If you’re a regular reader of my Blog, a connection on LinkedIn, or interacted with me professionally, you may have noticed that I am a staunch supporter of Affiliate Marketing. Back while working at ResellerClub, I would derive immense happiness out of checking sales numbers at the start of the day. Seeing my Sales KPIs being met by my trusted Affiliate Team through great content drafted by them would delight me. It’s quite intriguing for me to see how this specific Online Marketing Channel proves to be an effective growth hack for a Startup trying to meet its pre-defined objectives.
Compare that with the efforts and costs that would get invested in SEO, SEM, or any other paid method, and it would be impressive to analyze the return to the spend. I am not saying that SEO & SEM should be ignored, you’ll be hurting your business if you do that given its independent benefits, I am simply suggesting that Affiliate Marketing is a Startup friendly way to look at Growth.
This brings us back to the importance of Affiliate Recruitment.
Invest 80% Of Your Time in Affiliate Recruitment
In my previous article, I elaborate on how it’s essential for the Affiliate or Marketing Manager to invest about 80% of their time into Affiliate Recruitment. The 80:20 rule even applies with your Affiliate Program wherein 80% of your Sales/Brilliant Leads are coming from 20% of your Affiliates; And this is why I discussed strategies and tips that can be used to Proactively Recruit your Super Affiliates.
However, it’s also important to have a larger section of those 80% Affiliates since they help with generating awareness, user engagement, building a lead pool and good conversions. More often than not, these Affiliates learn about your Startup through their own sources, visit your Affiliate page, and decide on signing up as your Affiliate. This is the second style of Affiliate Recruitment called the Reactive or Passive method of recruiting Affiliates.
The 2014 Affiliate Summit AffStat report mentioned that about 21% Affiliates source information about an Affiliate Program, they would like to consider joining, through the merchant’s website. This comes second after information on Affiliate Networks as the preferred choice by around 26% Affiliates. This number may be specific to the US, but my extensive interactions with Affiliates showed that a similar trend is followed by Indian Affiliates as well.
In my last article on Affiliate Recruitment, I spoke about how an Affiliate Manager can use the Active method to recruit Affiliates for their program. This article will focus on the Passive method to recruiting quality Affiliates.
Style 2: Passive Affiliate Recruitment
This form of recruitment involves having the Affiliate directly reach out to the business, and Sign up as a member of the Affiliate Program.
1) Build A Kickass Affiliate Page: you rely on your website as one of your Marketing tools because this is the first thing a Customer looks at when he/she gets introduced to your business. A lot of emphasis goes on the content, placement of the content, structure of the content, design and similar since as a business you only have about 8 seconds to make a lasting impression on the Customer and induce the thought of transacting on your website.
Similarly, you need to invest time and resources in building a single page that at a glance can communicate the highlights of your Affiliate Program. Just creating one page with a two liner that says signing up for your program is free, and you’ll be paying out x% in Commissions is a very shabby way of promoting your Affiliate Program.
The page should contain essential information such as FAQs, Affiliate Blog Link, Contact Us Information, Terms & Conditions, Preview of Marketing Collaterals, Commission Amounts, Discount Coupon Information, Conversion Percentages and so on. Think as an Affiliate, if you were to land on a page that was a haphazard attempt to convince you to partner with a company would you be interested?
The Flipkart Affiliate page is a good example of how to include all the enticing and essential information in the first fold
2) Setting Up An Affiliate Page: imagine having a new restaurant open in the area that specializes in Chinese, Italian and Indian, but forgets to mention Chinese on the Title Board, Menu and Zomato. Picture the amount of customers that the restaurant is losing every day. This can also happen with businesses that don’t mention their Affiliate Program on the website.
Ideally this would be the case if a Merchant has outsourced their Affiliate Program and all Affiliate activities to a network. Outsourcing your Program to a network is a great way to start, since it helps take care of all the essential activities required when getting started. A tracking software, Affiliate Recruitment, promoting the affiliate program, reports and similar.
Eventually you’re growing to become a stronger brand, and you’ll have Affiliates visiting your website to learn off whether they can promote your service and earn simultaneously. Even if you’re not keen on running an in-house Affiliate Program, which has its own obvious benefits, which I have discussed in my previous article here (Point 3), it would help to make a mention of the networks that your program is on. This helps you with Affiliate Recruitment because now the Affiliate knows where exactly to go to start promoting your business.
Tip: Include the Commission Structure that’s available with the Network
3) Commission Structure – when an Affiliate lands on your website they skim through certain information before deciding to set an Affiliate Account with you. It’s parallel to how a Customer behaves before deciding to transact on a new website for the first time.
A Customer before transacting is looking out for several pieces of information before making their final choice. Some of the thoughts going through their minds: Is my favorite brand available?, are Discounts available?, can I get my product delivered in a day? and more.
Similarly, an Affiliate is also sifting through information quickly to make a choice of whether the brand being considered is worth investing time in. One of the most important information they look out for is the Commission being paid out. This helps them weigh whether the reward is worth the effort, and an Affiliate invests a lot of effort into promoting a brand. This is why it’s important to have this piece of information within the first fold of your website. Also, make it a point to include your Commission in absolute numbers rather than percentages since this could motivate and appeal to your Affiliate better. Instead of stating you get 7% of the Sale amount, include you could earn upto 2000 Rs per Sale. Makes it more interesting.
Eleven2, a Hosting Company, includes details about their Commissions in the steps to setup an Affiliate Account
4) Sign Up Form – keeping your Affiliate Sign Up form short can also help increase your Affiliate Recruitment rates. Statistics have shown that Signup forms with a maximum of 3 fields have about a 25%+ conversion rate in relation with a Signup form that has more than 3 fields.
I mean when you think about it, is it really going to help serve your Affiliate better knowing his/her Last Name, Birth Date, Zip Code, City, Country, Account No, Password and so on. Just getting them to fill up their Name, Email Address and Website should be more than enough to get them started with you.
The ResellerClub Affiliate Signup page shows how to keep it simple by asking only the bare essential questions.
5) Contact Us Page – there could be an instance where a potential Affiliate lands on your page, skims through information and then has a doubt in his mind about a certain aspect regarding your Affiliate Program. Sometimes this one doubt could be the only barrier between your potential Affiliate, and him successfully signing up for your Affiliate program.
That in practical terms is like reaching a fork in the road and have no one to ask for help. You can drastically improve your chances of Quality Affiliate recruitment by including contact details of the Affiliate Manager or the concerned person on the website. Even a simple Email Address that an Affiliate can use to reach out to the concerned person would work.
Why delay the opportunity of having another superstar promote your services.
Conclusion: When you’ve already invested yourself in setting up a brilliant Affiliate Program, it pays well to focus heavily on Affiliate Recruitment activities. Follow the steps mentioned in the two articles on Quality Affiliate Recruitment, and you’re bound to build a super successful army ready to help your business grow.
How has your experience been with recruiting Affiliates for your program? What are the difficulties you face, and how have you tried overcoming them? Share them with us in the comments section.