As many Account Managers will know, affiliate recruitment is at the heart of a well-managed affiliate programme; pivotal in onboarding new partners and improving growth. A common occurrence in the affiliate channel can be over-reliance on 1-3 top affiliates who drive the greatest volume for your brand. Whilst it’s important to work with these top affiliates, proactive discovery can be a fantastic way to introduce new affiliates who will eventually share a slice of the pie. Finding new partners to collaborate with is a fantastic way to diversify your affiliate mix and bring innovative marketing ideas to your programme.

There are a wide variety of affiliates to connect with; cashback, voucher, comparison, content and sub-networks are to name but a few. Building a promotional strategy to fit each affiliate type can allow for your brand to be featured across a range of promotions, whether this is site-wide or at a category level.

With recruitment being the first touch-point in establishing a new partnership, it’s important to consider the objectives of why you are beginning the journey in the discovery lifecycle. Once these have been defined and segmented, here are three rules to go by to make your recruitment process is proactive and engaging.  

Tip 1: Do your research

Before recruiting any affiliate to join your programme, what I find really useful is to proactively engage with their business. This can be anything from signing up to their newsletters or following them on social media. By doing so, you begin to get a real sense of their tone of voice, how regularly they communicate with their customer base and an idea of their campaign style. Enhancing your knowledge about potential and newly joined affiliates allows you to keep your finger on the pulse and can be a great way to kick-start collaboration on your first campaign together.

Put yourself in the shoes of the affiliate. What do they need from you in order to promote the brand to the best of their ability? Is it regularly updated creative, weekly product updates or assistance with any tracking? Gaining knowledge on how they operate will also allow for better decision making for programme recruitment.

Tip 2: Be personable

To ensure you’re not lost in the many generic emails affiliates receive day in, day out, make sure your affiliate outreach is personalised. Make a list of the top 25 affiliates you want to recruit and commit to sending each one a personal email.  You can approach this in many different ways, something simple like sharing your thoughts on their website or anything in particular that stood out to you is a good start. Starting a conversation about why you think the affiliate is the right fit for your brand is also a positive way to build rapport. Showing a genuine interest in their site at the discovery phase will really set the foundation for the relationship.

Be sure to arrange a follow-up call with those who respond within 2 weeks, in order to spend dedicated time to discuss your brand, objectives, opportunities and deliverables. While it may seem time-consuming, discussing the benefits of your programme and sharing ideas on how you can work in partnership is something that will make you unique and will allow you to recruit partners who have a true understanding of the brand and what you both aim to achieve. At this stage, it is definitely quality over quantity.

Tip 3: Only share relevant information

At the initial outreach stage, it’s important to be clear and concise with what you are sharing. Let affiliates know about your brand’s top offers and products that are available for them to promote. Share further details about what the opportunity entails, being upfront about commission increases or tenancy placements can allow you to segment your partners based on this.

During the recruitment phase, it’s a great idea to collate recruitment lists in order to build your contacts. Certain affiliates operate in various sectors, meaning there is an opportunity to discover new affiliates you may have previously not considered. Segmenting your affiliate groups allows you to provide tailored content for each partner type. For example, sharing product descriptions and lifestyle images will be more purposeful for an editorial content segment, whereas updated commission rates and latest offers are more useful to cashback or voucher affiliates.

For affiliates who have recently been recruited to a programme, it’s important to send regular newsletters to establish regular communication. The content of the newsletter should include relevant brand information and specific details about the programme they have joined. My recommendation is, to begin with, a launch incentive, this can be something as simple as an increased commission for a set period of time. The aim is to get your affiliates excited about the brand, providing incentive is a great way to engage and drive activation of new recruits.  

This approach to affiliate recruitment and discovery is how we approach best-in-class programme management here at Acceleration Partners. The way in which you establish a new partnership is a foundation of how your working relationship will grow in the future and drive success forward for both the brand and the affiliate.