Photo courtesy of Sean Dorgan
Affiliate Marketing is based on symbiotic relationships, but in this case, they are not between the consumer and the company. In Affiliate Marketing, the blogger or content publisher is the middle man and this becomes the most important relationship to initiate and maintain. It can seem like there is a finite pool of Affiliates that hit your program’s sweet spot and only so much recruitment energy that you can put towards your program in a given day. Building meaningful relationships is hard work!
However, the relationship building required in Affiliate Marketing is also the beauty of the industry – a single post from one partner has the power to spread positive brand awareness, increase desirability in the marketplace and influence e-commerce sales for years to come. The time intensive practice of recruitment and fostering a relationship pays off big time when your brand, product or service is picked up by a key Affiliate. So, how do you home in on these Affiliates who have the power to influence on a grand scale? We asked one of them to share some thoughts on how Merchants can make a good impression.
Natalie Slater, a native Chicagoan and ShareASale Affiliate, is the mastermind behind the cult vegan blog, Bake and Destroy. The blog is an extremely popular cooking and baking site featuring recipes, chef interviews, contests, reviews and giveaways. Due to her blog’s success, she has appeared on several national television shows and networks. In 2013, she published her first book Bake and Destroy: Good Food for Bad Vegans which was picked up and sold in Crate & Barrel stores in 2014.
Existing brand recognition and strong program credentials may not be enough to win the heart of a new Affiliate. Depending on the specific site owner or program manager, you may have to win them over as a consumer before they are willing to plug your program to their network of consumers.
Bloggers take notice when a brand clearly has read or has not read the content of their site. We promise this will not be labor intensive. After scanning the homepage content and main navigation for category call outs, browse through the About Me page. All blogger sites have them so put them to use! Sending an email that will surely go unopened or be opened scornfully, is a bigger a waste of time than perusing a few pages.
|Relevancy matters most. I only work with merchants that sell things I would actually buy. Not taking the time to see what I post about is a surefire way to make a terrible impression. I have a vegan blog, so a company that makes leather purses is just going to insult me if they reach out.- Natalie Slater BakeandDestroy.net|
Perfect Your Content Pitch.
Merchants should recognize the need to meet content Affiliates half-way. Unless you are conversing with a coupon blogger or deal-site, the blogger’s audience is not inherently interested in something because of the promotional component. The highest quality blogger with the most loyal audience is looking to lead people on the path to discovery and to provide tips,and recommendations that they can’t find elsewhere. Finding a unique product proposition or seeing how a blogger utilizes your product in their own way is what resonates best with readers. It’s the authentic, can’t-get-it-anywhere-else content that is a stronger sell so create that option for key bloggers (exclusive access, pre-sale opportunity, gift with purchase) and lead with that in your initial pitch.
|Merchants need to really study up on content marketing. No one wants to read about your sale on a blog. So think of something that people DO want to read, that you can relate to your sale, and pitch that idea. If you sell umbrellas, don’t expect me to blog about umbrellas. But, approach me with the best vegan recipes for a rainy day and we might have something there.
– Natalie Slater BakeandDestroy.net
Keep Program Assets Fresh.
Natalie explained how crucial it is for Merchants to keep updated creative assets available for Affiliates. She emphasized the need for various size options and urged Merchants to swap in new banners on a monthly basis (at least!). Bloggers don’t want to degrade the aesthetic of the site they’ve so carefully built, so proactively pitch banners and product combo’s that would fit seamlessly into their site for a more “native” experience.
The ability to create custom or exclusive banners is hugely appealing to key prospects and could help strengthen commitment to your program.
Take the online relationship offline.
It is easy to get frustrated if you do not receive a response from an Affiliate. You may have crafted a personalized, concise but not curt, email complete with a witty subject line that you contemplated on for over an hour. You know how much more went into it than sending a generic templated message, but the blogger ultimately does not. Think outside the box and remember that you are not restricted from other more creative methods of communication.
|A particularly memorable example of this was when punk rock clothing brand called Sourpuss reached out to me a while ago and sent me this awesome package of offbeat kitchen accessories and food-themed clothing. It was super relevant to my brand and I was also really excited and posted about it a lot because it was so thoughtful of them. Another company, Enjoy Life Foods, sent me this amazing box full of baking mixes and kitchen utensils. I’ve been using them and posting about them ever since. – Natalie Slater BakeandDestroy.net|
You can also connect with Natalie here: