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Affiliate Recruitment: How to Succeed
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Affiliate Recruitment: How to Succeed

Affiliate recruitment is something I have personally spent a lot of time on in my current role and I would like to think that as time has gone on, I have learned a lot.

It is all about the processes, shortcuts and how to best use the time allocated for new affiliate opportunities. As for most clients, recruitment is an integral part of any strategy, due to their hunger for new avenues of growth.

I am keen to share a few pointers which have definitely helped me improve my own affiliate recruitment, which I hope will help some of you too. I have put together a few points below on how to utilise affiliate recruitment time effectively:

1. Discover what the client wants from the outset

It can be extremely frustrating and time consuming to work on affiliate recruitment for any period of time, to then present your findings to the client and be met with a lack of enthusiasm because it was not exactly what they were looking for. Use the client’s own data and insight to form a basis on how to give them exactly what they want. For example:

  • What markets are a priority for them?
  • What products/services do they sell that are more important to them over others?
  • Is there a specific type of affiliate they are keen on working with? For example, are content sites a focus for the client?
  • What are the client’s objectives and how can this be tied into sourcing the best affiliates in conjunction with this?

From this, you will at least have a good idea of how to give the client what they want and go a little above and beyond, making your own recommendations based upon this.

2. Don’t go in blind – have a recruitment strategy in place

Once you know what the client wants, it is time to put a tight recruitment strategy in place from the outset. Map out what you really want to achieve and set timelines. While these timelines will always chop and change, this will keep everything ticking over and ensure you don’t get lost in what can be a very admin heavy process if it is not run efficiently.

While you may not want to set targets with the client, why not set them for yourself? For example, ensure you contact x amount of top quality affiliates in a week, or introduce and get a certain amount of new affiliates live on the program. Do not set your sights too high at the start of a recruitment process and you will find an achievable amount that will still test you.

3. Quality v quantity

One of the biggest issues I have experienced with recruitment is the feeling that if I don’t source and contact 50 or so new affiliates a week, I am not doing it properly. While this may be an issue that only I faced, I realised that there’s no point in contacting all these people if they are a loose fit or you don’t really think they can make a difference to your program.

If it only means you are contacting a small pool of affiliates, that’s OK. You should invest the time in them as you are much more likely to see revenue from 1 or 2 good quality sites over 10 who don’t really fit the bill.

4. Use your network more effectively

If you work directly with an affiliate network, then see what they can do to help. The key with this is being clear with the network and not just asking for a list of top affiliates from a generic gap analysis, as what you are likely to get is a very loose list with hundreds of affiliates that are not particularly suitable for your client.

Tell them exactly what type of affiliates you are looking for. This will save the network time, reduce any frustrations between both parties and ensure you receive a better quality list of affiliates suitable for your client.

Don’t be afraid to tell them if they have sent through a poor quality list, as all this is going to do it waste your time that is best placed getting who you want onto the program.

5. Make things personal

Yes, it’s pretty basic, but it’s also something we do not do enough. If we have a list of 100 sites for example, of course it’s easy to BCC them all and get the job out the way. However, if these are affiliates you really want to promote your brand, put the effort in.

Show them you have taken the time to look at their site (and not just the URL), and really believe that there is a good fit between your brand and their offering. A few tips on how to get personal:

  • Mention areas of their site where your brand would be a good fit
  • Ask questions about their site that are relevant to your brand
  • Tell them the commission rates/average order value/earnings per click and any other useful information that will make them sit up and take notice
  • Talk about benefits to them. What’s in it for them?
  • Don’t over complicate things. Include the key information and remember to offer a link for them to sign up to the program
  • Respond fast, even if it’s to say you are dealing with their query. If they take the time to reply to you (even with a no thanks), being proactive and professional can make all the difference

6. Don’t take a back seat once you have them on board

This is the part most people forget. Engage with your affiliates! There is no benefit in putting in the time and effort to bring an affiliate on board if they are not promoting your brand. Ensure they have everything they need to get up and running. Pointing them in the direction of creative, generating links for them and providing them with the objectives of the campaign are a few simple actions that really will help.

If you really want them to promote your brand, do as much as you can to make their job as easy as possible. Also, why not give them a call? It’s all about the personal touch and making your approach stand out. Affiliates receive a lot of emails; sometimes calling them is much more effective and personable.

You have them signed up to the program, they want to promote the brand, so strike while the iron is hot. Before you know it, a competitor may have contacted them and done everything you haven’t and they then have the relationship that you wanted.

In my opinion, engagement is the most important part of recruitment. Engaging with 5% of affiliates for example, will drive more revenue than recruiting a whole new pool of affiliates.

7. Feed this back to the client

It’s all well and good doing a great job on affiliate recruitment, but it means nothing if the client does not know about it. Keep them up to date; shout about the great wins and feed back any issues. The information you get back from affiliates can provide both you and the client with ways to improve the program and your approach. Feedback is vital for all parties.

All in all, I hope these points provide those working on recruitment a slightly new way to look at the overall picture. I’m sure there are a whole host of tips many of you have also, so please don’t hesitate to share. If there are any other tools you have seen which you find useful, or any comments that you would like to share, I would be happy to hear from you. 

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Got a question or comment – tweet Thomas TomCheese8 or comment on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN.

Thomas Cheeseman

Thomas Cheeseman

Tom has been part of the DigitasLBi performance marketing team for 18 months. After graduating from Edinburgh Napier University with a BA HONS in Communication, Advertising and Public Relations, Tom initially joined the DigitasLBi performance team on an internship in March 2012. Having managed campaigns for RBS Retail Group and Rakuten’s play.com previously, Tom now focusses on the travel sector and manages the Etihad Airways campaign. 

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