5 Ways to Passively Recruit Affiliates

What is one of the most important elements to effectively managing an affiliate program? The answer is simple, recruiting new (quality) affiliates. One of the most common themes when speaking to merchants that have under-performing affiliate programs (even ones that have successful ones mention it) is that they cannot find affiliates to promote their products or services. It may be a lack of knowledge on where to find them or they are not willing to put the work in, but either way, locating and successfully recruiting affiliates is a necessary element to any successful affiliate program.

In an article I wrote over three years ago, How to Find Affiliates to Recruit into Affiliate Program, I outlined ways affiliate managers can actively recruit new affiliates into their programs. In this post, I am going to outline ways to Passive Affiliate Recruitmentpassively recruit affiliates into affiliate programs. What exactly is passive affiliate recruitment? It is a recruiting method when prospective affiliates find a merchant’s affiliate program on their own. Below are 5 ways to passively recruit new affiliates into an affiliate program:

Paid Search Campaigns

Creating paid search campaigns on Google, Yahoo, and Bing are effective ways to get an affiliate program in front of affiliates. Keywords such as “affiliate program” and those of direct (and in-direct competitors) are good ones to bid on. Even keywords related to a specific industry can be effective.

Affiliate Directories

Affiliates use directories to find affiliate programs they want to join, so logically, merchants should include a listing of their program in as many affiliate directories as possible. Many of them are broken down into categories, so locating a program is simple. An example is http://affiliatesdirectory.com

Popular Publications

Placing ads for an affiliate program in popular magazines is a relatively low cost and effective way to get in front of targeted, quality affiliates. FeedFront caters to both affiliates and affiliate managers.

Second-tier affiliates

This is a less frequently used technique but can be effective if done properly. This technique can be used in two ways; first, it can motivate current affiliates and secondly, it can provide great new affiliate partners. Second-tier affiliates are referrals from current affiliates. Typically, current affiliates are rewarded with a bounty (ex. $5 per referral), but also can be paid ongoing commissions from their referrals. The decision is up to the merchant.

Press Releases

Press releases can provide effective recruitment opportunities for many years in the future. Merchants can use press releases to announce the launch of their new affiliate program, milestones reached, partnerships created, but the beauty of it is the SEO value. If properly optimized with relevant keywords they can be successful recruiting tools.

Passively recruiting does not mean to stop actively recruiting, what it means is to use both methods in tandem and maximize the effort to grow an affiliate program to new levels. Many merchants ignore the passive recruiting methods, but successful affiliate programs interweave them into their overall strategy.

ShareASale Auto-Deposit Feature: How to Make the Most of It

Managing an affiliate program requires careful attention to details. Effective program management is not only about recruiting, activating, and compliance policing, but also little details that keep the program operating and functional at all times. Having all affiliate communication documents uploaded, an email address where affiliates can contact the program manager anytime, but for ShareASale merchants maybe the most important detail is enabling the auto-deposit function in the ShareASale interface.

Why It Is Important

ShareASale gives merchants the option to auto-deposit funds into their account when the balance hit a certain threshold. It is recommended that all merchants set up this feature before launching. Having an account balance go negative will result in all affiliate links being turned off (until the account balance is positive) and you can guess what that means; unhappy affiliates.

How to Enable It

In this post, I will explain step-by-step how to set it up to ensure your program never goes offline due to a low or negative account balance.

Step # 1 – Navigate to the Deposit Center

After logging in to the ShareASale merchant interface go to “My Account” and then “Deposit Center”.

Step # 2 – Make a deposit or set up auto-deposit

This step a merchant can either make a deposit with a credit card or set-up the auto deposit feature. Merchants can make a deposit at any time even if the auto-deposit feature is enabled. For example, if they anticipate increased traffic and sales during a given period the deposit can be done at this step. To set up the auto-deposit feature click the “Update Auto-Deposit Settings” button.

ShareASale Affiliate Program - Funds Deposit

Step # 3 –  Setup Primary and Secondary Payment Methods

Merchants should have two methods (if possible setup the backup gateway) in case one does not work. Input credit card # 1 in the primary payment method and credit card # 2 in the secondary payment method. The next step is to turn the auto deposit on and set up the low balance trigger and how much to deposit once the low balance trigger has been enabled. It is recommended to not let a merchant account dip below $100, but the more in the account the better. Once all sections are complete, hit “Update Settings”.

