Affiliate and Partner Marketing to Expand Your Launch Reach
Launching a new product or service is exhilarating but also challenging. Standing out in a crowded marketplace takes creativity and multi-channel marketing efforts. While your owned platforms like email lists and social media are crucial, don’t neglect affiliate and partner marketing for expanding your launch reach.
Strategic partnerships with influencers, companies, media outlets and more provide credibility while exposing your offering to fresh audiences. Read on for tips on identifying and activating the best affiliate and partner opportunities to grow awareness and drive sales for your next product launch.
Define Partner and Affiliate Criteria Relevant to Your Goals
Before reaching out to potential partners, clarify the types of collaborations aligned with your launch objectives. Ask these questions:
- Do you need large influencer partners for mass awareness or micro-influencers with hyper-targeted niches?
- Are website partnerships wanted to gain placements on high-traffic portals?
- Is sales commission revenue sharing with affiliates a priority?
- Would co-marketing with non-competing brands fit well?
- Do you need content-focused tie-ups like sponsored podcast appearances?
- Are cross-promotions through online communities wanted to tap member bases?
- Do guest posts on industry blogs make sense for an SEO boost?
Defining success metrics and ideal partner attributes ensures you pursue collaborations strategically, not just based on vague buzz.
Identify Relevant Influencers, Brands, and Creator Communities
Now conduct research to identify specific influencers, brands, affiliates, and communities well-matched to your launch.
Use Online Listings and Directories
Consult influencer marketing platforms like Upfluence, Grin, and Klear to find options. Narrow by location, demographics, niche/category, and audience size.
Search press release distribution sites like PRWeb and PR Newswire for journalists and publications covering your industry. Use media databases like Cision to find relevant outlets and reporters.
Seek out affiliate aggregators like Refersion, LeadDyno, and Post Affiliate Pro to browse potential affiliates promoting similar products.
Check Competitor Partnerships
Study partnerships and co-marketing your competitors or companies in adjacent spaces use. Their collaborators likely make sense for you too.
Ask Your Audience and Contacts
Survey your customers and email list about who influences their purchases and content they consume. Ask industry friends for partner referrals too.
Get Social Media Insights
Use Facebook and Instagram audience insights to see top interests, brands, and influencers your current audience follows. Search related hashtags on TikTok and Twitter to find creators.
Join Online Communities
Sign up for relevant online forums and groups to get a sense of influencers and contributors respected by communities in your niche. Engage to build connections.
Follow Links and Mentions
Notice who industry articles link to and mention. Follow share and backlink data through tools like BuzzSumo and Ahrefs.
Research Potential Partners Thoroughly
Once you’ve identified initial prospects, do in-depth research before reaching out to ensure they’re truly a fit. Vet for these traits:
Review the partner’s existing content and messaging. Make sure it fits tonally and topically with your brand versus contradictory.
Analyze their follower demographics and interests. Look for significant overlap and relevance to your target customer profiles.
Assess follower counts but also engagement rates on their posts. High follower numbers mean little if interaction is low.
Gauge how much influence and trust they wield in their communities based on response levels, mentions, links, etc.
Cost and Terms
If budgeting for paid sponsorships, factor in typical fees for sponsored posts, affiliate commissions, etc. Also understand common contractual terms.
Credibility and Quality
Review content and community interactions for professionalism, integrity and production quality you’re comfortable aligning with.
Taking time to thoroughly vet potential partners beyond surface details ensures you pursue collaborations providing real value, not just vanity metrics.
Prioritize Partner Recruitment Strategically
It’s tempting to cast a wide net reaching out to all prospects for partnerships surrounding your launch. But ineffective shotgun style outreach risks oversaturating and diluting your efforts.
Instead, thoughtfully prioritize recruiting partners most likely to provide impact. Focus on:
Engage partners creating content tightly aligned with your product niche, category and target demographics. Don’t stray far outside your vertical.
Influencers with the most engaged followers offer the biggest potential awareness lift, even if absolute numbers are lower than celebrities. Prioritize quality over quantity.
Factor cost into impact evaluations. Amplifying a post across a micro-influencer’s small but devoted audience can deliver better ROI than a broad celebrity.
Content-focused collaborations allowing links back to your site like guest posts offer extra traffic lift. But quality links are essential—avoid spammy placements.
Affiliate partners earning commissions on direct sales have added incentives to promote you. But match payouts to expected sales value.
Big brand partnerships may offer less immediate sales impact but help build legitimacy and general awareness about your offering as “news”.
With strategic partner prioritization as your roadmap, outreach efforts stay focused on cultivating the collaborations with the highest launch value.
Customize Outreach Pitches to Each Partner
With target partnership prospects identified, it’s time to reach out. But copy-pasting generic, spammy invitations is unlikely to elicit responses. Treat each prospect individually.
