Rethink Commerce Blog

How to Recruit New Software Affiliates

Posted on April 21st, 2009 by

OK, so you have the software products to sell and you want to extend your sales force with minimal costs. Using affiliates is a perfect solution, but where do you find them? This is the first challenge that has to be faced by software vendors who are just discovering the affiliate marketing advantages and by newbie affiliate managers.

As I see it, the recruitment process involves 2 elements – finding / contacting the affiliates and the incentives you give them in order to join your affiliate program. Here are a couple of ideas in order to get you started.
How to Recruit New Affiliates

5 ways to find software-selling affiliates

1. Join an Affiliate Network

This is the simplest way to recruit affiliates. There are quite a few software affiliate networks which you can become a member of. You will gain instant exposure to the affiliate members and you will be able to promote your products to them, offer incentives for new joining affiliates and so on.

Most of the eCommerce providers also integrate an affiliate network (Avangate for instance has a free affiliate network for software providers), but there are also some independent affiliate networks (e.g. Commission Junction). Before joining such a network, compare the following data from several affiliate networks:

  • the number of affiliates
  • the average conversion rate for the affiliates in the network (the quality of the affiliates)
  • the features offered (discounts, payment options, automatic feeds etc.)

Please note that more affiliates doesn’t always mean better; their quality should also be taken into consideration when deciding what affiliate network is best for your business. Depending on the Terms of Service for each service provider, you may or may not join multiple affiliate networks.

Bonus: 100 Tips For Successful Affiliate Selling eBook.

Benefits in joining an affiliate network:

  • increased exposure to the affiliates
  • little time spent
  • when something goes wrong (well, it might!), you don’t have to worry about / do anything

Affiliates network inconveniences: some affiliate networks might charge you fees for using their platforms and / or premium features – make sure to check the terms and conditions when joining.

2. Run paid advertising campaigns in search engines

Another way to recruit affiliates is by doing Pay per click (or pay per action) campaigns and working on search engine optimization. This can produce large quantities of affiliate signups, but from my experience, you can’t have any claims on the quality of the affiliates recruited this way unless you invest time and money to target the super affiliates.

You will need a landing page on your website, on which it’s recommended to explain the affiliates the advantages they get by joining your program. Don’t forget to include the sign-up form, if you are part of an affiliate network or are using an affiliate platform.

Advantages in doing PPC campaigns:

  • can help you recruit a large number of affiliates
  • you can target certain niches of affiliates more easily

Paid advertising disadvantages:

  • may involve considerable amounts of money and time
  • must be done and managed professionally to have positive results

Of course, it’s also recommended you do continuously SEO on your website – affiliates will search you on the search engines and it’s best they get the most relevant results.

3. Be a part of affiliate communities

Like a good marketer that you are, it’s a must you follow the most important forums and discussion boards for affiliates. They give you the possibility to interact with your potential affiliates, identify the affiliates selling software, see their problems and try to help them. Here’s a list of sites where you can get in contact with affiliates:

Forums, blogs and discussion groups generally don’t like advertising, so you shouldn’t be promoting your products / affiliate solution aggressively. Of course, if the website policy allows it or there is a “featured solution” spot, you might try that.

The advantages of this recruitment method include:

  • increased exposure to the affiliate community
  • minimum costs involved
  • knowing exactly what their issues are, in order to make your offer appealing to them


  • can involve large amounts of time spent on forums, discussion boards etc.
  • may not permit explicit advertising

4. Contact the affiliates directly

You also may contact the affiliates directly. But how do you recognize software affiliates? Well, there are several methods; here are the ones I’ve tried:

  • do a keyword search for your competitors’ products and see what websites sell those products;
  • do a generic search (e.g. “download buy software”), including some long tails, for certain keywords: “buy”, “software”, “purchase”, etc;
  • do a keyword search for your product – see what websites have good rankings on the defining keywords for your software application and try to convince them to become your affiliates, even if they don’t sell as affiliates.

Use the contact options on their websites and send them an e-mail presenting the partnership opportunity. You should keep it simple, specifying what your product differentiates itself from the competition’s. The e-mail is the preferred contact option for affiliates, but it’s best to always leave your contact details (phone, IM) because some may want to contact you using these methods.

Remember to use a friendly and personal approach – people are more likely to respond to this tone. They are in the best position to weigh their advantages and they know you really are interested in getting more exposure and revenue through them; just make sure that your message outlines the win-win benefits.

Here are the advantages you get by contacting the affiliates directly:

  • no costs involved
  • more personal approach


  • no answers guaranteed
  • sometimes affiliates simply forget about or simply don’t get your partnership proposal, which may be labeled as spam

5. Participate at events

Another direct approach would be to take part at special affiliate events that are held all over the world, but especially in the US :). By far, the most important one is Affiliate Summit, which gathers lots of important affiliates to an affiliate marketing conference.