ShareASale Auto-Deposit

Step # 4 – Setup Complete

Now the auto deposit setting is enabled. Merchants can now see their current settings and the last four digits of the primary payment method. All of the settings can be adjusted at any time. Simply follow the same steps.

 

Attention to details in managing affiliate programs is vital. Making sure the affiliate account is fully funded and has backup options is also critical to the success of a program. If an affiliate sees the auto deposit feature is off they may be hesitant to apply to join. Sometimes it is the little things that matter the most.

How to View Affiliate Creative Performance in CJ Affiliate

Providing affiliates with plethora of creatives is essential for any affiliate program. The creatives could be banners, text links, coupons/deals, and videos; but providing as many as possible is advantageous for any affiliate program. Having a wide selection of creatives is great, but how do affiliate managers know the top converting ones and what new ones should be introduced? Affiliate networks provide merchants (and affiliate managers) access to important data regarding their creatives. This data helps determine what creatives to keep creating in the future and what ones to discontinue, but will also tell the needed statistics like clicks, revenue, etc.  CJ Affiliate is one of the networks that provides in-depth data on how specific creatives are performing. The following steps will show affiliate managers how to view affiliate creative performance in CJ Affiliate.

Step 1 – Click “Performance” under the Reports Tab

Once logged in to the CJ Affiliate merchant interface, navigate to the “Reports” tab and click “Performance” from the drop-down menu.

Step 2 – Filter Performance by Link

After clicking on “Performance” in the reports tab the next screen will allow affiliate managers to sort performance by links. Under “Performance by” click the drop-down box, select “Link” and then either hit “Run Report” or add a specific “Link ID” to the box. By not adding a link ID it will generate a report with all the creatives in the inventory, but by specifying a specific link it will only show data for that one.

Step 3 – Review Performance of Current Creatives

Each creative (banner or link) will have the following information available to analyze: publisher commission, total commission (includes CJ Affiliate’s fees), sale amount, number of sales, leads (if applicable), items, clicks, impressions, conversion rate, click through rate, and EPC (earnings per 100 clicks).

Whether it is just checking the performance of banners and links for basic knowledge or using the data to build a top-notch creative inventory affiliates can use to grow your affiliate program and their earnings, the data is extremely helpful. Finding out the best converting links (or deals) and banners will help make the affiliate program an affiliate friendly program that will be fruitful for all parties involved.

How to Create a Custom Recruiting URL in ShareASale

As an affiliate manager one of the main responsibilities is recruiting new affiliates to grow the program. There are different methods and places to find prospective affiliates, but keeping track of where new affiliates come from can be a cumbersome task. ShareASale offers a way for merchants to “tag” prospects and have them use a custom URL that will allow them to attribute the signup to a specific outreach campaign and create and make the recruiting process more organized.

The following steps are how to create a custom recruiting URL within ShareASale.

Step 1 – Create a Tag for Recruiting

First, navigate to the “Affiliates” tab in the main menu and click “Affiliate List”. Next click “Add Tag” and then Click “Create Tag” (in blue).

Next, the “tag” will want to be specific regarding the recruiting campaign, so in the smaller rectangular box the title of the tag should be entered (ex. SIGNUP FROM CONTENTAFF). Click “Create Tag”, now the tag is created and will be used in the recruiting URL.

Step 2 – Adding the Tag to the Recruiting URL

Below is the standard URL used for affiliates to sign up to an affiliate program.

http://www.shareasale.com/join/XXXXX

Merchants can use the URL above, but the recruiting link with the created tag should look as follows:

http://www.shareasale.com/shareasale.cfm?merchantID=XXXXX&source=CONTENTAFF

The source= should be the tag title minus the “SIGNUP FROM”.

Please note that the XXXXX should be replaced with a ShareASale merchant ID.

Each time a prospect applies to the affiliate program using the custom URL it will indicate that in the application.

Recruiting is one of the most critical components in building an affiliate program, so creating custom recruiting URL’s for all prospects is highly recommended. It will streamline the process and make campaign attribution easier as well.

If you have any questions please contact me at rick@amnavigator.com

ShareASale Transaction Breakout Report and Why It Is Important

Want a quick way to analyze affiliate transactions to determine their sources? ShareASale merchants are now using the “Transaction Breakout Report”. This report is exactly what it sounds like. It breaks down affiliate transactions within a specific time frame and tells merchants if the transactions are new customers, mobile transactions, or coupon transactions. I will go into detail below on the report and how to access.

