A friend and fellow affiliate marketer, Mark Welch, writes that “the single most important source of successful affiliates is a direct invitation from the program manager to the site owner or advertising manager” (source: Affiliate Recruitment Strategies and Practices post). I fully concur with Mark here.
Interestingly enough, out of all available methods of direct contact, the vast majority of affiliate program managers are using only one.
In reality, there are 3 methods of direct contact that can be effectively used for affiliate recruitment. They are:
1. Electronic mail (self-explanatory) — This is by far the most widely-used method of a merchant’s/manager’s coming into direct contact with a prospective affiliate (with a purpose of inviting them into an affiliate program). In this category I include both traditional emails, and direct messages sent via an instant messengers, affiliate network or social media platform, or other messaging options. The latter basically represent a condensed form of an email invitation.
2. Regular mail (postcard or similar invitation) — This method of affiliate recruitment is without a doubt the most underused method, which consequently gives it the edge most prospective affiliates will appreciate. Mail them a postcard, or even a package with a little gift! It can do wonders for your affiliate recruitment campaign; and it’s well-worth the extra time spent on it, especially when we are talking super affiliates.
3. Face-to-face contact (at conference or other meeting) — There are a number of affiliate marketing shows and events to attend every year, and each has its own opportunities for meeting prospective affiliates. Besides the events directly related to affiliate marketing, I always recommend attending other conferences on digital marketing.
Whether you’re reading this as an affiliate, or as a program manager, I’d love hear your feedback too. As always, you may post it in the “Comments” area below.
7 thoughts on “3 Types of Direct Contact for Affiliate Recruitment”
Electronic mail may be the most efficient way to contact prospective affiliates but the response rate can be discouraging. Also, you’re never sure if they received your e-mail when you don’t hear back. Nonetheless, it’s my primary contact method, although recently I’m getting better interaction with condensed formats (IM, DM, FB, etc.)
Trying new subject lines to improve open rates and experimenting with just the right message and length of e-mail can make a big difference. I’ve found that shorter e-mails which show I’ve taken the time to check them out (as well as their target markets) and describe how our program fits their market is typically enough. However, I add a snapshot of our company below my sig and invite them to read it for more info. It includes one sentence description of each our main products as well as commission rates, resources, etc. in bullet-ed format. Many new affiliates have commented positively on the “snapshot” touch.
Regular mail could very well get good response. Although more time consuming, I agree that it’s worthwhile testing this method. Along those lines, I personally love getting copies of Feedfront and Website Magazine, etc. via regular mail. I think I’d feel similarly about receiving a personal e-mail from an affiliate manager by mail.
By the way, I’m curious as to why you didn’t mention calling prospective affiliates.
Thank you for your comments, Erin. You should document and publish your findings about what makes a successful affiliate recruitment email (btw, I’ll be happy to facilitate you with that).
As for the phone as a method of contact, it is worth including it in some follow-ups, but definitely not as any of the primary means of contact. My experience has been that affiliates are strongly against being solicited by phone.
We have just started a Cloud Computing Affiliate Program at Atlantic.Net, and the biggest challenge is getting the word out. Perhaps the best thing that I have done so far is to attend the Affiliate Summits (East & West) in NYC and Las Vegas. Not only are you able to get the message out face to face but it was actually a great venue for signing up affiliates on the spot. In addition I was able to discover some networks that look to be a great find. Overall you can expect to receive a tremendous education in affiliate marketing simply by attending. In fact I discovered that our cloud program was the only one that paid uncapped and unlimited payouts, so that was a great selling feature for us.
I hoped this helped.
Very true, John. Affiliate Summits can be especially beneficial if you host a Meet Market table (a highly effective way to meet crowds of prospective affiliates face to face) there. Was that what you did? Or did you have a booth?
Unfortunately, we were shut out of the meet market as it was sold out already. We did get a booth and it worked out well as we had about 50 sign-ups on the spot.
Having learned from my past mistake I have booked the meet market table for ASE11 in NYC this week.
I did Meet Market 3 or 4 times, and never regretted it once. They do sell out quickly though. So, good thing you’ve already booked a table for Affiliate Summit East 2011.
Cheers for the advise, I totally see your point when it comes to actually sending them a postcard or even a gift (possibly your physical product or a sample). I have been searching for sites and try and notice if they are on selling and then go from there but no luck as yet. Any way I will plug the product so anyone can check it out, pureserenitytoday.com Thanks for the simple tips, because i haven’t had any luck as yet, i second guessed myself and thought is there an easier way. There never is got to put in the time and effort!! Cheers Patrick.