How to nail your affiliate outreach

Publication date
Imogen Beech
Reading time
9 minute read

Affiliate marketing is one of the most underrated ways of growing your business. But if you want to grow a successful affiliate program, you’ll need to nail your affiliate outreach first. After all, without affiliates, your affiliate program won’t earn you a penny!

So, what do you need to know to get your outreach strategy spot on? Here, we’ll cover everything from why it’s so important to what a fantastic affiliate outreach email should include. But first…

What is affiliate outreach?

Affiliate outreach is the process of contacting affiliate marketers and encouraging them to promote your products in exchange for a performance-based reward – usually in the form of commissions.

Affiliate outreach can take many different forms. For instance, you might decide to send an affiliate outreach email, contact affiliates on social media or even reach out to them via phone. 

Similarly, it’s worth bearing in mind that affiliate outreach doesn’t have to be limited to just cold outreach (where you reach out to people you have no existing relationship with). Rather, successful affiliate outreach often starts with relationship building – whether that’s attending networking events or encouraging your existing affiliates to spread the word about your affiliate program to their contacts.

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Why is affiliate outreach so important?

If affiliates aren’t joining your affiliate program, there are only really two reasons why that could be:

  1. Your affiliate program isn’t attractive enough
  2. Affiliates don’t yet know that it exists

Of course, creating an affiliate program that affiliates actually want to join is the first thing you’ll need to make sure of. Without an attractive affiliate program, your outreach won’t be effective. And even if you do get affiliates to join, you’ll struggle to keep them happy and engaged – so your partnership will almost certainly lack impact.

However, there’s just as big of a problem if you have an attractive affiliate program that nobody knows about. You can have the most attractive affiliate program in the world, but unless affiliates know about it, they’re not going to join and so they won’t earn you a penny.

Affiliate outreach is all about ensuring that the affiliates that could positively impact your brand have heard about your program – and that they know if they don’t join, they’ll be missing out!

Ultimately, why wait for affiliates to come to you? By taking matters into your own hands and proactively finding affiliate marketers to work with, you’ll be able to grow your partner program much more quickly and boost your bottom line in the process.

Affiliate outreach strategy

How to nail your affiliate outreach strategy

If you’ve already contacted affiliates, the chances are you already have some kind of affiliate outreach strategy – whether or not you know it yet! Your strategy is basically how you plan on contacting affiliates and persuading them to join your affiliate program. For example:

  • Who will you contact?
  • How will you contact them?
  • What will you say to convince them to join your program?
  • How many times will you contact them if they don’t reply the first time?
  • Will you conduct warm or cold outreach?

But instead of just pinging emails out left, right and centre, it can help to approach your affiliate outreach strategy with a little more thought and consideration. This way, you can make sure you’re conducting outreach that has the best possible chance of getting you the result you’re after. Here are some tips for nailing it.

1. Contact the right affiliates

First things first, picking out affiliates who are the right fit for your brand will hugely improve your chances of getting back a positive response – setting you up for partnership success in the long run. 

When you’re umming and ahhing about which affiliates to contact, consider:

  • Relevance. Does the affiliate’s niche match yours?
  • Audience. Is there some overlap between your target audience and the affiliate’s followers?
  • Goals. Is this affiliate likely to be able to help you reach your goals and strategic partnership KPIs?
  • Incentive. Would you be able to provide the affiliate with enough of an incentive to keep them happy and engaged?
  • Reach. Does the affiliate have enough reach to make an impact for you? Watch out that it’s not so big that you’d struggle to incentivise them.
  • Values. Do you share similar values? You could land yourself in hot water if you collaborate with someone who goes against what you believe in.
  • Reputation. Is there a risk that they could damage your reputation? Only partner with affiliates who could enhance it.

It’s also worth noting that experience doesn’t have to be a prerequisite when you’re looking for affiliates to promote your brand. Rather, anyone in a position to be able to influence others could become a successful affiliate for you with the right support.

