* This article is a guest post by Stephen Robinson at All Inclusive Marketing, helping brands drive growth through better digital marketing. *
Celebrate Valentine’s Day this year by giving your affiliate programs the gift that keeps on giving, recruitment. In my 10 years of managing affiliate programs, I noticed a trend where day-to-day management often leaves recruitment out in the cold. The reality is that the top performing publishers in your program can leave at any time or fall out of favor with Google thanks to the latest algorithmic change. This can leave you on the dance floor without a partner.
Why Recruitment is Important and Time-Sensitive
Recruitment is a time-consuming effort, but has 3 main benefits: 1) revenue growth, 2) new customer acquisition, and 3) brand exposure. However, without a strategic approach and a lot of resilience, a lack of success may leave you discouraged and restrict your focus to optimizing your top-performing publishers. Like a good love story, there can be a happy ending, but it will require some patience and effort.
Your program’s peak season is the time to shine and drive revenue when consumer interest is highest, so you’ll spend most of your time working with top performers. But in the off-season, focus your time on recruitment.
How to Build Your Recruitment List
I suggest spending three to six months prior to your brand’s peak season building your recruitment lists and outreach plan. For example, if your brand specializes in outdoor recreation and you know that May-August is busiest, start building your recruitment lists in January so you’re ready to go in February. Whether you’re managing a new program or a mature one, adding new publishers is key to continued growth and publisher diversification. Here are a few tips to help build your recruitment list:
- Identify the types of publishers that drive traffic, revenue, and have a high conversion rate in your program and put them at the top of your recruitment list.
- Use tools like Similarweb.com to identify sites that are similar to your top-performing publishers.
- Think about your target audience, and zero in on sites that attract the same demographic.
- Also, search for sites that are talking about your competitors to find more market share.
- Finally, leverage the recruitment tools in your network to find publishers who are already primed to be ambassadors for your brand.
Strategies for Reaching Recruits on Your List
Once you’ve built your recruitment lists, it’s time to begin your outreach. Like on a first date, first impressions are everything. You’ll be tempted to send an email template to your whole list. However, your best chance at getting a second date is a personalized message, showing publishers that you care. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when developing an outreach campaign:
- Review each site and suggest where your advertiser would make sense on the publisher’s site. For example, “Our DIY program would be a great fit for your Home and Garden category.”
- Give publishers an incentive to join your affiliate program, such as a commission increase for 30 days, or an increased commission on the first sale or lead.
- Provide your direct contact information–not a generic email address like email@example.com.
- Develop a cadence. Recruitment takes time, so plan a follow-up schedule and stick to it!
- When possible, send an email to an actual person (rather than an address like firstname.lastname@example.org). This will help increase your chances of getting a response. If you’re contacting publishers through a network interface, you may not have access to their email address, so including your contact information can bring you more responses.
Affiliate Network Engagement Tools
AvantLink also provides some great tools for publisher recruitment that allow you to drill down and recruit publishers based on affiliate categories, such as “Content,” “Coupon/Deal,” “Loyalty/Rebate,” and many more.
The Website Category Filter segments the categories even further. For example, “Home and Garden” has a sub-category of “Garden” to narrow down the search. The Affiliate Recruitment Tool video below is one of many tutorials created by AvantLink that provide a walk through of features that help you recruit and more.