31+ Ways to Recruit Affiliates for Affiliate Marketing Programs

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ways to recruit affiliates

Are you looking for information on how to recruit affiliates for your affiliate marketing program?  Then you’re in luck!  As a two time Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award winner and affiliate manager for 15+ years, I’ve learned and come up with numerous strategies.  As a way to give back to the community, here are 31+ of my favorite ways to recruit affiliates for a program.

The strategies below are in no particular order.  There is a good chance you have probably have tried some of these, and others will be new to you.  If they didn’t work to recruit affiliates, or you didn’t get enough sign ups from them, I go into detail about how I do each.  The details may help to determine why affiliates didn’t sign up for your program.  I also highly recommend reading this post about reaching out to high value affiliate partners and making sure your pitch is good enough to stand out.

  1. Send emails to websites that write about relevant topics and traffic.The trick to this type of affiliate recruitment is to not use a list and send the same canned email.  You also should not use dynamic inserts instead of customization.  It is not smart and it does not work for the bigger sites.If it is someone you want to have promote your program, you must customize the email to show the affiliate that you have read at least one full post on their website.  You can do this by mentioning specifics from the content.  Yes, this takes a lot of time, but the amount of yeses and responses you get should increase drastically if you do it right.
  2. Reach out to people who have an audience of your customers and ask to do a cross promotion or JV deal.One of the most effective ways to get a sign up is to offer the potential partner something of value too.  If your company is similar in size, or can pull a similar and complementary audience, why not promote each other as affiliates?  Both parties will win.
  3. Create relationships with complementary stores and see if they’ll promote you in their gift guides, as a cross or upsell, or add you post checkout.My largest two partners in one of my marquee clients are complementary stores and services.  The one has us in their blog post which ranks very well for one of our highest converting phrases.  The other includes us in their checkout process as an upsell and promotes us in their perks/rewards section for their own customers.  Because they offer services which are very similar, but not competitive to my client, it was a natural fit.  At times, my client will promote them on social media and in emails too.
  4. Do co-branded emails with complementary programs that include copy and paste shopping grids.This is not compliant on all affiliate networks, but some will let you do it.  Read your agreement before trying this affiliate recruitment strategy so that you do not get in trouble.  Start by creating a shopping grid that is copy and paste HTML or CSS code.  The grid should feature products from both programs. If the affiliate wants the shopping grid to work, or to be able to earn commissions, they must join both programs.
  5. Attend conferences like Affiliate Summit.  (Click here to buy a ticket).There are major affiliate marketing tradeshows all over the world.  Clarion Events owns the largest which is Affiliate Summit.  Although the shows will have everything from CPA Marketing to Affiliate Marketing, you will also find niche influencers and blogging tracks which attract affiliates from all parts of the industry.  Not all of them will be a fit, but it is a great place to learn and build potential partner leads.
  6. Go to network based tradeshows.I stopped going to network based events a while back, but I would definitely consider it again in the future.  They are great tradeshows to recruit affiliates at because each of the attendees has a direct interest in the network your program is listed on.  Each network hosts a show like ShareASale who has Think Tank.
  7. Find niche shows for blogging.One place I love to go are blogging shows.Each person attending is looking to scale their blog, and many are looking to turn their blog into a business.  One channel they can do this is with affiliate marketing.  You’ll find niche blogging shows about your topic, and massive ones that have bloggers from all walks of live.  Just make sure you do your follow ups and you are open to hybrid media and commission based deals.
  8. Influencer conferences.Just like a blogging conference, influencer shows have similar opportunities to recruit affiliates.  Just make sure your tracking is set up to handle channels like Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram where there are no links.
  9. Blogging meetups and masterminds can bring in great partners.If you live in or by a major city, look at eventbrite or on Facebook for local or statewide blogger groups.  Almost every city and large town in the USA and across the world has them.  These are perfect for you to sponsor whether it is food, drinks or a space for them to meet.By becoming a sponsor you can network and mingle, as well as talk about the benefits of promoting your brand.  If you don’t have a local one, look for groups with attendees you’d like to work with in other cities, and sponsor their meetup instead.  You can also ask the event organizer to place note cards or flyers with your program’s info and ask them to take a photo of your marketing materials being passed out.
  10. Place ads on Facebook and target people who are staying at the host hotel of a show.Proceed with caution on this one.  Many people will flag your Facebook ads as spam if you try to recruit them into becoming an affiliate partner.  This can get your Facebook ads account shut down.Do not use your company’s account, but instead set up a secondary one.Next you can use different targets and interests like blogging, wordpress, influencer, brand names, marketing strategies like SEO, etc…  Take the potential partner to a landing page about your program, or bring them directly to the sign up page for your program.  It is an inexpensive and great channel, but again, proceed with caution as people are on Facebook to have fun, not always to think about business.
