How to Work With Apps As Affiliates.

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Apps make amazing affiliate marketers because they “can” have a captive user base and they “can” build their own audience using app store marketing and website traffic for downloads.  So if you’re wondering if apps make good affiliates or how to work with them, this post will walk you through the process.  This post is not how to set up in-app sale tracking for a stores affiliate program, that is a different topic.

How to work with app affiliates in three sections:

  • What apps need to be successful affiliates
  • What to be cautious of
  • How to recruit app affiliate marketers

how to work with apps as affiliates

What Apps Need to be Successful Affiliates

Remember, app users (until progressive web apps become more popular) are primarily on tablets and mobile devices.  That means your standard affiliate marketing tools for traditional programs are no longer relevant.  Here is a short list of the additional marketing tools you need to create if you want to see success with app affiliates.

  • Banner sizes for mobile devices – standard web banners do not fit into mobile ad units.  There are separate sizes that you’ll need to create in order to meet the specs within an app.  Do a Google search for “app ad sizes” or “app ad specs” and you’ll find the most common ones.
  • Cross device tracking – If you aren’t set up to track across multiple devices, you’re out of luck with apps.  Some users will discover you in the app, but if the sale takes place on the desktop, the app will not see much success.  If it’s a dating app, you may be interrupting a conversation and they shop later, even if the app introduced you.  If it’s a game, same thing, the person wants to go back to the game.  Cross device tracking is vital for value adding apps or apps that serve ads on a media basis.
  • Datafeeds – If your datafeed has long descriptions and the images are not quick loading, it may not work for app users.  It’s time to reformat a mobile version of your feed for speed and space.  There’s limited room on a mobile screen and you don’t want to take away from a click and a sale.  There’s also no reason for a high res and print ready resolution for a mobile datafeed.
  • Short phrased text links – With the limited space, your text links will also have limited space.  Shrink down the amount of words and get to the point.  There’s not much room for word games so just give the deal.   The same goes for banners.  Less room and smaller screens leave less room for branding.  Focus on the message and the call to action.
  • Low character count and easy to read/type deals – If your coupons and deals take up a lot of wording, or you have large promo codes, now is the time to shrink them down.  If the affiliate is mentioning them by text or push notification, and it won’t copy and paste, you need something quick and simple that can be memorized and typed in, otherwise it won’t track back to the proper affiliate.
  • Custom codes and exclusivity – One thing that may work well is giving branded codes with limited lifespans for push notifications and other promos.  By being able to force exclusivity as these are used, it can track back to the app affiliate and help to earn their confidence and trust.  Just make sure they don’t get submitted to a bunch of other sites or you’ll have an attribution, trust and reversal/voiding issue.

What to be Cautious of

  • Adware – Just like with browser helpers and toolbars, apps can have a negative financial impact on your company in similar ways.  Some will intercept traffic on a mobile device as they would by installing a button or extension on a browser and others will work in new ways which are harder to track.  It is important to know the way each app works, what it’s functionality is and what else it offers if you’d like to catch any issues with adware theft or sale poaching.
  • Encouraging sharing – some apps encourage sharing deals in exchange for a reward but they do not always require or ask their users to use disclosures.  If you work with these types of apps and they mention that by sharing a deal from your store the sharer will earn or get XYZ, talk to your legal counsel or a licensed attorney (I am not one so I cannot give legal advice) and see if this would be ok or if you need them to require and provide proof of disclosures.
  • Disclosures on the app – this also needs to go through your legal team.  Many apps are limited on space.  Using space for advertising disclosures can take away from UX.  If you allow app affiliates into your program, show them to your general counsel or a licensed attorney and see if they are good to go or ask your legal counsel to send you what they’ll need to do to be compliant for your program.

How to Recruit App Affiliate Marketers

This is the fun part, recruiting apps as affiliates.  Our affiliate management agency works with a bunch already and have started asking what is important to them so we also know what to leave out on our pitch.  Even though they tend to be more tech savvy, integrating programs into the app is always a huge barrier to entry.  That is actually why I am writing this post and started with what they need to succeed.

When doing outreach to recruit apps as affiliates, I focus on what is specific to them and how we can be a natural integration without taking away from the user experience.  That is key for an app since space and attention is limited and they don’t want to take away from their core services or experience.  So how do you reach them?

You can recruit apps by reaching out through:

  • The support page if they have a website
  • Inside the app itself
  • By contacting the email listed in the app store (assuming it works)
  • Upgrading to their paid versions and then reach out when you get the receipt
  • Donating to them if they ask for support.  You’ll normally get a thank you email you can try to respond to or at least a person’s name.  With a bit of detective work you can normally locate a way to contact them with the name from that email.

Apps make great affiliates and can add a ton of value.  The trick is creating an affiliate program for the apps to be able to make money.  Next it is winning their trust and getting them to join, go active and then provide more exposure for you.  Once they are up and running, they can be some of your top revenue drivers as well as new customer acquisition experts.

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