In mid September, a bunch of affiliate managers got together in NJ to chat about various issues in the industry.
One topic we discussed was recruiting affiliates via email. There were a few of us that mentioned using Link Capture to identify and contact affiliates.
Link Capture is a useful tool, because it enables you to build a list of prospects based on various parameters, and then you can automatically email them from the software. And to eliminate emailing the same prospect twice, Link Capture highlights any prospect that was previously contacted.
But the talks became somber when somebody mentioned that every time we sent an email to try and recruit a new affiliate, it had to be CAN-SPAM compliant.
It was an indication of how misunderstood the spam law is among affiliate marketers. Aside from the fact that email is not too effective in recruiting affiliates (generally far less than 1% success rate), affiliate managers are realizing that it’s a risky and complicated scheme, too.
According to data from the AffStat 2004 Report, a little less than 20% of affiliates said they joined affiliate programs after being contacted by an affiliate manager by email.
This data was gathered before the CAN-SPAM law came into being, so you might imagine this number has decreased, and will continue to do so.
Other methods that seem to be successful were reaching affiliates through affiliate directories, affiliate message boards, and by being listed in Google.
But one effective method that hasn’t yet caught on is the use of direct mail, specifically post cards.
I’ve been using post cards to recruit affiliates for specific programs over the past six months, and the results have been quite nice (especially in comparison to other methods).
Just as I used Link Capture to find emails in the past, I use it to obtain mailing addresses and contact names from sources such as WHOIS and Alexa.
As you can see in the chart of methods used to contact affiliates, nobody cites direct mail, because it hasn’t been going on.
Now that I’ve let the cat out of the bag, you can expect more post cards in your mailbox, but think of them as good things. That’s because direct mail can be used effectively by affiliates, too.
When those cards reach your mailbox, I’d suggest taking a look at the elements (presumably there was some testing and strategic thought put into the design), so that you can apply them to your own offline marketing efforts.
Try identifying some targets that make sense for your site, design a postcard (including a unique link to track the response!), and send them out.
There are a couple of companies I’ve used to recruit affiliates and promote sites with direct mail: Express Copy and VistaPrint.
With Express Copy, you can send 100 full color postcards (upload your own design or use one of their templates) for $40. That cost includes printing, addressing and postage.
VistaPrint is a more hands-on experience. You can get 250 full color postcards for $49.99, but you’ve got to do all of the addressing and postage yourself.
Both companies have more attractive prices as the volume goes higher.