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Successful Affiliate Marketing: Getting the Word Out

Follow these steps of program promotion and you should have a large stable of affiliate candidates to choose from.
This article is adapted from chapter 6 of Pay for Performance: Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants (Que, 2001).
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Looking at the millions of web sites that are potential candidates for your affiliate program and considering how to recruit them into your program can be discouraging. And then there's the fact that you must compete with thousands of affiliate programs that are already in existence. Building your affiliate base may seem like an impossible task, but like most things in life, a long journey starts with just the first step—in the case of recruiting affiliates, several steps.

Step 1: Crafting Your Message

When presenting your program to potential affiliates, your message should include the following value propositions:

  • State the benefits of your program clearly and without hype.

  • The most obvious benefit of your program to a potential affiliate is the ability for them to make money by simply referring their site visitors to your product or service. Your message must be very clear—they will earn a specific commission or referral fee for each action their visitor takes. So at the very top of your message is the ability to make money.

    Keep in mind that most people will see through hype, so don't promise that they'll make thousands of dollars a day and be able to retire when they're 30. Provide a realistic revenue potential. If you have a program already in place, provide testimonials from successful affiliates who have actually achieved the revenue numbers you say a hardworking affiliate can earn.

  • State clearly that you sell a quality product or service.

  • Your next value proposition should state clearly that you sell a quality product or service within a quality program. A quality product or service doesn't include get-rich-quick schemes or multilevel marketing (MLM) programs. It also means that you have a program that will stand behind what you sell. And if you can tell potential affiliates that you won't compete with them, that will strengthen your message considerably.

  • State that your offer will fit well with the audience of their site.

  • The next element of your message should explain that your offering fits well on the potential affiliate's site and would be of interest to their web site visitors. This in-context approach shows potential affiliates that your offering will add a valuable service to their sites, enhancing the experience of visitors.

  • Show how your program compares with your competition's.

  • The more beneficial differences your program offers an affiliate, the more likely it will join your network. Summarize your competitor's benefits and show why your program is the best choice.

  • Explain your method of tracking affiliates' sales and earnings—how it's done and who will do it.

  • Another important element in your message is to tell potential affiliates how you track visitors and sales and the reports available to them. Make it clear that you have a program in place that records every resulting sale or referral and that the sale is credited to your affiliate member. If you offer a two-tier program, explain that the affiliate can earn a commission for each sale that results from the referral of an affiliate site that they recruit for you.

  • State that by affiliating with you, their site will gain added credibility.

  • Finally, impress on potential affiliates that by affiliating with your business they can gain added credibility for their sites. If your program recruits quality affiliates and doesn't take the tack of building an affiliate network by piling them high and stacking them deep, you can tell potential candidates that they belong to an exclusive club, and that their site visitors will see this.

The key to a good message is telling a credible story. Give affiliates your qualifications as a business and explain the quality of your offering. Above all, watch the tone of your message. Stay away from any technical jargon—keep it simple, credible, and to the point.

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