Q: I am a owner of a company and currently a merchant of an affiliate network. I have been with the network for about two months now. I have about 100 affiliates, but I am not getting any results mainly due to the quality of the affiliates. I have read your book but I could use some help. How can I reach quality affiliates and overall, how can I develop my program into a success?
A: The key to a successful affiliate program is to always be recruiting targeted affiliates, activating those affiliates, and then making yourself available to assist the affiliates.
Most affiliate managers tend to trip up on the first part – they rely on their network to recruit for them, and do not bother to do any proactive recruiting themselves.
One basic way to identify affiliate prospects is to use a program like Link Capture, where you can run queries to find which sites are ranking well for certain keywords or linking to certain sites.
The reports generated by Link Capture include details such as email, phone and mailing address to contact the prospects.
After you’ve recruited affiliates, don’t expect them to all magically become active with your program. The vast majority will not put up links without being prompted to do so.
Try reaching out with direct mail or a phone call to activate your affiliates. If that sounds prohibitive, then you have more affiliates than you can properly manage.
After they have become active, be sure to have tools and resources to assist them in promoting your company. Think about the offline world – when you hire a new employee, you provide them with tools and guidance to effectively sell the company. So why haven’t you done that sort of thing for your online sales force.
I’m not talking about making a few banners available, but rather putting together tools and guides that help affiliates to best understand your target demographics and how to effectively sell to them.
Treat your affiliates as valued partners and provide them with the tools they need and access to you, and your affiliate program will grow.
Don’t forget to have a competitive commission, tested creatives, and a tested conversion process on your site that works well.