Affiliate Marketing Strategies – Part 1

By the end of this 3-part tutorial, you will learn the three core tenants of marketing that have allowed me to build my eCommerce business, Science of Skill, to a $2M-a-year run rate. I’ll do so by breaking down exactly the way I manage my affiliate traffic.

How do you build a simple system to track who is going to promote for you and when, whom you’re going to promote for and when, and keep it in line to consistently drive lots of traffic from others who have large followings? I’ll answer this question in three parts over the next couple of weeks, starting with Part 1 and the first tenant:

Tenant #1 – Finding Affiliates to Promote Your Product or Service

This strategy will not work if you can’t find affiliates with a big list to promote your product or service, so that’s the first step. Ask yourself – who already owns a list with the types of people to whom I’m aiming to market in the first place? Who owns that audience?

In my arena (Science of Skill), there are folks online who already have an audience interested in self protection, martial arts, and self defense; anyone in that space is a potential affiliate. Forbes wrote a useful article on the myths of affiliate marketing that I recommend reading.

  • Generating a Hit List/Working the Hit List

The “hit list” of potential affiliates that you generate will not necessarily be those who will promote for you anytime soon (i.e. the next few weeks, or even months – though anything is possible!), but it’s a list of anyone who potentially could at some point in the future, from the smallest to the biggest players.

As you do your research and gather names, put these affiliates into an excel document, or whatever you’re preferred contact depository, with a column for their email, url, main web properties, and any other data you deem worth noting.

  • Starting at the Bottom

Usually, you’re not going to go to the 8-figure businesses that are growing consistently month after month, and ask them to promote the “little guy” (potentially you) right away. More often than not, you’re going to start off with affiliates at your level (in terms of monthly revenue, social following, email list size, etc.) or a little bit higher. Aim to strike up the relationships here first.

  • Warm Introductions

The best way to start building those affiliate relationships? Warm introductions. Whenever I get in touch with someone on my hit list and vibe well – maybe we find a way to cross promote, or they agree to test out one of our offers – the last thing I do before I hang up is make an effort to think of people who I want to introduce to that person.

You want to help them network. Ask if they know whoever it is you have in mind, why that person might be a useful business contact for them, and arrange for an introduction, even if it’s just via email. I like to have at least two contacts in mind when I talk to an affiliate (your list from which to choose and pluck will be built over time).

The very last thing I do before I get off that phone – I tell the affiliate the types of businesses for which I’m looking, and ask if they know anyone in that space who I might want to meet. We’ve had individual affiliates who have been introduced to us in this fashion, who have generated over $100K in sales – just from the one introduction.

  • Phone is King

You don’t email people and hope you’ll be able to garner real friendships and get people to promote for you. If you haven’t yet, read Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence at Work; it offers fantastic insight for any business owner. You realize quickly that ‘liking’ is a strong influencer of people, and in order to get the “buddy-buddy” feel, the best way is via phone or by meeting at an event.

On the phone, you can openly and expressively talk about their and your interests, who they know, etc. Your job, in this case, is to build relationships and up the “liking” factor as much as possible – over the phone.

  • Giving First (Sales, Interview, Creative Barters)

One of the best ways to get folks on the phone is by selling their product or service before you ever reach out to them. When  I was still running the brick-and-mortar martial arts gym, I used this approach with a company that sells grappling dummies (and who later became one of my CLVboost Blueprint clients).

At the time, this company was a larger business than us, and before reaching out we sold a dozen or so of their dummies at $600 each. When you make someone a couple of grand, and then send an email and state that you’ve done well with their product and would love to chat and get involved in joint campaigns (read this article for copywriting tips on cross promotions), very few businesses will refuse to talk with you.

This approach is a great way to show that you’re committed and useful. Another great way is through conducting and publicizing interviews. It’s possible for you to write on your own site and related sites in your niche, or host a podcast.

The best ammo is often interviewing the experts; company founders make great interviewees. If you’re publicizing a a potential affiliate’s name and expertise, and helping them by getting the word out, this often develops ‘liking’, and you’ve created an opportunity to bring up the topic of affiliate cross-promotions, either towards the end of an interview or even a week later.

  • Track Your Relationship-Building

For the last three months, I’ve maintained a metric (measuring data) that tells how many new affiliates I’ve spoken to in the last seven days. These are affiliates that command traffic and that could help our business, and they are always new.

This metric has become key for increasing revenue; if we’re consistently getting on the phone and garnering new relationships, we are moving ourselves to the next step and creating a bigger bench of potential traffic sources. Enough said.

Stay Tuned!

In the next video tutorial i.e. Affiliate Marketing Strategies-Part 2, I’ll tap into “superior customer service for affiliates” – how to treat your affiliates like gold so that they’re willing to promote for you. Please leave any comments or ideas that you have about Part 1 of this tutorial series in the comments section – we love to hear from our subscribers.

Here’s to a productive week!

-Daniel Faggella
CLVboost Founder


About The Author

Daniel Faggella

I grow businesses with marketing automation, email marketing, and conversion-rate optimization. I've spoken on business and emerging technologies internationally and at some of America's finest schools (Yale, Stanford, Cornell, etc...). My marketing strategies have been featured in the Boston Business Journal, MarketingProfs, Direct Marketing News, and much more. CLVboost is where I share marketing strategies, is my major pursuit.