A while ago, I outlined some great ways to recruit affiliates and reviewed the ups and downs of each approach. I recently gave a presentation where I discussed the most efficient ways to get affiliates to participate in your program, and I thought I would share the conclusions with you.
To get started, we should ask ourselves how to define “efficiency” when it comes to recruiting affiliates. I think the 2 main coordinates determining efficiency are:
- The quality of the affiliate(s) being recruited, measured in terms of their potential to generate sales for the products or services being promoted. The higher the quality of the affiliate, the faster the affiliate will start selling and the more sales the software affiliate will bring to your organization.
- The ease of recruitment, measured by the time spent getting an affiliate on board and selling your products. The higher the ease of recruitment, the faster you will get affiliates on board and selling.
Taking the two elements above into consideration, I’ve charted 5 of the most commonly used channels for recruiting affiliates by their quality and ease of recruitment. The clear takeaway from this exercise is that you should focus on recruiting affiliates from sources that are in the upper right corner of the chart, showing high quality and ease of recruitment.
Let’s analyze each recruiting channel:
- Affiliate info page. These are the affiliates that you most want to have, since they are the ones signing up from your website. Typically, they are quality affiliates that know what products and services they want to promote, and have an idea of how to promote them effectively. The only consideration that sets this source of recruitment below the affiliate network recruitment is that traffic (exposure) to the merchant’s website plays an important role in quality and speed; less targeted or smaller amounts of traffic can make an individual affiliate less efficient than a network.
- Affiliate network. All affiliates in a network can see your products in the network marketplace and decide whether and how to promote them. You can even do more active recruitment in the affiliate networks by sending a dedicated email to all affiliates in the network, or to particular segments of affiliates most relevant to your products and services. This is generally an efficient way to find high quality affiliates that can be brought on board quickly.
- Direct contact. Take a look at your competition to see what websites are promoting their offerings online (just run a Google search on your competitors’ products and services to get started). You should take these affiliates into consideration, especially because significant traffic these days is search engine–driven. However, I can tell you that you will have a lot of work to do with competitors’ affiliates to convince them that your offer is worthy of being considered.
- Affiliate events. Large affiliate events bring a few thousand affiliates, merchants and networks under the same roof for a couple of days, making these events a great way to network and recruit affiliates. It works best to schedule meetings in advance with specific affiliates you’d like to recruit, because it can be quite hard to identify—or get time with—all the relevant affiliates when on site.
- PPC campaigns. The big advantage for these campaigns is that they can save you a lot of time. Plus, if well targeted, they can yield some good results. However, our experience suggests it’s not likely that you will get top affiliates signing up to your program from pay-per-click online campaigns.
In sum, when recruiting affiliates, always consider the best balance between the quality of affiliates and ease of recruitment. I am very curious to find out which affiliate recruitment sources have worked best for you, so please feel free to chime in and share your experiences.