Together with Social Snowball, we’ve put together a quick guide designed to help you spread the word about your new affiliate program on multiple channels.
Building an affiliate program is an easy decision when considering its many amazing benefits: it will boost brand awareness and credibility, bring new website traffic, and generate more revenue. The process is pretty straightforward, too: you just choose an affiliate app or an affiliate network and set it up in no time.
But, the next step is a bit tricky. Once you have an affiliate program, you need to find affiliates. And even if this might sound like a simple task, it’s definitely not an easy one to achieve.
This article will go through the best marketing channels for finding quality affiliates.
But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is an affiliate program?
An affiliate program is a performance-based marketing program through which you compensate another business or individual (the affiliate) for bringing you customers or leads.
For example, Amazon Associates is Amazon’s affiliate marketing program. They pay their affiliates anywhere between 0% and 20% (depending on the products the affiliate promotes) for bringing customers.
Amazon's “percentage of revenue” compensation model is typical across affiliate programs. However, you can choose other compensation methods as well. For example, you can choose to reward your affiliates with gift cards, store points, coupons, etc.
The two groups of potential affiliates
Potential affiliates are individuals or businesses that are likely to join your affiliate program or, in other words, become affiliates. We will divide them into two groups:
1. Your customers/followers: These are the individuals you can reach through their contact details, i.e., your customers, newsletter subscribers, social media followers, etc. Generally, they are aware of your brand.
2. External affiliates: These are professional affiliate marketers or influencers who can highly and positively impact your affiliate program KPIs, but you’ll have to take a few extra steps to reach out to them. They might not be aware of your brand or products just yet.
Choosing the right marketing channel depends on which of these two affiliate groups you want to approach.
Marketing channels to promote your affiliate program to customers
SMS marketing is a must-have in your arsenal for promoting anything and everything to your customers. SMS has an astounding open rate of 99%, and 90% of all text messages are read within the first three minutes of being sent.
So if you want to make your customers aware of your new affiliate program, there is no other channel more suitable than SMS. It is brief, direct, and reaches your customers exactly where they are — on their phones. Furthermore, with the wide variety of personalization and targeting options, you’ll make sure your campaign will grab your audience's attention and enjoy conversion rates of 45% on average.
Email is another great way to reach out to your customers to present your affiliate program. While SMS is more suitable for shorter messages, email gives you more options to provide your audience with more in-depth and detailed information on your program, how it works, etc.
With email, it’s crucial to use an engaging subject line and preview text to grab readers’ attention and make them want to click on the email to know more. For example, here’s CoSchedule, a social media automation tool, promoting its affiliate program via email:
Pro tip: Once a customer joins your affiliate program, show them their affiliate link in every relevant email. For example, Cloudways always includes the affiliate’s unique trackable link in their emails.
3. Social media
Customers or not, people interested in your brand may follow you across social media, which makes it a great marketing channel to promote your new affiliate program and attract potential partners. Here is an example of a perfume brand promoting its referral program on Instagram:
You can also use social media to share the benefits of joining your program, tips & tricks on boosting revenue, success stories of your affiliates, etc. It will not only attract new affiliates but also motivate existing ones. For instance, SEMRush has a separate Twitter account where they do just that.
SEMRush sharing an affiliate’s success story
4. On-site promotions
One of the best ways to promote your affiliate program is right on your company website. We will now give you a few ideas on where to place it, so it grabs the attention of your visitors.
- Display your affiliate program in the top navigation bar or footer.
- Highlight the affiliate program using pop-ups, proactive live chat, or announcement bars.
- Display the affiliate code every time someone makes a purchase from you. For example, Social Snowball converts eCommerce customers into affiliates by showing their unique affiliate link/coupon code on the “Thank You” page.
Marketing channels to promote your affiliate program to external affiliates
5. Cold outreach
Cold outreach is a method of contacting a potential affiliate — someone who probably doesn't know you and doesn’t have any connection with your business.
Three steps for effective cold outreach:
Step 1: Find a list of potential affiliates. Look for websites and influencers that publish things relevant to what you sell. For example, you can search Google for relevant keywords (like “best keto dry dog food” if you sell dog food) and come across many potential affiliate sites. Similarly, you can use hashtags (like #ketodogfood) and find relevant influencers.
Step 2: Find their contact details. Sometimes, potential affiliates share how to contact them for partnerships. For example, they can mention a partnerships email, have a separate contact form, or ask you to “DM for collaborations.” However, if they don’t, the best way to contact potential affiliates is by email, and the second-best is DMs (Direct Messages). You can find emails using an email scraping tool like Hunter.io, Overloop.com, ZoomInfo, etc.
Step 3: Contact them. Make a bare-bones potential affiliate outreach script, customize it for each contact detail, and send the message inviting them to your affiliate program.
Pro tip: Use a cold outreach tool like Mailshake, GMass, Lemlist, Yesware, etc., to bulk-send and A/B test your messages and follow-up messages. These tools also help track your outreach campaigns’ open rate, click rate, response rate, etc., to optimize them further.
6. Pay-per-click ads
Bidding for relevant, high-intent keywords to promote your affiliate program is another good idea to get potential affiliates interested.
For example, Supermetrics runs PPC campaigns to show their affiliate program at the top for relevant keywords.
Similarly, you can too. It’s a simple two-step process:
Step 1: Do keyword research: Find keywords potential affiliates search when they are looking for affiliate programs. For example, suppose someone is starting a niche website that reviews and ranks dog food. In that case, they might search “best dog food affiliate programs” to find high-paying affiliate programs for monetizing their site. In this case, “best dog food affiliate programs” is a relevant keyword for you if you sell dog food.
Step 2: Bid for those keywords: Once you have the keywords, write a good ad copy and bid for those keywords on Google Ads, Bing Ads, and YouTube ads for potential affiliates to find you.
Apart from search ads, you can also run ads on social media. Though social media ads might not be as targeted as search engine ads, they can be effective, especially if used for retargeting users who visited the affiliate program page.
7. Do not forget organic search
When potential affiliates search “best XYZ affiliate programs,” they look for lists of affiliate programs they can compare and filter. Yes, many will see your intent-focused PPC ads and click on them, but most won’t — statistics show 94% of users skip search ads; in this case, though, that number will likely be lower because of the intent.
On top of that, PPC ads are an expensive solution in the long run, and it’s impossible to find all keywords people use to search for affiliate programs.
However, there are relevant search results for all keywords. To dominate the SERPs (search engine ranking pages), you have two options:
1. Invest in SEO and try to rank your affiliate program for relevant keywords. This requires time and effort.
2. Get on lists that are already ranking. This is comparatively easy. For example, if you sell dog food, run an outreach campaign to try and get on listicles like this one from Authority Hacker:
8. Affiliate Network
Big affiliate networks like Shareasale, Commission Junction, Impact, etc., have thousands of affiliates on their platforms. They search through the network to find the best affiliate programs for their current or new projects. And, if you are listed on the network, chances are they will come across your name in the process.
There you have it — the most effective marketing channels to promote your affiliate program. For best results, use all the mentioned channels, and see the number of requests to join your affiliate program flood!