Affiliate recruitment

2. Maximise warm outreach opportunities

Successful affiliates often receive multiple messages a day asking them to join affiliate programs. So, you’ll need to find ways to make your message stand out. One way is to lean on warm outreach, which is proven to increase success rates – in fact, found that warm calls have a whopping 20-30% conversion rate!

Warm outreach is all about reaching out to potential affiliates who you have a prior relationship with – as opposed to cold outreach, which involves contacting people you’ve never had contact with before.

To leverage warm outreach opportunities, brainstorm whether you have any existing contacts who could make useful affiliates for your brand – or who could introduce you to some! Plus, make the most of opportunities where you could meet affiliates face to face before reaching out to them about your affiliate program. For instance, you could attend networking events and affiliate industry conferences.

Ultimately, warm outreach is all about personalising yourself so that the person you’re contacting is more likely to reply. And it really works!

3. Segment

Not all affiliates are the same – some will be experienced while others are brand new to the industry. Some will be large affiliate websites like comparison sites and review sites, while others will be one-man bands who operate as bloggers or Instagrammers.

It makes sense that, if you’re planning to contact a range of different affiliates, you’ll need to adapt your approach to reflect the various groups you’re reaching out to.

For instance, if you’re talking to a traditional affiliate, you’ll be able to use industry terms that they’ll immediately understand when proposing a partnership. But if you’re reaching out to a content creator who’s never before worked as an affiliate, you’ll have to explain what an affiliate marketing partnership is and how it works. 

This is just one obvious example of how segmenting your contact list into various groups can help you to ensure you’re selling your affiliate program in a way that’s directly relevant to the recipient. Once you have the data to determine that an affiliate is worth contacting, you may as well use that data to tailor your approach to their needs and give yourself the best possible chance of converting them.

4. Follow up

If you want to increase your reply rate (hint: you should!) then you’ll need to send prospects more than one affiliate outreach email.

Let us explain. When it comes to cold email campaigns, your opening email is likely to get a reply rate of around 9% (according to Woodpecker). Not awful but not exactly great either!

On the other hand, by sending just one follow-up email, your reply rate will jump from 9% to around 13%. And that’s not even bearing in mind the content itself! Sending two or three follow-up emails will be worth your time and increase your reply rate even more.

What this tells us is that if you neglect to send follow-up emails to your prospects, you’ll be missing out on a whole pool of affiliates who could make fantastic partners. Don’t let them slip through your fingers!

5. Measure your efforts

Measuring should be a vital part of your affiliate outreach strategy. Think about it: you wouldn’t conduct a marketing campaign without tracking its success, right? The same should be true of partner outreach.

You’ll want to track and record details such as:

  • Your response rate
  • The average number of emails you have to send to get a response
  • Your conversion rate (how many prospects actually go on to join your affiliate program?)

You’ll also want to see if you can spot a pattern in terms of the type of prospect that typically converts and joins your program, as well as the kind of prospect that goes on to make you decent money with affiliate marketing.

Keeping tabs on all this data will allow you to tweak and improve your outreach strategy as you go, to make it as effective as possible. 

Measure outreach efforts

6. Don’t ever stop your affiliate outreach!

Affiliate outreach isn’t just important for businesses with relatively new affiliate programs. Rather, a whopping 83% of advertisers add affiliates to their programs monthly (according to figures from IAB Australia). And we believe it should be still more.

So, why is ongoing affiliate recruitment so important?

Well, adding to your affiliate program continuously will help you to ensure that it contains a diverse range of affiliates who use different tactics to gain conversions – and that you’re responding to your brand’s needs. 

Plus, it’s worth bearing in mind that the affiliate marketing landscape is constantly changing. Affiliates are entering and leaving the partnerships industry all the time! By engaging in continuous affiliate outreach, you’ll be able to make the most of new opportunities and take advantage of current affiliate industry trends, helping you to make sure your affiliate program is as successful as it can be.

Ingredients of a successful affiliate outreach email

Ready to ping off an outreach email to a group of affiliate marketers? Then take stock of these outreach ideas to ensure that your affiliate outreach email has all the ingredients necessary to help you reach your goals.


The more personal you can make your outreach, the better! 

