It’s key to ensure that affiliate programs are as diverse as possible, taking full advantage of the full affiliate mix and the full array of opportunities available. Otherwise, prepare to tread across old ground and wonder why you’re not achieving those targets in a few months’ time.

But, if you’re someone who wants to go bigger and better in 2017 with your affiliate marketing, these top 5 tips for nailing affiliate recruitment are for you…

So, let’s get stuck in, shall we?

Mix it up!

First things first, let’s review your affiliate mix – are you too reliant on one affiliate or affiliate type?

Make your affiliate sales as diverse as possible, this will make it resilient over time. For example, what if your channel is heavily reliant on voucher code affiliates and your mix looks a little like this?

Image shows how heavily weighted affiliate recruitment of one type of affiliate can affect the mix

… but then the business you work for decides they no longer want to work with affiliates of this nature?

Your program performance will ultimately plummet and there will be pressure to fill the gap.

By utilising the full affiliate mix to include a variety of affiliate types, such as content, price comparison, loyalty, cashback and technology, you can spread any risk. If one of these should stop performing, the channel as a whole will only suffer marginally and sales will be easier to recoup.

We’ve seen success in this kind of approach with our client ATG Tickets, where we took content contribution to sales from 6% up to 37% within one single quarter, whilst also introducing technology affiliates and sharing the load amongst affiliate types.

The result? A much more varied and stable looking affiliate program:

Image shows how a diverse approach to recruitment of one type of affiliate can affect the mix

Mind the GAP in your Affiliate Recruitment!

Whether you deal directly with your affiliate network or use an agency, your network is the one that sees which affiliates are performing well across all of their clients on a daily basis.

You should be tapping into this.

Ask your network for new affiliates on a regular basis, break this down by vertical and always try to be as targeted as possible. Here at Silverbean we have a call with our major networks on a weekly basis, to discuss the likes of publisher support, recruitment lists, GAP analysis etc.

By doing this, we allow our clients to get the best of both worlds: the publisher data the network has and also the client support that can be provided by an agency.

We also run GAP analysis against our own programs to ensure any publishers that could be of use are not missed, maximising the data at our disposal. Not only do we use the data on offer by the network and the programs they have, but we can also use our own internal 1st party program data to spot new affiliates that work across our other programs.

That old cliché: know your customers

Sounds obvious, right? You’d be amazed at how many businesses don’t truly know their customers and their behaviour.

Understand them and how they like to shop and how you can reach them effectively. The customer journey has evolved so much over the last 10 years, so the only way to capture the attention and loyalty of your customer today, is to identify their journey, create the touch points necessary to address their needs at each stage of the journey – and stay alert.

What was once considered quite a linear process is now very diverse. Your customers have numerous touch points along the user journey, and it is your job to make sure you work with publishers that can impact each of these stages in a positive manner.

Image shows the stage of the customer journey and how affiliate recruitment can assist the journey

Historically, affiliates have been seen to work predominantly in the selection/purchase end of the funnel. However over the last 4-5 years in particular, this has drastically changed.

With the evolution of smartphones and technology, the journey has far more touch points, with some publishers are effective at both motive development (brand awareness) and purchase, meaning an affiliate campaign can go much further.

For example, recently at the World Travel Market Expo, it was discussed how branded video was working as an excellent conversion tool, whereas historically, this kind of activity would be viewed as merely a brand building exercise.

It is your duty to ensure you are working with publishers that can reach customers at each point of their journey and be warned, this point is to get ever more salient as more data on your customers is available and the market gets even more competitive.

Knowing your customers will always keep you one step ahead.

Know your publishers

This is a vital element of positive affiliate recruitment.

Just because an affiliate fits your demographic, it doesn’t mean they will want to work with you. Talk to them, find out what they want to achieve and how you can help each other.

If what they want to achieve doesn’t align to your goals, then they are unlikely to be a productive partner for you. Find out their pain points, areas of growth and how you can fit into their plans to maximise the opportunity that lies in working with them.

An example of this is some work we did with Weather2Travel and Explore!

Weather2Travel were lacking in content for adventure travel, and Explore! were a good fit to fill that specific void and help Weather2Travel build out into that market more. Since then, there has been further collaboration to discuss which regions would be best suited to both parties and Weather2Travel were far more invested in the partnership from the get-go.

This kind of collaboration and understanding of mutual needs and goals really helped strengthen our relationship with this publisher.

Tools, tools, tools…

There are a tonne of tools out there to help with affiliate recruitment, specifically identifying new publishers and social influencers, the latter being a real buzz in the industry at the moment.

Some of these tools are often used by Search Marketers for content outreach purposes, but they can be brilliant tools for affiliate recruitment, too.

The top networks are also making it easier to find new publishers and opportunities, such as Affiliate Window’s Opportunities Marketplace. This is an area publishers can advertise their opportunities and brands can filter these to find the most relevant to them.

Here’s to a fantastic 2017 and fantastic affiliate recruitment

With everything I’ve just covered, you should be well on your way to having a fantastic 2017 and helping your affiliate program evolve and make that step change to the next level.

“Affiliate marketing is always changing and that makes it one of the most exciting marketing channels we have, every year something new pops up that helps us engage with customers in a way we couldn’t before and everything mentioned above should help you stay ahead of the curve and on top of your game.”

If you’re looking to get even more of your fill, check out the other titles in our ‘New Year, New Start’ affiliate marketing series like my colleague Natasha’s post on ‘Affiliate Marketing Consultancy and how you can go for it in 2017.