One of the most difficult aspects of running a successful affiliate program.
It often emerges as a formidable challenge for many, overshadowing other aspects of running a successful affiliate program.
But, imagine a building without a foundation - it wouldn't have any structure to grow on.
If there is no recruitment, there will be no affiliate partners. This means that there will be missed opportunities to expand channel revenue.
Join us as we unpack the nuances of how to recruit affiliate marketers and explore the best practices to fortify your program's foundation.
What is Affiliate Recruitment?
Affiliate recruitment is the process of attracting and enrolling affiliates to promote a business's products or services.
Affiliates are individuals or companies that promote a business's products or services in exchange for a commission on any sales that they generate. The goal of affiliate recruitment is to build a network of affiliates who can help to increase a business's reach and sales.
Here’s how affiliate recruitment works:
- Affiliate recruitment typically involves identifying potential affiliates and reaching out to them to explain the benefits of joining the affiliate program. This can be done through a variety of means, including email, social media, or online advertising.
- After recruiting an affiliate, the business will give them marketing materials. These materials include banners, links, and product descriptions. Affiliates can use these materials to promote the business's products or services.
- The affiliate will then promote the business on their own website or social media channels, and will earn a commission on any sales that they generate.
- Companies often use an affiliate network or affiliate software to recruit affiliates. These platforms connect businesses with affiliates and offer tools for managing the program. Businesses can manage their affiliate program easily and ensure affiliates are fairly compensated.
11 Strategies to Find & Recruit Affiliate Marketers:
I’ve consulted with countless brands on growing their affiliate programs, and the number one question most have:
How do we recruit more high-quality affiliates to our affiliate program?
Over the years, I’ve tested a lot of strategies, but these ones listed below are my go-to recruitment strategies.
We’ll start with the simple strategies and then move on to the more in-depth tactics.
1. Link your affiliate program page in the footer.
This is the simplest tactic to gain exposure for your affiliate program.
But I’ve seen so many brands with active programs not taking advantage of it.
Placing a link to your affiliate program in the footer of your website is an easy way to promote it. It’s common knowledge among affiliate marketers to check the footer for an affiliate or referral program.
They want to discover more details about the programs, products they can promote, affiliate networks your program is hosted on, and especially commission rates.
2. Showcase your affiliate program in your content.
Your content and marketing teams work hard to generate some amazing content.
Not everyone that reads or follows your content may be active buyers of your product or service.
They could be agencies or consultants researching a particular topic for a client.
They could even be affiliates looking for a certain piece of technology or consumer product to share with their audience.
Give them an opportunity to see you have an active affiliate program:
- Blog Widget: Place a widget on your blog with a CTA to learn more about your affiliate program.
- Webinar shoutout: Share your affiliate/referral program details on a webinar you’re already hosting.
- Email Signatures: Include a short line about your affiliate program with a link in your email signature.
3. Link your affiliate program within customer emails.
For a certain subset of customers (brand advocates), I’d recommend including a link to your affiliate program sign-up page in the signature of your customer emails.
Your customers may have a social following, popular blog or YouTube channel they could promote your products or services to.
Here are some examples of when you could add a link to your affiliate program within an email:
- Account management email signatures
- Transactional emails
- Promotional emails
- Thank you emails
- Welcome emails
4. Leverage affiliate networks.
Depending on the growth stage of your business and resources available to manage an affiliate program for your business, an affiliate network may not be best suited for your needs.
Running your program on affiliate software will work just fine.
If you do, affiliate networks are an amazing resource to run, manage, pay, and recruit high-quality affiliates.
Affiliate networks are the software layer (middleman) between your program and the affiliate partner. They help to handle the tracking, set-up, payment (taxes & accounting), and most importantly, provide a marketplace of thousands of affiliates to recruit.
And the best part?
Affiliates love affiliate networks.
It’s much easier for them to run hundreds of affiliate offers across multiple brands if the tracking is all under one roof. They also don’t need to go chasing down overdue payments from brands because it’s automated through the affiliate network portal.
Here are a few affiliate networks:
5. Attend conferences and industry events.
Full transparency: I haven’t been to any of the conferences listed below.
But, based on a lot of the feedback I’ve received from attending affiliate marketing conferences and events, they’re an amazing experience for networking with affiliates and brands.
Affiliates love to attend these types of conferences to see how they can continue to grow their business, connect with super affiliates, and find new brands to work with.
