The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.
The first step is finding out what would be considered valuable to your clients. This can vary based on your clientele and the nature of what you’re offering. If your clients are part of an interactive online community you might consider something that differentiates them from their peers. For example, if you’re in the video game industry you could offer a character armor set as a referral incentive. If you feel like your clientele/fanbase is ravenous, you can offer referrers early access to your new products. Dropbox offered additional free storage to clients who convinced friends to sign up for the service.
Many small and medium businesses can join a business network such as BNI (Business Network International) which has chapters all over the world to help its members promote business through referrals. Each referral is much more valuable than a lead as conversion rate could be near 90-100% while a qualified lead gained from any other forms of marketing have one-fourth chance of being converted to business.
If affiliates don’t answer your offers in the affiliate network, it’s time to put your sales hat on and perform some email outreach. There are a lot of different cold email template strategies to use, but the five easy steps to a good cold email are: creating a list of targeted affiliates, finding the right contact information, making the emails personal, providing value, and following-up.