Editor’s Note: Once again we bring you hot-off-the-press live coverage from the Affiliate Management Days conference. How to recruit better affiliates, i.e., better value affiliates, is the topic in this 1st article in the 2013 series. This series of articles is on topics of interest to businesses that offer affiliate programs.
Speaking to an audience of affiliate managers, Sarah Bundy, CEO of All Inclusive Marketing (pictured), focused on the necessity to diversify your portfolio of affiliates. Key theme: reduce dependency on common affiliate channels such as coupon sites. By learning how to recruit better affiliates, you can increase merchant profits.
Below are some of the key takeaways from this packed session.
Eighty to ninety percent of affiliate programs are relying for most of their affiliate sales on coupon and loyalty sites. Based on their traffic strategies, these sites may not be providing incremental sales There is a place for working with coupon sites. The reality is people want coupons. Brand loyalty is higher when coupons are involved. However, coupon sites are better for customer retention versus customer acquisition. They will not bring the incremental sales your program needs to be truly successful.
Why is Coupon / Loyalty Site Dependency Bad?
- Customers leave your site to find codes
- High cost of customer acquisition
- Dependency: should have diversity in affiliates
- Brand dependent
- New apps and tools are taking these sales away – examples are digital wallets and Google’s new coupon tools
- Coupon sites reply heaving on brand terms
There are more efficient ways to work with coupon sites. Partner with coupon sites that can give you more. Examples would be the ability to promote your product via blogs or newsletter. You will reach people who did not know your brand. Then they are giving more back. Now you have received incremental value.
Alternative Affiliates to Recruit
Sarah shared these tips for how to recruit better affilites:
Partner with 100 semi-influential bloggers with an exclusive offer. You get a unique story, images, etc. New customer acquisition. These are incremental sales.
Podcasters also bring you incremental sales. Higher conversion rate because they have a strong connection with their users.
YouTube personalities, podcasters and ‘semi’ influentials provide you incremental sales and ability to reach audiences you have not reached before.
Don’t forget you can work with online and offline magazines as well. Be open to different ways to track such as tracking through coupon codes and pay per call.
Private consultants are a great resource and many times overlooked. Look for someone who does presentations to or work with clients in their industry’s niche.
Institutions such as schools and church groups can be very successful. Similar to loyalty but will require offline solutions as well.
Benefits of Alternative Recruitment Channels:
- Higher AOV (average order value)
- Higher click-through
- Higher conversions
- New hard-to-reach targeted traffic
- Brand exposure
Affiliate recruitment needs to be a huge piece of your affiliate strategy to diversify. It should be part of your everyday tasks. There are resources for this piece if you do not have the time. Below are examples of strategies for how to recruit these high value affiliates.
Strategies for How to Recruit Better Affiliates:
- Attend popular conferences but especially BlogHer and Blogworld and any of the niche shows.
- Local meetups are a great source for affiliate recruitment. Affiliate Summit also has local meet ups.
- Direct mail also works, such as handwritten notes. Just be sure to include a call to action and contact information.
- Send personal video messages on YouTube; upload and use the target’s name in it; be personable. This is great for bloggers who utilize YouTube. It really catches their attention.
- Be sure to comment on the blogs you are approaching.
- Run your own PPC (pay per click) and remarketing ads for keywords like “kids clothes affiliate program.” Retarget based on signup page. AdRoll is a great solution as is remarketing on Facebook.
- Look for people who are already referencing you and reach out. Great free tools are Google Alerts and Analytics. They already have a connection and recognition.
- Referrals/2nd tier: partners invite partners.
- Be active on affiliate forums such as ABestWeb, Affiliates4U (Europe) and vertical and niche forums.
- Maximize your network tools such as a network newsletter, network mailer, sponsorship opportunities, network sub forums.
- Create a merchant-branded affiliate blog for all affiliates to get more information. Also works for SEO. Be sure to include a prominent program signup link.
- Be active on all the social media platforms.
- LinkedIn is one of the easiest affiliate recruitment tools in social media.
- Check out your competitors using various webmaster tools and look at their backlinks.
- Affiliate directories. They rank well in the search engines.
If you provide better tools to your affiliates than your competition, the affiliate will choose your program. Offer tracking strategies for online and offline options.
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