Coffee. Desk. Email. Lunch. Email. Clock out. Sleep.

Like many industries, Affiliate Marketing can become rife with repetition and monotony.

If you let it.

In the day-to-day minutiae of tasks, it can be easy to become caught up in the numbers, reports and emails. While these are certainly important tools of the trade, affiliate marketing is not solely built on these things alone.

Affiliate marketing is predominantly based on relationships.

After spending a year in the affiliate headspace as an Assistant Manager here at JEBCommerce, this is the one core concept I come back to time and time again. With many hundreds of emails and calls to affiliates under my belt, I’ve picked up on some trends and traits to help build these strong relationships, what I’ve dubbed the “5 B’s:”

Be Friendly

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s astounding how much showing a drop of kindness can positively impact the conversation, and in turn, relationships. There’s probably a reason why there are literally hundreds of books and articles written on how to be a better communicator and effective listener – because it’s vital for success.

In the affiliate world, friendliness can translate across any form of communication. For example: when hopping on an exploratory call with media partners, I make an effort to get to know the person on the other end of the line. It only takes a few minutes to ask about her day, or how the weather is treating him.

It may seem trite, but a little dose of friendliness can go a long way.

Be Direct

I have a confession: in the first few months of my position as an Assistant Affiliate Manager, I made every effort to phrase everything in a non-conflict oriented way.

  • When I requested data from the client, I would couch the question in an indirect fashion.
  • When I asked for a media kit from a media partner, I’d go out of my way to explain my rationale for needing the document.
  • When asking an influencer to put that FTC disclaimer on their blog post, I’d add one extra smiley-face emoji to soften the blow.

You get the idea.

Being direct has multiple benefits. Chiefly, it helps eliminate confusion. Beating around the bush will cloud your sense of purpose for the conversation. Being direct (believe it or not) can also save you time! Instead of toiling away for 15 minutes on constructing the most diplomatic email, just ask the question.

More often than not, I’ve found that publishers appreciate directness.

Be Genuine

No, you don’t have to wear your heart on your sleeve, or be an open book to everyone you meet. I’m simply advocating for being real with your affiliate contacts.

Certainly, there have been times in the past where I’ve sent out a template-y email. But I’ve found that some of the highest response rates come from the messages I’ve sent that have that bit of extra effort to make them personal and human.

Be Honest

Request clarification. This also displays your interest in what the affiliate does, as well as an investment in the conversation.

I made the mistake early on of pretending like I understood what affiliates were talking about when they discussed terms like “revshare” or “EPC.”

The reality was, I didn’t.

There is no shame in the honesty game. If I don’t quite understand a publisher’s business model, I ask. If some slang is thrown around that I’m not familiar with (and there is quite a bit of affiliate jargon, contrary to popular belief), I request clarification. This also displays your interest in what the affiliate does, as well as an investment in the conversation.

Be Open

As with anyone you might meet in your circle of influence, there will be moments where you don’t see eye-to-eye with an affiliate, or perhaps experience some downright frustration.

For instance, I come across influencers all the time who may not be extremely knowledgeable of affiliate, and ask repetitive questions that could very well induce eye rolling.

This is where being open comes into practice. Rather than becoming frustrated, taking a step back and trying to see things from their point of view can help quell those negative feelings, and additionally, help build on those relationships. Who knows? That influencer could go on to be one of the biggest revenue drivers for your program.

Affiliate Marketing is a fairly sophisticated machine with many working cogs and gears. But when taking a step back and looking at the picture holistically, one can see that the foundation is built on relationships.

While the list above is certainly not a comprehensive look at what it takes to build strong relationships with affiliates, my hope is that it helps point you in the right direction. Like most realms of marketing, Affiliate starts with people – thus, why not place your efforts there?

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