Research to reference details like:
- Their name and company
- Previous content relevant to your offering
- Couplings with other brands you could emulate
- Interests and causes that connect with your values
- Community responses and engagement showing their influence
Use what you learn to customize pitches demonstrating you understand their brand and audience—and why supporting your launch makes sense.
Construct compelling subject lines like:
- Join [Brand] in celebrating 10 years of growth
- Collaboration Opportunity
And send from a named employee, not a generic email alias like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personalized touches backed by specifics prove you see them as more than an abstract metrics vehicle. They’re potential partners.
Suggest Exclusive Opportunities Not Mass Emails
Partners want to provide their audiences value through access or perks only they can. So when proposing collaborations, think:
- Could you offer the partner an exclusive product reveal, discount code or early access not available elsewhere?
- Could they share a unique perspective on your origin story or product development journey?
- Is there opportunity to co-design a limited item, package or experience for their followers?
- Could you commission a custom piece of content like an article, video or podcast episode tailored to their audience?
- Are there openings for them to moderate or guest post in your company community channels?
Unique opportunities add incentive for partners to sign on and give their followers reason to engage. Don’t just ask to piggyback on their platform. Offer value.
Lead with Benefits Partners and Their Followers Would Receive
Too often, partnership pitches lead with self-serving language about how collaborating will benefit your brand through exposure, links, sales, etc. This repels partners focused on serving their own audience.
Instead, flip the script to explain how working together benefits partners and readers. Talk about:
- Exciting exclusive offers, discounts and VIP access for their followers not available to general audiences
- Special insights and behind-the-scenes looks at your company you’ll provide
- Enriching content, discussion and engagement opportunities for followers
- Your role supporting partners through cross-promotions, raffles, donations, etc.
The old adage “what’s in it for me” applies. Lead pitches by selling benefits partners’ audiences would enjoy. Hook them first, benefits second.
Have Clear Next Steps and Calls to Action in Outreach
Don’t conclude partnership requests with vague language like “Let me know if you’re interested in collaborating. I’m open to ideas!” This leaves burden on partners to determine next moves.
Make it easy to say yes by proactively including:
- A menu of proposed collaboration formats like sponsored posts, bundles, giveaways, etc. as a starting point
- Links to media kits, product guides, logos, images and other assets needed to support types of partnerships
- A calendar showing availability you have for co-marketing initiatives in the launch window
- Prompt responses confirming receipt and your availability for a call to detail specifics
The more turnkey you make saying yes, the higher conversion you’ll see. Remove obstacles to progressing discussions.
Follow Up Politely If No Initial Response
Don’t view lack of response as automatic rejection. Partners get inundated with requests and messages can slip through cracks in overflowing inboxes. Follow up, politely and persistently.
Send no more than 1-2 polite nudge emails, using subject lines like:
- Checking in on potential [Brand] partnership
- Following up re: Request for [Website] partnership
- Circling back on [Brand] collaboration proposal
Avoid passive aggressiveSubject lines like:
- Ignoring potential partnership?
If ultimately unresponsive, politely accept the dead end and move on. Never harass partners or demand explanations.
Move Discussions Offline to Finalize Details
Once a partner expresses interest, move the conversation offline to collaborate directly, whether by:
- Scheduling exploratory video call to discuss goals for both sides
- Sending over proposed term sheets or contracts to negotiate
- Joining community Slack/Discord servers to detail plans with moderators
- Meeting in person for local partners to brainstorm ideas
In-depth conversations allow shaping win-win collaborations tailored to both parties rather than one-sided. But document agreements in writing before launching to avoid disputes.
Maximize Range of Partnership Formats
As you finalize partnerships, explore the full spectrum of options for collaborating:
- Affiliate marketing – Offer commission on sales through tracked partner links and promo codes
- Influencer posts – Sponsor posts, stories and videos promoting your product
- Guest articles – Contribute articles to partner blogs to share your expertise
- Giveaways/contests – Provide items participants can enter to win through partners
- Bundled deals – Offer partners’ followers discounted combo deals pairing your product with their products or services
- Live events – Sponsor or appear at partner conferences and meetups
- Community partnerships – Sponsor partner forums and member communities in exchange for access to their audience
- Co-branded products or content – Develop specialized offerings together combining both brands
- Cross-promotions – Swap ads, social shares, mailings, etc. promoting one another.
- Podcast interviews – Appear as a guest expert on relevant shows partners host.
A diverse affiliate and partnership strategy ensures you tap every opportunity to expand your launch reach, not just the most obvious tactics.
Create Partnership Packs with Assets to Support Promotion
Make it as easy as possible for partners to promote your launch by providing turnkey assets in a partnership pack or media kit. Include:
- Product information – Fact sheets, guides, specifications, etc. Partners need details to describe offerings accurately.
- Description templates – Pre-written product descriptions and blurbs adaptable in their own voice.
- Founder bios – Background information on leadership team for interviews and stories.