Step # 1 – Accessing the Transaction Breakout Report

Once logged in to the ShareASale merchant account, navigate to the “Reports” tab and then “Transaction Breakout” (second row).

Step # 2 –  Adjust Filters to Get Necessary Data

In the image below, the red box on the left has filter options to use. Select the date range you want to review (ShareASale defaults to the past 7 days), a specific affiliate, breakout metric (mobile transactions, new customer transactions, and coupon transactions. The mentioned filters can be ordered by gross sales, number of transactions, commission, or breakout ratio. Hit “Filter” and the results will appear to the right.

Step # 3 – Review Provided Data

As you can see in the image above, over 91% of the transaction during the week were “Non-Mobile”.

Below the graph will be a detailed breakdown publisher by publisher. This example is based on mobile transactions, but some merchants are concerned with the number of new customers being brought in, so when running the report, remember to change the “Breakdown Metric”.

This report is quite valuable. It can show merchants where time and effort should be focused as well as determine if more or less coupons/deals are needed. The report can also assist in affiliate recruitment. How is that? Merchants can determine that they want to spend more time gaining new customers, so reaching out to prospective affiliates that are similar to the ones currently performing in that category. The “Transaction Breakout Report” is not just a bunch of numbers, but a tool to help (or continue) to grow a ShareASale affiliate program.

Optimizing a ShareASale Affiliate Program with Internal Logos

There are numerous ways ShareASale merchants can optimize their program to increase their brands awareness to prospective affiliates. In the past I, have discussed various program optimization tips on ShareASale to help recruit affiliates, but today I am going to outline a free ways to get the word out there about your affiliate program on ShareASale. It is called “Internal Logo Files.”

ShareASale uses merchant’s logos in various places within their interface to help attract affiliates to merchant’s affiliate programs, and now I will describe where those places are and the requirements.

First, to navigate to this section of their interface you will go to “My Account” -> “Internal Logo Files.”  It will bring you to a page that looks similar to this (see below)

Main Logo

ShareASale uses this logo on the merchant details page, or better known as the page where affiliates sign up to an affiliate program. It can be up to 500 x 500 px, but make sure it is not too large and doesn’t overtake the page. Here is an example:

Search Results Logo

This logo is used on the merchant search results page. When affiliates are looking for new merchants to promote a merchant will stand out more with their 88 x 31 logo shown along with vital statistics of the affiliate program. Having a logo there gives a merchant a better opportunity to be seen and seriously considered. Here is an example of a merchant with one and without:

Product Showcase Logo (small)

If a merchant has a data feed their logo will be displayed when affiliates create product showcases for specific products. This logo should be 120 x 90 px. Here is an example:

Product Showcase Logo (Pop-up)

This logo is very similar to the one right above, but it will be shown when an affiliate chooses the pop-up option. It should be 400 x 75 px Here is an example:

ShareASale Merchant Match

This particular logo helps ShareASale to recruit individual affiliates from local marketing events (Meet-Ups), conferences, and other interactions (magazine, email newsletters, etc.) This logo should be 216 x 384 px. Here is an example:

Merchants, there are up to 5 additional ways to spread the word about your programs via logos within the ShareASale interface (free of charge). It is highly recommended to take advantage of as many of them as possible because you never know what you could be missing out on.

How to Book a ShareASale Featured Program Placement

Are you a merchant with an affiliate program, but struggling to find quality affiliate to promote your brand? If so, you are not alone. One of the biggest struggles is to recruit quality affiliates. If you are a ShareASale merchant then most likely you tend to see an influx of coupon affiliates applying, but the more valuable affiliates are out there, but may need to discovered. What your affiliate program may need is additional exposure to those affiliates. ShareASale offers different ways, through paid placements to reach affiliates that may be a fit for your program. To help in this I am going to show you how to purchase and set up a ShareASale Featured Program of your Category placement. This particular placement displays a logo and description of your affiliate program at the top of the individual category page for which you belong.

Step 1 – Navigating to the Featured Program of your Category Placement

You will start by navigating to the “TOOLS” menu option, followed by “PROGRAM BOOST”. This will take you to the section where you will make the purchase.

Step 2 – Purchasing the Featured Program of the Category Placement

There will be multiple placement options, but you will scroll down and click the “BUY PROGRAM” button for the Featured Program of your Category. The next screen will be to select a month to have the placement run. To the right will be a list of the next 12 months. The green represents “available” and the pink represents “booked”. Click on the month you want to run the placement and click “CONFIRM DATES & PAY”. You will then be asked how you want to pay for it. It can be done from the current ShareASale balance (given there is enough to cover the $300) or credit card.

