This article was contributed by our partner Grovia Partners.
Imagine this: you are planning the party of the century. You invite all your friends, celebrity guests, the whole neighborhood, and two bands! You send custom, hand-crafted invites to all of your guests, and in return receive hundreds or thousands of RSVPs.
It’s finally the day of the party and guests start to arrive in masses. But then it dawns on you. You forgot to pick up food, beverages, a sound system, and worst of all, the fire dancers canceled last minute… This is much like trying to launch an affiliate program without having an activation plan in place.
Affiliate marketing (or partner marketing) certainly can be a lucrative channel for many brands, but many folks forget this vital step as they get started. You can spend hours upon hours recruiting for your affiliate program, but if you fail to properly activate your affiliates, all these recruiting efforts go down the drain.
What Is Activation?
Activation is sort of an affiliate industry buzzword, so what exactly does it mean? An activated partner is one that has successfully driven a sale or conversion for your affiliate program. Enabling new affiliates to reach this point is similar to the practice of Sales Enablement. I’ll refer to the experts in Sales Enablement, Highspot, for a definition:
Sales enablement is the strategic, ongoing process of equipping sales teams with the content, guidance, and training they need to effectively engage buyers.
Like Sales Enablement, activation is about equipping your affiliates with the tools and education they need to generate sales. To some extent, activation is binary. An affiliate has either generated sales, or they have not. However, continued enablement can take affiliates from the generating sales stage to the absolutely crushing it stage (also an industry term). To start, let’s talk about how your affiliates can get some points on the board!
From 0 to 1
In order for affiliates to start generating sales, you’ll need to communicate effectively, build a relationship, and provide any content or information that will enable your affiliates to confidently promote your brand. It all starts with the sign up.
If you’ve already got a rock-solid recruitment plan, the first step in activation is the sign up. Most marketers don’t even consider this, but it is smart to eliminate as much friction as possible in the sign up phase. Truthfully, some affiliates are more savvy than others. You don’t want to push a rookie influencer through Pan’s Labyrinth. Keep it simple and safe.
You’ll want to make sure the affiliates that sign up actually meet your qualifications for being in your program. Spend the time to ensure they aren’t shady individuals by checking out their content, websites, and social channels. If they meet your standards, approve them for your program!
When it comes to discovery and recruitment with affiliates, we talk a lot about scalable and personalized outreach. This means reaching a large audience with a personalized and meaningful message. This same idea applies to activation.
When enabling newly recruited affiliates for success, a Welcome Kit (or Activation Kit) is the perfect way to get them started on the right foot. Your Welcome Kit should provide everything your affiliates need to start driving revenue for your business, as well as educational content to help them better understand your products, services, and brand.
Terms & Conditions
The Welcome Kit is a good place to translate your program terms and conditions into layman’s terms. You want to ensure your affiliates completely understand what is and isn’t acceptable in your program.
The Welcome Kit should include information about what constitutes a commission, how often they receive it, and what payment solution will be used (i.e. PayPal). Including a section that details the specifics of payouts will make sure there’s not confusion upon their first conversions.
Content Best Practices
Another helpful addition to the Welcome Kit are examples of successful affiliate marketing content. You’ll inspire your affiliates to get started with content of their own, and you’ll establish what good looks like in your program.
Media, Branding, and Messaging
If you have any media you want to provide, such as banner ads or product photography, include it in the Welcome Kit. This is also a great place to detail how you want your brand portrayed — do you have examples of product messaging? How do you usually position your product? This information can help accelerate an affiliate’s first sales.
Keep in touch with your affiliates. An affiliate relationship is a partnership after all, so be sure to regularly chat with them. At Grovia Partners we use an automated system linked to Refersion that nurtures new affiliates with activation enablement content until they’ve made their first sale. This can make all the difference in motivating your new affiliates to learn about your products, brand, and program.
From 1 to 100?
“10% of your affiliates drive 90% of your sales”.
The Welcome Kit is where many companies stop their affiliate enablement. At Grovia Partners, we believe ongoing, scaled enablement is the best way to ensure your affiliates stay motivated, engaged, and converting!
We see a number of strategies for ongoing affiliate enablement. Here’s a couple:
Sales Enablement Software
Look at tools like Highspot or Seismic. While these tools are originally designed for enterprise sales enablement, they’re also perfect for large-scale affiliate enablement. These tools are the perfect platform for training new affiliates, influencers, and affiliates at scale. An integrated enablement platform like Highspot or Seismic delivers a single pane of glass for affiliates to discover content, guidance, training, and engagement. Further, they provide you insight and analytics into what content is most consumed, and provides an opportunity for your affiliates to review your enablement content and provide feedback.
We see many companies delivering ongoing training videos to enable their affiliates. This content can also be hosted in a platform like Highspot or Seismic. These videos will review best practices, deliver stories from high-performing affiliates, detail the latest affiliate offers, and provide inspiration for increasing conversions!
Bonuses & Incentives
Everyone responds well to additional income. Many brands choose to offer bonuses and incentives to top-performing affiliates. These rewards can include cash bonuses, paid vacations, gift cards, and more. This is a great way to motivate affiliates and spark some competitive spirit.
The Bottom Line
Activation and affiliate enablement are critical steps in accelerating your affiliate channel growth. Refersion’s platform offers a number of tools to efficiently activate affiliates. Grovia Partners has integrated with Refersion to offer automated activation capabilities, including triggered delivery of Welcome Kits, affiliate stage management, and automated cadences to drive new affiliates towards activation.
If you’d like to learn more about how Grovia Partners and Refersion work together to accelerate affiliate recruitment, get in touch with an expert here.