  11. Buy the ad space in the bathrooms or on a billboard across the street or inside the hotel and convention center with a relevant tradeshow.Something I have not done, but want to is to buy ad space around or in a conference for a program.  If it is a conference with an XY theme for bloggers, why not buy ad space in the bathrooms or if there is a billboard outside the front door with your programs information?  i.e. “Are you a Food Writer?  Make Money From Your Original Recipes, Here’s How” and share an easy to remember and type in URL.
  12. Get yourself on a podcast that talks to website owners.Podcasts are a fantastic way to recruit affiliates into your program.  You have a niche and captive audience, they hear what you have to say, and you start out with their trust because they are fans of the host and podcast.  This added trust is incredibly important for getting more sign ups.
  13. Write blog posts about monetizing your website.One of my favorite techniques is to create content, but not only on your own site, on others too.This is not for backlinks, again, this is not for backlinks.This strategy to recruit affiliates is about creating relevant resources where an audience that could be an affiliate for you will find it.  That could mean in private niche portals where people pay to learn about products, strategies or techniques.  It could be niche websites that cater to an industry, but wouldn’t make sense for your agency site.  The goal is to provide education and if the person wants to find out more from you, they can join your affiliate program or find it on the sign up page.
  14. Optimize your own affiliate section or affiliate blog for phrases like “make money with beauty blogging”.If your company’s website does not have a dedicated section for your affiliate program (not a single page but a full section), create it now.  Then optimize it for relevant phrases like “wedding affiliate programs” or “how to make money with a fitness app”.
  15. Set up a two tier commission structure.2 tier commission affiliate programs are a great way to make money, but don’t expect them to work overnight.  A two tier affiliate program is when a current affiliate will sign up another so they can earn commissions as the second affiliate makes a sale.  i.e. affiliate A signs up affiliate B.  When affiliate B earns a commission, affiliate A earns a small one too.
  16. Create content on your own site or on other websites with information on how to make money online.  Make sure to tie your affiliate program in with real examples.One thing that can work well is sharing some of your top converting content and why it converts for your company as an example.  Make sure you let the partners know they cannot scrape or use the content from your company’s website, so you may want to share chopped down examples instead of something that can be copied and pasted.By doing this you can help your partners generate similar types of content and send similar referrals which may convert at a higher rate.  As a bonus, you may build more loyalty with these partners because you’ve also helped them to make more money.
  17. Submit content which baits people to contact you for more information in trade publications like feedfront.One thing I love doing is sharing 80% or 90% of a strategy.  To recruit affiliates, it would be something along the lines of SEO, optimizing for a social media algorithm, or something they would want to learn more about.  By giving the reader virtually everything for free, but leaving one step out, they have two options.
    1. They can try to figure out the remaining part.
    2. They can reach out to you and get it for free.  If the potential partner reaches out, they will have to get pitched your program.  You have the opportunity to show them why they should partner with you, and they get a solution to the problem they are facing.
  18. Create YouTube videos explaining complex and easy answers to help people who could be affiliates. This makes you a resource they may trust.This is very similar to the tip above.  The difference here is you are providing the full solution and building yourself as an authority on the topic.  If you do a good job, they may subscribe to your channel and come back for more advice.  Then as they’re ready, or as they discover you have a program, they may be more inclined to join because they already trust you.  That is why it is important to make sure you are always sharing actionable, relatable, and helpful information.
  19. Participate in social media groups where bloggers, influencers and affiliates exist, BUT DO NOT SPAM THEM….PARTICIPATE IN THEM.For some of my programs, the best tool I have is being an active member in larger and active communities of webmasters, influencers and bloggers.  Once you have proven you’re there to participate and not just recruit, the community will hopefully welcome you and want to engage.  But as I wrote above, DO NOT SPAM IT, DO NOT INSTANTLY PITCH, and always ask for permission from the Admin.  If the Admin is the person that shares your recruitment post, it adds even more trust for your program and you may get more sign ups.
  20. Look for apps where the user base needs a product like yours.  i.e. if you sell wedding products and there’s a wedding planning app, this is a perfect partner.Apps make great partners, but make sure you have cross device tracking set up and a full datafeed.  You can work with apps in many ways, but if your tracking and tools aren’t up to date, you cannot maximize the relationship.
  21. Buy ad space inside the affiliate networks.One of my best kept secrets, even though it is not a secret.  Buy space on the affiliate network you are on.  By using ad space to recruit affiliates inside the affiliate network, you’re reaching people who already have an account and you won’t need to jump through hoops.  There are numerous things you can try to make your program more appealing, but that is for a different post.
  22. Use network marketplaces to send custom emails.Most networks offer affiliate recruitment tools.  Some have the potential to cause harm to your company’s SEO, but others do not.  These are great if they reach out to partners already in the network for the same reasons as the tip above.
  23. Crawl the search engines for mentions of your brand and ask them to use an affiliate link instead of a backlink.The pitch can be about the site owner making money off the work they already did.If there is a link to your website, by replacing the link with an affiliate link (regardless of follow or no follow) you will be causing damage to your SEO.  However, you are the affiliate manager or affiliate agency and this is probably not important to you.  It is to my company, but that is only because we do both SEO and affiliate management.

