Every time I launch a new affiliate program for a client, and affiliate-referred sales start rolling in, the client gets happy. Then a few weeks into the process, clients start getting impatient. “So when, when will we get the real super affiliates to start pushing us?” — they ask.
I believe that a little fishing analogy explains how things really work. But before I get to it, let me mention a few things as an introduction. Unless at the time of starting your affiliate program your company is already one of the major brands (either per the Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Retail Websites list, or per the Fortune 500 lists, or any other widely recognized rankings), you will have to do some convincing to get those super affiliates on board. In this particular context your most convincing argument is your affiliate program’s statistics. On Commission Junction, for example, prior to joining your affiliate program, affiliates are able to review your 3-month and 7-day EPC [definition here], as well as your program’s ranking on a 5-bar scale which reflects the program’s performance as compared with the other affiliate programs on CJ. On ShareASale affiliates can see your EPC, reversal rate (a very important metric that many other affiliate networks do not disclose), average sale amount, and average commission amount — all in the course of 7 and 30 day periods.
If your brand is not as big as the ones on the above-quoted lists, and you do not have a proven track record in the affiliate marketing industry, you’ll have to start from scratch. You will have to first hook the “smaller fish” to use the performance that they will show in your program as bait for the “bigger fish”. Of course, this is only an illustration, and I hope it does not offend anyone. I want to emphasize the importance of smaller affiliates here. First of all, they will help you build your new program up to make it more attractive to bigger affiliates; and secondly, you never know which one of them will be the next super affiliate. So, be patient, persistent, and attentive to the needs of all affiliates who have chosen to join your affiliate program, and the success will follow.
5 thoughts on “How to Attract Super Affiliates: Big Fish – Small Fish Illustration”
While many people want to work with bigger, known affiliates right away, I think it is very important to pay equal attention to smaller affiliates and help them grow. I always tell myself “who am I to judge who could make money for xxx campaign? It is my job to be available 24×7 to help everyone with whatever they need to be successful.”
It would make sense to me that while taking a lot of time and energy to attract the supers might be worth-while, keeping current affiliates would be less expensive. It is the same reasoning that says acquiring a customer costs 5 to 10 times more than retaining one.
One thing I have always kept in mind is that a “super affiliate” in a general sense still may not be the correct type of affiliate for your service. In other words, AWeber has several very well known affiliates who are considered in many circles to be of the “super” quality, but because the main thrust of what they are usually promoting is not email martketing specific, they don’t make many sales for us.
On the other hand, when I am looking to recruit I look for affiliates who, because of their industry, are a capable of easily becoming a super affiliate for US specifically.
I have had good success in trying to find those who I think would do well and approaching them directly. They in turn, often become super affiliates.
@Ayako: I agree with you 100%
@Patrick: Right, and I’m not talking about doing one at the expense of the other. What I’m saying is that “the supers” will very often not even look at your program unless there is something happening (and this “something” should better have an attractive conversion, EPC, etc)
@Rob: Exactly. Depending on the niche, newly recruited affiliates (even if they weren’t involved in affiliate marketing before you approached them) can become “super” due to the efforts of a diligent affiliate program manager.
Thanks for the information. While attracting a super affiliate is always great, and we would love them to come on board, we also like working with our smaller affiliates.
For example, we have a Facebook page with over a quarter of a million followers. We will promote our affiliates content on our Facebook page as a way of saying thank you being an affiliate (beyond paying them a commission of course).
This has worked out well for us. The affiliates are very thankful for us helping them increase their own web traffic. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
For our super affiliates, of which, we have 4 working with us right now, they get more perks, such as higher commissions, recurring commissions and so on.