|Looking for Ideas About Recruiting Affiliates of Niche Products|
To affiliate manages of niche products, what strategies have you found work for attracting new affiliates? What insights would you impart?
To affiliates, how did you find your products and what advice do you have for managers?
There is a lot of advice I would have for a new affiliate manager, but the number one thing is this: set your commission rate as high as you possibly can while still making a profit.
Affiliates are going to gravitate to whichever programs have the highest payouts for a given product or service. Whichever program has the highest payout, the word is going to get out among affiliates and that's the program they are going to sign up for and promote. The only way to beat a higher paying program is to have a much better conversion rate for your similar products or services - often a difficult thing to achieve.
Affiliates are out there busting their butts to make you money and promote your business. In the end, if you have many satisfied, dedicated affiliates it will not only increase sales a lot but also develop a lot of brand awareness since ads for your company are going to be everywhere. The first place to start to achieve this is with an appropriately high commission rate. Pay affiliates what they are worth to you and watch your business grow.
Pay on time everytime or lose affiliates.
Leave some wiggle room in the commission structure to give private offers and incentives to good producers in the form of elevated commissions. If the commission is maxed out to the limit to start out with, there's nowhere to go to incentivize. Also, periodic bonuses help boost activity (and loyalty), so those have to be accounted for in advance.
Something I'm looking at even more than commission amount is length of return days, or cookie duration.
As an affiliate,I'm always looking for products that 'everybody else' is'nt selling. Especially when looking at unknown, or smaller merchants.
Okay, looks like we got pay good commissions on a timely basis. Got it.
What about strategies for finding new affiliate members? What I am really interested in is the promotional aspects of getting the word out.
Simey, on what type of websites do you look?
My two most specifically niche-related affiliate programs are both ones I found by clicking on AdWords ads on a forum I frequent that covers the same niche. One of them, especially, must have put a lot of thought into their keywords; although they're perfect for the niche, they're tangential to it. I've also checked out some programs that I've seen affiliate links for on other niche-related sites; haven't joined them, because everything they were selling I already had covered.
If the niche has one or two recognized authority sites, it might be worth running some paid ads there, unless the cost is too high or the site(s) are already plastered with similar ads. You may not even have to buy ads if you can send them an interesting enough article about your business and what you're trying to do - written, of course, by someone who understands the people who frequent that site.
If you have the time - or someone else to do the research - you could find some good niche-related forums that allow people to post links to their own websites. Follow ones that look promising to see the quality of the sites and whether you might want to contact the best ones directly.
As an affiliate, some recent "obstacles" that have led me to NOT join merchant programs are:
- toll-free phone number prominently displayed, encouraging phone orders that can't be tracked to affiliate
- Low Conversion forecast -- I always try to determine whether I think a merchant site has a reasonable prospect of converting visitors to customers. Bad site design, non-competitive prices, limited information about products, vague delivery promises, and restrictive return policies are obvious.
- low commission rates (Amazon pays me 7% and converts very well, so you need to pay more)
- short cookie duration, especially for high-ticket purchases that often require some time for consideration and spousal approval
- my emails to affiliate manager bounce
- prices not competitive
- slow posting of transactions (if manual).
As an affiliate, I've never experienced "high transaction reversal rates" because I avoid product categories like web hosting that have high reversal (cancellation/refund) ratios, but I've heard lots of recent complaints about high reversal rates -- for example, for clothing and shoe merchants.
The bottom line is that most affiliate programs require substantial effort to recruitment, which must include OFFLINE follow-up via phone calls and actual postal mailings to key affiliate prospects. If affiliates are skeptical, it may be necessary to pay something up-front to persuade the affiliate to link.
[edited by: eljefe3 at 3:22 am (utc) on May 31, 2007]