Your affiliate program’s success doesn't just depend on the number of affiliates you’ve got on board – it’s the quality that makes the most difference. But where do you find those amazing affiliates? And how do they find you?
In this article, we'll lay out a roadmap for finding the best affiliates. Learn how to get them on board and keep them active with creative referral incentive ideas, top-notch support, and more.
The benefits of having affiliates
‘You should try product X, I think you’d love it’ – Affiliate marketing is based on a simple principle: the best marketers for your product or service are happy customers.
Nobody does it as they do: they give genuine advice, share personal experiences, and provide tailored tips to the people in their life (or network) they truly believe are interested in that. It’s hyper-focused marketing, except it's not marketing. And that’s why it works.
You’re able to reach a wider audience, thanks to affiliates. But it also goes deeper, by getting straight to the core of what people are eager to learn about your product.
And affiliate marketing reaps relatively quick results that you can easily measure. By using a reliable SaaS affiliate tracker, you can track the success of your affiliate program and optimize it for maximum performance.
But wait, there’s more! Yes, having affiliates can also improve your search engine rankings, as links to your website can improve your website's domain authority.
Enough reasons to start working with affiliates – if you do it right. Here’s how to set yourself up for success.
What a great affiliate looks like
That all sounds great, but not all affiliates are the same. A great affiliate is someone who is passionate about your niche and has a dedicated following that trusts their recommendations.
Knowing what you are looking for will help you figure out where to look. Here are some pointers and examples of what to look for in aspiring affiliates:
Relevance: Look for affiliates who have a following that aligns with your target audience. It might not be exactly the same (that’s how you can expand your reach), but look for enough overlap.
Engagement: Aim for affiliates who have an engaged following, meaning that their audience interacts with their content regularly. A following doesn't need to be huge if the engagement is really strong.
Authenticity: Work with affiliates who are genuinely interested in your product or service and willing to share their honest opinions with their audience. This will help build trust and increase the likelihood of conversions.
Influence: What’s their relation to your product or industry? Why would people trust them? Look for affiliates who have a strong influence over their audience and have the potential to drive traffic and sales to your website.
Bonus points for a track record: Look for affiliates who have a proven track record of success with other affiliate programs. You can ask for referrals or check their performance on other affiliate networks.
How to find the right affiliates for your affiliate program
Now that the perfect affiliate is taking shape in your mind's eye, it's time to start looking for them – and to make it easy for them to find you. Here’s where.
Convert (old and new) customers into affiliates
Your existing customers are already familiar with your products or services and may be interested in promoting them to their friends and family.
To turn your customers into affiliates, consider offering referral incentive ideas such as discounts, free products or services, or even cash rewards. This can encourage your customers to spread the word about your business and bring in new customers.
Let new customers know that they can become affiliates, but don’t forget to reach out to people who have been customers for ages too. They’re the ones who know your product through and through – and hopefully still love it.
Find influencers and industry experts
Get the ick from the word influencer? Consider them to be industry experts – this can also make it much easier to find them (hello, hashtags!).
Influencers have a large or super relevant following on social media and can help promote your products or services to their audience.
To find influencers in your niche, use social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter to search for relevant hashtags, groups or keywords.
You can reach out directly with a proposal or use influencer seeding tactics by sending free products or services to influencers in exchange for a mention or review on their social media accounts.
Let the right affiliates find you
Be active in affiliate communities and other online communities. Aka: let the right affiliates find you
Being active in affiliate communities can help you connect with potential affiliates who are already interested in promoting products or services like yours.
Look for relevant communities on social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, and participate in discussions or offer helpful advice. This form of affiliate networking helps you establish yourself as an expert in your niche and attract potential affiliates.
Research affiliates promoting your competitors
If your competitors have affiliates promoting their products or services, chances are that these affiliates may be interested in promoting products or services like yours as well.
This tactic makes for laser-focused affiliate recruitment: identify affiliates promoting your competitors, and reach out to them with referral program ideas and commission rates that are competitive.
Use affiliate directories
Affiliate directories are websites that list affiliate programs, making it easy for affiliates to find you. When listing your affiliate program on these directories, be sure to highlight the benefits of partnering with your business, including clear commission rates.
How to reach out to affiliates
There are plenty of affiliate programs out there, so how do you get your dream affiliates to pick yours? Here are some tips to become the most attractive affiliate program on the market:
Offer incentives that match the market, or that go beyond. Do your research to see what competitors are offering their affiliates, and make sure you can compete with that. If you can offer something of value on top of commissions, consider that. Some referral incentive ideas are free products, exclusive discounts, shoutouts, early access, or more – research what makes your audience tick!
Build a strong brand with quality content. It’s one thing for affiliates to back your product, it’s another to get them to back your brand. Make sure you’re highly shareable, that your content is on point, and that people would proudly connect themselves to your brand.
Be super clear and offer stellar support. Nothing is as off-putting for affiliates as an unclear program. Make sure every question they could possibly ask about your affiliate program is answered on a dedicated landing page. People love a good FAQ section. And offer steady support for your affiliates – make it easy for them to reach out. Consider having an online community on Slack or Discord, for instance, for short lines and quick comms.
How to keep your affiliates active
It’s great if someone signs up as an affiliate in the heat of the moment and promotes you once or twice, but you’re likely looking for a more steady relationship. That means you have to work on it! Here are some referral program ideas that boost retention:
- Make sure it's easy for affiliates to track their earnings and their progress.
- Provide tips and tricks for them to optimize their affiliate marketing actions. You can even highlight examples of what successful affiliates are doing. People love a shoutout.
- Host online events with valuable info exclusively for affiliates. Webinars or live Q&A sessions with industry experts could be a great place to start.
- Set up an online community where your affiliates can learn from each other. Make sure you keep it active and positive.
- Gamification! Organize challenges for your affiliates with additional bonuses as a prize.
Keep track of your affiliates’ successes
The great thing about affiliate marketing is that everybody wins. Plus, it’s simple, straightforward, and easy to set up. If you’re looking for an intuitive tool that helps you keep track of all your affiliate winnings and lets you manage it all from one place, check out Rewardful. You’ll have it up and running in no time, so you and your affiliates can start earning ASAP.