Tips for Recruiting Super Affiliates

If you have an affiliate program, your highest priority is to recruit active affiliates and get them to promote your product or service.

You may have already done everything you can think of to get the opportunity in front of people, but still... very little activity.

And it's a great opportunity! So why aren't they biting?!

Did you know that just one or two super affiliates can out-perform the rest of your affiliates combined? As a super affiliate myself, I get a lot of requests to look at various affiliate programs. From that side of the coin, I'll share some tips for recruiting super affiliates successfully...

What is a Super Affiliate?

In any affiliate program, it's the top percent of affiliates that make the majority of the sales. These are the super affiliates. There is not a true industry definition, but super affiliates are those that are in the top earning tier and win affiliate contests.

They are affiliates who know how to appeal to a market, how to add value to the sales process, and how to make sales. These are the affiliates you want involved with your affiliate program, promoting your product or service!

Creating Super Affiliates

New high performers appear on the affiliate leaderboards all the time, so don't limit yourself to known super affiliates. You may just discover the perfect affiliates for your program, and turn them into super affiliates yourself. ;)

There have been merchants who took a chance on me in the past, and went out of their way to help me succeed with their program - well before I was known as a super affiliate (under this name, or certain pen names).

Always give an affiliate the benefit of the doubt. You never know when or where you're going to find your next top affiliate!

Finding Super Affiliates

You've likely already done the ground work to get your affiliate program listed in affiliate program directories, joined and actively network on top affiliate forums, and created an optimized page for "niche/keyword affiliate program" (or multiple pages) so that affiliates can easily find you in a quick Google search.

If not, those are your three top priority tasks. Two of which will require a small investment of your time upfront, and continue to pay off for years. Forum networking has major viral potential. Make friends in the affiliate world, and you'll get super-profitable referrals! You definitely want to make that a priority.

Assuming you have all that taken care of, next you want to seek out ideal affiliates for your program and make personal contact.

The most obviously place to look is on Google. Take the top keyword phrases in your niche and do a search on Google. Make a note of the paid advertisers, the bloggers, the websites, and the communities that show up in the top 20 results.

Check YouTube, and look for active affiliates or those with popular video channels in your niche. Search is going social, so you want fresh affiliates with video presence and/or social media skills going into 2010 and beyond.

Next, check Twitter. Use http://search.twitter.com to perform searches on your keyword phrases, your product/site names, your competition, etc.

Find the people who are already talking on your topic. Whether they are a "super affiliate" yet or not, they are reaching your target market. And they are likely interested in ways to monetize that conversation.

Recruiting Super Affiliates

First and foremost, you'll need a dedicated affiliate manager, or be prepared to give affiliates personal attention yourself. Super affiliates want a person they can talk to and work with directly. Someone who has the power to pull strings, make changes, and get things done. They usually have special requests.

Before you can establish this type of mutually beneficial relationship with a super affiliate, you'll have to get their attention and get them on board with your program.

Most of the affiliate programs I actively promote are the direct result of personal contact by the merchant or affiliate manager. Even though I ignore more than 90% of the email requests I receive...

This is where most merchants struggle. Super affiliates are often super busy, and they are usually very selective about the merchants they work with and the products they promote.

You have a very limited space in which to get your message either read or deleted. And if your message gets read, you want to make sure it elicits a response.

  • Contact them where you find them, and while the conversation is hot if you can. If you find them on Twitter, enter the conversation there or send them a DM (direct message). If you find their blog, contact them through their contact form at the blog. If they offer a number, pick up the phone and call.
  • Get to know them before you shoot off a message. Address them by name. Include something personal, such as their great article on XZY or their top ranking for ABC. (ditch the copy & paste canned emails!)
  • You may not be able to appeal to them with dollar figures or conversion rates alone. Especially if they are community oriented. For example, with me a line like "I think your readers will love this" or "we'll give them an exclusive coupon code" works wonders ;) Keep in mind that affiliates are marketers and they can read through big red headlines better than anyone else.
  • Keep your messages short and simple. REALLY short and simple.

It seems like that needed more explanation. But really it didn't. Point made.

  • Do NOT bombard them with follow-up messages or phone-calls. If you send an email, DM them on Twitter, comment on their blog and leave a voice mail - all within 24 hours - they will likely never work with you out of fear you'll harass customers they refer to you in the same way.
  • Keep it targeted. You'd be surprised at the random requests I receive to promote products outside my niche. That's a waste of both their time and yours.
  • Offer them something extra: 2nd tier, an exclusive interview, first dibs at a new viral report, a coupon code to share, higher commission rate, etc. Anything that gives them an angle and an edge.

You want to get the point across that you'll be available and that you are interested in working with them personally. That you'll take super good care of them - as well as any referrals they send your way.

Have tips or resources for recruiting super affiliates? Share them with us below! I'd love to hear your thoughts, whether you're an affiliate or a merchant...

Best,

p.s. Rosalind Gardner turned ME into a $uper Affiliate. Whether you are new to affiliate marketing, or looking to take it to the next level, you'll benefit from her Super Affiliate Handbook. That link will take you to my in-depth review of her latest version of SAH. It's updated often. Enjoy!

