Each business requires a specific approach, and while luckily there are not as many approaches as businesses - phew! - there are many different ways in which you can run your affiliate program so that it can be aligned with your specific goals.
We’ve put together the distilled wisdom of hundreds of our long-term clients to help you start and grow your affiliate strategy with Tapfiliate.
Selective growth, niche markets
Many of our clients sell niche products online, and for them not every affiliate is a suitable partner to grow their affiliate network. They need people who have specific knowledge and can attract the right customers.
Clients who have successfully established themselves in niche markets have the following winning elements in common:
- They proactively search for affiliates: each market niche has its own influencers. They are respected in their field and clearly know what they’re talking about. One of the best ways to shine in your niche market is to proactively reach out to those in the know to review your product and potentially become your affiliate.
- Tempting commission: while the commission you can attribute will depend a lot on your product and revenue model, awarding high(er) commission to niche influencers is a great way to attract them — and keep them delighted with your brand. You can also use Lifetime Attribution commission, meaning that each new customer will produce commission for the affiliate in all future purchases as well as with their first purchase (this is a Tapfiliate Pro feature).
- Recurrence: if you have a subscription-based product or service (and this is particularly relevant for many SaaS companies interested in start their affiliate programs) recurrent commissions are a great way to attract influencers. Recurrent commissions will then be awarded with each new (weekly, monthly, yearly) payment.
- A variety of marketing assets: study your affiliates, stay in touch with them about their needs and the platforms where they are promoting your products/services, and tailor your marketing assets to their needs. This can mean, for example, creating links to specific products or adding rich media banners. Ask your affiliates what they need and let them guide you.
- Personalize your communication: using our trigger emails, you can fire specific emails to your affiliates to keep them informed (eg. when a payout is created) and encouraging them to keep up their good work (eg. when a new conversion is tracked). You can personalize the emails by adding merge tags, and, if you pass metadata in the conversion, you can also add specific information about the product/service sold.
- Keep them posted: although Tapfiliate offers your affiliates a powerful reporting tool, you can also send them periodical reports (eg. using the data exported from Tapfiliate to create tailored reports) to help them better understand the background and overall performance of your company. Offering specific product information that your affiliates find useful - including rich media photos - will make promoting your brand easier for them — especially if they are bloggers.
- Go the extra mile: Other perks, like special discounts on new products, will also help solidify your relationship with your most influential affiliates.
Inviting your existing (or new) customers
This strategy is well suited to any type of marking stack. Inviting your customers to join as affiliates is a great way to generate rapid growth in your affiliate network:
- Massive or selective: although massively inviting all customers to become affiliates can be a good strategy — particularly suitable for products with a fast turnaround — starting small can be the best way to test this approach. Pay attention to which products they have bought, whether they are recurrent customers, if they have engaged in customer support and if they have positively reviewed your product. Each of these can help you understand the possibilities and limitations of this approach to affiliate growth, and it’s a good way to start the initial round of invitations.
- Check where they are coming from: remember that every customer that becomes an affiliate might not be a specialist in product promotion. Prepare some basic information and advice to share with them. Tell them about word of mouth referral, social media, and let them know which platforms are best for reviewing your products and services. Starting with simpler platforms such as Facebook might be a good way to take advantage of the knowledge they already possess.
- Decide if you want to make them leaders: occasionally a customer-turned-affiliate can become a real leader in the industry. Depending on your affiliate management resources, you can help them grow into full-on influencers. Whether or not you find such rising stars, your pool of customers is always a good resource to help grow your affiliate network.
Using multi-level as a catalyzer
Multi-level Marketing (also known as multi-tier or sub-affiliate marketing) is a good way to generate rapid growth for your affiliate base. MLM is simple yet effective: if parent affiliate Elena invites Mark to sign up as your affiliate, every conversion Mark drives will also generate a residual commission for Elena. This could potentially lead to exponential growth in your affiliate network.
This strategy can fit any type of marketing stack, though you always need to take certain points into consideration before moving forward:
- Again, think about selectiveness: remember that Tapfiliate allows you to manage your affiliates on an individual level. This means that if you prefer to have a more selective strategy you can always decide to run some basic checks on sub-affiliates before approving them. Some brands want to make sure their affiliates are related to the topic in order to keep the brand narrative consistent and hone an exclusive tone and flair for their brand. Others simply want to grow as fast as they can. Being aware of your goals and being clear with your affiliates about the criteria before starting can save you time and energy in your affiliate management strategy.
- Unlimited levels: our Multi-level Marketing feature allows you to create unlimited levels regardless of which plan you choose. While this is tempting, we advise you to start with just a few levels and test the results before moving further. In our Pro and Enterprise plans, you can also set up sales goals for sub-affiliates, which can be a great way to incentivize them.
Fast-track your affiliate growth
Moving towards a less selective approach in all of the above-mentioned variants can be a way to hack your affiliate growth:
- Parallel programs with different commissions: while inviting influencers is a good strategy in most cases, a strategy solely focused on big influencers can lead to slow growth. Creating at least two different programs with different kinds of commission can be a great way to mix selective and massive growth. One program can target influencers with higher commission (after all, they are leaders in their industry) and the second program with lower commission would target other affiliates wanting to join your affiliate network, but the value of which you don’t yet know.
- Invite customers based on one solid but broad selection criteria: you can invite customers to become your affiliates (they could be part of the second program mentioned above) and use one solid but broad approach to choose them. For example, you can invite customers that haven’t returned products, those who have successfully completed your courses, or those who have bought more than 2 products. These criteria need to be broad enough to give you a high number, but solid enough to be sure that the customers you’re targeting actually like your brand and might want to promote your product.
- Target your efforts: point towards the most loved and sold products to create marketing assets, and when you accumulate unsold items, create promotions especially for affiliates. If you give your affiliates good deals to sell, they’ll be extra happy to sell them for you.
- Consider incentive for affiliates to recruite other affiliates : The ability to have sub affiliates as part of a combined and aggressive affiliate growth strategy has proven successful for the majority of our clients. If you set a relatively high commision — while keeping it sustainable in relation to your revenue — you will give enough incentive for existing affiliates to invite even more new affiliates.
- Limit time to sign up as influencer: if you use the two-program approach mentioned before, or just want to attract influencers faster, creating a limited window of time to sign up as an affiliate can make the deal more enticing. By creating a sense of urgency, affiliates not only get their commission, but also feel a sense of exclusivity.
We hope that these top tricks will inspire you in your affiliate marketing strategy. If you have any other ideas or strategies that have worked well for you and want to share them with others using affiliate marketing, you can contact our support chat and we would be delighted to include them here, or even feature them in our Blog.