Your affiliate marketing program succeeds with the growth of your active publisher base. It is not always the size of your publisher base but more about the quality and activation of your partners. The quality of their traffic and the match of their audience with the target audience of your website is more important than the amount of publishers in your program.
Setting up or growing an affiliate program is based on three simple pillars : Recruit, Activate & Optimize
So it all starts with recruiting the right publishers for your affiliate program. It sounds very simple; Define the right recruitment strategy based on your own KPI’s and objectives. Build a recruitment list with potential partners, contact and invite them to your program.
But in real life it is not so simple and it will take a lot of time and strategic thinking before you find the right partners. When you execute your recruitment strategy you need to be disciplined and persistence with the communication, support and follow up before these new publishers will start driving traffic and conversions for your affiliate program.
First of all you should define your recruitment strategy
- Which partners will you allow on your program, full funnel or only upper and mid-funnel partners and make sure this is clear in your program terms & conditions
- Are you willing to work with sub-networks, discount, voucher code & cashback publishers
- What will be the commission remuneration strategy : last click or conversion attribution
- Are you willing to work with CPC, fixed fees, set-up fees or only with the agreed CPA on your affiliate program
Next is creating a recruitment status document to keep track on the recruitment activities
- Some have a CRM system to keep track of the communication and status
- An excel file or Google sheet can work just fine and is a good tool for multiple team members to work with
- Make sure you have at least the following columns in the document / CRM
- Publisher URL
- Publisher funnel : Upper, Mid or Lower
- Publisher category : For example Blog or Cashback
- Publisher contact person
- Publisher contact email
- Status of the activities : For example contacted, interested, on-boarding, active
Now the fun stuff will start, searching for the right publishers for your program. There are a lot of options you can do for finding the right partners. Below you can find some easy to use examples, but there are probably hundreds of other ways to do this.
First thing I always do is creating a mind map of the affiliate program. Including the (focused) products, wanted audiences, expected targets, competitors, funnels, keywords about the program and how your ideal consumer will search for your products or services. This will give you some ideas to search for. So how will you start the search?
- When you have a program with a network you can of course ask your account manager to come up with a list of potential publishers that are driving good results in their network for similar advertisers. Within most networks or affiliate platforms there are options to search their publisher database. This is a good starting point.
- Old school Google. Just type in a couple of keywords or phrases that are related to your program and see if there are some potential blogs or websites that are already writing about your or your competitors’ products.
- Publisher recruitment tools like Similarweb or Publisher Discovery have great databases and insight about potential publishers for your program.
- SEO tools like Ahrefs are very handy tools to find backlinks. Just type in the URL of your competitors and see their backlinks, very good for finding great publishers for your affiliate program.
When you have found the right publishers for your affiliate program you need to contact them and see if they are interested in your program. Before you contact them it is vital to have your commission strategy in place, so that you can offer for example CPC, fixed fees or short-term commission increase to get them interested in your affiliate program.
Also make sure that you focus on the benefits of your affiliate program, don’t spend too much time explaining your company. It is the program benefits that are most interesting for the publisher, how much can they earn with driving traffic to your website.
I recommend you always do personal communication, even when you use a mailing system. Make sure partner name, website URL and why their website is a good fit with your affiliate program is included in the message.
Please understand that some publishers will get hundreds of emails from websites and networks each day so make sure your message stands out and is clear and to the point.
Another good recruitment tool is joining affiliate network events and webinars.
When the publisher have shown interest in your affiliate program you are not there yet, sorry. They need to apply to your program and start becoming active by drive traffic to your website. A good tool to speed up this process is an on-boarding guide about your affiliate program. More about this in another post.
Have fun recruiting and keep rocking Performance Rockstars!