Marketing an affiliate program: 12 tips to recruit your affiliates

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As a SaaS business founder, we are always looking for ways to expand our marketing reach. Inspired by a post on Indiehackers - Made money from affiliates!, I am going to write a post to share how companies are doing it. Since Versoly has just launched a new affiliate program, the cofounder, Volkan Kaya, is just trying to get new affiliates onboarding.

For your information, Versoly is a website builder for SaaS landing pages. There are more than 100 players in the market. Each company is serving its market segment. It is a very competitive field.

Versoly is a new player who just arrives at the battlefield for more than 1 year. In particular, Versoly focuses on building SaaS product website, which is a key channel to get customers. SaaS companies spend an abundant resource to increase the conversion via optimizing the copy, design, speed, etc.

Versoly solves the problem by providing some ready-to-use elements, e.g. templates, blog, forms, analytics, mobile responsiveness. Personally, I was building on top of the templates I bought from templates companies. If it can save me time, I will probably switch to Versoly in my next project.

I’m going to share 12 tips to find your affiliates to promote your products.

Let’s get started! 🚀

Disclaimer: Please note that this post includes affiliate links which provide a commission to me at no cost to you. However, the links are useful for the best software and tools you need to start a successful project. By purchasing via the links, you are supporting a solo founder, a maker to sustain this website.

1. Start with your existing customers

The easiest way is to start with your existing happy customers who are familiar with your products. They may be using your product daily for their works. If what you provide is truly great, I’m sure they are already telling their coworkers and friends to try. You’re just giving them an option to earn some coffee money☕

If you have an email list, don’t hesitate to invite them to join your program! Turn your customers into brand ambassadors.

2. Spread the news

Spread the news everywhere, whether it’s your company website footer, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, newsletter, or even Youtube. Make sure your potential affiliates can search the program with your product name with “affiliate program”.

If your affiliates are part of a community like Indiehackers, don’t be afraid to start a thread.

Before you start, be well prepared for the marketing resource like banners, logo, basic product information, the possible promotional campaigns. These tools are essential for affiliates to get started.

Content creators are deadly waiting for your program to monetize the traffics!

3. Recruit new affiliates with your partners

If you’re working with other companies, you can leverage their audience. As an affiliate marketing site, I’ve registered more than 20 - 30 programs just for my experimentation. Every day, they are sending me newsletters to share tips & tricks, how to promote the products, what’s up, etc.

Kinsta is one of the companies who is great at WordPress hosting. Before joining the program, its reputation is well known among the WordPress community. When I read the review online, it’s always positive with its speedy performance and reliable services.

Recently, Kinsta has just sent me an email regarding its program. To be honest, I don’t take it seriously coz there are too many of them. When I read it today morning, I found a treasure. I suggest you should send regular newsletters to your affiliates to keep them updated.

If you are starting to find new affiliates, you should register a program to get a feel of how it tastes.

Personally, I used Digital Ocean to host my blog. DO provides dirt cheap virtual private hosting service (VPS) but I have to deal with server upgrade, migration, performance issues which may cause headaches occasionally. 😵

For $5 month, I can host several Wordpress sites with low traffics, say a few thousand visitors per month. Since my blogs are mainly serving my app users, I’ll leave it alone. Under this price point, I don’t have any complaints at all.

If you are without a technical background, never consider VPS like Digital Ocean / AWS / Google Cloud, etc. Stick with a nocode / low-code hosting solution like Kinsta.

Kinsta monthly newsletter, May 2020 (You can also find more info from the knowledge base about affiliate here)

Kinsta monthly newsletter image

As you can see, there is a highlighted session to promote the program of Novashare, which is a social plugin for WordPress. Though I don’t use NovaShare before, I find the company reliable as a partner of Kinsta. The comarketing tactic can definitely help to build trust with your potential affiliates.

4. Join affiliate marketing communities

At the beginning of AffTable, I’ve joined several communities to keep updated on the industry. Occasionally, I will ask them feedback to improve AffTable.

SubReddits:

  1. Affiliate Marketing

  2. Affiliate Marketing Information Library

Facebook groups:

  1. SaaS Products & Marketing

  2. Subscriber Scaling Secrets: Chrome Extensions, SaaS, Affiliate Marketing

You can always join other groups by searching in Reddit or Facebook. Remember not to be salesy or spammy to share your links. Otherwise, you will be banned by the moderators very soon.

5. Reach out to influencers on Youtube, Facebook or Twitter

Youtube is one of the effective ways to share tutorials about affiliate marketing. There are many affiliate marketers doing product reviews, sharing tips and tricks, and upselling courses. I learn a lot from a successful affiliate. He has more than 30K subscribers on his channel.

