Affiliate Marketing • 19 min read
You have a product you really believe in, but you’re not the only one trying to sell a product like that. Many companies across your industry, and others in complementary industries are competing for the same coveted spots on top affiliates’ calendars. You need an affiliate partnership that makes you a priority.
How do you stand out from the crowd?
An Affiliate Partnership with Your Company Needs to Make Business Sense
It should go without saying that we’re all here to do business, so how do we set ourselves to becoming the kind of business partners that affiliates prefer to work with?
1) Pay Affiliates Well
When all else is equal, you want your affiliate commissions to be the kind partners can’t refuse. It’s not the only way to close the deal, but having a high commission helps a lot.
It’s OK to have different levels of commissions for different levels of affiliates, and offer a higher commission per sale for those that can get you the most sales or the most respect in your industry.
Either way, we recommend examining how much it costs to manage this affiliate partnership. Don’t end up in the red just because you’re trying to offer the biggest payout.
And remember, just like trying to offer the cheapest price, it’s not always the best strategy. Instead, consider combining relatively high commissions in your industry with other aspects we’ll cover here today.
2) Pay Affiliates Fast (or at Least When You Say You Would)
We like to take care of our affiliates, especially the ones that make the biggest impact on our company, so we make an effort to pay as fast as we can.
In some occasions, you might be able to pay fewer commissions if you pay them faster – paying fast can be how you differentiate yourself – but see if you can find a middle ground, where you pay decent commission within a decent timeframe.
Whatever you decide, make sure you honor your word.
3) Always Honor Your Word
No matter how large your industry is, people talk. And they talk both in person and online, in front of hundreds, or sometimes millions, of people. And you do not want to become the topic of conversation when it’s time to talk about which companies to avoid partnering with.
But even if your partner never shares with anyone that you didn’t keep your word, they’ll still remember it. And if you keep changing the rules on them, you might end up in their JV policy‘s (link to JV policy article) blacklist, and all the hard work you’ve put to build this relationship will go to waste.
You could try the secret unjinxing thing from Gilmore Girls…
… but it might be better to stick to your word and fulfill any promise you make to the best of your ability.
If you absolutely can’t do what you said you’d do, speak up as early as possible, explain why, and explain what you can do for your partner instead. Make sure they know your relationship matters to you, that you appreciate all the work and money they’ve poured into this affiliate partnership, that you’re committed to making it up for them, and that you’re taking the necessary steps to ensure this won’t happen again.
Your Offer Needs to Help Affiliates Reach Their Goals
When you recruit affiliates, you probably start with your own end in mind. You want to put your offer in front of wide audiences, and you want to scale your sales in a way you might not be able to do on your own.
But to get affiliates to prioritize this offer over others, you also need to think about what’s in it for them.
4) Only Pitch Proven Offers
When you approach partners about the possibility of them promoting a new offer of yours, you’re basically asking them to take the risk that their audience might not like it and might not benefit from it.
And while that could happen anyway, approaching them with an offer you’ve already tested on your own audience – an offer that you have continuously optimized for better results – is much better.
Source: Dustin Sparks via Unbounce
This way, you’ve already taken the risk yourself. You’ve invested in this offer to make sure it’s the best it can be, and you know by now what triggers the most sales. It’s a much better way to gain trust as a serious, reliable partner that takes the extra step to make sure your partners are as successful as they can be.
5) Share Any Relevant Numbers You Have
Like we said above, an affiliate partnership is a business partnership, so any business stats you can share could make it a lot easier for potential partners to prioritize your offer over others.
Share which subject lines get higher CTRs, which content formats drive the most sales, how much revenue has your company generated from this offer, how many partners have you already worked with, how much revenue they’ve generated from it, etc.
The more specific data you have, the easier it is to trust you.
But numbers alone won’t convince everyone.
6) Share the Mission Behind Your Offer
Yes, some people just need to know how much your offer will contribute to their revenue goals, and that’s a legitimate reason to choose whether to collaborate with a company. But others won’t promote your offer if it doesn’t have a deeper impact, if the “why” behind it isn’t clear if it doesn’t change people’s lives for the better in a major way.
There will also be affiliates who will sign up only if you can deliver on both fronts – the revenue and the mission – or those that will consider you if the money’s good, but understanding the mission might tip the scale in your favor versus a very similar offer they’re considering.
So whenever you can, share the mission.
Your Affiliate Managers Need to Build the Kind of Relationships that Don’t Give Competitors a Chance
We know we’ve talked about this many times in the past, but it’s that important. Affiliate marketing is a relationship business, so the more actual relationships you build, the more friends you’ll make in your industry, the more people that will prioritize your offer simply because it’s yours.
7) Build Deeper Relationships with Affiliates in Your Industry
When you work with super affiliates like we do to produce 7 figure launches on a regular basis, you start realizing that all the super affiliates get requests to promote really great, high paying, highly converting, mission-driven offers all the time.
You might be able to compete on these front sometimes, and you might not at other times. But if you’ve built a real connection, you’ll have an advantage that most of those pitching your super affiliates won’t be able to achieve… at least not fast enough to close the next deal.
What to Do if Your Affiliate Offer Doesn’t Have Any of These Competitive Advantages
If your offer doesn’t have any of these competitive advantages, you’re not alone. Most offers don’t. But the good news is that you can do something about it.
Decide on one or two aspects you want to optimize, make that your focus, and then gradually integrate more.
If you have a big budget, but you realize your commissions aren’t competitive, test what happens when you increase your commissions. On the other hand, if your budget is small, see what happens if you focus solely on optimizing your offer and building relationships over the next few months.
True, you might not see results tomorrow, but over time, you’ll set yourself apart from the crowd.