Affiliate marketing seems so easy when you first hear about it. You find people who have a platform, you give them a commission, they promote for you, their audience instantly buys because the trust is already there, and you guys make a ton of money and impact together with your affiliate launch.
Of course, then you sit down and try to figure out what you need to get it done. How do you plan an affiliate launch schedule? Should you make multiple versions of swipe copy? How do you even convince affiliates to say yes?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
To make things easier, we talked to one of our very own lead affiliate managers, Suzanne Rex.
Today, Suzanne shares the actual work process behind our 7 figure launches, so you can set your launches for success, too.
When to Start the Affiliate Outreach for Your Launch if You Want to Land Large Affiliates
One of the most critical aspects of landing affiliate partners that can move the needle for you is to reach out far enough in advance. You need to make sure you get a spot on their busy calendars!
“Affiliates that have a huge following… their calendars are booked in advance. If they’re a smaller size affiliate, they have more availability usually, but some affiliates have internal policies that they can only do a certain number of third-party promotions a month. So that’s going to fill up in advance,” Suzanne said.
Here at East 5th Avenue, “we usually manage two different products – docuseries and summits – which are time sensitive. You have a free viewing period, and then the price goes up, so it’s important that we stick to a specific time window. When we’re doing a full-scale affiliate launch, we like to start onboarding 60 days prior or longer,” Suzanne said, adding that “we continue to onboard up to the last second” when new affiliate opportunities come up.
That said, she recommended you start spreading the word well before you start to officially onboard affiliates. “I have a launch coming up in March, and I’m mentioning it casually now [in August],” she said.
What to Include in Your Pitch to Affiliates to Increase Your Conversion Rates
OK, so you figured out the schedule. Now, what do you tell prospective affiliates so that they’ll actually show interest and sign up to promote your product?
Tell Affiliates All the Launch Info They Need to Know
“You’re going to want to put the 50,000-foot overview of what the offer is, the dates, what demographics. Say, if it’s women 40-60, I don’t want to pitch to affiliates with 20-year-old male audiences,” Suzanne said.
In addition, “you want to share some stats on how well this offer converts. We give any stats we have from previous launches if we did it last year, like how many opt-ins, average EPL (earnings per lead) or average EPC (earnings per click) or order value, so people can get an idea of how well it converted,” she said.
Similarly, tell them “when is the payout, what’s the commission structure, what’s the cookie structure. You can link to a one-page offer sheet that they can look at. We’ll also link to the trailer page, which is the opt-in page, and the sales page,” she said.
To build credibility, say who’s promoted the offer before or has already signed up to the next launch, and “talk about the mission, what the launch is about, and give some background on who’s producing it,” she added.
Personalize the Value Proposition to Fit Affiliates’ Goals
“You have to know what type of affiliates you’re pitching to. Are you pitching to a content marketer or a media buyer or a list manager, or someone who promotes heavily on social media versus email traffic – you’ve got to know what will excite the affiliate,” Suzanne emphasized.
“In one pitch, I said, ‘You’re going to make good money,’ but didn’t get any response. I then realized they’re focused on the content. Money was secondary. I switched the focus. I asked, ‘Is this the kind of content you need? Do you need something else?’ and got much better responses. As soon as I realized the people I was trying to pitch were focused more on content and mission, I had a lot more responses,” Susanne shared.
“Another client is very science based, and won’t promote something that’s not very proven and science based. I definitely put it on my pitch. One bullet. But people know he takes it seriously,” she said.
How can you know what each affiliate needs you to focus on? We’ll talk about it in a minute, but first, let’s verify we know how to make sure everyone we pitch actually gets the information.
What to Do In Case Affiliates Don’t Read Your Email
Knowing your affiliates is key, as it helps you come up with solutions that help them say yes.
“We have some partners who don’t read past the first line. You have to keep it real short and sweet. I’ll usually ask for a phone call and provide more detail on the offer there, because many people don’t read the entire email,” Suzanne explained.
How to Know What Each Affiliate Needs, So You Can Personalize Your Pitches and Get More Affiliates to Say Yes
At the core of our operations, our team is dedicated to building relationships and getting to know our affiliate partners one on one.
“We’re in a relationship business, so our relationships with our partners are really important. We like to be on the phone and video as much as possible. We love personal communication whenever we can,” Suzanne said.
“My boss has spent years cultivating relationships,” and the rest of our team is following in her footsteps, Suzanne shared. “We go to networking events, where we can get face time and have real conversations with them,” she said.
If you’re not sure how to get started doing the same, check out these tips from behavior expert Vanessa Van Edwards, who calls herself a recovering awkward person that now helps other awkward people (including those working at Fortune 500 companies) make a positive impression:
In addition, Suzanne recommends doing your research whether you already have a relationship with a potential affiliate or not. “Add yourself to their emails and read their broadcasts, and read different people’s leaderboards to see what people are doing in your space,” Suzanne recommended.
And don’t forget to take notes. “Use Highrise or any other CRM system and keep notes on the people you work with regularly,” she added.
What to Do Between the Time You Recruit Affiliates and Your Launch
Now that you’ve recruited powerful affiliates that can move the needle for you, let’s make sure they have everything they need to drive the best results for both their company and yours.
