Recruiting Affiliates For Your Product
This is the second installment of the merchant marketing tutorial series. If you have not done so, it is recommended you read over Part 1 – The Power Of Intermediaries first.
Having established in the first tutorial that once you have created your first product, the most important way of marketing is to do so using affiliates, we are going to start looking at how you can find and work with them in this tutorial before considering joint-venture partners in the third and final module.
These are both sites where digital information product creators list their products so that the thousands of affiliates who are looking for products and services to promote can find them.
Affiliates can join both of these sites for free and can start promoting any products that they like the look of immediately after signing up. To do so, all they need to do is grab their unique URL link which contains a product reference and their affiliate code.
They use this link in all of their product promotions and every time they land a sale, this unique coded URL ties them to the sale so and the network pays them their commission.
To a large extent, using a network is therefore the quickest way of setting yourself up with a team of affiliated sales people to promote your product on your behalf.
In addition, because the network take care of all of the necessary administration such as processing customer payments on your behalf and paying affiliates, using a network minimizes your day-to-day involvement too.
The fact that commission payments to your affiliates also come through the network makes affiliates very comfortable about working this way too. It makes life easier for them and easier for you at the same time.
In terms of the number of affiliates that you can attract to your offer, using Clickbank is again very attractive as there are some 100,000 affiliates registered with this particular network and also many thousands at PayDotCom (although Clickbank has far more).
However, of the affiliates registered with these sites, you can reasonably safely assume that only a percentage is actively marketing, so you should not be too overwhelmed by the figures.
To start selling your product with PayDotCom costs nothing whereas the first time you register as a merchant, you need to pay Clickbank $49.95 as a one-time ‘Activation’ fee.
Although the initial charge advantage is therefore with PayDotCom, the majority of serious merchants tend to use Clickbank because there are so many more affiliates who use the network to find products to promote.
Remembering from the previous tutorial that one of the advantages of using affiliates to promote your product is that they can spread your marketing reach a very long way, the fact that Clickbank have a lot more affiliates registered usually swings the argument in their favor.
To register your first product with Clickbank, you should log in using any existing affiliate login details that you have.
To log into your account, click the small ‘Log in’ link at the top right-hand corner of the home page as seen here:
On the next page, input your username and password before clicking the green ‘Log in’ button seen in this screenshot:
Once you are logged in, it can be a little difficult to find information relating to selling products, perhaps because you have logged in as an affiliate.
If however you click the ‘Help Center’ link at the top right-hand corner of the page, you have a list of the help resources available with a comprehensive section of information pages related to setting up as a vendor:
Click the ‘Get Started as a Vendor’ link (arrowed in the screenshot above) to see a page that tells you everything you need to know about how to start selling your products on Clickbank (click this link for direct access, although you will have to sign in to your account).
The process is simple and very step-by-step, with detailed information about every individual step on the page linked above. This is a summary of the information on that page:
Assuming that you have done everything correctly as you work through this process, this should be everything that you need to do, done.
Once your payment fee has gone through, your site status will change within the Clickbank system so that it is now shown as ‘Activated’, meaning that you can start selling.
After your product is ‘Activated’, it will be listed in the Clickbank marketplace as well. In other words, it is now available and visible for affiliates to start promoting.
You will also see it appear in the new product section at CBEngine.
Consequently, any CBEngine user who logs in to look for new Clickbank products to promote will see your product details.
I know from my own affiliate marketing activities that many smarter, more experienced affiliate marketers use these new product announcement services because they know that one of the most profitable strategies in affiliate marketing is to get onto hot new products early.
This is something you should remember from the affiliate marketing tutorials earlier in this series.
So the fact that information about your hot new product has been sent out and published both on Clickbank and on support sites is a good start.
It is however no more than a start.
You must follow this up by doing whatever you can to get additional affiliates on board.
There are a few tools within the Clickbank system that enable you to give your offer a higher profile in an effort to attract affiliates.
For instance, you can place an ad for your offer on the most appropriate Clickbank results pages or create a ‘HopAd’. This is a Clickbank ad for your offer that can be added to your own web pages and blogs.
However, the truth is that if you want to attract more affiliates (irrespective of whether you are using a network like Clickbank or attempting to find your own affiliates as highlighted in the next section), one of the most important factors is to understand what affiliates want.
If you understand what affiliates want or need, you can ensure that the overall structure of your offer matches their requirements.
It goes without saying that if you give would-be affiliates what they need, it makes it more attractive for them to promote your offer, it is a matter of common sense to understand what affiliates are looking for.
