How to Find Great Affiliates
Affiliate marketing has skyrocketed in recent years, with businesses ranging anywhere from large e-commerce retailers to SaaS startups making it a key part of their overall digital marketing strategy. The combination of budget-friendly advertising costs and top affiliate tracking software makes it easy for almost any business to set up and run their own affiliate marketing program in-house.
But getting your affiliate marketing program set up is just the start. The next step is to find top affiliates to promote your products and services.
Affiliates can be anyone from high-profile influencers with hundreds of followers, to niche aficionados on industry websites, and even existing customers who can refer your brand among their inner circle.
In this article, we’ll cover how to find top affiliates and how you can get them started with promoting your brand.
Start with existing customers
When it comes to finding affiliates for your program, your customer base is a great place to start.
Customers don’t need celebrity-like status to promote your brand. Word-of-recommendations via social media or even directly to friends and family can be just as effective. In fact, 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising.
Promotions that are customer-driven are in themselves a powerful form of social proof. After all, people won’t promote something they are unhappy with.
Using their personal experience with your brand, customers can share how they benefited from using your brand and how others can too. They can provide real-life use cases, explanations or reviews. This is especially true with SaaS, as customers can simplify software in a way that other users can clearly understand and relate to.
Strategy: Directly invite your customers to become affiliates
With Tapfiliate’s Affiliate Recruitment feature, you can easily invite customers to become affiliates.
Using this tool, new customers (those that are not yet affiliates) will be automatically sent a referral link that they can instantly use to spread the word about your business.
When they drive a new conversion or customer, the affiliate prospect will be immediately promoted to affiliate status and invited to log in so they can view their performance and find more of your program’s resources.
Seek out niche bloggers and websites
Niche blogs and websites are a great way to place your brand within a specific community and reach target audiences.
These affiliates will have built-in audiences that are likely to overlap with your brand’s target audience, meaning more targeted traffic and high-quality referrals. They also are experienced content creators that can come up with new, unique promotions around your product such as image galleries, videos, graphics, interviews, storytelling, etc.
And on top of that, many of these sites are invested in having high quality content and optimizing for SEO.
Strategy: Conduct your own search to find blogs and websites to partner with
Start by researching blogs and websites with content related to your industry and aligned with your brand. Use a variety of search queries and keywords for better prospects.
Let’s use an e-commerce store selling vitamins as an example for how to search:
- Start by the general searches with something simple like “vitamins” or “daily vitamins”
- Switch to questions like “what vitamins do I need daily” or “which vitamins are best for my health”
- Be even more specific, “vitamins for healthy skin” or “vitamin C tablets”, etc.
- Try finding reviews with searches like “best vitamins for young women” or “best vitamin brands”
- Include more general searches too like “how to be healthy” or “nutrition plan” or “nutrition advice”
- Consider adding “blog” or “expert” at the end to these keywords
From here, you’ll be able to find tons and tons of search results for blogs and websites with content. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of the blogs and contact information, and use tools like Alexa.com to see how much traffic each site gets.
This will give you a good basis for finding potential affiliates and promotional opportunities within your niche.
Then, the next step is reaching out directly to the blog or website.
Here’s what Affiliate Manager Taylor Barr recommends:
Before thinking about pitching your affiliate program (commission rates, great promotional tools, etc.) on your first outreach email to a potential partner, consider taking a different approach…
Start by asking if they would be interested in taking your product or service for a spin, via a demo account or live walk through. Many affiliates will want to test first, and gives a better understanding of your product or service. And for you, this signals their interest level and if they are ready to promote before you present your program offerings.
With this step, be sure to make it personal. Approach this as a working partnership rather than an indirect, generic sales pitch. Let them know why you are interested, explaining how their content fits with your affiliate marketing goals and how it can also be of value to them.
Partner with influencers
Thanks to social media, influencer marketing is more powerful than ever before. Partnering with influencers for your affiliate program helps brand exposure, provides fresh marketing content and promotions, and puts your products in front of large audiences.
Influencers can be social media personalities, industry experts, thought leaders, trendsetters, niche bloggers. They range from large-scale celebrity influencers with millions of followers, to niche-focused micro-influencers with somewhere between 1,000 to 100,000 followers.
