Regardless of if you’re a beginner or expert in affiliate marketing, there’ll constantly be the need to search for valuable, lucrative affiliates to join your program.
A quick Google search will show that there are several approaches for finding affiliates. But, you don’t have to look far. In fact, it’s likely that you’re already connected and engaged with plenty of great potential affiliates - look no further than your own existing customers.
Why existing customers?
Customers make for great affiliates because they can provide a unique, authentic voice for your business. These are people who already know your product or service. They have used it, saw how it works and are happy with the results. Consequently, the customer can convey a message that traditional marketing cannot by giving genuine insight and expertise into your product or service.
There is a certain level of trust that comes with customers sharing why they love a product. There are no ads, gimmicks and catch phrases to make new customers feel like they are being sold to. Instead, these customers-turned-affiliates provide a credible backing of your product by sharing why they chose to spend money on your business and why others should too.
Additionally, existing customers already have an understanding of your business. This gives a solid foundation of information that will make the onboarding process that much easier.
The opportunity to become an affiliate can also be exciting for customers, especially if there are attractive benefits for their referrals. There are a couple ways to reward referrals - this includes monetary compensation (like a percentage of a sale), discounts or upgrades to premium services. Great examples of referral programs include Dropbox and Uber.
Let’s dive a little deeper into how you can turn customers into affiliates…
Start by providing excellent customer service
Happy customers make great affiliates. Customer service is vital for keeping customers happy with 54% of people saying it impacts their purchasing decisions.
Additionally, 77% of consumers said they share their positive experiences with a business through social media, online reviews or simply telling a friend. If customers refer others to your product solely as a result of excellent customer service, there’s a good chance they will be interested in your affiliate program.
Connecting with the “right” customers
Beyond the affiliate being a happy customer, you’ll want to find someone who will be active in promoting your product or service. Here’s a few things to consider when seeking out customers to be affiliates…
First, give customers time to really become acquainted with your business. Asking customers to become affiliates too early can be a critical mistake for not only the affiliate program but also for the overall business. Customers need to feel invested in the product or service before they are asked to advocate on the businesses’ behalf.
Next, connect with customers with an intentional manner. One strategy for finding potential affiliates is by setting up a simple survey. Ask your customers something along the lines of “Would you recommend us to your friends, family or colleagues?”. Those who answer yes are who to reach out to! Using a survey like this can be particularly useful because not every satisfied customer will want to be an affiliate, so this is a more concise way of finding the right affiliates for your program.
Finally, don’t limit yourself to only connecting with customers that have blogs, websites or large social media followings. It is easy to gravitate to the notion that “bigger is better” and an influencer with 100,000 followers is your coveted key to unlocking a utopia of traffic. While we won’t discredit large channels, as they are undoubtedly useful in exposure, other customers could have the ability to reach new audiences in a more personal and engaged way. The best digital word-of-mouth could be an everyday customer sharing a positive review with a link on Facebook.
Easy & Accessible
You’ll want customers to transition into affiliates as soon as possible, so programs should be designed in a way that is easy and accessible for all regardless of skill level or experience. Think simple sign ups, thorough on-boarding and easy-to-use tools. One strategy for accessibility is to have a dedicated affiliate page that details all aspects of your program and can referred back to as often as needed.
The focus for affiliates should be on sharing your product, not operational tasks or functions. Take away any barriers that could deter customers from your program; this could be requiring too many steps, using unfamiliar terminology or not being mobile-friendly.
Bonus tip: Create plenty of easy-to-share marketing assets for you affiliates. This is one less step for them, and you have more control over the branding and quality of materials that are being shared. Learn more about marketing assets here.
Remember how we said customer service is important? Well this also applies to affiliate programs. Affiliate marketing can be a new (and tricky) concept for many people, and there may be a lot of questions or the need for guidance. Being reachable and accommodating is vital for an affiliate program; and after all these customers are reaching out with questions for how they can better help your business grow, so help them do just that.
Tangible ways of helping customers become affiliates include personalized emails, newsletter updates or even taking the time to call and chat about any questions or ideas they may have. As a golden rule, always aim to make your communication with affiliates as personalized as possible.
Again, finding affiliates will be an on-going task in managing your affiliate program. However, if you seek out the right affiliates, the efforts will pay off as you’ll see an increase in traffic and sales.