Affiliate Activation: How to Use Newsletters

Affiliate Activation is one of the most challenging aspects of affiliate program management. You invest a lot of time in recruiting new affiliates into your program, but how do you get them to actively advertise you on their website or blog? Better yet, how do you keep them engaged with your program until they start generating sale? It’s important to be in constant communication with affiliate partners–not just to share your latest deals, offers, sales, coupons, products, features, and more, but also to simply remind them that you exist.

Okay, so you have a blog, Facebook page and even Twitter accounted dedicated to your affiliate program. Great! The more options you give affiliates to find you and your information, the better. But despite all of that, there’s still one tried and true method for dispensing information in the most successful way: email.

The affiliate email may be the oldest and most straight-forward method of reaching out to your affiliates (short of knocking on their front door, that is!), but it’s also the most effective. It’s an easy way to pass info on to your affiliate pool, and open a line of communication. But just sending an email is easy; it’s the questions surrounding it that are tough.

What should the subject line be? What time of day is best to send it? What day of the week? How often is too often? While every single program and every group of affiliates is different, there are still some general rules to follow that can help you send out successful affiliate emails.


Timing is Everything

When to send an email is one of life’s great mysteries. Sure there are some very basic rules to follow. To be safe, send out your affiliate newsletters between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Tuesdays through Thursdays. But you may get way better results on other days/times, based upon the category of your program.
Some affiliates are real night owls too, so sending late night email blasts may actually catch their attention more than one that arrives with a few dozen other emails in the morning. Similarly, most companies avoid sending emails on the weekend, but a lot of affiliates still sneak in a few hours of work on Saturday and Sunday. You may just stand out if you go with a weekend schedule.

The best thing you can do is get yourself a solid email program that can analyze results in terms of open rate and click-through rate. Then simply experiment. Send different emails out at different times. If you can do an A/B email test in terms of day/time, go for it.
After a few months of different days and times, you’re sure to narrow things down for your program. At that point, lock it in and stick to a regular schedule to maximize your email exposure!


Say it Loud

The best thing you can do with your affiliate emails and newsletters is to include a clear Call to Action. What’s the point of the email? What are you looking to get out of it? Obviously the end result is going to always be about driving more sales, but specifically, think about exactly how you want your affiliates to accomplish this. Then be sure to quickly and clearly state the point.

Adding some personality to your emails certainly can’t hurt. It can help suck affiliates in to keep reading, so they will get to the CTA. You’ll also put a face behind the program, which goes back to the entire relationship issue. The more personal connection an affiliate has with a program or affiliate manager, the more likely they are to promote the program.

Even if your company just isn’t performing for an affiliate, chances are he or she will gladly keep putting up your links if they enjoy and remember your emails, phone conversations or even meeting up in person at a conference. Never underestimate the power of pure personality!

One instant way to increase the success is by making things as easy for an affiliate as possible. Simply emailing an affiliate about a new sale you have with no other details is a complete waste. When does it start? When does it end? What exactly is involved? Is there a coupon code? And above all else, if you have the technology to do it, include the actual affiliate code in the email itself.

Affiliates easily get dozens upon dozens of emails daily pushing different offers. If they even open your email to read it, consider yourself lucky. The last thing you want to do is put a generic link on there that points to your affiliate network asking them to login and then hunt down your links. Including actual affiliate code in your email pretty much ensures that a simple cut and paste will get your promotions up lickety-split!


Show It

What about the look of your email? Some companies don’t care, while others go to great lengths to create beautiful branded templates. Whether you use your network’s internal email system or you go through a third-party email service like Constant Comment or MailChimp, the big thing to remember is that it all comes down to content.

If you don’t have good offers or advice in your emails, it really doesn’t matter how pretty they look. A simple email with your company’s logo could be far more effective than a completely branded email that looks exactly like your site but doesn’t include even a single affiliate URL.
However you choose to go, just make sure you include as many resource links as you can. Link to your network or affiliate program itself. Include contact information such as your email, phone number and if you have it, an IM username. Nothing ticks off an affiliate more than getting an affiliate email that’s signed “Your Affiliate Manager” without any contact details at all.


Just Do It

As for how often to reach out to your affiliates, that all depends on how often you have new content. At a bare minimum, you should be emailing your team on a monthly basis. Even if you’re just reiterating the same promotions, do so in a different manner. There’s a big chance most of your affiliates ignored or missed your email last month, so sending it again helps put your name into their brain, as well as increase your chance that they’ll read it.
With tablets and smartphones the norm these days, email literally is everywhere. So harness its power to truly take control of your affiliate program. Just be sure to use it, not abuse it.