There are many things that affiliates want from a product.
The more of these ‘wants’ your product satisfies, the more likely it is that they will promote it as soon as it appears on the market for the very first time. These are the factors that you should concentrate on:
One final thing that you should understand is that affiliates want to do as little work as possible whilst making as much money as they can. If therefore you give them the tools to make money, you have a massive advantage over other product creators who do not provide these resources.
As an example, many top affiliates have an extensive mailing list or lists. If they jump onto your product, they undoubtedly want to promote it to their list members.
They would however prefer not to waste time creating the e-mail messages themselves – it eats up precious marketing time – so it helps if you write the e-mail messages for them.
Similarly, they may want to create PPC advertising, advertise in e-zine magazines, publish posts about your product on their blog, feature banner ads on their sites and so on.
The more of these promotional resources you create for them, the easier you make it for them to do business with you.
As a consequence, if it is you up against a direct competitor with a reasonably evenly balanced product, the affiliate is always likely to choose your product because you make it easy for them to sell it.
Clickbank offer you the option of creating an affiliate page which is published when your product offer goes live. This page could feature draft e-mail messages, banner advertising code, PPC advertising materials and basically any other marketing materials that you have created to help affiliates promote your product.
This is also a page which affiliates can study whilst deciding whether to promote your product or not.
If they see that you have made it easy for them to make money with your product, it is a major plus point in your favor. The availability of marketing materials means they can start promoting and taking money straightaway.
This is not however the only advantage.
If you have created a tranche of promotional materials, it demonstrates that you are a professional and that you understand what affiliates want and need. Affiliates want to work with product creators who understand the way they operate their businesses, creators who effectively think like affiliates themselves.
If you have a ready-made page of promotional materials that they can start using immediately, it demonstrates that you have remembered one of the underlying beauties of affiliate marketing. You demonstrate that just as affiliates think and do, you want to get started straight away too.
The fact that you have given them these tools and resources where many other product creators don’t will help convince a lot of affiliates who might otherwise be on the fence that your product is worth promoting.
From my own product promotions through Clickbank, I estimate that this single, simple step could well increase your affiliate numbers by anywhere between 25% and 30%.
This is therefore not something you should willfully ignore – it might take a bit of work but it puts a lot more money in your pocket.
Incidentally, if you want to get some ideas about the kind of promotional materials you should include in your affiliate support package, go to the Clickbank ‘Marketplace’ page before searching for products in popular niches like Internet marketing, weight loss and Forex.
Open a few product pitch pages and scroll to the bottom. If there is an ‘Affiliate’ link, the chances are that clicking it will take you to a page of promotional materials which you can ‘swipe’ and modify for your own page.
You may have to try a few sites before you find affiliate support material page of this nature – far too many product creators are completely unaware of the huge impact that providing these materials can have on their profits – but be patient because you will find one (or several).
If you are not selling a digital information product, there are many other network sites that you can register with to find suitable affiliates who can promote your products or services for you.
Assuming however that you are selling an information product, then although many product creators tend to put their affiliate-finding faith in networks like Clickbank, it is not necessary to do so.
There is for example no reason why you could not put your product on the Internet, set up your own affiliate program and find affiliates through your own efforts.
To do this, the first thing you need to think about is, who is going to run your affiliate marketing team and manage their activities?
It is all very well thinking that you will do this, but you have to ask yourself whether you have the experience, skills and the time to do so.
As you are a marketer, it is in truth unlikely that you will have the skills or experience to do so. Running an affiliate team is a fairly specialized skill, whilst it is extremely unlikely that you will have time to worry about dealing with affiliates in the middle of a major product launch.
You should therefore consider taking on an affiliate manager if you want to run your own affiliate program.
I would if possible recommend finding an experienced affiliate to do the job, someone who has already achieved success and acquired experience of affiliate marketing so they can answer the majority of affiliate questions with real authority.
They will also ‘talk the same language’ as other experienced affiliates which makes those individuals feel far more comfortable about selling your product. It will certainly help them to know that there is a knowledgeable, experienced affiliate manager backing at the heart of your operation.
When you find someone suitable, agree to pay them a base retainer plus performance bonuses based on the earnings of the affiliates they manage. This provides him or her with extra-strong motivation to ensure that your affiliate sales people are as successful as they can possibly be.
In this situation just as much as in the previous case, you must of course create a top-notch product, one that also pays affiliates an outstanding level of commission.
In fact, you should if possible go one step further by structuring your product so that it is capable of paying affiliates residual or recurring commissions.