Start by Structuring a Deal with Your Affiliates (Get it in Writing)
“After we do the initial outreach and someone signs up, we will send communication back and forth to structure a deal, and we’ll also ask for their mailing dates, and if it’s far out, we’ll send dates to add to their calendar. We also like to know how much traffic they can commit to sending and how many clicks,” Suzanne said.
“We want to incentivize them to promote as much as possible. Depending on size or industry, if we’ve seen them send 12,000 clicks, and we’ll ask for 15,000,” she said, adding that “we like to have information on what a good mailing is for someone.”
“If someone’s used to making $15,000 for every time they promote, we like to have this metric or this click-through rate – whatever their metric is for successful mailing – and if we see they’re doing well, we can ask them to mail again, and if not, we can say, ‘This didn’t do well for you. Do you have any feedback?’ Because ultimately we want them to promote again. It could be a demographic mismatch, but if it’s something on our end, a problem with the funnel or a tech problem, we want to know how to help them get better numbers,” Suzanne explained.
Besides that, take into account that some affiliates will want you to reciprocate and promote their product as well. Having an internal JV policy, and understanding what alternatives you can offer when your mailing dates are already booked, or if their product is not a good fit for your audience is very helpful, especially when you’re producing a launch with hundreds of affiliates.
Keep in Touch with Affiliates
“If someone signs up to be a partner and it’s kinda far out and we don’t have assets yet, we’ll send an email to say ‘thank you for joining,’ and we’ll tell them to book certain dates on their calendar, and that we’ll be sending assets 2 weeks before the launch,” Suzanne said.
Meanwhile, “we usually try to keep in contact with all our affiliates once a month, and it might not have to do with the launch, just regular communications,” she said.
“Then we’ll do launch specific broadcast emails. We usually send assets, links and swipes two weeks from the date of the launch, and two weeks to the launch of the freebie we’ll start reminding people and getting them excited,” she said.
Get Ready to Provide High-Quality Customer Support
Once those emails are taken care of, “we’re customer support at that point. ‘I can’t log in,’ ‘Can you check my stats?’ ‘Need graphics’ – we’re here for them,” Suzanne said.
This part is just as important as landing affiliates and sending them the best assets you can. Everyone can offer your affiliates the same products and commission structure you offer, but no one can provide the same partnership experience you provide.
As Invesp reported, customer retention can increase profits by up to 95%. It’s not that different with affiliates. Give them the best support experience you can, and they’ll be willing to work with you even when there are glitches along the way.
How Much Should You Personalize Swipe Copy and Creative?
There’s no doubt that personalizing swipe copy and creative is “better for click-through rates and open rates,” Suzanne said.
“The more the better, because when you have a lot of partners promoting the launch, a lot of people are on a lot of lists, and when I look at my inbox and see multiple affiliates with the same subject lines, you can see they’re all promoting the same thing,” she said.
So “we provide a lot of different options for copy, and tell them to personalize it to their list,” she added, explaining that exactly how many options depends on the specific client we’re serving.
“For the launch we’re doing right now, there are 8 email options, then there are options for social media, and there’s usually swipe for the different parts and segments of the launch – email copy for prelaunch, then ‘it starts tomorrow,’ then during the live events, then copy for the weekend replay, and it really depends on the client. I’ve seen as little as 2 emails and as many as 10,” she shared.
Larger partners often get special treatment. “We do personalize communications and personal outreach with assets instead of broadcast,” Suzanne explained, but in most cases, “personalizing the copy is usually up to the individual affiliate.”
That said, “if someone asks for help or wants a specific graphic, then absolutely, we’ll work with them to get them what they need,” she said.
Should Affiliates Start Emailing the Sooner, the Better… or Wait for Your Cue?
Here too, it depends.
We use the first cookie system, meaning whoever emails first, gets the cookie, so Suzanne explained that affiliates might get upset if one of our partners emails earlier than we instructed everybody to mail.
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“It’s our job to make sure everything goes smoothly, but if we have 300 affiliates… As long we were upfront about dates, we can’t be responsible for every single affiliate. If someone’s promoting too early, we ask them to stop, but people make mistakes and they’re busy and have a million offers, and mistakes happen, so we do our best to be honest and helpful, and take a positive outlook,” she said.
For example, “we had someone mail early once, and because of that, we discovered a tech glitch that we were able to iron out before everyone sends,” she shared.
“The thing with launches is that there are always a million moving parts. We always expect that there’s going to be a glitch along the way. We always take the stance of honesty and transparency, so we’re always upfront if something is not going right,” she added.
Create an Affiliate Launch Process You Can Replicate, So You Can Make a Bigger Impact
Launches are complex, especially when you’re dealing with dozens or hundreds of affiliate partners at once. Having a process in place – that your team understands – is crucial for your success.
Start documenting what you’re already doing, including what’s going well and where you need to improve. Then, gradually introduce new steps when necessary.
Once you figure out the best process for your company and your team, you can replicate it again and again, so you can focus on making sure that, together, you and your affiliates can do some great business and make an impact.