For example, a successful affiliate with huge traffics can negotiate a custom deal with the company. Let’s say I have many followers on my Youtube channel. I can make a call to the affiliate manager. Instead of a 20% commission rate, I want a 30% cut. By making a call, you can increase your commission rate immediately. It makes sense to me. I will stay open mind to other professional affiliates’ advice.

Similar to Youtube, you can search on Facebook and Twitter to look for suitable affiliates. Try to send your target user a DM to pitch your program. It’s no difference in pitching your potential customers. But you have to persuade them your product can help them to make money.

6. Search for mentions of your brand on Google and the relevant backlinks

In addition to your existing customers, you can also find out which blogs or websites are featuring your product. Simply search for your product name and go through the websites one by one. Send them an email if you find it suitable.

If you want to save time, you can use content explorer tools like Ahrefs or Buzzsumo. These tools can help you to find out which posts mentioned you before. But they charge for $99 minimum per month. I don’t have the budget at this moment. Though I am interested in trying later on.

7. Get listed in website articles

Top affiliates always create review articles like “Top 10 website builder in 2020”, “The Best website builder in 2020”, “How to start a blog in 15 steps”, etc. These articles are very popular ways to promote a product and helping affiliates making loads of money.

As a reference, you can take a look at the income report from Adam Enfroy. Just by affiliate programs, he made more than $60K passive income in April 2020. If you want to pitch top influencers like him, make sure you provide tremendous value in exchange for featuring in his post.

Besides top influencers, you can consider other bloggers, YouTubers, social media celebrities with lower profiles. Just find out players match with your branding.

8. Buy PPC ads

If you have a budget, consider experimenting with paid advertising campaigns. Do not limit yourself to the largest platforms like Google Adwords or Facebook Ads, but you should test with different programs to see which one gives you the highest ROI!

By constantly optimizing your ad campaign, you can lower your cost per click (CPC) with a higher click-through rate (CTR).

Feel free to check out this list: Ultimate Paid Traffic Channel Overview - Websites to place ads - Niche websites. I found it on a community. Unfortunately, I can’t find out who the author is.

9. Speak on relevant Podcasts

Podcast has been the fast-growing media in recent years. If you are a tech startup founder, just do a podcast interview and promote your program.

Below are my favorite podcasts about SaaS or tech startup:

  1. Company of One

  2. Derek Sivers

  3. FounderQuest

  4. Get Together

  5. Product People

  6. Software Engineering Unlocked

  7. Stacking the Bricks

  8. The Bootstrapped Founder

  9. The indie Hackers Podcast

  10. The Limit Does Not Exist

  11. The SaaS Podcast

  12. The Makerpad podcast

10. Offer sponsorships and launch special campaigns

I’ve been using Namecheap to buy domains for 4 - 5 years. The service has been great over the years. The user interface is intuitive.

Recently, Namecheap has just launched a sponsorship campaign, Pitch Us Your Online Dream.

If you're a dreamer, a doer, a creator, an entrepreneur, or an innovator we want to hear from you! Whatever your new website idea is, you could be in with a chance to get everything a new website needs FREE for a year.

Successful applicants will get

  • ANY non-premium domain they like
  • The hosting that best suits their needs
  • Free PositiveSSL Certificate for security Attractive, right? Just be creative and you can get attention from the crowd. I’ve pitched AffTable to Namecheap. Unfortunately, I don’t hear back from them after filling the form.

Whether Sponsorship or Giveaway, you can launch a campaign suitable for your product.

11. Create a community for your affiliates

When you have a small group of affiliates, don’t forget to create a group for them to exchange ideas. There are countless ways to promote a product. But they are the ones who know which ways are the most effective to sell!

12. Join affiliate directories

At last, you can submit your program to AffTable. AffTable is a collection of SaaS affiliate programs. If your program is related to tech, you’ve come to the right place!

Other directories like Prosociate or Affko may be good too.

Final Tips 💁‍♂️

As the final advice, I suggest you should make your program as transparent as possible.

When I was collecting data for AffTable, I’ve read through the program details and agreements. After reading more than 100 programs, I’ve found that some companies just don’t care about this marketing channel.

The payment method is not mentioned. I can’t find the program agreement. The payout schedule is unclear. When I sent an email to the company, a manager just replied to me with a dumb answer. Hey, I simply can’t trust your company.

If you have anything to add to the list, feel free to ping me via afftable@sillycube.com. I’d love to see your feedback!