How to convert your customers into affiliates

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Recruiting existing customers to become affiliates for your brand helps you leverage organic brand affinity to drive more sales. The key to a successful affiliate program is choosing the right customers, offering the best incentive, and setting up a scalable process for running affiliate campaigns. Converting customers into affiliates relies on nurturing strong partnerships to create an active network of brand affiliates that deliver results for your brand. Learn the best practices for affiliate recruitment, outreach, and activation so you can start harnessing the potential of your brand community to drive affiliate sales. 

Why do customers make the best affiliates? 

The truth is, your customers are already talking about your brand online. Whether it’s snapping a photo of a new pair of shoes for Instagram, creating a Pinterest board of their favorite vintage fashion finds, or posting a review to your website. They are already driving organic brand awareness among their social followers. Brands can tap into these authentic brand mentions by hiring their most influential customers as affiliates. Your customers already know all about your brand and can share their real-life experience of using your products, making them your brand’s most authentic content creators! The bottom line is people listen to recommendations from people they trust more than ads, so your customers are likely to drive high conversions as affiliate partners.

Working with an affiliate partner who is already in your brand network helps you to leverage genuine enthusiasm about your brand while offering a cost-effective incentive. In fact, customers are 7x more likely to promote your brand for free and are up to 50% cheaper for sponsored content. Get the knowledge you need to start converting customers into affiliates below! 

Choose the right customers for your affiliate marketing program

A successful affiliate marketing program needs the right brand advocates at its center. Your brand should look to hire customers who have a valuable online reach, relevant audience, and who are already your brand’s biggest supporters. A good place to start is by looking at your customers who are making frequent purchases, who have a high lifetime value, or who have been loyally shopping with you over a number of years. Looking at these factors is a good indicator that these customers value your products and will be open to promoting your brand to their audience. 

Brands should focus their efforts on hiring customers who have a significant social reach and good engagement figures, proving their potential to convert the next generation of customers. Using a tool such as Upfluence, brands can quickly analyze the social and purchase data of their customer base to identify individuals who are the best match for their affiliate program. The advantage of sourcing affiliates from your customer base is that you can be confident that their social media audience will match your target customer demographic. A good portion of your existing customer’s online audience will be family members, friends, and colleagues who are very likely to share the same demographic and interests as your current customers. 

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Outreach and incentives 

When it comes to contacting your selected customers about becoming an affiliate partner for your brand, you need a personalized outreach strategy and relevant incentives. Once you’ve identified a cohort of potential affiliates from your customer list, consider creating segmented lists of your affiliate network for more personalized and better-targeted communication. You could create segments based on follower number, engagement rate, location, or which affiliate product they’ll promote. 

Once you’re ready to reach out to your influential customers, use Upfluence’s affiliate marketing management tools to invite them to join your affiliate program. The best way to encourage customers to join your affiliate marketing program is to thank them for their loyalty, recognize how they’re already promoting your brand and invite them to formalize the relationship by signing up to your program for exclusive rewards. You have several options open to you based on how you run your affiliate campaigns. This is a key moment to leverage purchase history data to offer tailored incentives. You can offer to send them a free product or discount code based on their previous shopping behavior. 

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Perhaps you’ve identified a valuable customer who you want to prime to become a future affiliate partner. You could start by offering a 10% or $20 off their next purchase in exchange for posting about the item they buy on their social media channel. You could offer them a promo code for new customer referrals or exclusive access to a pre-sale as compensation for promoting your brand. Asking them to promote your brand in these small ways at first will help to prime them to become an official affiliate for your brand. 

For those customers who are ready to be engaged as qualified affiliates, be sure to offer attractive incentives such as earning affiliate commission based on a percentage of the profits, access to free products, or a mix of payment and product. Be sure to highlight the value they’ll receive in terms of payment, growing their social presence, exclusive brand rewards, etc. 

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Smooth affiliate activation

Now you have an affiliate network of people who are ready to start promoting your brand, you need to make sure that the activation process is as easy as possible. You should set out clear expectations about how affiliates should be promoting your brand. Which channel should they post on? What’s the key campaign message? Which content format should they use? All these questions should be answered as part of the brief you’ll send to your affiliates. 

Your aim is to make it super simple for your affiliates to receive all the resources they need in order to effectively promote your brand online. This means regularly sharing product updates, news, and product samples with your affiliates.

You should also have a smooth setup for running the logistical aspect of your affiliate campaign. This will ensure a positive experience for both brands and affiliates. Using a platform like Upfluence you can easily generate a tracked affiliate link for each individual and distribute them in bulk. What’s more, each link can be tracked in real-time so you can view how many sales are being generated by each influencer and monitor your ROI. 

Now you have all the best practices you need to start converting more customers into your brand’s best affiliates! Follow these tips and you’ll be on track to boost sales with affiliate marketing. Once your program is established and you’re ready for the next step, check out this blog on how to scale your affiliate marketing strategy

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