If you have run an affiliate program of any size, you know that the proverbial Pareto Principle – also known as the “80/20 Rule” – doesn’t apply here; at least not “by default.” The disheartening reality is that, when it comes to affiliates programs, it turns into more of a 95/5 rule, where only 5% of affiliates are responsible for 95% of activity within your affiliate program.
Also, when analyzing such KPI as activity index, or the percentage of affiliates active in your program, many advertisers and managers arrive at something between 8% and 12%.
However, in the affiliate programs where we strongly focus on affiliate activation, we notice that the activity index can rise to 20% or higher.
I strongly believe that, in addition to conversion rate optimization, affiliate activation is one of the two most effective ways to boost any affiliate program’s performance. But how do you go about it? Here’s a 3-step process that has worked well for my clients:
Step 1: Determine what constitutes “activity”
There are three basic ways to define affiliate activity: (i) as a display of links, (ii) as a referral of traffic, and (iii) as conversions (be they sales, leads, calls, subscriptions or whatever it is that you seek). Prior to talking about affiliate activation, make sure that you (the advertiser), your affiliate program manager, and your affiliates are all on the same page as far as what an “active” affiliate means.
Step 2: Embed calls-to-activation right from the start
While very few affiliate managers do it, I recommend encouraging affiliates to get active right from the first time you’ve invited them into your program. Motivate them to put up your links both in your recruitment, and in your approval emails. Incentivize this type of activation by offering them commission increase(s), longer cookie life, or cash bonuses.
Also, in your approval email, include a performance-based incentive – one that would presuppose additional extrinsic motivators upon customer referrals. The goals may range from one sale (with a first-sale bonus as a motivator) to a specific number of conversions within a certain time period past their approval into the program. Make sure your goals are realistic.
Step 3: Make activation an indispensable part of management
Those 90%-95% of inactive affiliates aboard your program joined it not because you made them join. They had an idea on how they would promote you, but for some reason they never got to it.
Segment the inactive affiliates into a separate group (or three groups – each corresponding to the above-outlined types of activity), and every time you send your affiliate newsletter, customize it towards the group, providing (a) compelling reasons for them to activate (be it conversion or EPC data, success stories of other affiliates with all sensitive information removed, of course), and (b) ongoing incentives for them to get active.
Remember, the number of recruited affiliates is irrelevant. It is the number of active ones that matters. So, activate them continually, compellingly, and contagiously.
Prussakov runs AM Navigator OPM agency, chairs Affiliate Management Days conference, speaks, writes, blogs, consults.
This article appeared in issue 24 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in October 2013. Read issue 24 of FeedFront Magazine.