Affiliate marketing can be a great way to get your business in front of more people and increase your sales. There are many benefits to affiliate marketing when used correctly, however, it can be difficult to know how to find the right affiliates for your business and it is essential to get this right, otherwise, your KPIs will not be met.
In this article, we’ll discuss the steps you should take to find the right affiliates for your business, so you can maximise your reach, and in turn, sales.
But if you need more information on the basics before getting stuck into finding affiliates, head over to our other blog – what is affiliate marketing and how does it work – to get to grips first.
Research potential affiliates in your industry
The first step is to start by searching for affiliates in your niche or industry. You should research each affiliate to determine if they have experience in the types of products or services you sell and if they have a strong presence in the affiliate marketing space.
You can search for potential affiliates in a number of ways, such as:
- Searching online directories and review sites: Look for online directories and review sites that list potential affiliates in your industry. This is the easiest way to find an initial list of potential affiliates which you can then review further following the next steps.
- Networking with other industry professionals: Reach out to other industry professionals who may have an existing relationship with potential affiliates. Chatting with other people within your industry may give you a more accurate and realistic view of potential affiliates, rather than just listening to them advertise themselves.
- Joining industry forums: Get involved in industry forums to exchange ideas and experiences with other professionals in the field.
- Using social media: Use social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn to search for potential affiliates relevant to your industry. Their social media profiles will give you a good idea of the size of their following and what type of content they typically create, so you can decide if they’re the right partner to market your business.
- Attend industry events: Attend conferences and trade shows relevant to your industry, to network and make connections with potential affiliates.
- Utilise an affiliate network: Affiliate networks have an active list of thousands of affiliates who are available to you. You can contact them through the network and discover more about the verticals that they operate in.
- Contact potential affiliates directly: Contact potential affiliates directly to discuss partnership opportunities and find out important information, such as who they already work with and how.
Once you’ve collected basic information about each of the potential affiliates you’ve identified, you can then dig deeper to research the ROI they can offer you.
Compare commission rates and terms of the different affiliates
Different affiliates offer different commission rates and terms. By comparing the rates and terms of each affiliate you can determine which one best fits your program and therefore will provide the most benefit to your business.
To do this, we would recommend:
- Setting up a spreadsheet to compare commissions and terms.
Make sure to include columns for the commission rate, the terms of the agreement and any special offers that the affiliate may provide.
- From the list of affiliates you’ve researched prior to this step, you should gather information about each of these relevant affiliates’ commission rates and terms. This can be done by visiting their websites, talking to their representatives, or reading any available reviews.
- Enter the commission rate, terms, and any other important information for each affiliate into your spreadsheet.
- Compare the commission rates and terms of each potential affiliate to determine which ones are likely to be the most beneficial for your business.
This process will help to put the affiliates into a priority order for reaching out to them to discuss a partnership. Once you’re ready with your list, all that’s left to do is decide which type of affiliate program you want to use before you outreach to them.
Determine the type of affiliate program you want to use
There are several types of affiliate programs, such as pay-per-click, pay-per-action, or pay-per-sale. You should research each option in depth to decide which one best suits your business and the goals of the campaign.
Here is a quick outline of four of the most common types:
Pay-per-click (PPC) programs
A PPC affiliate program is where an affiliate is paid a commission every time a visitor clicks on an advertisement or link on their website. The PPC model is used to advertise products or services from a variety of companies to website visitors. Affiliates are paid for each click that leads to a sale or other desirable action.
Cost-per-action (CPA) programs
CPA affiliate programs are where advertisers pay affiliates (publishers) whenever a desired action is completed, such as a purchase, lead, or form submission. This type of program helps advertisers to acquire leads and sales in a cost-effective manner, as they only pay when a desired action is taken.
Cost-per-sale (CPS) programs
CPS affiliate programs are a type of affiliate program in which the affiliate receives a commission for each sale they refer to the merchant. This type of program is typically used in situations where the cost of the product or service is high and it is beneficial to the merchant to only pay for successful sales. The affiliate is usually compensated based on the commission rate or percentage of the sale.