It’s a great opportunity for you to get into the mindset of an affiliate marketer too 🙂
Here’s a few I’ve heard great things about:
6. Find affiliates promoting other affiliate programs.
This is a great little tactic that very few companies utilize.
Here I’ll find other active affiliates (or media publishers) promoting other programs through content that ranks on Google.
They’re specifically targeting affiliate marketers with this content.
Within the content, they’ll list some of the “top x affiliate programs”.
From there, I’ll reach out to the site owner to strike up a deal to place our affiliate program within the article.
That could be in the form;
- Monthly payment
- Commission from the revenue generated from affiliates who sign-up through the tracking link.
- Flat paid placement fee
7. Ask for an introduction.
One of my go-to strategies is to start with connections you already have.
This will not only save you a lot of time, but also, the likelihood of an introduction turning into a long-term engagement with an affiliate is much higher than cold outreach.
Here are some of the individuals you can ask for an introduction to:
- Active partnerships in place at your company (tech partners, agencies, consultants, etc.)
- Super affiliates active in your program today
- LinkedIn connections
- Media companies you make direct ad buys from
- Current customers who are high-value brand advocates for your company
Pro-tip: How to facilitate introductions to an affiliate partner.
- Work with an active partner of your company that has a similar target audience and active affiliate program.
- Ask them if they’d be interested in cross-referencing current affiliate partners with the goal of facilitating introductions to one another's affiliate program.
- Build a spreadsheet and match up the current active affiliates in both programs, with the ones not currently active in yours.
- Build out an affiliate outreach email template to use across the partnerships. For your close relationships, make it a bit more personal.
Here’s what your spreadsheet looks like when matching up affiliate partners with your partner:
And here is an affiliate outreach email template the partner provided me to send to partners:
8. Recruit your competitors' affiliate partners.
Another strategy I use regularly is to target competitor affiliates.
I’ll keep this brief, as I have an entire article dedicated to competitor affiliate recruitment.
Here’s the short version:
- Compile a list of your top competitors
- Comb through to see who has an active affiliate program
- Run a Google query for: “Competitor X reviews”
- Identify affiliates who wrote or recorded content about their product
- Add the affiliate to an email outreach cadence
This will provide you with a great starting point for your outreach list.
Also, here are 3 more tips to finding your competitor affiliates:
- Use tools such as Ahrefs, Spyfu, Similarweb
- Identify an affiliate networks tracking url structure
- Search articles on Google for “Best __”
9. Run Google ads for those seeking affiliate programs.
Bloggers and publishers are always looking for new opportunities to make money from their website.
Therefore, they’re likely typing into Google search queries like: “Best affiliate programs to make money”.
You should test out a few Google Ads campaigns targeting these queries.
This will direct traffic to your affiliate signup page, and from there you can assess whether they end up being quality affiliate partners over time.
10. Research affiliates advertising on Google.
Another strategy we recommend is to look for affiliates who are running Google Ads.
These are affiliate partners who are using their own budget to drive traffic from Google to their selected affiliate partners, in return for a commission.
You can get a great understanding of this by running a search query such as: “Best VPN services”. You’ll find that a ton of affiliate partners are advertising across Google.
But, be very careful when working with paid search affiliate partners.
You want to be sure your affiliate agreement is buttoned up, that way, they’re not bidding on your branded search terms and any other advertising channels you don’t want them to run on.
Also, these types of affiliate partners typically require a much higher payout because they have more risk (using their own marketing budget). Make sure you have the budget and expertise to work with these types of affiliates before getting into any form of agreement.
11. Identify content creators across social media.
One last fantastic way to find new affiliate partners for your business is to search for content creators across platforms like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Snapchat.
You’ll want to look for content creators who have built an audience that would be interested in your product/service.
You can use an influencer marketing platform to help you identify these content creators, but we also recommend going about this manually to build a 1-1 relationship with the content creators.
VPN YouTube content creators
Wrapping up our Affiliate Recruitment Strategies.
So, there you have it.
11 affiliate recruitment strategies I use regularly (besides the conference, but that will change soon!).
This should be a great starting point for you to find affiliates to join your program, but remember…
You should approach every outreach touchpoint with a personalized approach.
You want to build relationships with these affiliates for the long-term.
Make them feel valuable. Listen to their concerns. Help them and they’ll help you to achieve your channel goal for the program.
More deep dives into these tactics are on the way too!
If you have any questions just shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I respond to every email 🙂