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. Paul Cooley says:

    That was great Lynn! Very good info. I would love to hear your thoughts as a super affiliate... besides the things you mentioned that gives the affiliate an edge, are there things you really have appreciated from people or groups that you have promoted for? Like anything they have done for you that really stands out and would make you happy to promote for them again?

    Thanks Lynn! :)

    • Most definitely! One thing I really love is a "sneak peek" or a "heads up". Especially if they allow me to 'leak' information prior to launch, to help create buzz or suspense.

      This is great for marketing, but it also appeals to the affiliates ego - bringing them into the inner circle. Here's an example you may remember:

      http://www.clicknewz.com/2119/new-aweber-feature/

      I received an email before the public release, with permission to blog about it and announce it.

      Another example, this time of exclusive coupon codes, in this post about Karon Thackston's SEO copywriting course:
      http://www.clicknewz.com/2044/karon-thackston-on-seo-copywriting/

      And I especially love getting first dibs on a promotion!

      In this post on Traci Knoppe's new course when it was first released, I got a 48-hour head start and special offer:

      http://www.clicknewz.com/1927/beginning-blogger/

      Things that appeal to me are new products (being first!), better deals such as coupon codes or exclusive special offers, a 2nd tier so I can recruit new affiliates, an exclusive interview or webinar so that I can introduce them to my readers, etc.

      Of course, every affiliate is different. But for me it's all about bringing the value for my readers. When a merchant appeals to me from that angle, they get my attention. And when they make my referrals happy, they keep my attention!

  2. These are all great suggestions, Lynn. I've resisted (for no good reason) getting an affiliate manager up til now, but I think 2010 will see that as a major move that I make in the first couple of months.

    The main points I liked from your suggestions are a head start, coupon codes, and specialized promotion materials that are ready for my particular list. Nicole Dean has done this really well with nudging me to promote her stuff (or Jimmy's), and it works quite well.

    Bob

    p.s. Have an awesome time on your cruise!

    • Nicole is a great example of someone who knows how to run an affiliate program, recruit affiliates, and how to get & keep them motivated. She is absolutely genius at it.

      The main thing is to treat your super affiliates like "partners", or joint ventures. And yeah, I agree - Nicole does that well!

      I can see where you would really benefit from having an affiliate manager in place. Particularly someone to seek out new affiliate partners and communicate with them to help them get what they need, and achieve results - schedule interviews with you, create special offers, etc.

  3. Paul Cooley says:

    Thank you Lynn! Great information and very motivating! :)

    • Most welcome ;) Thanks for the great question. I look forward to hearing thoughts from others, affiliates and merchants alike, as I'm sure there are even more great tips & ideas out there that we can all learn from!

  4. Angela Wills says:

    Great information for both affiliate managers and affiliates!

    I've never done this myself but if you are looking at someone who is already a super affiliate or who you think could be a super affiliate I would think offering a higher than typical commission would be another way to entice then to join your program. I realize you mentioned that the money isn't necessarily a motivator for you Lynn but I think that would also appeal to the affiliate's ego by giving them something not everyone else gets?

    • A higher commission rate is definitely one of the perks - and that goes for both super affiliates and JV partners for your products. That OR an exclusive 2nd tier, and both together would be super generous and very appealing. ;)

  5. Thanks for the tips, Lynn!

    As an affiliate, I look for: good fit for my readers, and high conversion rate. I spend a lot of money and time to test products for myself before I promote them. More often than not, I end up not recommending them to my readers.

    And then there are those products that are excellent but somehow don't convert. For some reason, the vendor's sales page isn't performing well. Once, I found out my affiliate link didn't lead to a landing page but to a regular blog home page. No wonder, I was sending hundreds of leads there and not making a single sale. So frustrating!

    But since I truly believe in the product and it has helped me personally, then I continue to mention it on my blog, when relevant.

    Vendors should make sure you have a totally awesome product (goes without saying) and that your landing pages are optimized for conversion.

    • Definitely communicate that with the merchant. Often product developers are not necessarily good marketers, which is why they rely on an affiliate team for exposure and sales.

      I make it a point to share my thoughts and concerns, or to make suggestions for better conversions. They are usually willing to create and test a unique landing page with you if you request it. Their objective is to make sales as well ;)

  6. One of my biggest pet peeves is lack of communication. Taking a product off the market, for example - merchants need to inform their hard working affiliates. I have a top ranking (#1 on Google) for one product that the merchant quietly pulled off the market.

    I also held a top ranking for a free product that the merchant decided to start charging for - both without even a peep to their affiliates! Ask me if I'll work as hard for them on future promotions :P

  7. DeAnna Troupe says:

    Lynn, this is awesome information as I'm in the process of building relationships with affiliates now. This will give me something to think about as I work on my next project!

  8. Hi Lynn, I like your advice in regards to search going social and I think in 2010 more people are going to turn to social media to find reviews, advice, network and more. Twitter is a great tool to find what people are talking about in a particular niche. Great information.

