This post has been updated for 2020.
I take content creation very serious in my duties at JEBCommerce. Both for a marketing perspective as well as an educational perspective. And I love doing it. I’ve always fancied myself a writer from my time as a journalism student at Curtis High School in Tacoma to my time as an editor at Sumner High. (Was that really almost 30 years ago?). In order to keep up with content production, at JEBCommerce, we lay out a content calendar that includes writing, video, and shorter updates on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
Well on today’s list was to write about the perfect recruitment email with the primary target being affiliate managers and advertisers. As I sipped on my almond milk white chocolate mocha, it occurred to me that this could be a really useful blog post for those affiliate managers just starting out and a good refresher for us more seasoned vets. So here it goes.
Think about the person you are contacting first. We tend to think only of ourselves, our pressures and our needs when pretty much doing anything. But there is inherent danger in that. What we do as affiliate managers is a service function, and if you aren’t thinking of those you are serving, and you are serving that potential affiliate, you are going to miss their needs and how you can help fulfill them. And then you often spend time contacting affiliates that you really don’t need to, that won’t work with you and they can tell you aren’t thinking of their interests. Your communications fall flat, feel inauthentic and don’t get a response. So, spend time looking at the affiliates’ web properties and try to identify what they need, then determine how you can help them satisfy that need. Focus on them, it sounds simple, but it isn’t always easy.
Be brief. Have you ever read that long email that rambles on and on. Yeah, I haven’t either. Get to the point, say what you need to say and say no more.
Provide the affiliate with everything they need to take the desired action. You should have a desired action in mind when writing your email, so tell them what it is. Not only that, make sure they have everything they need to take the desired action. Most likely you want them to join your program, great, make sure they have all the pertinent information on your program to take the steps:
- Join Link
- Commission payout and all terms
- Network name and a link to your program page
Be personal. Shouldn’t you have some idea of who the recipient is before you contact them? 90% of people believe that all email is SPAM. Well how do you get through all of that then? Make sure you know things about the affiliate. If you don’t, then spend time on their site, research them before you contact them. If you just want to get 1000 emails out today, you are going to achieve success according to the time you put in. No one wants to read a lame templated email that is the same as everyone else. Take your time to get to know this publisher so you can write something specific to them.
Include full contact info. Who wants to reply to “Affiliate Team” or firstname.lastname@example.org? Don’t be afraid to let them know all the ways to get a hold of you. For some reason, new affiliate managers don’t want to make it easy for affiliates and publishers to get a hold of them. In this age of hyper-connectivity, I’ve noticed quite a bit of people in our space afraid of using the phone, or including that, their LinkedIn profile, Facebook, Twitter and more in their signature. As an affiliate manager you want to remove as much friction as you can from the join and optimization process. If you have an affiliate that wants to talk through FB messenger, well make that as easy as possible for them. It also goes a long way to building trust. I trust people that are available and public.
Clearly identify the reasons why the affiliate should join or take your desired action. This goes hand in hand with being brief. You have to very quickly, with the fewest words, sentences and paragraphs, highlight why the affiliate should read your email and join your program – tell them clearly what is in it for them. If you don’t know what that is, spend some time reviewing your program terms and what you have been able to bring to your current partners. You can highlight your EPC (Earnings Per Click), commission rate or the top earnings of affiliates just like that.
Don’t forget about CANSPAM and other email regulations. You can get yourself in a lot of trouble and financial penalties if you don’t understand CANSPAM.
Follow up but don’t be intrusive and annoying. Recruiting affiliates is very much a sales function. And the way we all read email, you have to follow up. You need more than one touch point to get an effective response. Couple your email with a follow up, friend them on Facebook, connect via LinkedIn etc.
I was tempted to include a sample of our recruiting emails, but I think this would do more harm than good. The main point is to be authentic and research your partners to find why your message is important to them. There is no silver bullet. If I provide a template, many will be tempted to just use that, but that goes against the main point. There isn’t a simple fix here, you have to do the work to communicate efficiently.
These aren’t the only characteristics of the perfect email, but they are a pretty good start. The first outreach to a potential partner is important, but it isn’t a silver bullet. If you aren’t committed to building a solid relationship and actually follow through and follow up impeccably, your amazing email will only hurt you. It’s only a part. Get it right, but focus on the entire world of relationship building.
If you need help recruiting affiliates, check out this article on How to Find New Affiliates by JEBCommerce.