Bloggers and Affiliate Marketing: Recruitment & Retention
Editor’s Note: We bring you more live coverage from the Affiliate Management Days conference. This series of articles is on topics of interest to businesses that offer affiliate programs.
Stephanie Robbins is the owner of Robbins Interactive
Stephanie started out her session by distinguishing the difference between content niche affiliates and blogger affiliates.
Content niche affiliates develop sites and use SEO to drive traffic and monetize, whereas, blogger affiliates feel it is extremely personal to them and use public relations in their marketing efforts.
Bloggers know about public relations and their goal is to be an ambassador for a brand and get paid for posts. They are generally not affiliate marketing minds, so reaching them is different than other types of affiliates.
When reaching out to bloggers speak public relations and then get to the affiliate part. Educate the bloggers about affiliate marketing benefits and how it can work in conjunction with their current efforts (paid posts, banner placements, etc.).
Stephanie mentioned that 16% of bloggers make money with affiliate marketing, so there is definite room for growth. Explaining to them that adding incremental revenue will be beneficial for the long term is critical to recruiting top notch bloggers.
- Educate bloggers – it provides passive income but be realistic with them. Let them know that SEO for affiliate marketing (action terms) will be needed and optimizing existing posts can increase conversions and sales. Educate them on tools through videos, blog posts, etc. and how to make it efficient.
- Managing their expectations – lower sales at the beginning leads to incremental income over time. For example a blogger is given a dress to review and higher commission rate, as a result they generate 11 sales (not 50 like a coupon affiliates). Sales may 1 -2 at a time, but those sales will continue over months and possibly years.
- Brand equity – powerful tool…long term relationship and will provide incremental value down the road.
- Long term relationship – continuously educate and keep them in the loop. Show them how they are going to differentiate from the rest of the bloggers and affiliates. They get 1000’s of emails from suitors to be represented on their sites, but the outreach must be personal.
The goal is to sift through the negativity and public relations of affiliate marketing and focus on them and how they can make affiliate marketing work for their business.
Before reaching out to bloggers a plan should be in place on how to get bloggers to promote the desired product or service for the brand. Thoughts should include:
- How should they promote it? Social Media,? Blog posts?
- Do they have existing posts on the topic? Look through their site to see.
- Giveaways? Alternatives to giveaways include giving them 50% discount code to use for personal use. This is make them excited to work together.
- Free Product reviews – not ideal because not optimized for affiliate marketing
In order for bloggers to be successful they need the right tools for the job.
Tools to use include:
- Buzzstream – pulls prospecting list based on specific keywords. When using the lists make sure they qualify, then contact them, and follow up, but make sure you remember the initial conversation.
- LinkDex – Can pull competitors affiliate lists based on networks.
- 5IQ – finds competitors affiliates and provides contact information to use for immediate contact.
Blogger outreach is a marketing effort and should include:
- Multiple touches in order to get response.
- Emails – they get the conversation started.
- Social media – twitter (retweeting their posts, blog commenting on their posts, Facebook groups, chats, etc.).
- Conferences (SaS ThinkTank, Meetups, Affiliate Summit).
- Prepare presentations for bloggers to show them the value of affiliate marketing and how it can be a benefit to their current efforts.
First impressions matter!
- Subject line in an email is super important. Make it count!
- Keep it personal
- Short and concise
- Why should the blogger respond?
- Program details are part of the 2nd conversation after they responded to your initial outreach
- Example email subject line: Natural Beauty Product Opportunity
- Connecting authentically in order to gain trust
- Go live bonus – which is the most popular. They should be paid for writing the post. It leads to passive income conversation in the future. Bonuses can be from $50 -$200.
- First sale bonus can be similar to the go live bonus.
- Increased commissions – significantly increase base commission level because of time it takes to optimize. General rule is a 30 day window.
- Education is crucial. Walk them through the process of optimization. They depend on affiliate managers for advice and tips.
- Stay in touch the same ways you got in touch
- Skype, email, cell phone
- Make recommendations
- Tell them what works. They will appreciate any and all help in their success.
In conclusion, treat bloggers differently than content niche affiliates. They require a more hands on approach and may require more nurturing in the beginning. However, they can become a powerful partner for many years.