Have you decided to turn to affiliate marketing to drive leads, sales, and gain new customers? If you play your cards right, this decision will surely benefit your business and your brand. But, before you expect any results, you will have to invest some time and effort into marketing your affiliate program.
At this point, your affiliate program is like any newly launched product or service. It’s available, but, unless you let potential affiliates know about it, no one will join it. In the following lines, we will cover the most effective ways to spread the word about your affiliate marketing program. Many of them were already covered by our very own Geno Prussakov, in his Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day.
Before we get to it, though, have you checked our Ultimate Checklist for a Successful Affiliate Program Launch? You would not want to market a program for which you haven’t yet established all details. It is definitely not a good idea to do it if your program is vulnerable to affiliate fraud, parasitism, and other activities that do not add value.
Once your program is up and running, you can spread the word about it following the tips below:
15 Easy and Effective Affiliate Program Marketing Ideas
1. Dedicated Page or Website for Your Affiliate Program
You can create a page on your merchant website, or go as far as setting up a separate mini-site directed at your affiliates. While a program page is easier to create, it does not allow you to upload too much content, as doing it could slow down your merchant website.
That is why many merchants choose to setup mini-sites. If you decide to follow their lead, consider covering the following:
- Program description and calls to action
- Program agreement
- Answers to frequently asked questions
- Affiliate blog
- Contact page
The goal of the page or mini-site is to allow you to explain all the terms and benefits of your program and, thus, convince those who read it to join. Think of it as the first step to online affiliate program marketing.
By linking to it from your merchant website’s homepage, you allow anyone visiting to find out about the affiliate program and, hopefully, join it. Shutterstock chose to place the link to their Affiliate / Reseller Program at the bottom of their homepage (see screenshot below). Bluehost, on the other hand, included their affiliate program page in their main menu.
When adding the link, if you haven’t done it already, you should also evaluate your merchant website and make sure it is affiliate-friendly. If it’s not, all your affiliate program marketing efforts could be in vain. We’ve already covered the aspects that make a website affiliate-friendly in a previous post here.
2. Emailing Former and Existing Customers and Advocates
With a single email, you could reach out hundreds, if not thousands of contacts. Besides becoming your affiliates, they could also share the information with their own contacts. Not only will this help your affiliate program marketing but it will also remind everyone about the products or services you are offering.
Make your email as personal and friendly as you can. Remind the receiver who you are, introduce your program, and layout its main details and benefits. Include some statistics if available (average order value, average commission). Finally, do not forget to add the calls to action and the link to your affiliate program page and/or affiliate network listing.
3. Announcing Your Affiliate Program Launch on Your Blog
Your merchant website hopefully has a blog section. If it doesn’t, you should consider starting one, as there is no better way to connect with your target customers, improve your search engine ranking, and draw traffic.
LockTrip took things one-step even further in their program announcement blog post. They covered basic information like what affiliate marketing is and what existing customers need to do in order to become affiliates.
4. Posting on Social Media Pages and/or Profiles
If you’ve been marketing your brand effectively, you probably already have several thousand followers on social media. A couple of posts about your program launch will definitely support your affiliate program marketing efforts.
You can also create separate social media pages and even a group around your affiliate program, like GearBest. Thus, your existing contacts will be able to share your posts and invite their own contacts to join with a single click. You can also set up ad campaigns.
5. Order Confirmation Page and Follow-up Emails
Every time someone purchases a product or service, you display a confirmation page to them and, likely, also send them “thank you” emails. Many merchants also send invitations to their customers to rate or review the products or services they bought.
It doesn’t cost you anything to include an invitation for them to join your affiliate program. Just ask them about their experience with your products and services and present them with the opportunity. Who doesn’t like to earn money, free credits, and whatever other rewards and benefits you decided to offer?
This will only work if your customers are happy with your products and services, so make quality your main priority. Then, make sure your incentives, rewards, and program terms are attractive enough. Hopefully, they are more attractive than your competitors’.
6. Submitting Program Details to Affiliate Program Directories
It will take a little time to submit your program information to all directories, but it should be worth it. Besides supporting your affiliate program marketing efforts, it will help with SEO. The only question is which affiliate directories are worth submitting your information to. Here is a list to get you started:
7. Posting About Your Program on Affiliate Forums
These are places where affiliates exchange ideas and advice, so they could be a great way to make your program known. Just follow guidelines and avoid spamming. Besides being banned, you could also create a bad impression and do more harm than good.
On the bright side, many forums have dedicated sections for merchant offers, so you will not have to invest too much time to participate in discussions and find the right context to mention your program. Some affiliate forums worth joining are:
8. Discussing the Program in Social Media Groups
If you have a fan base or community built around your brand, that’s the first to target and the most likely to yield results. Then, there are numerous affiliate marketing groups worth joining on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Besides allowing you to mention your affiliate program to the publishers there, they could also represent a valuable source of information and advice. They will also allow you to see your program through the eyes of your hopefully future affiliates. Do read their rules before posting, as some prohibit all forms of advertising, so you may have to be really subtle.