  9. Rich Spies says:

    Thanks Lynn. As an affiliate manager, I find this info very useful and encouraging.

    I have a question from the affiliate manager perspective about etiquette that you as a super affiliate may have some insight into:

    1) Is it okay to tell other potential affiliates who some of your super affiliates are? For example: Personally, I want others to know that you and other experts in your field are supportive of our services and affiliate program from a credibility perspective.

    • Hi Rich,

      If the affiliates promotions are public, such as social media or a blog post, it's probably fine. But if they are working under a pen name or doing pay-per-click promotions or anything else that would generally fly under the radar - I wouldn't out them.

      It's best to go to your top affiliates and let them know your intentions and give them an opportunity to approve or reject.

      "Name dropping" is a good strategy for recruiting new super affiliates in some niches, but you want to do it in good taste and with their permission so as not to lose some of your best affiliates.

  10. Lynn,

    Thanks for the wealth of information you shared.

    You said: “Things that appeal to me are new products (being first!)…and one thing I really love is a “sneak peek” or a “heads up”. Especially if they allow me to ‘leak’ information prior to launch, to help create buzz or suspense.”

    Does that mean you’d consider an offer to promote a product or service that’s still being developed or would your advice to us be to have things 100% complete before approaching potential super affiliates/JV partners?

    Sheryl

    • You definitely want to have the product complete and ready to go. It's hard to get anyone on board otherwise, unless you have really strong pre-launch material to work with.

  11. Hi Im working with a super affiliate right now but unfortunately hes usa based and Im working with him trying to get my programme kick started in the UK. who by tradition have always been bad at MLM. We are defintely of a different culture over here when it comes to network marketing but Im keeping at it especially as I have read your tips above .Thankyou

  12. Lynn,

    Would your answer be different if the product were a continuity program and you were being approached as the first or only JV partner, giving you an opportunity to influence the content creation?

    If so, at what stage of development do you think potential JV partners would consider becoming involved?

    Thanks.

    Sheryl

    Sheryl

    • A joint venture is different than a super affiliate relationship. So yes, you'd want to approach early on in a JV or partnership on the product development.

  13. Lynn,

    Thank you. This post gave a lot of great ideas about promoting my affiliate program- much appreciated:)

  14. Hi Lynn!

    You share some very valuable information and it is much appreciated.

    I was wondering if you knew of a system or service that will allow for an affiliate to get lifetime commissions for any products sold now and in the future?

    For example, Affiliate A sends a prospect to sign up to my list or purchase one of my products. Affiliate A gets a commission for the sale, but maybe the person who signed up for the list did not buy the product. Say I then release another product in the future and at that point the person who originally signed up for my list actually buys this time or the person who bought the first product buys again. I would love to be able to pay a commission to the affiliate who originally referred me any paying customers at any point.

    I have talked to several affiliates who say they would love to promote somebody who did this such a thing. I know I would love that as an affiliate myself.

    Is this possible with something like Infusionsoft?

    Do you have any reccommendations?

    Thanks!

  15. Thanks Lynn great article, very motivating to go out there and get them on board!

  16. Thanks Lynn, what does it take to switch a Super Affiliate from promoting a competitors product to promoting your product. Even if you offer better commissions and have a better product, how can I influence a Super Affiliate to switch their allegiance?

    I liked the 5k backlinks product BTW, thanks!

  17. Great tips! It takes a lot of hard work more than 99.9% of affiliate managers are willing to do to really recruit and build the program...

  18. Just came across this post Lynn, and found it really helpful. Thansk much.

    Also wanted to answer Dan who asked what it takes to switch a super affiliate from promoting a competitors product to promoting yours.

    Rather than suggesting a switch, I encourage differentiating and offering their target market options. No product is right for everyone. A well written review, article or post covering the benefits and drawbacks of each product honestly and clearly leaves the reader with two excellent choices. There may be a decrease in sales for the first product as readers begin to choose the other. But, over time, momentum for both will build provided they are both quality products that have the potential to help their targeted audience.

  19. Hi Lynn, very useful. We target affiliates for the sale of high end sunglasses and although we lose margin in every sale (compared to a standard website sale or shop sale) the volume easily out-weighs this concern. Your point about Super affiliates is one that I will now go and investigate. Very interesting as we can streamline the time we spend on affiliates and concentrate on the larger ones until we can identify our supers!
    Thank you
    David Smith

  20. Just found this article and even three and a half years later it's still relevant! Thank you for the tips, I'm currently an affiliate manager and moving into the recruitment side, and these tips are very helpful. I look forward to reading more of your blog!

  21. Thank you Lynn. An absolutely awesome article. I'm very excited about building my affiliate business!!

    Kindest regards,
    Catherine
    Clue Detective Puzzle Agency

Trackbacks

  1. [...] recently discussed how to recruit super affiliates, so I want to go further on that and share ways you can build on that relationship with your top [...]

  2. [...] already discussed where to find JV Partners and how to recruit Super Affiliates. Today’s topic is all about attracting Super Affiliates, or what you can offer them above and [...]

Leave a Reply

*

CommentLuv badge