Seek out influencers that fit with your brand and share the same target audience. You can do this by searching social media hashtags related to your brand. For example, search #travelgram or #wanderlust for anything tourism related.
As you search, consider the following:
- Which platforms they use
- What type of content they post
- How many followers they have
- How engaged their audience is
- How often they post
- How they fit with your niche
Strategy: Partner with micro-influencers and nano-influencers
It’s easy to think bigger is better — or in the world of social media, more followers is better.
But this isn’t always the case. Impact found that an increase in followers results in a decrease in engagement; and influencers with 1,000 followers had engagement as high as 85%. High engagement rates can mean high conversion rates.
This makes micro-influencers and nano-influencers ideal affiliates for your program.
Micro-influencers have between 10,000 to 100,000 followers. They tend to be more niche focused, rather than celebrities. They are likely to have better insights about their given niche, and can better engage with audiences on a more personal level.
Nano-influencers have a smaller following than micro-influencers, with around 1,000 followers. Nano-influencers are especially effective for local promotions, as these are usually people who are influential in their own communities.
These groups of influencers are not only ideal for engagement, they also are more likely to fit with the commission offers of your affiliate program. Mega-influencers tend to charge an upfront, and often hefty, rate for their promotions. These influencers will likely be more open to an affiliate commission as a way to monetize their content.
Strategy: Look beyond the “influencer” stereotype
When we think of influencers, we often think of a young model jet-setting around the world and sharing it with their millions of followers. But influencers can be so much more than this stereotype.
A big shift came in 2020 when it came to influencer content. Audiences are turning away from highly curated posts, and instead are looking for more authentic content that provides value and expertise.
Accredited professionals, industry analysts, brand employees, and niche experts can all be excellent influencers. For example, Cerave partnered with top estheticians like @makeupforwomenofcolor to create educational content around their skincare products. Rather than just posting a picture, these influencers discuss how to use the product, what skin conditions they target, and why the ingredients work.
Tips for creating this type of content for affiliate promotions include:
- Focusing less on follower count, more on their level of expertise
- Providing influencers with free samples or product previews to review
- Allowing influencers to have more control over their promotions
Industry groups & forums
Online forums and social media groups can be another place to find affiliates.
You can recruit affiliates by sharing your brand and introducing your affiliate program offerings with group or forum members.
Start with groups focused around your industry. These interest-based and professional groups can help you find prospective affiliates that are already familiar and active in your niche and can share with others in the community.
On the other end, you can try affiliate forums that focus on everything affiliate marketing. This is where to find affiliate marketers who are actively looking for new products to promote. Members of these forums are likely professionals, and will be familiar with the inner-workings of affiliate marketing, so they can easily be on-boarded and start promoting right away.
Popular forums and social media groups include:
- Facebook Groups
- LinkedIn Groups
For finding professional affiliate marketers, we recommend doing your own research beforehand. There are several websites and forums featuring these groups & networks, each with varying terms and conditions.
Professionals and businesses in related fields
While not usually thought of as the typical affiliate, professionals and businesses in related fields can be an effective way to bring in new leads for B2B & B2C markets.
Reach out to non-competitive brands with products or services that complement yours or are often bought by similar target audiences. Think of products or services you use together and can easily promote one another.
- Coffee bean brand and espresso machine makers
- Makeup products and skincare lines
- Luggage stores and travel booking platforms
- Customer relationship management (CRM) systems and email marketing softwares
Then, they can use their existing platforms and networks to share brand and refer new customers.
Here’s a few ways other professionals can promote:
- Write a blog post or product review on their site with affiliate links
- Create a recommendations page on their page featuring products they use with affiliate links
- Refer clients with recommendations (a dentist recommending a toothbrush)
- Use coupon and promo codes exclusively for their customers
This is also a win-win for professionals and businesses, as they are able to bring in additional revenue from referral commissions as well as provide resources and recommendations to their customers.
Interested in more?
Finding great affiliates is key to your program’s success, and we’re here to help! Be sure to check out our blog for more ways to promote and grow your affiliate program.