9. Publishing Press Releases
Some say press releases are dead or outdated. However, properly written and submitted to the right platforms, they could help. Since quite a few platforms accept free submissions, you have nothing to lose. On the contrary, you will gain links and traffic. Some free press release platforms worth trying are:
10. Mentioning it in Blog Posts Targeting Potential Publishers
Many successful affiliate marketers decide to share their knowledge and experience with others on their blogs. There are also many valuable content platforms. Some cover affiliate marketing in general, others target those who want to work from home, make money online, or start a blog.
Some create and publish custom content in exchange for a fee or accept paid submissions. Others accept free submissions but have high-quality standards. There are also bloggers who join and promote affiliate programs in exchange for one-time fees or recurring commissions.
It will be up to you to find those, as you will need to make sure that their audience matches yours and review their terms and conditions. Feedspot could be a good starting point for your search, and you can use Hunter to find the bloggers’ email addresses faster.
11. Affiliate Networks (and the Tools and Opportunities They Offer)
When you are just launching, joining an affiliate network could be very helpful, as it would bring you instant exposure to the publishers already active in that network. Moreover, most affiliate networks offer various tools and opportunities to their members.
For example, when you join ShareASale, your program is automatically listed in the New Programs category. You also gain access to their Recruitment Tool and several paid Program Boost options. We’ve already reviewed the most important affiliate marketing networks in the U.S. here.
12. Attending Affiliate Events
There is no better way to expand your affiliate marketing knowledge, meet potential affiliates and fellow merchants, and build relationships than attending industry trade shows. You’ll have the chance to learn from the best in the business, spy on your competitors, spread the word about your program, and, of course, network with others who share your goals and interests.
Our very own Geno Prussakov is the founder and chair of AM Days and holds workshops and presentations at most affiliate marketing events. Then, you should consider the Affiliate World conferences, and, of course, the Affiliate Summit (East and West).
13. Partnering with Other Merchants for Cross-Promotion
Obviously, such relationships only pay out when you partner with merchants who target the same publishers but are not your direct competitors, also called niche verticals. Besides promoting your affiliate program on their website and social media, they could actually become your affiliates.
For example, if you sell shoes, you could partner with merchants focusing on handbags. If you provide interior design services, you could partner with plumbers, roofers, or landscapers. Before reaching out to them, you should decide whether you are willing to return the favor or, if not, how you are going to repay them.
14. Employing Paid Ads
Paid ads don’t always work, and certainly not for all affiliate programs, so it will be your responsibility to determine whether they are a viable option for your particular case. They are an option to consider especially immediately after your program launch until you manage to onboard your first few affiliates. You could advertise with Google or Bing but also on various industry platforms and in niche publications.
15. Rewarding Affiliate Referrals
Yes, your program rewards affiliates for driving qualifying actions, be they leads, calls, sales, etc. However, nothing stops you from rewarding new affiliate referrals as well. You could offer a one-time bonus for each signup after the referred affiliate drives the first qualifying action or a percentage of the sales driven by the referred affiliate.
Either way, this will surely bring in some exposure and a few new affiliates. Since you only reward performance, you have nothing to lose anyway. Of course, you will have to set clear terms from the beginning and take measures to prevent affiliates from referring themselves.
Final Recommendations on Affiliate Program Marketing
We tested the above affiliate program marketing methods on numerous occasions and in various niches. Obviously, some work better than others, and their success depends on the specifics of your program and the performance of the person implementing them.
To obtain the best results, you should consider working with an experienced affiliate program manager. To take your program’s marketing to the next level, an outsourced program management agency is an even better idea.
Besides extensive knowledge, skills, and experience in implementing all the above and driving performance, OPM agencies have access to tools and resources that would be costly and overwhelming for you to purchase and learn to use.
They have considerable social media following and, especially if they managed programs in the same niche, an extensive database of potential affiliates to reach out to. Since they probably manage several programs, they can organize cross-promotion campaigns.
They have their own blogs and communication channels as well, where they can and will announce your affiliate program launch and further campaigns. Finally, they attend most affiliate events and even actively participate in them, which gives them the occasion to bring your program into the spotlight.
In other words, they implement all the above affiliate program marketing opportunities and more, at lower costs and with better results than you could secure on your own. They can also help you avoid mistakes that could end up harming your affiliate marketing program and even your brand. At least that is what we, at AM Navigator do.
If you need help with your affiliate program marketing, have questions regarding the suggestions above, or you would like to find out more about what working with an affiliate program management agency like ours means, don’t hesitate to reach out! Someone will always be here for you, ready to provide the answers, advice, and solutions you need.