliates who send a lot of emails to make sure they are CAN-SPAM compliant. 

Influencers on social media

Influencers promote various products or services directly or indirectly on their social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok. When potential customers see that their favorite person on social media uses your product, it might increase sales. 

Strategic partners

This type of partner / co-marketing partner will vary depending on your business, but working with other companies to promote your product can be a great way to get in front of a new audience. Look for partners with complementary businesses or services. 

Media buyers

Some affiliates are good at targeting audiences and directing traffic to your website or intermediary pages through paid display ads/Pay per click (PPC). The affiliate may purchase ad space to promote your product. This type of marketing might mean bidding on your brand name if permitted in your terms of service. 

Price Comparison

Brand named or commoditized products are frequently prices compared since the product is the same no matter what company you are buying it from. 

Find Best Affiliates

What makes the best affiliate?

Understanding the various affiliate promotion methods is essential to help recruit and manage affiliates, but it isn’t the primary criteria that make a good affiliate. If If you had to pick the best qualities of an affiliate, it would include: 

They like your product or service

If an affiliate isn’t passionate about your product or service, it will show. It will be reflected in the reviews and the attention or frequency of promotion of your product or service. There will always be competition, and you want affiliates to favor your product or service over the competitors. For this reason, customers who love your product can be the best affiliates. One method to increase the chances that an affiliate falls in love with your product is to get your product in their hands or let them test drive your service. 

Trustworthy

You want an affiliate to represent your brand in the best way and follow your program rules. Shady affiliates can cause damage to your brand reputation and decrease your profit margins.

Committed to actively marketing

The best affiliates continue to promote your product to their engaged audience. Being featured once in a newsletter is excellent, but it is short-lived. The right partner will continue to share their product with their audience, which results in a win-win for both parties. 

What affiliates look for in a program

Before joining your program, affiliates will review your affiliate website and your website and may even do some Google searches to understand your reputation, popularity, and the competition before determining if your program is right for them. It is your chance to convince the affiliate they should promote your product or service over the competition. Some of the top things affiliates look at before joining a program include: 

Commissions

Make sure you have a great offer. Affiliates love a high commission or incentives for increased commissions as their volume of sales increases.

Clear policies

Affiliates want to know what to expect from your program. Make sure the key program terms and commission schedules are clearly outlined on your affiliate landing page. 

Brand awareness

Different affiliates types will be interested in your product or service based on your brand awareness. If your brand is well-known in a vertical, it can make it easier for certain affiliate types to promote. Other affiliate types prefer products or services with less competition. They may choose ones based on their uniqueness or other factors that allow them to successfully promote without much brand awareness.

Merchant reputation

Affiliates want to push products to their audiences with good reviews that will result in high conversions. Affiliates don’t like to send traffic to a business with a lack of customer service or a high return rate. A poor customer experience results in lost commissions for affiliates and potentially damaging the reputation of the affiliate with their audience. 

Product/Service relevance

If you run a blog in a specific vertical such as electronics, you may not be interested in clothing or other types of affiliate programs. 

Up to date reporting

Affiliates want to see their traffic referrals and commissions stats in real-time. Accurate reporting increases an affiliate’s confidence in your program. 

Professional creatives

Having effective and attractive creatives makes the job of an affiliate marketer so much easier. Not just for visuals/graphics but also for marketing copy, including call-to-actions and product descriptions. 

What to do before recruiting affiliates

Before recruiting affiliates, make sure you have done the following ready: 

Launch your program

Make sure your program is live, and affiliates can sign up and start promoting your product and service. Details on commissions and program terms should be clearly outlined on your affiliate signup page. Make sure you have creatives ready for affiliates to share. 

Develop a pitch

Develop a high-quality pitch that will convince an affiliate to do business with you and promote your product or service. Your pitch should vary in message depending on your method to find affiliates. When reaching out to affiliates directly, personalize the messaging as much as possible. And make sure the value of your product or service stands out from your competitors. 

Optimize conversions

Your website should be working correctly, ready for an increase in traffic, and optimized for conversions. If an affiliate starts sending traffic to your website and finds that they aren’t getting sales or conversions, they will move on to promote another product or service that might include your competitor. 

Ready to recruit? Here are a few practical ways to recruit affiliates

Promote your affiliate program on your website

Make sure to add a link or signup form to your affiliate program in your website’s header or footer. It sounds simple, but it is a useful, quick, no-cost method of recruiting affiliates. 

