Major affiliate networks such as ShareASale and CJ by Conversant have thousands of active affiliate programs. I tell merchants that every one of these programs is a competitor because affiliates are already busy promoting a diverse blend of products. They don’t always have time to search for new and exciting programs.
Affiliates are adept at looking for red flags that easily scare them away from joining programs. Many managers don’t have time to clean and polish their programs daily.
In this post, I’ll offer optimization tips, to help affiliate managers find unique ways to stand out in the crowd. The obvious tips are to pay competitive commissions and constantly strive to deliver the highest conversion for affiliate traffic.
Beyond those, here are seven ways to attract new affiliates.
7 Pointers to Attract New Affiliates
Signatures. Sign your name as the affiliate manager. Nothing drives me nuts more than “The Affiliate Team” as a signature. Be proud of your work. If you are worried about affiliates stalking you or giving out your personal information, you do not understand this channel.
Affiliates need to make a personal connection. That’s how this industry works. They are going to ask you questions and if you don’t get back to them, they are going to call you out for it. That might be a sign that you need to give them better management. If your staff turnover is so frequent that “team” is better than changing names every few months, change your hiring process.
Responsiveness. Along with the signature, offer affiliates an email address that is answered. Affiliates complain to other affiliates and managers about how they never heard back from Brand X about an issue. You don’t have to give out your cell phone number, but answering questions in a prompt and professional manner via email shouldn’t be too much to ask. Hit reply and finish the conversation.
Communication tools. Complete all biographical fields and autoresponder choices in the network interface. This includes apply, decline, and approve emails. The basics should be filled out in text and HTML if available.
Let the affiliates know you will review the applications within 24 hours — and then actually do it. If you decline an affiliate’s application, give him the option to appeal your decision. If you approve the application, send him links containing his affiliate ID. Offer him the best-selling products and discuss what tools are best for conversion. Tell him what the average commission was last year. Tell him what was the highest sales transaction last year. Provide details that will encourage him, to get active quickly.
Reversal rates. If the program owner needs to void sales each month due to fraud, repeat orders, or unavoidable costs of doing business, a reversal rate is universally understood. But, there certainly are ways to mitigate reversals and keep them as low as possible, hopefully in the single digits.
High reversal rates are a common reason why affiliates pass by a program. There is an instant distrust because many affiliates all have horror stories of voids from unscrupulous managers. Be prepared to have honest answers if they ask.
Terms of service. Lawyers compose terms-of-service agreements with hundreds of technical terms mixed with paragraphs of all capital letters. But this is overkill. Prior to reading your company’s terms of service, affiliates have already agreed to a strong set of legal terms with the network.
Your terms of service should use human language. Tell affiliates what they can and cannot do in your program. Affiliates typically see the terms before they join — and then ignore them. Using simple, easy-to-understand language can help your program stand out.
Convert customers to affiliates. Make sure you have a dedicated landing page linked from your home page describing the benefits to being an affiliate. Your best affiliate could be one of your customers. Write this content in hopes of convincing your visitors that they could earn healthy commissions by promoting your products. Encourage them to use the products they buy to use as review material. Tell them to share their thoughts on social media and use affiliate links when appropriate.
Funds. Keep your programs well funded. Pay affiliates promptly. When a program goes offline because of low funds, affiliates gossip, and rightfully so. They have seen programs disappear forever when funds dry up and they usually lose out on big paychecks.
If you have a corporate credit card, set the auto deposit function to a high enough trigger so it never dips below $100. Depending on your volume and payouts, the ideal setup is to deposit $500 when your funds dip below that amount. In most cases, this will keep that red flag from ever raising. Be prepared to compensate in high-volume seasons and make sure the bill is always paid.
Not every program has the time and resources to recruit new affiliates. Sometimes a merchant assigns someone to simply keep an eye on the program and make sure it doesn’t go offline. These simple optimization steps will give your affiliate efforts a competitive edge on a vast majority of programs that launch and are set adrift, hoping for eventual sales.