You’ve got a great product or service. You’re ready to rock your affiliate program. All that’s missing? The affiliates.
While most companies will have to invest at least some time into finding and soliciting potential partners, it’s far better to have them come to you.
Here are 10 ways you can make your business more attractive to new affiliates.
1. Have Great Customer Service
Outside of having a product that literally turns dirt to gold, the best way to get word-of-mouth going is to have incredible customer service. There’s simply no better way to foster loyalty, increase stickiness, and engage your customer-base after the sale. And all that leads to more satisfied clients who are more likely to want to become brand representatives of a business they love.
This is especially important if you don’t have a “sexy” product/service. While what you sell may not set social media ablaze by itself, the customer service can. Costco is a great example of this, leveraging a customer-first policy (great returns policy, free samples, etc) that has fostered a fervent fan-base. Work your customer service to a five-star level and you’ll have an incredibly easy time converting customers to affiliates, which leads us to…
2. Show Off Success Stories
Your happy customers are ripe to become affiliates. All it takes is just the right push and incentives. We wrote about a few ways to help this conversion process recently, and we’d like to add another to the list: customer-to-affiliate success stories.
Before many customers take the leap to affiliate partnership, they like to see real-world examples of others who successfully transitioned. Take the time to interview your happy affiliates about their experience and how easy it was for them to become an affiliate. The more success stories you can display on your website, the easier it will be for other dominoes to fall.
By the way, there are two perfect places to put these success stories to attract more potential affiliates…
3. Design a User-Friendly Sign-Up Page
Affiliate testimonials are a great element to put on your all-important affiliate signup page, which is one of your best tools to attract more partners. After all, these pages should rank at the top of Google for searches like “[Your Company] affiliate program” in order to make it easy for people to sign up.
With this in mind, follow SEO best practices when designing your affiliate signup page. Tips include:
- Place it on a root-level URL (ie. www.YOURCOMPANY.com/affiliates)
- Clean, simple navigation
- Easy-to-read text describing the program
- Dynamic content, such as a blog or testimonials
4. Advertise the Program in Your Newsletter
The other great place to showcase affiliate success stories is in your monthly customer newsletter, which is a great way to highlight that you have an affiliate program in the first place. After all, your customers should never say “I didn’t even know you had an affiliate program!”
A section in your newsletter highlighting affiliate success stories is not only a great way to motivate current affiliates, but a simple and effective way to advertise the program without really advertising it. It’s not pushy, and it shows a way to make money (commission) from a brand they probably already love.
5. Prime the Pump After the Point-of-Sale
Another way to attract a customer into becoming an affiliate is to prime the pump while they are already in a transactional mood. The ‘Thank You’ page is a perfect place to ask for a referral.
Going a step further, you can even provide a discount-providing coupon code for this customer to pass on to a friend. All of a sudden they’ve made their first referral. This primes the pump for them to be more receptive to the idea of being an affiliate in the future, and a great way to immediately get another sale.
In fact, this stage is ripe to springboard a VIP Loyalty Program that can act as a near foolproof way to launch into a full-fledged affiliate marketing campaign. After a great shopping experience, these happy customers can be converted into brand ambassadors without much effort on your part. So instead of asking for just one referral, you can ask them to join your “exclusive club” that gives them special discounts and bonuses, but also allow your company to start building up your roster of affiliate reps.
Don’t have a Thank You page? No problem. If your company sends follow-up Thank You emails, this is another place to provide a referral code.
6. Treat Your Affiliates Well
Just like it’s important to provide great customer service to get buyers talking about your company, it’s important to provide great affiliate service to get your network talking about your program. The more reasons they have to tout how great the partnership is, the more potential affiliates will come your way.
Take a cue from Blenders Eyewear that provides affiliates with a “rep package” filled with branded stickers, hats, and shirts that a) makes them feel like a part of the family, and b) are actually good, useful items that they want to show off in public.
Of course, taking good care of your partners goes far beyond just swag (although that helps!). Communication is key to making them feel involved and respected, as well as working with them on content projects and initiatives. In short, keep in mind the 3 C’s of good affiliate relationships:
- Commission (including swag)
And on that third C…
7. Pay Commissions Quickly
While having competitive commission rates is a no-brainer to attracting and retaining good affiliates, another aspect of paying out percentages is to do it quickly. Nothing, and we mean nothing, kills the buzz around your network faster than late checks.
Under-promise, over-deliver. It’s good practice to put in your terms & conditions that commissions are paid out at, say, 30 days; but actually deliver checks in 25. It does wonders for the morale of your network and will get them buzzing about how great your program is to their friends. And even if you stick to the net30, just never be late. It’s a simple and effective way to ingratiate affiliates new and old to your program.
8. Leverage Live Events and Conferences
Attending industry meet & greets, hosting your own event, or hitting local business conferences are great ways to bring in new affiliates. Just make sure you go prepared with the right materials to bring them in.
If you have a booth, make affiliate reach a priority by having “become an affiliate” signage. If not, business cards and pamphlets and branded merch can all be used to spread awareness about your program. Have your 2-minute elevator pitch ready:
“Hey, our affiliate program is looking for new partners. We pay the highest commissions in our industry with bonuses for X sales, and access to exclusive products.”
If you’re going to be at these events anyway, you might as well take advantage of all the interested individuals swarming around.
9. Leverage Your Facebook Page
Your followers on Facebook are worth their virtual weight in gold. More than Twitter or Instagram, those who take the time to join your business’ group or like your page are not only more engaged than anywhere else, you have a great platform to engage with them about your affiliate program.
Regularly post about your affiliate program, including success stories (as in your newsletter); it’s a low-effort way of creating buzz among the people who have already raised their hand in favor of your business. Furthermore, it’s an easy way for your best affiliates to share their own stories directly with your audience to increase trust in your brand and in the program itself.
This is especially good for smaller businesses who might not be able to get out to live events very often. Spending 30 minutes a day communicating with fans on Facebook can lead to a solid pipeline of potential affiliate partners.
10. Paid Advertising
We always recommend putting in the effort to organically attract and find new affiliates, but if time is in short supply, advertising for affiliates is a quick way to draw in new partners. Even a quick pay-per-click campaign on Google AdWords can yield results.
Buying ads on targeted sites where your audience congregates is also a good option. Does your industry have a subreddit on Reddit.com? Running ads there will ensure exposure to the right people. Find out where your audience lives online and see if they accept paid advertising.
The Bottom Line
Working with the right partners can save you a ton of time, stress, and effort in dealing with evasive or difficult people, so it’s well worth your while to spend the extra time finding the right ones. With that being said, you do need to be contentious about who you let represent your brand, as consumers see affiliates as an extension of it.
To ensure you’re on the right track with affiliate recruiting and management, chat with the experts at Refersion. With Refersion’s affiliate marketing software and tools, you’ll have everything you need to start, run, and grow a successful affiliate marketing program.