By taking part at these affiliate events, you:

  • confront your potential affiliates, being able to select them more thoroughly
  • have the opportunity to present your affiliate program in a friendly manner
  • usually get quality affiliates to promote your software products.

The shortcomings mainly stick to the cost (you generally have to pay a fee in order to take part in these events) and time spent (if you have a business in Europe and the conference is in the US, you may lose 2 days on the plane alone).

As you can plainly see, each of the 5 methods for recruiting affiliates has its ups and downs. If you have more ideas about this and are willing to share them, I will be more than glad to discuss them with you, so please do comment below.

In my next post I will be talking about how to sweeten the deal for the affiliates at sign up time.

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Cristi Miculi

Senior Manager, Affiliate Services

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Comments (20)

  • survey software says: April 28th, 2009 at 2:44 am

    good points, although integrating this type of stuff is a lot easier said than done :/

  • Incentives for affiliates joining your program | Avangate Blog - Software Business Blog says: May 5th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    […] for affiliates joining your programHow to Recruit New Software AffiliatesWays to Communicate with your […]

  • Michael Marshall says: April 15th, 2010 at 1:01 am

    There’s a Few of them. 1 Major one is the Clickbank.

  • rhiane carla says: May 15th, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    hi.. can you teach me how to recruit affiliates to my website? please.. I need to know more basic and step by step. I appreciate if you’ll going to give me examples on how to do it.

    Thank you so much!

  • Peter says: June 24th, 2011 at 3:51 am

    Thanks for the tip. Haven’t tried software affiliate programs yet. Certainly worthwhile looking into them further.
    This is the second page of yours I have bookmarked today Cristi

    Good info.

  • Bob White says: August 20th, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Good advice. I’ll try the affiliate forums to get to know the issues. It’s always good to learn what makes your target audience tick. Clickbank can work, especially if your page is converting – which leads to higher “gravity” – something that attracts affiliates.

  • Dav says: September 3rd, 2011 at 12:19 am

    You can use our new site which was build to help for businesses to find affiliates online, It has no costs, you simply got to and start searching for affiliates by there categories.
    Membership is free of charge.

  • lasj01 says: October 4th, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I’ve become very suspicious of some of the software marketed by ClickBank. I’ve gotten software that had flaws and the guys who are selling it don’t respond to requests as rapidly as they should. I’ve asked for my money back on one sownload and am about to do the same for a second.

  • Jack Sarlo says: March 3rd, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Nice, There are also affiliate directories one can submit his aff program to aff directories manually or using software!

  • how to find affiliates says: June 11th, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    […] How to get new affiliates | Where to find affiliates … OK, so you have the software products to sell and you want to extend your sales force with minimal costs. Using affiliates is a perfect solution, but where do you … […]

  • gluconatureaffiliates says: July 12th, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Good, thanks.

  • Affiliate blogging secrets Business shop says: April 21st, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I’ll right away grab your rss as I can’t in finding your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly allow me realize in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  • Irina Mihaila says: April 22nd, 2013 at 4:02 pm


    The Rss feed is located right on our blog, on the upper right side:

    Thank you for subscribing.

  • R. Jerome Harris says: June 17th, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    I have found the best way to get quality affiliates is to visit websites that you think best complements your product or service and use the email or contact form encouraging affiliate sign up and link exchange. They can place their affiliate link on their website.

    In your request to join/sign-up to your affiliate program, keep the message professional, short and to the point. Do not sound desperate. Yet, really show that by joining your affiliate program it is a win-win situation.

    Thank them for reading your message.

  • says: May 14th, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Itˇ¦s actually a great and helpful piece of information.
    I am glad that you just shared this useful information with
    us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  • Dyan says: August 16th, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Remarkable! Its truly awesome article, I have got much clear irea about
    from this post.

  • Anonymous says: August 22nd, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about how to get new affiliates.

  • Alex Waldron says: November 18th, 2015 at 12:20 am


    we are setting up a serviced office broker for the serviced office industry. We are seeking to set up some affiliates to provide us with leads and in return we will offer a high percentage commission for those clients that take space.

    Please contact me to discuss.

    Thank you.


  • Cristian Miculi says: January 6th, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Avangate Affiliate Network is a CPS (Cost Per Sale) network for software and digital goods only. If you want to find out more, please visit or contact us for any further questions at or at

  • Toby Coatsworth says: April 10th, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Hi, re Clickbank – are there any recommendations about improving sales on a non-niche website? I own a file uploading webpage and as such it’s near impossible to match offers to the visitor. Many thanks