Reach out to your customer base 

Your customers are already familiar with your product. After customers make a purchase, invite them to join your program. They may already share their love of your product with their friends and family, and adding a financial incentive might increase their referrals.

Join affiliate groups

Find groups online where affiliates hang out to learn from each other. There are many groups for affiliates on various groups on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Discord, Telegram, or affiliate forums such as Affiliate Fix. When joining groups, make sure to read all of the rules before posting. Spend a few days in the group to get an idea of the topics and whether it is appropriate to share your program. Refrain from joining and immediately blasting your offer, as it may be seen as spam and removed immediately. Focus on reaching out just to specific affiliates who are in your industry.

Industry-specific groups

Finding groups specific to your industry or product type may provide an opportunity to share your affiliate program. While the group isn’t specific to affiliate marketing, many businesses like to promote related or complementary products. It is essential to join a group, understand the rules, and build credibility before being quick to announce your program. 

Outreach to bloggers or influencers

Don’t be afraid to ask people to join your program. Reach out directly to influencers or bloggers in your niche. Provide influencers with their own discount code. Use a targeted pitch that is written specifically for the individual or company you are trying to recruit. Ensure that you get to know their brand before spending time trying to get them to join your program. Each platform may require a slightly different approach to reaching out. Here are some tips for performing outreach to affiliates:

  • Clear message – Let the potential affiliate know precisely why you have decided to contact them
  • Personalize your message – Affiliate marketing is about relationships. Sending generic emails won’t entice an affiliate to join your program. Make it clear you have done your homework, and know who they are and why they are a good fit.
  • Don’t be anonymous – Use your full name when contacting others. 
  • Clear incentive – Make sure it is clear what the commission offer is. Consider offering the potential affiliate a bonus or special commission rate for the first month to entice them to take action and join your program. 
  • Include statistics – Add statistics on your business or affiliate program, including conversion rates and average order value. 
  • Craft a compelling subject line – Try different subject lines that are professional and entice the recipient to view the email without being just clickbait. 
  • Include company information – Make sure it contains information about your company, including relevant information about your mission. 
  • Follow-up – If you haven’t received a response in a few weeks, follow-up with a friendly nudge. 

There are some tools and services that may help with outreach to identify both websites and/or influencers to target. Most of these services cost money, but if you are struggling to find people to reach out to, this might be a worthwhile investment. 

Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) 

Allow affiliates to recruit other affiliates and earn a small percentage of their referred sales. Many affiliates work closely or network with other affiliates. If you have a compelling offer, affiliates are incentivized to recruit their colleagues or friends. It is most effective when dealing with successful affiliates who have a strong network. Keep in mind that paying additional commissions for multiple tiers of affiliates will decrease your potential margins, but the sales volume might make up for it.

Competitive research

Research competing products and study their backlinks. Perform searches such as “Product or service + Reviews” to see what sites are promoting competing products in the same niche. Those blogs or websites might be interested in also promoting your product or services. Tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs will help you find the backlinks.  

Affiliate program directories

The popularity of using directories has dropped significantly over the years, but there are a few left that allow you to post your affiliate program. Some of the directories let you post for free while others do charge for the service. Adding your affiliate program typically has low results, but it doesn’t take much effort to get your program listed. 

Affiliate conferences

Several affiliate conferences provide an opportunity to network with affiliates and other affiliate managers. Conferences are expensive due to ticket costs, lodging, and travel costs. Still, they can be an excellent opportunity to pitch your program to some of the top affiliates in your industry.

Paid Ads

Launch Facebook ads to promote your affiliate program to relevant Facebook groups or pages related to affiliate marketing or industry-specific pages. Paid ads cost money, so it might only be a good idea if you are already familiar with Facebook Ads and how to target specific audiences. 

Co-Marketing / Strategic Partnerships

Consider co-marketing or cooperative opportunities to share audiences or resources. The best co-marketing partners are similar in size to your business; they aren’t competitors and have complementary products or services. 

Summary

Recruiting affiliates takes research, time, and continued effort. When recruiting, it is essential to understand the various methods affiliates use to promote your brand, what affiliates look for in a program, and try a variety of different recruiting ways until you find what works best for your business. Keep in mind the methods outlined above will help you recruit affiliates and that this is the very beginning of a relationship with an affiliate. The next equally important step involves the onboarding and activating your affiliates to get their first sale. And once onboarded, affiliates will then require further engagement to continue to promote your business and generate more sales. If you have any questions about recruiting affiliates or questions on launching or growing your affiliate program, leave us a comment below or reach out to us. 

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