- Images and videos – Logos, product shots, lifestyle images, founder headshots, b-roll footage for content creation
- Product samples – Provide test units, trial accounts, beta access, etc. for hands-on reviews
- Quotes and testimonials – Quotes from executives and testimonials from early customers usable in their content.
- Content calendars and embargos – Share timing details on announcements and launches partners can reference
The more promotional building blocks you provide, the simpler integrating you becomes. Offer everything partners need at their fingertips.
Coach Partners on Aligning Promotion With Your Messaging
Thoroughly brief partners on your product, brand, objectives, and desired messaging approach. Cover:
- Core differentiators, benefits, features to emphasize
- Ideal positioning, framing and terminology
- Customer pain points and problems you address
- Competitive comparisons you want to drive
- Calls to action you want to drive like signups, purchases, downloads, etc.
Ensure press materials accurately represent details to prevent incorrect information in coverage. But also allow reasonable creative freedom to use messaging resonating with their unique audience.
Feature Partners Prominently in Your Own Launch Content
Just as partners’ audiences represent exposure opportunities for your launch, your owned platforms offer reach for cross-promoting partners.
Spotlight collaborations through:
- Blog and social media posts announcing partnerships, cross-linked to partners
- Quotes and excerpts from partner-created content like reviews
- Prominent featuring of partner logos, products, and guest appearances on your site
- Giveaway and contest prizes supplied by partners promoted to your audience
- Co-produced content like joint webinars and videos together
The partnership shouldn’t feel one-sided. Use your platforms to build up partners’ brands among your followers too.
Make it equally turnkey for partners to share news of the collaboration with their own following. Provide assets like:
- Draft social media copy they can easily post announcing the partnership
- Quotes from your executives welcoming the collaboration they can include
- A blog post or news announcement you’ve already written that they can share or adapt
- Images from co-produced content to showcase the partnership in action
- Links to any joint promotions, contests or activities followers can participate in
This makes it trivially easy for partners to amplify the partnership on their channels also. Reduce all barriers.
Post Regular Updates During the Launch Period
Don’t just partner with influencers and affiliates pre-launch then disappear. Keep them updated and equipped with assets to promote milestones throughout the entire launch period.
- New announcements like partnerships, hirings, etc.
- Updated sales, traction or customer testimonial highlights they can cite
- Press coverage, podcast and media appearances for them to react to
- User-generated content like reviews and unboxings they can spotlight
- Ongoing promo codes and special offers to keep their audience engaged
- deadlines and reminders on giveaways or special promotions ending
Maintaining open communication ensures you fully capitalize on partners over the course of the entire launch, not just at the start.
Measure Partner Impact and Learn for Next Time
It’s crucial to track quantifiable results from partner marketing activities to determine ROAS and optimize future collaborations. Assess:
- Sales or signups directly tracked through partner promo codes and affiliate links
- Traffic referred to your site and landing pages through partner content
- Social media volume and engagement on partner co-promotion posts
- Especially successful assets, offers or content formats for iterating
- NPS or satisfaction scores collected in partner feedback surveys
Analyzing success metrics helps focus budgets on partnerships and activation types delivering the highest ROI while phasing out underperforming collaborations. The data informs evolution of even more effective strategies.
Partnerships with influencers, media companies, brands, community leaders and more provide fuel to significantly amplify your launch reach and sales. But truly productive alliances require thoughtful recruitment, mutually-customized value exchanges and hands-on support equipping partners to represent you effectively to their networks.
With the right strategic approach, affiliate and partnerships become force multipliers far surpassing the impact possible solely through owned channels. So make partnership cultivation a priority from the earliest planning stages of your next product launch. The expanded exposure and credibility make the effort well worthwhile.
- 1 Affiliate and Partner Marketing to Expand Your Launch Reach
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 Define Partner and Affiliate Criteria Relevant to Your Goals
- 1.3 Identify Relevant Influencers, Brands, and Creator Communities
- 1.4 Research Potential Partners Thoroughly
- 1.5 Prioritize Partner Recruitment Strategically
- 1.6 Customize Outreach Pitches to Each Partner
- 1.7 Suggest Exclusive Opportunities Not Mass Emails
- 1.8 Lead with Benefits Partners and Their Followers Would Receive
- 1.9 Have Clear Next Steps and Calls to Action in Outreach
- 1.10 Follow Up Politely If No Initial Response
- 1.11 Move Discussions Offline to Finalize Details
- 1.12 Maximize Range of Partnership Formats
- 1.13 Create Partnership Packs with Assets to Support Promotion
- 1.14 Coach Partners on Aligning Promotion With Your Messaging
- 1.15 Feature Partners Prominently in Your Own Launch Content
- 1.16 Share Assets for Partners to Easily Announce the Partnership
- 1.17 Post Regular Updates During the Launch Period
- 1.18 Measure Partner Impact and Learn for Next Time
- 1.19 Conclusion