Getting affiliates to promote your product is not as simple as it was in the 90's, when affiliate marketing was new. In the beginning, you literally just hung up a shingle and sales started pouring in overnight!
Ahhhh, that was when the internet was young, affiliate programs were in limited supply, and many paid outrageous commissions. I do miss the good old days... however, that was then and now is now! In 2017 it takes a lot more work than it did in 1999, but if you are organized, creative, and persistent, you can create a "rock star" affiliate program in no time!
Engaging affiliates is vital to increasing your affiliate channel sales. There are several ways you can do this, and I have listed them in order of ease and effectiveness below:
Communicate With Your Affiliate Group:
If you using one of the popular third-party networks, such as ShareASale, Commission Junction, or Impact Radius, you will have a wonderful newsletter tool at your disposal for creating robust HTML newsletters for your affiliates.
Take the time to put together a professional template for your newsletter with a custom graphic identifying your affiliate program, and include all of your contact information. Make sure you put in the code so affiliates can cut and paste their individual links ( with their personal ids) directly from the newsletter into their websites.
Telling someone to log in to the network to grab their links is basically stone age advice, and should be avoided. Affiliates value their time, so make it easier for them to work for you by providing their links in the newsletter!
Communicate Directly With Your Individual Affiliates:
If you are contacting your affiliates using the internal email tool in your third-party network, you are probably wasting your time. Most affiliates don't log into the networks to check their mail more than once a year, if that. If you have an affiliate sending you sales, take the time to find that affiliate so you can open a direct dialog with them.
Here are some ways to figure out how to communicate with your affiliates:
- Google Search ( search their name, site)
- LinkedIn ( connect, write)
- Use the contact form on their website to find out direct contact info
- Use multiple networks.. if you can't find their contact information in CJ, check Avantlink, etc...
- Attend industry events and meet with key players face to face
- Check domain registration to see if their contact info is listed there
Get a plug in to track mail opens. If you write affiliates, keep track of who actually opens your emails... if they don't get opened, more than likely you have a bad email and need to continue searching for a valid way to make contact.
Create Customized Bonus Campaigns To Get Affiliates More Active:
Once you have established a solid way to communicate with affiliates, and are sure they are seeing your communications, you can be creative with exploring ways to get affiliates more active with promoting your program!
We don't recommend a commission increase unless it will make a solid impact on affiliates. For example, I recall countless affiliate managers offering a 1% or 2% increase in commissions. Honestly, that type of commission isn't even worth the time it takes to read about it, lol.
Choose a reward structure that means something to the affiliate.. something they will actually want to earn. We have found that offering something an affiliate might not normally reward themselves with is highly effective.
For example... if you offer children's products, and most of your affiliates are mommy blogs, offer something to them they won't be able to pass by.
Here are some carrots to dangle for increased performance:
$25 Amazon Gift Card for X sales
$25 Starbucks Gift Card for X sales
Gift Certificate for two movie tickets and popcorn to their local theater for X sales
$50 Outback Gift Certificate so she can take hubby to dinner for X sales
$50 spa certificate to have her nails done for X sales
The options are only limited by your imagination.. but the bottom line is, offer something they will want to work for!
Set Attainable Goals:
You should strive to make your goals require some effort to reach, but not set them so high that affiliates don't bother trying. I recall companies who had a $25 product throwing out bonus campaigns where you earned a $100 bonus for having $5000 in sales.. when no one would ever have $5000 in sales. When you throw promotions out like that, no one will waste their time trying.
On the other hand, if your average affiliate has $150 in sales every month, $200 in monthly sales might be a reasonable number for affiliates to hit. An affiliate can see this number and feel positive that they can just tweak a couple of things to reach the higher number, and if the bonus is enticing enough, they will put forth the effort to earn it! As affiliate sales climb, you can increase the criteria for future bonuses.