Recruiting affiliates for your program can be a daunting task, but it is a vital component of running a successful affiliate program. In this comprehensive affiliate recruitment guide, you will gain insights into the different types of affiliates and learn effective strategies for recruiting them. However, it's important to note that recruitment should not be a one-time effort; it should be integrated into your ongoing affiliate marketing strategy. With a clear vision and dedicated efforts, affiliate marketing has the potential to become a significant revenue stream for your business. This guide covers a range of topics, including understanding the types of affiliates, identifying the ideal affiliate partners, recognizing what affiliates seek in a program, essential preparations before recruiting, and proven methods for recruiting top-notch affiliates.
Types of affiliates
An affiliate is any person or company that helps market or promote your business in return for a commission or percentage of the sale. In addition, an affiliate marketer uses a number of channels to promote your business.
Understanding the different kinds of affiliates is essential for proper affiliate recruitment strategy. Below are some examples of how your affiliate partner might promote your business.
Type 1: Couponers
Coupon websites often make coupons searchable by industry or brand. They also may have an email newsletter with curated deals. In some cases, publishing coupons on certain coupon sites may allow you to reach more customers. Generally, having your affiliate network publish coupons works best in highly competitive markets. Here, they can convince a shopper to buy from you at a discount rather than buying from your competitors
However, publishing coupons doesn't always result in new customers. Customers often search Google with phrases like "your brand + coupon." This usually leads them to coupon-focused websites rather than to your program.
Plus, there's a spectrum of coupon websites that range from legitimate to spammy. For this reason, it's best to be selective in the types of coupon affiliate websites you work with. Stick with trustworthy sites that are the most relevant to your brand. And make sure these websites avoid shady tactics that get potential customers to click invalid coupon links.
Type 2: Content Creators
Content creators are people or companies that create content to educate, entertain, or entice an audience. The content types may include social media, email marketing, articles, e-books, videos, podcasts, visual graphics (such as infographics), or photography. Their content is distributed across various channels. To clarify, this typically includes their website, blog, newsletter, podcast, social media, and in video content.
Type 3: Reviewers
Product reviews focus on the reviewer's likes and dislikes about a product or service. This content often provides plenty of information about the product by detailing features, pros and cons, product images, ratings, and pricing.
Additionally, other review sites create roundup articles that compare and contrast similar products, with titles such as "Top 10..." and "Best Choice for...". Consumers are certainly googling your product or service to learn more about it. Thus, getting product reviews gives greater brand awareness and grows consumer confidence.
Type 4: Video Creators
Some content affiliates make detailed videos about a specific product or service. This type of affiliate marketing may include a tutorial, "best of" video, walkthrough, unboxing, or a general product review. In this case, the partner adds their affiliate link in the video description. Or, they might direct viewers to a relevant website for further information.
Type 5: Email Marketers
Newsletters are a great way to get exposure to new audiences. Some affiliates have long lists of target audiences to which they send regular newsletters. However, make sure to monitor affiliates who send a lot of emails to confirm they are CAN-SPAM compliant.
Type 6: Influencers
Influencers promote various products or services through social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Pinterest. When potential customers see that their favorite social media creator uses your product, it's likely to increase sales.
Type 7: Strategic Partners
This type of co-marketing partnership can vary depending on your business. However, working with other companies to promote your product is often a great way to get in front of a new audience. Search for partners with related businesses or services.
Type 8: Media Buyers
Some affiliates are skilled at targeting audiences and directing traffic to your website or landing pages through paid banner ads/Pay-per click (PPC). The affiliate may also purchase ad space to promote your product. This type of marketing might mean bidding on your brand name (if allowed in your terms of service).
What makes the best affiliate?
Understanding the many affiliate promotion methods is essential for affiliate recruitment efforts and program management. However, even more important is knowing the qualities of a super affiliate.
A super affiliate is an affiliate marketer who rises to the top of your affiliate marketing program. In other words, they routinely bring in major income for your company. Qualities of this type of affiliate include:
1. Passion for your product or service
If an affiliate lacks passion for what they sell, it shows. Because affiliate marketing competition is steep, you want affiliates to favor your product or service over your competitors. For this reason, customers who love your product make the best affiliates. One way to increase the chances of finding potential affiliate partners is to let them test your product or services.
Shady affiliates can hurt your brand's reputation and lower your profit margins. Conversely, the best affiliates follow program rules and represent your brand well.
3. Commitment to active marketing
Being featured once in a newsletter is excellent but short-lived. Active affiliates continue to share their product with their audience, creating a win-win for both parties.
What affiliates look for in a program
Before joining your program, affiliates will review your website and may see what Google has to say about your reputation, popularity, and competition. This is your chance to convince the potential partner to join your program over a competitor's. Here are some of the features affiliates focus on when joining a program.
Make sure you have a great offer. In short, Affiliates love a high commission. Plus, they'll be motivated by incentives for increased commission rates for higher sales volume.
2. Clear policies
Affiliates want to know what to expect from your program. Make sure the program terms and commission schedules are clearly outlined on your program landing page.
3. Brand awareness
Affiliate interest in your business will be based on brand awareness and affiliate recruitment tactics. If your brand is well-known, it may be easier for some affiliate types to promote. Other affiliate types may prefer businesses with less competition. They may choose an affiliate partnership that matches their unique style and allows them to promote successfully despite a lack of brand awareness.