    By reaching out to these sites that already talk about you and letting them know they could make money from the work they already did, it is a no brainer for them and an easy win.  You can read this post about if affiliate links are backlinks if you want more information on my comment above about hurting your SEO.

  24. Crawl the web for links pointing to your website and invite them to become affiliates.Just like above, you can crawl your company’s backlink profile and reach out to each site.  This is different than the tip above because unlike mentions, these are websites already linking to you.  You probably also have sales and conversion data on them if you look in your analytics package.  Because they are already linking to you, and you can potentially show how much they could be making, it is money on the table for both of you.  Although this is horrible for your SEO, it can also be helpful if it is used as a strategy to assist in take down requests.
  25. Use tools the network provides to crawl the web looking for mentions and links, and also provides you with historic email addresses and information.Network tools are usually a combination of the two above.  Remember, the networks have zero interest in your SEO.  They are getting paid on conversions whether it is a flat fee, a %, or total amount of transactions.  Be cautious if SEO and PR are important to you or your company.
  26. Send product samples to potential partners.Try sending product samples to a potential partners home or office.  It’s easier than you’d think to find where someone lives because of the internet and public records.  Then have the card on the package with an invitation to checkout your affiliate program.  On the card, mention that if they plan on reviewing it, by becoming an affiliate partner they can also earn money.  This could be a great way to also work with your PR team and gain their help with recruiting larger affiliate websites.
  27. Sponsor a free lunch at their office as a surprise.Lunches are almost always welcome as long as the person doesn’t have allergies or specific dietary needs.  Make sure to send a follow up email after delivery hoping they enjoy the meal and asking if when you can jump on a call to have a conversation about your program.
  28. Find the popular or “it” person in your niche.This is an interesting one that I have done with affiliates to drive sales.  We find the trendy person that everyone looks up too and give them unique cards (like a business card) that provides discounts.  The same goes to recruit affiliates.  Find a trusted person in the group of potential partners and build the relationship.  Then ask them to become a 2 tier affiliate partner and help you recruit affiliates.
  29. Create relationships with organizations and have them promote it through their networks.If college students are your target, contact the student help centers or study abroad organizations and ask them to promote the program as a fundraiser through the sororities and universities.  They’ll be able to sign up each chapter or school as an affiliate and earn two tiers, while the individual groups earn commissions.  The same goes with sports teams for schools or local groups by approaching the organization in charge.
  30. Send the potential partner a gift.Start by looking at their Facebook, Twitter or TikTok accounts and see what the person who makes the decisions likes.  Then send something they would genuinely be interested in as a gift.  On the card or a handwritten letter, leave your number, URL, and your email address.  Make sure you also comment that you’d like to talk to them about becoming an affiliate or an ambassador for your company or brand.
  31. Recruit from the people talking about you on social media.

    Another great way to find affiliates and ambassadors is to recruit affiliates from the people talking about you positively on social media.  They’re already a fan of the brand and sharing you, why not let them also earn commissions.  This might encourage them to share you more often.

So I promised you 31+ strategies.  I am planning on adding a few more shortly, but for now I’d like you to help build this list.  Leave a comment below with some of your favorite ways to recruit affiliates for your programs.  If they aren’t spammy, and they are actionable, I’ll post them.  You can also mention your affiliate program in the comment as long as your comment is not spammy.  That way if someone wants to check it out, they can go to a search engine and find it.  And that is tip 31.  😉

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2 thoughts on “31+ Ways to Recruit Affiliates for Affiliate Marketing Programs”

  1. This is the best way to a marketing strategy online. This last way you said “Recruit from the people talking about you on social media,” this is your audience and this audience will help you up building your business. Effective and interesting post for reading, i really love it and waiting for updates. Thank you.

  2. Chris Tradgett

    Some very cool ideas among these Adam – I’d add don’t just use one, engagement happens when a prospect encounters you in several places. Conferences, ads and some of the others provide multiple touchpoints all of which boost your ‘social proof’.

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