A lot of brands suffer from an inactive affiliate program. You’ve managed to onboard a good chunk of affiliates but they rarely post about your brand or products. You thought affiliates could create a significant revenue stream for your business, but it’s now mostly just an ignored pool of people signed up to your program.
Here’s how to fix this.
Take an active approach to affiliates
Most brands sign up for some affiliate referral tool and add an “Affiliate Program” link to the footer of their website.
This is NOT how successful brands do it. The successful brands take an active approach to their affiliate program. What does this mean?
Reach out to customers who buy repeatedly from you
Trigger emails to customers who’ve purchased worth a certain $ amount or a certain number of times from you. They’re likely to be fans of your brand and would be happy to hop on as affiliates for the extra perks you give them for their loyalty.
Run actual outbound affiliate outreach
Send emails to nano influencers in your niche on a regular basis. 50 per week is a good rate to start with. You’d be surprised how many would be up for your affiliate program, especially if you send them free product. I’ll talk more about this in another blogpost.
Promote your affiliate program
Share it on your socials, email newsletter, site footer (duh), and everywhere else you can think of. The more eyeballs on your affiliate page, the better.
Build an actual affiliate landing page
Don’t send interested people straight to a sign up page. Take a few hours to put together a simple affiliate program page that highlights the details of your program. Add testimonials from other affiliates, customer quotes, explain the reward structure, and answer frequently asked questions. Here’s some good examples from Sunsama and Monday.
Don’t simply onboard an affiliate and forget about them. Actually send them emails about what they should expect from your program.
I recommend sending an email drip spread across 25-30 days after they sign up to become an affiliate for you. Here’s a good cadence:
Day 1: Welcome Email
Share details of your program, how much they stand to earn (doesn’t hurt to mention again), and share what you expect. Inform them that you’ll send more emails in the coming weeks to help them get started.
Day 4: Best Practices
Share some best practices, brand guidelines, themes, etc. Make sure you don’t set too many guardrails or else creators will feel limited by your rules and never post. Tell them how many posts you expect from them in a month.
Day 9: Content Inspiration
Send them other affiliate’s content to use as inspiration. If you don’t have any example content, send them posts from your blog or social media to use as inspiration.
You can also share talking points, make it easier for them to simply pick up their phone and record.
Day 14: Show Results
Tout other affiliate’s results. Affiliates are doing you a huge favour by posting about you, especially since they don’t get paid upfront. In all fairness, they don’t know if you even pay on time. They don’t know if their expected payout is $50 per month or $1000 per month.
Show them what people like them get, and it’ll make them more likely to take action.
Day 20: Customer Love
Share your customers’ reviews with them, it helps reassure that they’re recommending a product their audience would love.
Day 25: More Content Inspiration
It doesn’t hurt to send more content inspiration on an ongoing basis here onwards, this will spiral into a content machine for your brand.
This is where using a purpose-built CRM to manage your affiliate relationships will help, you can send stage-based email drips. Don’t make the mistake of onboarding affiliates and leaving them hanging!
The next and ongoing step is affiliate engagement. Imagine if a customer buys from you once and never hears back from you again, that’s dumb. So is not keeping in touch with your affiliates and building meaningful relationships. Affiliates are more than your customers, they’re active promoters of your brand. Treat them like that.
How do you do this? Here are some ideas:
Every month, pick a few lucky affiliates and send them free goodies. They are almost 100% guaranteed to post about it and get you sales. They get a great product for free, and you get a few sales for nothing but COGS out of pocket.
Share insider info or early access
Now that they’re closer to the brand and invested in your success, it only makes sense to keep them posted with internal updates. Are you launching a new product line? Did you just land a big local supplier? Tell them.
Send them early versions of products you plan on launching in the future, get their feedback and use it to improve.
Do Special Offers or Giveaways
In festive seasons, you could do special deals for their audience. Eg: Sitewide 10% off but a 15% off for their audience. It makes them feel special and valued, and it’s your way of giving back.
You can also do giveaways for their audience, it’s tons of brand exposure and excited fans wanting to get something from you.
Milestone based reward structure
This is a more advanced tactic. Once an affiliate hits a certain milestone, improve their payouts. Eg: Get 15% of sales instead of 10% on driving at least $1000 in sales per month.
This makes sense for you as a brand as you’ve cracker audience-product fit with this affiliate. Invest more to acquire through them, reward them to post more. It’s equivalent to pouring more money into a FB adset that works well for you.
You can also give different levels of affiliates different names to indicate status:
That’s it. If you follow all these steps, there is no way you don’t see exponential improvements in the results of your affiliate program. Keep me posted on your results.