I’ve never been wild about the way in which the “Make Money Online” industry, for the most part, presents affiliate marketing as the silver bullet to instant success.
It’s not that having an army of affiliates promoting your product can’t be effective. It can. Wildly so. But the strategy is often presented in a manner that suggests all you have to do is open the doors to your affiliate program and watch the world take over the job of making your sales.
It’s almost like novice business owners are being encouraged to abrogate their sales and marketing efforts to a faceless group of people that are somehow going to swoop in and blow up the business.
Which is why we’re trying our best to encourage people to think of Kartra as a powerful, user-friendly tool that enables YOU to grow your business, and not something that is going to replace your entrepreneurial spirit, your endeavour and your willingness to push for success.
Today we’re turning our attention to Kartra’s affiliate marketing feature. Setting up your own affiliate program is now possible in just a few clicks. But Kartra also has the features that will allow you to secure the right affiliates and help them be successful in promoting your products.
In fact, when turned up to 11, Kartra can even help you turn regular affiliates into SUPER affiliates.
Screen your affiliate applications
Once you crunch the numbers, you’re going to find that approximately 80% of your sales are going to come from 20% of your affiliates. That’s the classic 80/20 rule in action. You may even find that it winds up being closer to 90/10.
It only takes one super affiliate to give you their focus, even for a little while, to see your sales numbers go through the roof.
But super affiliates won’t join your program on a whim or by accident. You need to work hard to attract the best affiliates. And that begins by knowing exactly who is entering your program.
Kartra lets you screen your affiliates by making it mandatory that they fill in a questionnaire when applying. You can then either accept everyone automatically or approve each application manually.
The first benefit of using screening questionnaires is that it allows you to have a clear idea of the kinds of affiliates you’re attracting and how they intend to promote you. The second, and perhaps most important benefit, is that you’ll have the opportunity to spot when a valued player enters your program.
Imagine for a moment that an affiliate marketer, well-known in your niche, with an active list in excess of 50,000 people, joins your program. He or she looks through your swipes (pre-prepared emails and squeeze pages) and your instructional material, and although they like your product, you don’t quite have the kind of setup they require.
So, they put you to one side and look elsewhere.
If you’re not screening your affiliates and taking a close look at who is coming through the doors, you would never even know that this had taken place. You were on the verge of a huge joint venture opportunity, and you blew it without ever knowing.
On the other hand, if you’re screening your affiliates with a questionnaire, you will see the name come through and you can reach out to them personally to ask them what you can do to assist. Maybe they just need some slightly-different swipes, or a personalized squeeze page. It might be something you can easily fix.
Now, instead of losing a super affiliate, you’ve got a potential commitment and an ongoing dialogue.
Try setting up a questionnaire with questions such as…
- How many email subscribers do you have?
- How much per month do you spend on advertising affiliate products?
- How much per month do you spend on advertising your own products?
- From which sources do you buy traffic?
- How much did you earn as an affiliate last year?
- Provide a link showing an example of one of your landing or squeeze pages?
- What was the last affiliate or ecommerce event you attended in person?
Make purchasing a requirement
The most effective affiliates take the time to study and get to know the products and services they promote. So, if an affiliate joins your program and has never purchased anything you have to offer, you have a right to wonder how serious they are about their chosen profession.
You can screen for this by asking, in your questionnaire, which of your products they have previously purchased. Or, if you want to be a bit more subtle, ask them which features of your product they like most, and why.
Should you reject an affiliate application from someone who hasn’t purchased your product or who doesn’t appear to know much about your offers?
That’s a judgement call, but you should certainly consider it.
Some people will tell you that it doesn’t matter who you let into your affiliate program. You only pay them if they make a sale, so who cares if someone promotes your product badly? In the worst-case scenario they don’t make any sales and you’ve lost nothing. At least it’s someone talking about your business, right?
Think of it like this. If you ran a real-world store and you needed to hire half a dozen salespeople, would you just open your doors and let anyone come onto the shop floor and pitch your wares? Or would you carefully interview lots of people and choose only those that you believe will best represent your business?
Affiliates might be freelance marketers rather than employees, but they will still be associated with your products if they’re talking about them.
There’s nothing wrong in the slightest with setting high standards for your affiliates.
Another very important consideration is that if an affiliate is terrible at their job or if they’re sending low-grade traffic to your pages (expired domain traffic, MLM-style advertising exchanges, etc.) this is going to screw-up the results of your split-tests.
Even worse, this is going to bring your earnings-per-click (EPC) right down. Given that the top affiliates will factor in your EPC when deciding whether to promote you, the idea of letting in everyone and anyone into your affiliate program is no longer looking so smart.
Recognize the performance of your affiliates
Treating all of your affiliates the same, regardless of their sales numbers, is like treating all of your employees the same regardless of how hard they work and how productive they are.
In the same way that you would reward your best employees with an encouraging word, a bonus in their pay packet or even a promotion, you should reward your best affiliates with encouraging emails, videos or even personal phone calls; increased commission percentages; and other perks such as faster payments or free gifts.
Try separating your affiliates into three categories.
Low-performing affiliates: If an affiliate makes few or no sales, after a certain time you should cut them loose. If you’re selling a high-ticket item, it might make financial sense to keep low-performers around if they’re contributing the occasional sale, but if they’re dragging your EPC down and discouraging new affiliates from joining, they’re just a drain on your business. Look out especially for affiliates that make 2-3 sales when they first join and then become inactive. This could be someone who only joined to give their buddies a discount.
Medium-performing affiliates: Steady performers who stick with it are your future stars. Don’t ignore them or overlook their efforts. Encourage them with unexpected bonuses or a personal email. Ask them what you can do to help them improve. Consider running some training sessions to help them step up their game.
Top-performing affiliates: Naturally, you want to reward your best affiliates with whatever perks you can dream up, but don’t ever take them for granted. Schedule time to contact them personally, on a regular basis, to thank them for their efforts and to ask them what more you can do to support them.
Run affiliate competitions
We associate affiliate competitions with launch promotions, but you can actually run these any time you’re pitching a special offer, celebrating a product update, or simply need a boost in sales.
Consider offering tangible prizes for the top performers rather than just cash (although there’s nothing to stop you from offering a cash alternative to the eventual winners). It’s amazing how hard affiliates will push just to get a cool or unusual gadget, even when it’s something they could probably afford to buy themselves.
I once had an affiliate tell me they were going all out because they really wanted to win a set of laser-tag guns that delivered electric shocks to the opponent (he came up just short in the end, but he was so keen I didn’t have the heart to deny him and I sent him the prize anyway).
Affiliate programs, when managed professionally, can transform your business in short order. Just don’t make the mistake of so many in assuming that it’s just a case of opening your doors and waiting for the magic to happen.
Screen your affiliates, demand high standards and manage your affiliates pro-actively based on their performance.
In my experience, it only takes one super affiliate to generate 70-80% of your sales. Imagine what could happen once you have a dozen of them onboard!
Had a good experience with Kartra’s affiliate program? Have a question about attracting more affiliates? Or do you have a great affiliate marketing tip you’d like to share? Please post in the comments below.