Welcome to the fourth edition in the Affiliate Series. The purpose of these articles is to share best practices to help you get the most out of your affiliate program.
Catch up on the previous three articles, here:
- So You Created an Affiliate Program—Now What?
- 3 Simple Tips for Recruiting Successful Affiliate Partners
- How to Effectively Communicate with Your Affiliate Partners
In this piece, I am discussing tips for keeping your affiliate partners involved in your program. A successful affiliate program largely depends on keeping your affiliate partners interested and active. This is often easier said than done. One of the most common struggles in the affiliate space is activating affiliates immediately following recruitment and keeping them engaged over time.
The best place to start is by understanding and defining what having active affiliates means to you. And then following up with the appropriate planning and consistent communication.
Keep reading to learn how to get the most out of your affiliate program by keeping your partners engaged.
Define and Categorize Your Affiliates By Activity Level
One metric for affiliate activity is by measuring an action—like sales, leads, etc.—no surprise there. However, clicks can also indicate affiliate activity and effort so they should be considered as well to better understand how you can grow your program.
From there, you will need to define a time frame such as the past month, three months or six months and identify which of your affiliates have very few, little or no action and/or have not driven any clicks. You should then separate that list into different groups based on their activity. For example, a list for those affiliates with zero actions and zero clicks, another list for affiliates with zero actions and some clicks, and finally a list for affiliates with a few actions and a few clicks.
Having your affiliates organized into groups based on their activity level will help you create segmented messaging. In the next section, I will demonstrate how you can create messaging for specific groups.
How to Engage with Inactive Affiliates
It is highly recommended that you prioritize the affiliate groups you engage with. For example, you can start by focusing your efforts on the group of affiliates that have a few actions with a few clicks, then move on to engage with the affiliates with zero actions with some clicks, and finally, you can work with the group with zero actions and zero clicks.
The first two groups are likely to be the most responsive since the clicks indicate that they are interested in promoting your campaign but may need some guidance or assistance. You may also have some affiliates that were very productive in the past, but have since been less active, identifying those affiliates and reaching out to them personally could rebuild that relationship.
With all of this in mind, the message you send them should be encouraging and motivational, expressing your appreciation for having them as a part of your program, while making suggestions on how others in your program are finding success, or asking if they require any additional resources that might enable them to better reach their audience. For example:
Thank you so much for being a part of our affiliate program. We have noticed that you have generated some traffic to our site, which we really appreciate, but your audience has not yet made a purchase. We’ve found that using direct links to our product pages instead of the generic link to our company page when sharing information about our products increases the conversion rate of visitors significantly.
Some affiliates are also finding quite a bit of success with sharing product reviews with their audience or linking our products in the “Software I Use” section of their websites. If you haven’t tried either of those options, it could help drive some additional sales from your site.
Please let us know if you require any additional resources or there is anything we can do to make promoting our products easier for you.
Incentivize Activity with Bonus Offers
Sometimes the effort of an affiliate within a given program is determined solely by their return on the time they invest. In this case, offering an activation campaign to affiliates is the perfect way to jumpstart some activity within your affiliate pool. You can offer a higher commission percentage for subsequent months if a milestone is reached, or even offer a bonus once an affiliate makes their first sale of a month.
Plan to send out a message in advance explaining the activation campaign offer including the timing, rewards, and terms so affiliates that wish to participate can plan ahead. An activation campaign can also be used to incentivize content creation if you offer to reward affiliates for NEW content they create such as a video review, blog post, etc. Try to match the activity you are promoting with the goals of your overall marketing program to maximize impact.
For example, if you have an upcoming product release planned you might want to have as many product reviews at launch as possible, or if you have a seasonal sale, running an activation campaign at the same time serves double duty as an option for affiliates to earn more money, while offering their audience the best price on your product.
At the end of the day, it comes down to consistent and concise communication with your affiliate partners. Building and maintaining an affiliate program takes time and effort. You have to find the right mix that works for your unique product and affiliate program.
Visit the FastSpring website to learn more about FastSpring’s Affiliate network.