When you first start a site, you have no history. You’re like a baby who just got slapped by the doctor. No one knows who you are, no one knows what you’re capable of, and no one is willing to pony up a few bucks to see what you can do. That’s OK, that’s why performance marketing has flourished on the web and why so many people are making a living off it.

Performance marketing, or affiliate marketing, works because advertisers don’t have to trust you. They only have to trust what you are able to do, which is how it should be. They’ll pay you a percentage of a successful sale or they’ll pay you $20 if you can get someone to sign up or apply for something. They don’t pay unless you perform.

The Beginning

In the beginning, the struggle will be for you to get approval to run offers. Some advertisers are more relaxed than others about their approval requirements. Once you’ve built up a fairly respectable site, start applying for relevant programs. You’ll get into some of them, you’ll be rejected for others. Don’t take it personally, oftentimes it’s an automated decision process.

Cracking Picky Advertisers

If you are rejected, move on unless it’s an offer you feel is perfect for your site. If it is, try to find the affiliate manager’s email or telephone number and give them a call. Get a reason (or reasons) why you weren’t accepted and fix those issues. If the issue is performance (a manager only has so much bandwidth to cover their affiliates), ask them what they’d need as a minimum before they’ll accept someone.

One way to crack a picky advertiser is to find their competitor and promote them. In every niche there is always going to be a company looking to break out. Find them, promote them, and develop a performance history. If you can bring that history to the pickier advertiser, they may accept you on that alone.

Negotiating Higher Payouts

Once you’ve started to generate leads, even if it’s only a couple a month, contact your affiliate manager to find out about higher payouts. The vast majority of affiliates generate zero sales or leads. Once you’ve generated a few, you’re separating yourself from the pack and showing you can send people their way. Talk to your manager and find out what you need to do to bump up the payouts or the commission rate. You may be surprised to learn that 5 sales is enough to get you to the next level, but you won’t have a goal unless you ask.

Beyond Highest Payouts

Once you’ve developed a history of strong performance, you may have reached the highest level of payouts. Your quantity of the leads or sales is high, the quality of those leads and sales are high, and the advertiser is generally very happy with your performance. However, reaching the highest payouts isn’t the end of the growth in the relationship.

The next step is to look for ways to partner with the brand outside of performance marketing. You may need to bridge the gap between the marketing department and the advertising department, which are increasingly growing closer and closer together. Consider ways for brands to sponsor areas of the site, such as a section or topic category, sponsor email newsletters, or simply purchase display advertising.

When you have a history of strong performance, these sweetener type of deals may not convert more leads or generate more sales, but it solidifies a relationship. If you have a 6 month display ad with a company, how likely are you to swap out their offer for someone else, especially after you factor in the value of that ad from a blended CPA perspective? Less likely, especially if it’s an untested offer.

In the end, remember that the rules aren’t set in stone. If you can think of a creative way to build on a relationship, give it a try. The worst they can say is “no” and then you’ll at least know. I hope you’ve found these tips helpful, please share any of your own below!

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2 Responses to “Evolution of the Blog – Affiliate Advertiser Relationship”

  1. Ben Says:

    Hey Jim, what percentage of payout increase do you usually ask for? I imagine it depends on the industry and type of offer but is there a general guideline you follow?

    thanks!

  2. jim Says:

    I go with my gut, if you start with a set $ payout, ask for a $ increase. If it’s %, ask for a %. The affiliate manager, much like any salesperson, has guidelines on what they are allowed to do and what they need approval for, it’s a matter of finding that point. Affiliate managers have no problem giving you a big jump if they know it’ll payoff in the end.

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