If you’ve found that leveraging the affiliate model for lead generation initiatives can be rather tricky, rest assured that you are not alone. Establishing and managing a successful lead generation campaign is quite nuanced. However, there are steps you can take to ensure your campaign gets off to a successful start and delivers a steady stream of quality leads.
Before we go into these steps, it’s important to note that the start-up phase for lead generation rarely produces results overnight. Generating quality leads takes time — a lot of time, actually. And, as you’ll see below, it also requires strategic planning and nurturing. The expression “slow and steady wins the race” definitely applies when it comes to quality lead generation. But it’s well worth the time and effort.
Now let’s take a moment to walk through some best practices for affiliate marketing lead generation campaigns:
Understand the End Goal.
Cross-functional dialogue is an essential first step. Before launching your campaign, you need to have holistic conversations with your internal team and your program management agency about results, goals and metrics. It’s one tactic to generate a certain number of leads; it’s another to determine the end goal of a particular lead. Rather than generating leads that simply dial in somewhere or fill out a form for a slice of the commission, it’s more valuable to base performance on whether your lead is helping you reach your goal.
One of the most important questions you and your team can ask is, “What do we ultimately want from this lead?” Is it: Their information? For them to purchase your product or service? A referral? Additionally, you will want to ensure the commission payout is structured around that goal. This way, your affiliate partners are working towards the same internal strategy as your company.
Define your Target Audience.
Take time to understand the type of lead you are looking for. This will determine the type of partners you aim to work with. Is your audience a young mom researching ways to save money? Does the lead base you are trying to grow have a significant amount of disposable income?
Being able to answer these questions will not only help segment the type of affiliates you partner with, they will also help structure the way your program creatives are set-up. Understanding your audience is also key to providing your affiliates with the best converting assets that will resonate with their readers.
Quality Partnerships (over Quantity).
Significant emphasis must be put on quality partnership building. It may be tempting to let as many partners into your program as possible, however, leads should be evaluated for quality, not volume. You want to avoid running into the issue of letting just anyone into your lead gen campaign and then discover that their efforts aren’t brand-aligned or delivering the types of leads you want.
Focusing on volume over quality negatively impacts two things: the experience your affiliates have and the conversion rate of your program. Having a few partners in your lead generation-focused affiliate program who drive high-value traffic at a steady volume is much better than dealing with fraudulent lead issues among partners each month.
Real-Time Lead Evaluation.
In an ideal world, your affiliates would know immediately whether the lead they delivered was valid or not. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Depending on your end goal for your lead, the process may take minutes or months to complete.
For example, your goal may be to build an email database, which typically requires a lead to fill out a simple form. On the other hand, your goal might be to have the lead purchase a service, which may take months for the sale to close. Either way, transparently communicating with your affiliates about how often and when lead quality will be evaluated is crucial to growing a strong relationship with your partners.
Also, be sure to set clear expectations with your partners defining what a quality lead looks like so they can send the highest quality lead volume your way.
Nurture and Grow.
Once you have created quality relationships with your affiliate partners and are seeing performance from their efforts, it’s important to keep them engaged. This is a great time to get creative and create campaigns that will not only incentivize affiliates to promote your program but will also encourage their readers to convert.
Here are a few tried and tested tactics that have produced successful results:
Offering a tiered commission structure. For example, the affiliate receives $10 for the first 100 valid leads sent and then $20 for all valid leads sent over 100. This is a great way to award your top performing partners and incentivize them to drive even more quality volume.
Offering a giveaway to a micro-influencer in the space. Micro-influencers make for great partners as their audience base is highly engaged. Offering a promotional giveaway to a micro-influencer allows them to create exciting content on their site while giving one of their readers the chance to win a product/service/monetary value from your company. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Now that you have the inside scoop for lead generation best practices, all you need to do is begin. It’s time to get creative, think outside-of-the-box and remember…quality over quantity!
Questions about working with partners within your affiliate program to drive high-value leads? Contact us!
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Euniece Velekei is a Senior Account Manager, Affiliate Marketing.