Step 3 – Setting up the Featured Program of the Category

Now the fun part! Navigate back to the Program Boost page. You will see a tab labeled “MY PROGRAMS”, click that and it will have the placement just purchased. There you will be able to edit the text and add the image needed.

To start creating the placement, click “EDIT”.

You will be brought to a screen that look like the image below. There are four (4) tabs. In the “EDIT TEXT” tab you will place a description of the program along with up to five (5) bullet points highlighting your affiliate program.

To add the banner image, click the “EDIT IMAGE” tab. The image should be in either JPG, GIF, or PNG form and be 350 px wide and 230 px tall. Once the image is loaded click the “PREVIEW & SAVE CHANGES” tab.

This is the final step. Review everything from the text to the banner. If there are any changes needed make them as soon as possible, but you do have up until the day before to modify the placement. Once all is good, click “COMMIT” and you are finished.

Creating brand awareness is a critical piece to a successful affiliate program, but also aids in attracting quality affiliates. For $300 the Featured Program of your Category can get you in front of highly influential affiliates and help take your program to the next level.

Manually Crediting Affiliate Payouts in Rakuten Affiliate Network

Not every affiliate relationship is the same. Since I started managing affiliate programs almost 5 years ago I found out that the standard relationships are not always the most successful ones, but rather the ones where an outside the box idea is utilized tend to be the most fruitful. Not every affiliate is using affiliate links in their marketing, but use the affiliate network for payment processing. When a relationship like this is in place you need to know how to manually credit the affiliate(s) to ensure they get paid properly and timely. I will provide a step-by-step guide to manually crediting affiliates in the Rakuten Affiliate Network.

Step 1 – Navigate to the Transactions tab

Once logged in to your Rakuten Affiliate Network account you will want to navigate to the “Account” tab and then the “Transactions” sub-tab.

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Step 2 – Select Manual Credit to Begin the Process

Next, you will click the “Manual Credit” link to begin the process of crediting an affiliate or affiliates.

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Step 3 – Input Affiliate(s) + Transaction(s) Information

There are a few fields that are mandatory (indicated by an asterisk). The first is order ID (if it is a single transaction), but if you are reconciling a few weeks or a months’ worth of transactions you can make up an ID for your internal data. Next is site ID, this is the affiliate’s ID so that RAN can pay them accordingly. Third, the amount (total revenue NOT commissions). Lastly, the reason for doing this. Make it something that you can recognize and other people within your organization will not question. After the mandatory fields are filled in, hit submit.

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Step 4 – Confirm Data Entered is Correct

Final step is to confirm that all the data entered is correct. If something is incorrect you can still go back and change. Hit the confirm button and the manual transaction credit is complete.

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Adding manual transactions is not a daily task, but those affiliate relationships that require it should be nurtured and done as frequently as possible. Some of the best affiliate relationships I have do not use affiliate links, but use the affiliate network for payment processing. These types of relationships do require a little extra time, but can be worth the extra effort in the long run.

How To Group Affiliates in Rakuten Affiliate Network

As an affiliate manager, do you group affiliates or do they all reside in one single cohort (unassigned)? Many program managers do not group their affiliates, but they should be. Do you send all affiliates the same message all the time? I sure hope not. By grouping affiliates, it allows you (as the affiliate manager) to target specific group of affiliates with special promos, exclusive deals, activation incentives, etc. In this post, I will outline how to group affiliates on the Rakuten Affiliate Network.

The first step is to log in to your Rakuten Affiliate Network merchant account. Next, hover over the “Publishers” tab and click “Publisher Groups”.

From there, simply input the group name and click “Add”. This will create the group and it will be shown with the rest of your available groups (if you have any). By default, RAN adds all publishers to the “Unassigned” group until you move them.

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Next step is to select the publishers you want to move to the newly created group. You will want to go to hover over the “Publishers” tab and click “My Publishers”. You can filter your current affiliates in various ways, but if you want to see the complete list just click “Search” (do not apply any filters). After all your affiliates are listed check the box in the left column of the ones you want to move to the new group. After the box is checked, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the “Move to Group” button and it will give you a drop-down menu to choose the “Selected” affiliates or “All matches”, you will click “Selected”.

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The final step is to choose the group to move the selected affiliates to. The newly created group will be available in the drop-down menu, select it and hit submit. You will get a success message and that is it, you created and moved affiliates to groups.

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