Influencers are the best #amIright!
We all know the power influencers can bring to the table. They help generate more engaged leads, which make great customers with long lifetime value. But does your affiliate program hold the same power for your product?
People put trust in influencers they know and resonate with, which is why influencer marketing has become increasingly popular over the last decade. But here is a little-known secret: affiliate marketing is the old-school version of influencer marketing and it once ruled the internet.
The times of influencer marketing have evolved from pay per performance. No longer will influencers just join your affiliate program and hope they earn money from sales. It seems like a majority of influencers today are looking for upfront sponsorship payments, making it hard for brands to find an influencer within their budget.
But have no fear! I’ve been an affiliate manager for 10+ years and have compiled a list of my best tactics to convince influencers to work with brands on a performance basis. Let’s jump in.
1. Getting their attention
Usually, the first method of connection is email. The email subject line must POP to get their attention so they at least open it. I find adding the influencer’s name to the subject will increase open rates.
The first line must get to the point: “I want to help you make money” or some kind of variation.
If they don’t respond to you, send two follow-up emails. Still no response? Try DM on one of their social media accounts. Do whatever it takes to get influencers in your affiliate program or give you a hard no.
2. Keep it short and simple
Everyone is busy. Long emails will not get read, so condense your thoughts into less than 125 words. According to HubSpot, the ideal word count should be 50-125 which produced 50 % response rates. You want your email to be a conversation between you and the recipient, so avoid long-winded paragraphs describing every aspect of your topic. When in doubt refer to the thought of “less is more”.
Explain the benefit of your product or service, but also describe the advantages influencers will reap from your affiliate program. Get in, get to the point, get out.
3. Always close your emails with a question
Your #1 goal is to get a reply. The best way to do that is to ask them questions. But not just any old question…make it one big question.
Start out by presenting your best pitch; you know the benefit of your product or service, so make it compelling. Then when you are closing, ask one big question they will be compelled to answer.
Example: Is this a product you would be interested in partnering with?
4. Ask them what they are looking for
You must resonate with the influencer’s values. So before you blindly reach out, visit their social media page and gather some information you can use to help ensure this is a project they would be willing to participate in.
It isn’t about what you want; it is about what will work for them. The influencer is in the driver’s seat, so find out what their ideal situation is and negotiate from there.
Good influencers have standards; it’s not all about the monetary value. Make sure your product is something these influencers want to stand behind and your affiliate program must be trustworthy for tracking purposes.
5. Offering free products
Bend over backward to provide them with the best customer experience to make them believe in the product. Free products are an industry standard.
Before you give away a product to an influencer though, set your own standards. For example, set the bar at 10,000+ followers on one platform before considering giving them a free sample, gift, subscription, etc.
6. Sponsorship money
If your initial email asks what they are looking for in a partnership, you will most likely get a response, they are looking for compensation for their time upfront. You can absolutely entertain that option to get your foot in the door, but also redirect the conversation to working on a commission basis.
Set aside a budget you are comfortable with to get your foot in the door with micro-influencers. Small sponsorships with good tracking metrics will be a good test to see if influencer marketing is a good fit for your brand. Always focus on the ROI as this is the main reason for partnering with your influencer.
7. Hybrid affiliate program deals
Hybrid deals combine upfront sponsorship money with commissions. This is my favorite negotiating tactic. I have found influencer marketing works best when the partner is motivated to bring you sales.
Instead of just a one-time sponsorship payment, offer a lower upfront payment AND an enticing amount of money for every sale they produce. For example, when you ask the influencer what their rate is, they may reply “I require a free subscription and $500 upfront.” Here is how I would reply:
“Thanks for your reply. I was unable to get $500 approved, but I’ve put something together that works for both of us. I can offer $200 upfront and $50 for every sale they refer. If you produce just 7 sales, you will make even more money with no cap on your earning potential. What do you think?”
They have to have skin in the game to be motivated to promote your product the right way. But the upfront sponsorship will get your foot in the door.
8. Dangle the carrot of more content
Set the expectations of success early on. Let the influencer know that even though you aren’t able to pay them the upfront fee they were looking for if this campaign is a success, you can absolutely do bigger deals in the future. If things go really well, you can offer an exclusive discount code and co-branded landing pages. Keep that door open for a new campaign next month.
The future of influencer marketing is bright. Integrating it with your affiliate program will take both to the next level.