Cost-per-lead (CPL) programs
A CPL affiliate program rewards affiliates for each lead that is generated from their marketing efforts. Affiliates are paid a commission for each qualified lead that they refer to the merchant’s website. This type of program requires the merchant to set a specific pay-out for each lead generated and for the affiliate to commit to driving quality leads in order to receive payment. Cost-per-lead affiliate programs provide a great way for merchants to increase brand awareness and customer acquisition while providing affiliates with an additional source of income.
So, depending on the main goals of your affiliate marketing strategy, you may consider a different type of program. For brand awareness, a PPC affiliate program is likely best, but if your main concern is diving revenue, you may want to consider a CPS program which is more likely to lead to sales.
Create a clear set of guidelines
Before making an agreement with any affiliates, it is recommended that you create a clear set of guidelines for them. This should include details on product promotion, pricing, and terms and conditions to ensure that there is no risk of misunderstanding your agreement.
Your guidelines should:
- Ensure that all advertising and content created by affiliates is consistent with the overall brand image and messaging of the business.
- Instruct affiliates to clearly disclose the nature of their relationship with the business, in accordance with applicable laws.
- Establish specific performance standards and expectations for affiliates.
- Monitor affiliates’ activities regularly to ensure compliance with the guidelines.
- Require affiliates to use only approved images and text in their marketing materials.
- Prohibit affiliates from engaging in deceptive or fraudulent practices.
- Develop a system for tracking commissions and payments to affiliates.
- Establish a process for resolving disputes between the business and affiliates.
These guidelines will help to keep both parties on track throughout the campaign. As well as ensuring the affiliate knows what they need to do and giving them guidelines to abide by, these can also protect you by giving you something to fall back on if you feel the need to end a relationship and get out of a contract.
Reach out to potential affiliates
Once you’ve identified and qualified your potential affiliates using the steps above, and you’re clear on the type of program you want to use, as well as the expectations you have of your affiliates, you’re ready to reach out to them with an offer to join your program.
When making your offer, you need to make sure the offer is attractive enough to convince the affiliate to join your program. It’s important to push the benefits you can offer them to convince them it’s a good idea to work with you.
Reaching out to affiliates can be done through a variety of channels, such as:
- Through email: Use email to reach out to potential affiliates. Include an overview of your business, the benefits of joining your program, and any additional information they may need to know.
- By connecting on social media: Social media is an excellent way to connect with potential affiliates. Create a social media presence and use it to highlight the benefits of your program and post relevant content.
- Networking at events: Attend events related to your business and network with potential affiliates. This is a great way to make connections and start conversations about your program.
- Advertising your program on your website: Add an affiliate program page to your website to showcase your program and provide potential affiliates with information about how they can partner with you and what you can offer them in return.
- Offer Incentives: You should offer incentives to encourage affiliates to join your program. This could include a commission structure, discounts, or other benefits.
When reaching out to affiliates, you should negotiate with them, if possible, to get the best commission rates and terms, rather than just immediately accepting their first offer. Ultimately, you want to choose the affiliate that offers the best commission rate and terms for your business to bring the best possible returns.
Monitor and track results
Once your affiliates are in place, you should monitor and track their results. This will help ensure your affiliates are successful in promoting your business and therefore allow you to make decisions about the future of your relationship. It is essential to stay in touch with them and provide feedback on their performance, that way your relationship is more likely to work going forward.
If your affiliates aren’t bringing you the results you want, you may want to reconsider whether you want to continue using them. It is, however, important to give affiliates a fair chance. You can’t expect to sign your agreement and have immediate sales. We’d recommend giving affiliates at least a 1 month period to allow for set up before questioning their performance.
Tracking the performance of your affiliates over time using agreed KPIs allows you to ensure you’re working with the right affiliates over time to meet your long-term goals.
Another way to ensure you choose the right affiliates for your business and to keep the relationship healthy long-term is to hire an affiliate manager to help you manage this process. Get in touch today to speak to one of our experienced affiliate managers who can help you choose the right affiliates and get the most out of your program.