Ways to Communicate with your Affiliates
Thoughts about getting your voice heard in the crowd
Once you have a number of affiliates in your portfolio, keeping in touch with them and helping them make sales become paramount. Some software companies invest in creating a special position for this – the affiliate manager -, some deal with the affiliates through the already existing employees, but let’s say you have an affiliate manager.
Talking about communication with the affiliates, beside the personal contacts the affiliate manager should have with his Super Affiliates, email marketing is the best way to reach your affiliates.
Now, you must know that affiliates receive a lot of these email messages especially during hot selling periods like Easter Holidays and a lot of these emails get lost in the crowd. To add more to the problem, an affiliate can promote a limited number of products for real.
So what can you do to get your message heard?
I will not talk about the email marketing principles – like the importance of having a good subject, or that the call to action should be above the scroll down area – you can learn about this on sites like www.marketingsherpa.com.
- Use personal contact details. Of course nobody expects that a newsletter is really personal, but especially in the case of affiliates, it’s always a good idea to give them the opportunity to connect personally with the Affiliate Manager because you should be building a long term relation. It means:
- Mails should be signed by a real person and not by “The Team”
- If they want to reply to find out more, they should have a personal email address where they can write. Nobody likes writing to info@.
- Content should be created for affiliates and not customers. Don’t try to sell the product but present the selling benefits for affiliates.
- Frequency. Getting newsletters that help you do business are kind of Pavlovian. You expect them to come regularly around the same date and the frequency also has to do with the sales cycles (let’s assume the affiliates take a couple of days to read the newsletter and start selling – it means you can control the way your sales go cyclically).
- Keeping more or less the same style. If the newsletter contains updated creatives, coupons and so on, keeping the newsletter style will help affiliates move quickly.
More sensible factors
- Affiliate promotions should be performance based incentives. So if you offer a bonus, you should ask something in return.
- Consumer promotions should be customizable. It’s perfectly all right to offer a public promotion to all your affiliates but this will not create any competitive advantage for them. Ask your affiliates to contact you if they need a custom promotion – this will help them sell better and also get you the contact details of the affiliates that really matter.
- Give enough time for the consumer promotions. I know promotions should be limited in time, but if they are too short, it doesn’t make sense for the affiliate to implement. Affiliates need to have enough time to capitalize on their efforts.
- Announce the consumer promotions related to special selling periods (Easter, Cyber Monday etc.) with at least 2 weeks before the actual start date and send a follow up newsletter at the promotion start date to remind the deals.
- Affiliate manager picture, LinkedIn profile, Twitter. First of all, you can bet that most affiliates have more friends electronically than in the real life and second, the affiliate manager should position himself as an expert in the field so he/she should have interesting things to say to the followers.
- Reply to affiliates enquiries as fast as possible. Affiliate marketing is about momentum and competitive advantage – if one of your affiliates needs something to do good sales, it’s in your best interest to offer it before any other affiliate awakens and asks the same. It stimulates innovation and competition.
- Provide additional help materials – suggested reading materials, repository of marketing materials, know how. It builds value for the affiliates and will make them open your next newsletters as well.
- Affiliate Manager’s replies should be… human! Have a look at the affiliate site, understand how he/she works before sending a canned response. Make the affiliate feel that you understand his/her business model and that your advice is spot on.
And to live by example, I invite you to follow the Avangate Affiliate Network on Twitter.