How to Recruit Affiliates into an Affiliate Program?

Today I have received the following email:

I have an affiliate management question for you in regards to recruiting with SAS, and was hoping you could provide some guidance. One of our clients recently launched in the SAS network (late June). We’re seeing ok numbers but I feel we can do much better in terms of recruiting and sales.

We have coupons, banners, text links, and product feeds uploaded but recruiting is slow. Is there a way to email their affiliate base? Does SAS provide any sort of announcement? Any tools within SAS that I may have overlooked?

[For those of my readers that don’t know it, SAS is a common acronym for the ShareASale affiliate network]

While the above questions may seem to be applicable only to merchants that run affiliate programs on ShareASale, it is not so. In fact, the main problem with the above questions (or the major thing that is indeed being “overlooked”) is that an affiliate network-based merchant isn’t looking beyond the network for affiliate recruitment. My answer is therefore a twofold one:

1) ShareASale does provide merchants with excellent tools and opportunities for affiliate recruitment. The first one (and the closest they come to a program announcement mentioned above) is a free listing of a newly-launched program in the “New Programs” section). After that, there are several paid options to choose from. They can be located under the “Tools” menu in your merchant account. Out of all, I have personally found the “Featured Program of the Week” and the “Holiday Center” inclusions to yield the highest click-to-sign-up conversion (over 25%, and over 50% respectively).

2) It seems that in the above question we are tying “coupons, banners, text links, and product feed” uploads to recruiting. In reality, all these have little to do with affiliate recruitment. Yes, it is easier to recruit affiliates into a program that is set up (and maintained) properly, but doing everything right within an affiliate program is no guarrantee that affiliates will join it. A parallel with the “build it and they will come” mentality inevitably comes to mind [see point #1 here]. No, they will not come running to you simply because you have an outstandingly set-up affiliate program. You want to reach out to them. Affiliate recruitment is a separate, and one of the most important, areas of affiliate program management. How do you recruit affiliates? You find the ones that either already work with competing affiliate programs, or have the targeted traffic you’re after, and make contact with them. I wrote about it in my “Affiliate Recruitment: Tools and Techniques” article on Shimon Sandler’s blog, and I also have a section dedicated to affiliate recruitment in my own blog. The “Ineffective Affiliate Recruitment by E-mail” article I wrote for Econsultancy is another one you want to review prior to starting the recruitment campaign.

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