I’ve been there.
You feel as though your affiliate program is stagnant.
Limited organic growth.
No new affiliates have joined your affiliate program in months.
Your boss continues to ask “Why hasn’t the affiliate program taken off yet?”
The pressure is on to recruit more affiliates, activate them, and grow channel revenue!
But, where to look for new affiliate partnerships?
First stop, your competition.
It’s time to crawl and recruit your competitor’s top affiliate partners for your own. Let’s dive into exactly how to do this, shall we?
3 Easy Steps to Find Your Competitor’s Affiliates:
To make it easier to follow the steps to recruit your competitor’s affiliates, we’re going to act as if you’re managing a new affiliate program for an up-and-coming CRM software company.
The affiliate space for this category has many established players and is quite competitive, but let’s see what we can find!
1. List 5-10 valuable keywords for your brand.
Before I even go to Google and begin searching, I first collect search query data from either my in-house content team, Google Analytics, CRM, or sales team – really whatever resources I have available to source keywords that turn to profit.
Profit driven keywords we want to show up in Google:
- CRM software
- Best CRM software
- Best marketing software
- Best CRM for small business
- Best marketing automation software
After doing some research, we’ve found the above 5 keywords are very valuable to our business to show up in Google for.
These are keywords we know will drive leads, new customers and revenue for the organization.
2. Google Search & Competitor Directory.
Now, it’s time to head over to Google and begin typing in some of these search queries.
But, what are we looking for exactly?
- Types of affiliates that show up in the search results.
- Who are the affiliates in the top 20 positions for each of the keywords.
- Who are the competitors the affiliates are promoting.
Let’s begin with the search: “Best CRM software”
In the image above, we can see there are 4 Google Tex Ads present for this query. When you dig deeper into who those advertisers are, you’ll find 3 out of 4 are your competitors (Salesforce, Zoho, Keap), but you also notice this company: Top10.
What exactly is Top10?
Top10 is considered a paid search affiliate. They use their own marketing budget to drive users to a landing page (like the one below) in return for a commission on leads/sales generated from their paid search investment.
Now, let’s move on the rest of the organic results you comb through.
In the below screenshot, we see 10 different results Google has listed in the “top 10” for this specific keyword.
After digging into each one of the listings, you find that 7 out of the 10 listed websites are affiliates.
How to identify an affiliate website?
- Click through to the website; do they offer a paid service/software/product?
- Are they ranking and reviewing multiple brands in one posting?
- Do the links redirect you to another URL when clicked on?
- Do any of the URLs have additional utm parameters appended to them?
Now that we’ve identified some of the top affiliates, in the space, we’re also going to list which competitors they’re promoting within the listing.
Within the affiliate publisher page below, we can see they have listed 9 different competitors.
We’ll add these competitors to our outreach template.
3. Reverse Engineer Affiliate Link Backlinks.
Now that we’ve identified some of the top affiliates in the CRM space and the competitors who are owning the “real estate” on these affiliate publisher websites…
It’s now time to find your competitor's affiliates at scale.
We’ll continue to use the CRM . org affiliate publisher example, where they’ve listed 9 of your competitors.
1. Hover over a competitor's URL.
2. Copy the link address & paste into Google Sheet.
3. Run through a URL redirect-checking tool.
We’re using this tool because a lot of affiliate publishers use their own internal tracking tool that redirects that affiliate URL provided by the brand.
The final URL is what’s typically used to track clicks/sales within an affiliate tracking software.
4. Crawl backlinks using Ahrefs.
Now that we’ve identified the original affiliate tracking URL, we can now run a backlink analysis with a tool like Ahrefs to identify other affiliate publishers promoting your competitors!
Here’s what the Ahrefs report would look like.
Wrapping up Competitor Affiliate Recruitment.
So there you have it!
You’re now able to go off and begin leveraging this strategy to find and recruit your competitors’ most valuable affiliate partners.
Though, it must be said, this is only the first part of the journey.
You have the list of affiliates, but now it’s time to form true partnerships with these publishers and give them compelling reasons why they should also promote your brand.