4. Merchant reputation
Affiliates want to push products that result in high conversions. They won't want to send traffic to a business without customer service or a high return rate. A poor customer experience not only results in lost commissions for the affiliate, but it may also damage their reputation with their audience.
5. Product/Service relevance
A potential partner running a tech industry blog won't be interested in joining an affiliate program that markets clothing or wellness products.
6. Up-to-date reporting
Affiliates want to see their traffic referrals and commission stats in real time. Accurate reporting builds affiliate confidence in your program.
7. High-quality creatives
Engaging, attractive creatives make an affiliate marketer's job so much easier. Your affiliate network should have access to strong visuals, graphics, and marketing copy—including call-to-actions and product descriptions.
What to do before recruiting affiliates
Before you start to recruit affiliates, make sure you've done the following:
Launch your program
Ensure your program is live, so affiliates can sign up and start promoting immediately. Details on commissions and program terms should be clearly outlined on your affiliate signup page. And make sure you have creatives ready for affiliates to share.
Develop an affiliate recruitment pitch
Develop a high-quality recruiting pitch. Also, personalize your message as much as possible when reaching out to affiliates directly. And make sure to share how your product or service stands out from your competitors.
Your website should be optimized for conversions and ready for increased traffic. If an affiliate starts sending traffic to your website and finds that they aren't getting sales or conversions, they'll move on to another program before long.
Ready to get started? Here are a few affiliate recruitment tips
When recruiting affiliates, it's important to focus on quality over quantity. Below are some methods for recruiting affiliates to join your program.
Promote your affiliate program on your website
Make sure to add a link or signup form for your affiliate program in your website's header or footer. Although it sounds simple, it's still an easy, no-cost method for recruiting affiliates.
Reach out to your customer base
Your customers already know your product. When they make a purchase, invite them to join your program. They may already be sharing their love of your product with their friends and family, so 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 affiliate groups on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Discord, and Telegram, as well as in forums like Affiliate Fix.
When joining groups, make sure to read all of the rules before posting. Spend a few days in the group to find out whether sharing your program is appropriate. Additionally, avoid joining and immediately blasting your offer, as it may be seen as spam and removed. And focus on only reaching out to affiliates who are in your industry.
Find industry-specific groups
Finding groups specific to your industry or product type may provide an opportunity to share your affiliate program. Though the group isn't specific to affiliate marketing, many businesses like to promote related products. Like before, try to gauge the group's rules before you offer your program.
Reach out to bloggers and influencers
Reach out directly to influencers or bloggers in your niche. Make sure to use a targeted pitch for the person or business you're trying to recruit. Also, you may find it worthwhile to offer influencers their own discount code. However, ensure that you get to know their brand before you ask them to join your program.
Tips for strong affiliate recruitment
- Be clear - Let the potential affiliate know why you've decided to contact them. And make sure it's clear what the commission and the terms and conditions will be.
- Personalize your message - Sending generic emails won't entice an affiliate to join your program. Make it clear you've done your homework, and know who they are and why they're a good fit.
- Don't be anonymous - Use your full name when contacting others.
- Add a bonus - Consider offering the targeted affiliate a bonus or special commission rate for the first month to coax them to join your program.
- Include statistics - Add statistics like conversion rates and average order value for your business or affiliate program.
- Craft a compelling subject line - Try different professional subject lines to convince the recipient to view the email (but avoid clickbait).
- Include company information - Include relevant information about your company and its mission.
- Follow up - If you haven't received a response in a few weeks, follow up with a friendly nudge.
Below, you can find additional affiliate recruitment tools and services. Most of these cost money, but if you're struggling to find the right affiliates, it be a worthwhile investment.
Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)
Allow affiliate partners to recruit others and earn a small percentage of referred sales. A compelling offer motivates affiliates to recruit their colleagues or friends. Though paying additional commissions for multiple tiers of affiliates will decrease your profit margins, the sales volume might make up for it.
Research competing products and study their backlinks. Perform searches such as "Product or service + reviews" to see which sites promote competing products in the same niche. Plus, those blogs or websites might be interested in promoting your business as well. Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs will help you find relevant backlinks.
Affiliate recruiting directories
The popularity of using directories has dropped markedly over the years, but there are a few left (both free and paid) that allow you to advertise your program. This method typically has low results, but it doesn't take much effort to get your program listed.
Affiliate recruitment conferences
Several affiliate conferences provide opportunities to network with affiliates and affiliate managers. Though conferences can be costly due to ticket costs, lodging, and travel, they're an excellent opportunity to pitch your program to some of the top affiliates in your industry.
If you're already familiar with running paid ads, launching Facebook and google ads can be a great way to promote your affiliate program to target audiences.
Recruiting affiliates takes research, time, and continued effort. When recruiting, it's essential to understand the many methods affiliates use to promote your brand, as well as what affiliates look for in a program. Try a variety of recruiting methods until you find what works best for your business.
Also, keep in mind the methods outlined above are only the very beginning of your affiliate partnership. The next equally important steps involve onboarding and helping your affiliates get their first sales. And once onboard, affiliates will require further engagement to continue promoting your business and generating sales.
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