Affiliates love residual commission payments as it means that they sell a product or concept once and get paid for it month after month.
This is therefore a very attractive way of structuring your commission payments, an effective way of increasing affiliate responsiveness.
The next thing you need to consider is software to track what is happening when your affiliates market your product.
You need a system that allows you to attribute sales to successful affiliates so that you know who to pay and when. Your affiliates also need to know that this system is in place so that they are confident of getting their payments as and when they are due.
This software will also need integrating with the payment processor that you have chosen to collect customer payments and to pay your affiliates as well.
Alternatively, the Professional level monthly membership of 1 Shopping Cart integrates free affiliate software within the payment processing package, so it might be worth looking at as an ‘all-in-one’ solution.
With your affiliate manager in place and your software setup to take payments and manage affiliate signups, commission payments and so on, you are finally ready to start finding affiliates to work with.
The first thing that you must do is make sure that your affiliate opportunity is advertised on every single piece of virtual real estate that you own.
Make sure that the advert is punchy and sells the benefits of why someone should join your affiliate program, something like ‘Outstanding product, top commissions, excellent conversion rates, lightning-fast support.’
Next, visit the appropriate Yahoo! B2B Business Directory page to find details of affiliate program directory sites where you can add information about your affiliate program completely free:
At the time of writing, there are 72 affiliate program directory sites listed and whilst I have no doubt that not all of them will be relevant (or free), there will certainly be many that are.
In a similar manner, a standard Google search for ‘affiliate directories’ (without the inverted commas) returns 2660 results, many of which are affiliate directories where you can list information about your program:
Some of the directories that this search will uncover will duplicate your earlier Yahoo! results, but not all.
Not all the directories that Google finds are free but many are, so register your information with as many as you can, particularly those near the top of the search results page. If a would-be affiliate is looking for directories to find affiliate opportunities through Google, it is the directories near the top of the page they will investigate first.
Another excellent way of finding affiliates for your program is to advertise in affiliate marketing focused e-zines and newsletters. As a general rule, advertising of this nature is relatively cheap and also very well targeted too.
Search the following e-zine directory sites for ‘affiliate marketing’ to find e-zines where you can advertise your opportunity extremely economically:
Yet another option is to use the services of a site like Affiliate Announce where (for a fee) they will submit your information to in excess of 100 affiliate directory sites and distribute press releases about your opportunity to in excess of 100,000 journalists.
This is as near to an ‘all-in-one’ affiliate seeking program as I know, and with an all-inclusive submission package costing less than $200, it may be option worth considering. This is particularly true if you would like to shortcut the hard work that would otherwise be necessary to get information about your program to as many potentially interested affiliates as possible.
Type ‘affiliate forums’ and ‘affiliate marketing forums’ into Google. The first produces 34 million results and the second finds nearly 7 million.
Many of the top ranked sites on these pages are free forums sites where affiliate marketers congregate to see what is going on, and many have a place for listing your opportunity.
They know affiliates always need new programs to work with. Thus, listing these opportunities helps the forum keep their visitors coming back on a regular basis, which is exactly what they want.
Take this result in the #1 ‘affiliate marketing’ slot:
Click to visit the site and here’s what you see:
Click the ‘Forums’ link at bottom right of the screenshot and at the top of the next page, bingo!
Click through and you will see exactly the kind of affiliate opportunities other marketers are offering. All you need do is to create and post details of your program in a similar manner:
You create a listing and ask your affiliate manager to post information to as many forums as they can find that will accept your information. As these are the sites where many of the top affiliates hang out, this will definitely get affiliates joining your program.
The final thing is, whether you work through Clickbank or you have your own affiliate program, don’t forget about social networking. If you have a targeted Facebook or Twitter account and have established yourself as an expert in your niche before you launch your product, promoting your program through these sites can add hundreds of eager affiliates to your network overnight, completely cost free.
Before your product is ready to go, you must be thinking about how you are going to market your product and find affiliates.
Using the services of a network like Clickbank is undoubtedly the easiest way of getting set up but this means that only Clickbank affiliates can promote your product. Granted, anyone can join and you can encourage them to but if you market through Clickbank, this could be a limiting factor.
If however you set up and manage your own program, you can promote your affiliate program anywhere and in any manner you like, and you have complete control of everything that goes on.
At the end of the day, both options have pluses and minuses, so take a look at each.
The main point to remember is that finding affiliates to promote for you is a key to success when you market your own product.
We’ll consider the other major key to successfully finding affiliates to promote your product for you in the third and final tutorial on Recruiting Joint Venture Partners.