Shop Talk: How to Recruit the Best Affiliates for Your Brand
Q: “Hello, I’m the co-founder of a new e-cigarette company and new to affiliate marketing. I’m wondering if you could offer some advice and guidance around where to find the best affiliates to promote my product line. Currently I’m running an in-house affiliate program using HasOffers. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!” — Michael Hazard, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Revolution Vapor
A: The best way to recruit affiliates to promote your product is to make it easy for relevant affiliates to find you. Affiliates come across affiliate programs to promote in a variety of ways. The 2011 AffStat Report polled over 1,400 affiliates earlier this year and discovered that affiliates find their programs via affiliate forums, conferences, blogs, search engines and a variety of other resources.
I recommend you put in place a comprehensive plan for affiliate recruitment that includes the following:
There are a number of ways to gain exposure and recruit through affiliate forums. Consider ad placements and/or co-branded forums to share information, tips, resources and affiliate program announcements. Also make it a point to be active in forums yourself.
Have a presence at industry conferences, whether it’s just you shaking hands and chatting with affiliates or a bigger impact such as buying a booth or other sponsorship opportunities. That face time cannot be replicated online. Put yourself out there as a conference speaker for even more exposure.
There are many blogs on affiliate marketing that offer retailers the opportunity to purchase advertising as well as write guest posts.
Google AdWords is an effective tool for recruiting affiliates. Whether you want to broadly target people searching for B-to-B affiliate programs or those using keywords more specific to your business, you can reach people as they’re trying to find affiliate programs. In addition to using paid search to target affiliates, I also suggest recruiting through search engine optimization by creating a resource site for your affiliate program.
For instance, if the company for the affiliate program is Acme.com, go out and get the domain AcmeAffiliate.com and build it into a resource for that affiliate program. In the past I’d make the site look and feel the same as the main site, but now the affiliate site should be all about the affiliate program — e.g., details on applying, examples of creative, frequently asked questions, etc.
Do some research to identify sites that would make sense for your affiliate program, whether they’re currently running affiliate ads or not. Reach out to them via email (not recommended), phone call (some people won’t like it) or direct mail (unobtrusive and has a high open rate).