4 Steps to Lift Your Affiliate Research Process to a New Level
Affiliate marketing has become a huge industry and is expected to reach $8.4 billion by the end of 2022. Companies should be paying attention to see how they can benefit from the rapid growth and use it to grow their business.
It’s an accessible space for people and companies from all verticals, as you simply need to work with brands where their audience matches your target customer. However, sometimes it can be challenging to find these fits, and affiliate research is crucial to ensure you align with brands that are growing and trustworthy.
When done right, you’ll be able to cut out the noise and focus on domains that actually refer a solid volume of relevant traffic to sites similar to yours. Here are four tips to find the best potential affiliates in a short period of time.
1. Find the Industry Leaders
It’s a common mistake for companies to partner with brands that don’t actually move the needle. If you want to grow fast, you need to target the partners who have the strongest brands in your niche.
First, you’ll have to qualify them based on relevance to what you provide. If you’re marketing a B2B SaaS product then it doesn’t make sense to have a children’s toy review site as an affiliate, regardless of how much traffic these reviews attract. There are a variety of services online that can help you to find the top referrers and to narrow them down by niche.
Each affiliate agreement takes time and energy to forge and maintain, so it is logical to focus your attention on those sites that have the largest potential impact. While smaller sites might be easier to partner with – and might also be more aggressive in how they pitch you – they still might not have the traffic to make any real difference.
The quickest wins in the affiliate space might just be distractions keeping you from prospecting, identifying, and closing deals that help your business the most.
2. Assess Your Competitors
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when looking for potential partners. One of the best ways to find partners is to check out what media properties are driving the most traffic to your competitors. These numbers are often readily available online, and many of the top referrers are likely to be affiliates.
Looking deeper into this data, you may discover a disparity where some sites seem to perform well for one competitor but not for another. To understand this, look at the sites themselves.
You might find that certain sites have a strong relationship with one of your competitors which would make it harder for you to work with them. Other sites might promote all of your competitors, but their audience favors one over the others.
You’ll want to make sure you are paying attention to the quality of the traffic, too. If a referrer is sending a competitor lots of traffic but this competitor has an abnormally high bounce rate, then it might not be worth pursuing their affiliate as a partner.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
Whenever you enter an affiliate partnership, your brand has some level of association with the referrer.
You don’t want to be associated with toxic brands, as this could later hurt you. One example is if the website makes personal data available publicly against people’s wishes. Potential customers could negatively relate your brand with theirs in the future, even if your values have nothing in common.
It could be that the affiliate resonates with a different level of customer than yours, which makes their audience a mismatch for your marketing. For instance, if your site were selling high-end designer bags, it would be illogical to partner with a site that encourages people to spend less money and live a minimalist lifestyle.
Finally, the partner could be demanding something which you feel uncomfortable giving them in return for the affiliate links. If the price is too high, it’s best to do what you believe is right rather than bend to their requests.
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4. Keep Monitoring Existing Sources
Once you’ve come to an affiliate agreement, it’s important to close the feedback loop. Keep paying attention to how each of your affiliates performs, rather than being only focused on closing new agreements.
You’ll want to put in place a series of metrics that you can use to compare different partners against. The most important will be returned on investment (ROI), rather than simply clicks or views. Your best referrer might not send the most people to your site but it might have the greatest conversion rate.
If your partners also work with your competitors, check to see who they are driving the most referrals for and investigate if you aren’t in the top position. It may be they are giving favorable terms to the competitors, which makes your agreement less attractive. It’s also important to check how they mention your brand on their site to maintain your brand’s image.
When you take these factors combined, you can make better budgeting decisions that impact where you should reinvest in your referrals – or whether you should walk away from a given relationship in favor of others. You may even find that affiliate marketing isn’t for you and end up concluding that you’re better off experimenting with a lead generation service, for example.
Using affiliate marketing can be a powerful way to grow your business, and the industry is growing rapidly. However, you shouldn’t just try to find as many partners as you can, as a more strategic approach can help you make better use of limited resources.
Here are our four steps towards more effective affiliate research:
Find the industry leaders
Focus your energy where there’s the greatest potential payoff.
Assess the competition
See what’s working for others and reach out to the best performing referrers.
Don’t be afraid to say no
It’s better to have the right partners than most partners.
Keep monitoring existing sources
Your best source of research into what works for your brand is your own data.