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5 steps to leverage the power of affiliates in your email marketing
How do you build a massive email list of buyers? Building affiliate relationships is key. Columnist Daniel Faggella outlines five affiliate marketing strategies to get you started.
Since the inception of Google, everyone seems to be chasing the same dream: Wake up in the morning, open your laptop, and watch the sales roll in from the night before.
The internet has certainly changed our landscape of communication. It has provided ample opportunity for entrepreneurs to pursue a life of autonomy and abundance. But more importantly, it has given everyone a chance at bat.
Good marketers know that building a sustainable web presence is no longer an option — it’s a requirement. For the vast majority of people, affiliate marketing is how they get started. They begin either by marketing their products online through affiliates, or by becoming an affiliate and promoting other people’s products.
This article, tailored to e-commerce sites seeking affiliates to promote their products, will explain:
- how to recruit affiliates that have huge email lists;
- the one metric that matters most to affiliates; and
- how to get big affiliates to promote your products (all day long).
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is based on the concept of revenue sharing. The basic idea is that an affiliate promotes someone else’s product. When someone purchases that product, the publisher earns a commission based on their marketing efforts.
Is it possible to create multiple streams of income from promoting other people’s products? Yes.
Can you scale a business that is strictly based on promoting other people’s products? I wouldn’t bet on it.
Make no mistake about it — the e-commerce retailers are the ones with the biggest bottom lines. Why? It’s fairly simple. Affiliates earn commissions, while creators earn customers.
Even if you’re leveraging the marketing efforts of others rather than doing the outreach part yourself initially, you can use those efforts to build a critical asset — an email list of buyers. Once you’ve got that list, optimize your back end with customer behavior data and a multitude of different offers and you can maximize the customer lifetime value of those list members.
Today, we are going to discuss five affiliate marketing strategies that you can use to build a massive email list of buyers.
Strategy #1: Lead with value
If you’re just starting out, it may seem impossible to find affiliates that will promote your products and services. This is where most marketers drop the ball. They grossly underestimate the importance of the “relationship factor” and start frantically asking favors from authorities in their niche.
Example: “Hey [INSERT BRAND], my name is Jim. Can you promote my product to your email list? I will offer you 50-percent commissions on every sale that you make. Thanks!”
If you lead by asking, it will almost always garner no response from affiliates. You should never assume that someone you’ve never met before would agree to put money in your pocket. Affiliates are humans, so you need to treat them as such.
This comes down to the law of reciprocity. If you want to use affiliate marketing to grow your business, then you need to lead with value.
This can oftentimes be a difficult paradigm shift for marketers. Fortunately, you just need a shift of perspective to overcome this, rather than a huge email list or bank account.
Here are four simple ways that you can lead by giving:
- Conduct an interview with an affiliate. This is a great way to introduce yourself and develop a rapport. Offer to share the publisher’s content with your email list and social media channels. When the interview is over, inquire about potential cross-promotions that could benefit their audience.
- Create a bonus offer for a product that an affiliate is already marketing. For example, if one of your affiliates is selling a course on driving e-commerce sales from your Facebook fan page, you can write a short and useful step-by-step guide that complements the product, such as the fundamentals of lead generation from Facebook. Ideally, the short bonus that you add to your affiliate’s product should bring extra value to all of your customers.
- Create a barter agreement with an affiliate. Perhaps you could contribute useful content to their blog. If there’s any area of their business that can improve, offer your marketing insights in exchange for a cross-promotion. Be careful not to push your insights here; make sure that you offer knowledge that’s valued by your affiliate.
- Introduce them to other big players in your niche.
The simplest, most effective way to get affiliates to promote for you is by helping them sell their products first. In general, most marketers don’t ignore your emails if you have funneled some money into their pockets.
When you understand how to lead with value, you can start targeting the affiliates that own the list or have the audience to which you are looking to market.
Strategy #2: Create an affiliate hit list
The next step is to create a list of the affiliates with whom you want to do business. This will require you to know your audience’s core needs and desires.
If your core value proposition is to help men over 40 build lean muscle from home, then you need to do your due diligence about this audience before reaching out to affiliates.
How exactly do you find out this information?
Go to Clickbank and search the “Marketplace” for the highest-converting offers in your niche. Figure out what products are attractive to your audience, and then retrieve their contact information.
Create a regimen that requires you to reach out to two to five different affiliates each week. Track your responses and gradually add new affiliates to your hit list.
Your initial introduction will most likely be through email; however, the best way to network with potential affiliates is by getting them on the phone.
Strategy #3: Create an offer that converts
If you want to attract big affiliates, then you need to create a high-converting offer. Unfortunately, most marketers procrastinate on this issue. They are more concerned about getting “views” and “likes,” which rarely translate into ROI (return on investment).
Create a front-end offer, and then test it with your current list. If you don’t have a big list, then reach out to affiliates and offer them 100-percent commissions in exchange for running a test.
Tools such as Visual Website Optimizer will allow you to track the conversion rates of your sales page. Always test your headlines, sub-headlines, bullet points and body copy.
Strategy #4: Know your EPC metrics
In the world of digital marketing, Earnings Per Click (EPC) is a ubiquitous metric that you must know, no matter what your business niche. It will determine whether your offer is worth promoting for potential affiliates.
Oftentimes, your EPCs will vary by the source of traffic. If you have a high-converting offer with prewritten email templates, you can approach an affiliate and give them this formula:
“For every email click you send, you will earn X dollars.” (EPC: Total Commissions/Unique Clicks).
What’s a high enough EPC? That will obviously vary between niches. In the fitness space, 50 cents is enough to get you started. In other professional niches such as marketing and personal finance, you’ll most likely need to be above $2.
Oftentimes, a high-converting, front-end product isn’t enough. If you want to maximize your EPC metrics, create an upsell flow that consists of two to three additional products. Make sure these offers are relevant to the core benefits of your initial product.
Knowing your EPC metrics will garner the attention of affiliates and prove that you take your business seriously. If your EPC is high enough, they will most likely be willing to promote your offer. If you have already led with value, they will promote your offer all day long.
Strategy #5: Provide superb customer service
If an affiliate agrees to promote your product, it’s your job to make it virtually effortless for them. Provide your affiliates with all the necessary resources they need, including:
- swipe email creatives that have been tested and proven to get opens and clicks;
- the sales page that converts the clicks to sales;
- a clear, concise breakdown of their commissions for each product in your funnel;
- tracking links, reporting and updates for each email they send; and
- payment terms.
This may sound like a lot of work on your end, but it’s well worth it. You should always strive to go above and beyond for your affiliates. These are the people who are going to help build your business organically.
This five-step formula will help you recruit an army of affiliates to promote your products. Always remember to lead with value and know your metrics. Your EPC is the number that affiliates will care about most.
When you have a high enough EPC, you can offer more commissions on your front-end products. This will make your offers even more attractive to affiliates.
As you continue to generate front-end sales, you can offer your customers additional products on the back end. This is how you maximize your customer lifetime value and bottom-line profits.
What other affiliate strategies do you use in your business?
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.