Every marketer and business owner is aware of how powerful and effective word to mouth marketing can be when it comes to building awareness about a product or service. It’s like the old maxim goes: “The best salesperson is a happy customer,” and since today 7 out of 10 consumers consult peer reviews when making purchase decisions, having customers selling for you has never been more important. In the past few decades, companies advertising online have exploded the power of the word to mouth marketing by actually turning their customers into real salespeople (aka “affiliates”) who make a commission for each sale that they help the company make.
In this article, we’ll be talking about some affiliate recruiting methods and incentives which you can use to turn your happy customers into loyal promoters.
If you are selling a shippable or a downloadable product, paying affiliate commissions is easy. You simply pay your affiliates a percentage of each sale that they make and, as long as the sale does not result in a return, you pay them a commission check at the end of the month which equals the percentage they have earned from affiliate sales. However, what if you are selling an offline service or hoping that your customers will visit a brick-and-mortar location so that the sale can be made there? One solution is offering a coupon on your site which they can take into your store or present to you when they come to you for services.
If you require an email address in order to send the coupon to the customer, you can offer an incentive for each new email address that your affiliates bring to your subscriber list. With the right affiliate tracking software (a few are mentioned at the end of this article), you could even set things up to where your affiliates are paid for each new lead which converts into an offline sale.
Another type of compensation for affiliates is residual payments for the sales which result in ongoing payments for memberships or subscriptions. This is an especially attractive option because it gives your affiliates the opportunity to build a steady income from bringing you paying customers.
Residual commissions can also be offered to your affiliates in the form of “lifetime commissions.” With lifetime commissions, your affiliate makes a commission not only from the customer’s first purchase but also every other purchase which your customer makes after that. Once you have determined your affiliate compensation plan, it’s time to start recruiting affiliates to promote your products and your services.
The best way to start recruiting affiliates is to advertise the offer to your existing customer base. In addition to your weekly or bi-weekly emails, send out an offer once or twice a month that invites your customers to sign up for an affiliate account so that they can receive their own customized affiliate link. It’s also a good idea to have a separate subscriber list for your customers who become affiliates. This way, you can keep them updated with messages about how to promote your products or services, and you don’t have to bother your regular customers with emails that are intended only for your affiliates.
In addition to recruiting affiliates right out of your customer base, you can use sites like Clickbank.com or commissionjunction.com to put your affiliate recruiting on “auto-pilot.” On these “affiliate network sites,” you submit your offer and pay a small fee to have it advertised in their marketplace. If your offer qualifies, it will be featured in their product marketplace where aspiring affiliate marketers search for products and services to promote. On these networks, your affiliate offer is more likely to be picked up by people who are serious about making money as an affiliate marketer, and some of them will make a lot of money for your business.
Just a tip about recruiting affiliates who are not yet your customers, you want to avoid giving affiliates the option of signing up as an affiliate just so that they can purchase your product and collect a commission from their own purchase.
You can also recruit affiliates by having an offer presented to your customers the moment which they make a purchase on your site. For example, after you have collected payment for your customer’s purchase or their email address in exchange for the coupon that you are offering, make an immediate offer for them to earn a commission. You do this by asking them to refer a few of their friends to your site and telling them what they will earn if their friends become a customer.
This allows you to use a combination of viral marketing and affiliate marketing to generate new traffic for your website and provide your customers with an immediate reward for promoting your offer.
The most important part of keeping your affiliate marketing successful is making it easy for your affiliates to effectively market your services and to earn money. First, have a quick and easy method set up for paying your affiliates, and a place where your affiliates can track the commissions which they are earning. The easier it is for your affiliates to see their progress and to verify that you are paying them fairly, the more they’ll trust you and the harder they’ll work for you.
Next, make sure that you provide your affiliates with everything that they need to do a great job promoting your products and services. Some companies simply provide their affiliates with a link, while others have complete banner ads, graphics, email solo ads, and articles which their affiliates can use to promote their products. Obviously, the more tools you give your affiliates to promote your products, the better job they’ll do for you.
Having a separate email list for your affiliates will also give you the option of frequently asking your affiliates what additional tools you can provide to help them succeed. Finally, make sure that you always, always, always pay your affiliates on time.
Now that you have a plan for how to put together an affiliate program and start recruiting affiliates to help promote your company, it’s time to take the first step. You can begin by determining your method of commission and setting up one of the affiliate tracking solutions below. Good luck!