Are you feeling like you’re not getting the most out of your affiliate partners? It happens. But before you go out hunting down new ones to work with, ask yourself: when’s the last time you went out of your way to work with them and actually motivate your affiliates? Just like retaining customers instead of finding new leads, it’s much easier and more cost-effective to retain affiliates and get more out of them. Here are 10 ways you can motivate them to do more.
At the end of the day, money talks. While increasing commissions is the easiest lever to pull, it obviously will cost you more cash to execute. Take a good look at your current commission rates against your margins and see if there is any room to increase.
Also, keep abreast of what the general ranges are in your vertical. For example, fitness commission rates range around 12% to 15%. If your rates are lagging behind what you see online, it may be time to reevaluate your commission structure overall.
Time-specific commission bumps.
If you don’t have the cash to permanently raise commission rates, another way to go is to have a limited-time bump during certain weeks or months of the year. This strategy is already popular during the holidays, but you certainly don’t have to limit it to the end of the year.
Does your company have sales increases at other times on the calendar? That’s a good spot to have a limited time increase in your commissions to capitalize on the increased activity. Conversely, maybe you have a sales lull during certain months. You can juice conversions there too with this strategy.
Make sure you communicate this short-term bump with your affiliates well before the time comes to make the most of their increased efforts.
Random sales bonuses.
An extra five dollars that you expect from a payday isn’t that exciting. Finding five bucks on the side of the road? That’s very exciting. It’s because when a bonus is unexpected, it’s all the more impactful. Leverage this serendipitous feeling by rewarding random bonuses to an affiliate’s sales.
For example, let’s say an affiliate typically gets a 20% commission on a sale. After one transaction, shoot them an email with an extra 20% and a note saying how much you appreciate their work. Be clear that it’s a one-time bonus, and it’ll be a nice boost in confidence for the affiliate. And now that they know these random bonuses exist, they will be more motivated in the future.
Consider setting aside one “random bonus” for each affiliate throughout the year. Reward it staggered and create more goodwill throughout your growing network.
Send product samples.
Many merchants start strong with sending free samples to their affiliates when they first sign up, but eventually that fades out. If you haven’t sent out a goodies basket in a while, consider doing so either in light of the “random bonus” idea above, or as an ongoing effort to educate your affiliates on your business.
Another good rule of thumb is to send two (or more) of each item: one for the affiliate to keep, and one explicitly meant to give away. Not only is this a great way to increase word-of-mouth of your brand, but you might find another great new affiliate to work with.
Provide content (images, text, videos).
Being an affiliate marketer isn’t easy. Continually coming up with content on their own can definitely take a toll. It’s isn’t called a “partnership” for nothing! So motivate your partners to post more frequently and be more engaged by providing some content for them.
Yes, it’s time consuming, but you as the brand and source should always be the leader of creating the type of content your affiliates should be aspiring to make. By setting the example with what you produce, it’ll help them spark even more ideas for their own posts.
Need some ideas of your own? Check out our previous post on creative content ideas.
If someone feels a part of something bigger, it can often be a great motivator especially if they already feel proud to be associated with the brand. And if you’ve chosen great affiliates and influencers, they most certainly are! Continue this momentum with co-branded pushes.
If they are a larger influencer with a big following, consider a co-branded event (where you shoulder most of the cost, naturally). Be it an actual live meetup, or a virtual “event” such as an Instagram contest or a live Q&A with their fan base; these co-branded events are great ways to associate them closer with your brand, and make them feel part of the family.
For smaller affiliates, consider a simple co-branded landing page. It doesn’t take much to create, and it will help them feel more legitimate as they are working with your brand. This landing page will be on your company’s site, but have your affiliate’s logo and clear messaging that welcomes their click-through visitors (perhaps even providing an exclusive discount too).
Example of a co-branded landing page via AM Navigator.
An affiliate newsletter.
It’s always great to highlight affiliates and give top-performing ones a spotlight so that a) that affiliate feels more a part of the brand, and b) gives other affiliates something to aspire to, as well as tips on performing better. An easy way to do this is to have a specific newsletter dedicated solely to your affiliate network.
You can fill this newsletter with content ideas, new products or services you’ll be launching, but you can also dedicate a portion of it to highlight an affiliate partner’s success. This doesn’t have to happen every month if you don’t have many affiliates, but quarterly if need be. Have a quick interview of who they are, what they do to draw in customers, and their tricks of the trade.
Gift content creation tool bundles.
Being a content creator can be an unexpected expense. Bloggers to photographers to videographers need equipment and software to do right by your business as they post to social media or their own websites. Ease their cost, as well as provide more tools for them to create with, by gifting them useful items.
For example, do they work with images? Corel’s PaintShop Pro, a Photoshop equivalent, is (at the time of this writing) $60. Video editing? Vegas Movie Studio is $50, and a robust piece of software for basic needs. Depending on what their content needs are (stock photos? Premium blogging software? A larger DropBox account?), you can gift them the tools that will help them grow.
Everyone thrives on healthy competition. We mentioned spotlighting successful affiliates in the newsletter, but there are more direct ways to make a “game” out of your affiliate program.
For example, institute an X-streak bonus that unlocks a higher commission rate; say, four consecutive weeks with at least one sale that unlocks a 10% bump. Or, have a visible “leaderboard” that your affiliates can visit to see how they rank in sales compared to the others.
An example leaderboard from Mvix.
Gamification is common among sales departments across the world. There are plenty of success stories, including at Hewlett-Packard where they saw a revenue increase of up to 44% using this strategy. Done right, it can be a huge motivator for your affiliates that thrive on competition.
We harp on this point because it honestly is the most effective way to motivate affiliates. The top reason that affiliates don’t produce is that the merchant doesn’t put in enough effort into communicating with them. Like any relationship, dialog is how it will thrive.
Make time to hold office hours where affiliates know you’ll be available each week. Hold one-on-one calls monthly with your top affiliates to ask them how things are going and what support they may need. Create a virtual “suggestions box” where affiliates can anonymously provide honest feedback. Use an affiliates-only Facebook group to communicate and run surveys to see what they need and how happy they are.
And don’t forget to provide positive affirmations! Kind words and thank yous will go a long way to generating goodwill between you and your partners, and certainly more incentive for them to work harder for your business.
Bonus tip: In-person Events
While all the above tips are actionable by just about every business, we’ve also found great success with in-person meetups. Understandably, this is costly and very dependent on where your business is located, but if you are in a major metropolitan area (or in one for some reason), hosting a get together for your reps, clients, and customers can elevate brand loyalty and enthusiasm.
Yelp holds member parties to encourage usage and reviews, and it has helped them develop a fervent community of Yelpers. If your business has the means to swing such an event, test out the waters and see how well it can galvanize your base.