Of course, if you’re trying to scale your outreach efforts, pinging off a completely original email to each contact simply won’t be feasible. However, it’s all about finding the right balance between automation and personalisation. If you segment your contact list in the right way and leave plenty of gaps to personalise a general email template, it shouldn’t be hard to make your email feel completely personal to the recipient.

A few musts when it comes to personalisation include:

  • Use their first name (and the name of the company if it’s relevant)
  • Pick out something you particularly admire about their work
  • Explain what makes you the right fit for a partnership

Personalising your outreach will show affiliates that you’ve taken the time to research them, which suggests that you truly care about a potential collaboration. In this way, you’re showing that it’s also worth their time responding to you.

Affiliate outreach email

Obtain the right contact information

It sounds obvious that you’ll need the right contact information to conduct your affiliate outreach. But it’s actually a major hurdle when it comes to recruiting affiliate partners

The contact details provided by affiliate networks are often wrong, out-of-date or for the incorrect person. This means that brands often fall at the first hurdle by pinging out emails that are highly unlikely to get a response.

On the other hand, brands that run some of the best affiliate programs often find the contact details for affiliates themselves in-house. It’s a time-consuming and manual process but at least then you know that your emails are going to the right people, setting you up for success in the long run. 

Psst! If you want accurate contact information without having to spend hours sourcing it yourself, we can do it for you. Just request a lead’s contact details on Breezy and we’ll dig out relevant job titles, contact names, email addresses and LinkedIn profiles, checking it all to make sure it’s fully up-to-date and accurate. Book a demo to see it in action.

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Sell your program

One of the main reasons why partnerships fail is because brands focus on getting as much as they can out of their partner, rather than seeing the collaboration as a two-way street that has to benefit both parties.

Whether you’re embarking on an affiliate partnership or any other type of strategic partnership, you’ll need to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and focus on what they can get out of the relationship, rather than just what you can. And this applies right from the start when you first conduct your affiliate outreach.

Try to sell your affiliate program to affiliates in much the same way as you sell your product or service to customers. For instance, focus on the benefits to the affiliate and what problems it can solve for them. 

What commissions can they expect? What kind of support can you offer them (eg. training and shared creative assets)? What makes your program stand out above your rivals?

You’ll likely need to sell your business and your product too, so they can see that it’s worth promoting. But make sure that this isn’t about blowing your own trumpet. Instead, it should all come down to explaining why an affiliate should work with you – which nearly always ends in that journey towards ROI for your partner.

Include a clear CTA

No matter how fantastic your affiliate outreach email is, it’s not going to convert anybody if you don’t tell them what you want them to do next!

For that reason, it’s absolutely vital to include a clear CTA. This might involve sending them a link to sign up to your affiliate program, asking them to respond to your email to let you know if they’re interested, or even giving them a link to your calendar to book in a call.

It’s often most effective to attempt to start a dialogue rather than direct them to join your program immediately. This way your email will feel less transactional and you’ll be able to focus on building a relationship. However, the key thing is to make it clear what the next steps are.

Note that your CTA doesn’t have to be presented as a button or banner – you can simply write your CTA as plain text. Plain text emails can be highly effective as they look more personal.

Affiliate outreach key takeaways

As you can see, affiliate outreach requires time and careful consideration to be successful. But it’s absolutely not rocket science! 

Make sure that you:

  1. Create an appealing affiliate program
  2. Personalise your outreach as much as possible
  3. Focus on what’s in it for the affiliate

As long as you follow these simple steps and heed the advice in this guide, there’s no reason why you can’t ace it!

Oh, and be sure to book a demo for Breezy. We’ll help you to find thousands of affiliates who could make the perfect partners for your brand – and we can dig out their contact info for you too! It’s the quicker, easier way to conduct affiliate outreach and grow your program.

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Imogen Beech

Imogen is a copywriter and content writer with over two years’ experience writing about the exciting world of strategic partnerships, as well as running her own business. She loves learning about new topics as she writes, and has enjoyed penning articles on industries ranging from mortgages to events, theatre to home improvements and everything in between.

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