RITS Approach to Activating Affiliates – By Geno Prussakov

by Sara Szado on January 26, 2016

feedfront-33 cover-188x240Many advertisers complain that the vast majority of their affiliates are inactive, yet very few put the time and effort into making activation easy.

Over the years, as I have observed and audited various affiliate programs, I couldn’t help but notice a characteristic shared by the more successful ones – the ease of integration for affiliates to enjoy.

There are four key elements to this, and they can be leveraged in any affiliate program. These elements are easiest to remember as an acronym – RITS. Here’s how it breaks down:

• Resources (to educate). Even before an affiliate joins Walmart.com’s affiliate program, they are able to dive into it via “Walmart Affiliate Link”, which provides prospects with access to the latest blog posts about the program, shows them the creatives they’d get access to, and explains (via FAQs and TOS) how exactly this relationship would be structured. MOO does the same, additionally providing handy video User guides, where, in a “how to” format, they show how to join their affiliate program and activate your account.

• Incentives (to motivate). A classic example is Amazon’s volume-based commission scale. Everyone starts at 4% payout, but once an affiliate refers seven orders in any given month, their commission is increased 50% (from 4% to 6%). Zappos, on the other hand, while not offering a sliding commission scale, incentivizes incremental business by compensating affiliates five times higher when they refer a new customer: 5% commission for return customers, but 25% for new customers. Besides your performance incentives, do consider offering activation-geared incentives. For a long time, Checks Unlimited, a top affiliate program on ShareASale, used to offer a $5 incentive for affiliates to put up links to them.

• Tools (to equip). Whatever you can do to make things easier for them, do it. Walmart, for instance, created a WordPress plugin that analyzes affiliate’s blog post and when it finds “text that matches a set pattern, it” converts it “to a paid Walmart.com link.” Overstock.com empowers developers by offering them API access to their product catalog. Amazon offers both “Product Advertising API” and also makes their affiliate program attractive to mobile app and game developers via their “Mobile Associates” API.

• Support. The main challenge that affiliate program managers face boils down to this: marketing (their program) to marketers. You can succeed by (a) building relationships and (b) supporting a constant and consistent communication channel. In 2009, responding to Econsultancy’s Affiliate Census, 64% of affiliates expressed their unhappiness with the way advertisers handled communication with them. 12% complained about the lack of communication, 18% said they only get “indirect communication through a network,” and 34% characterized communication as “limited.” In 2013 AffiliateBenchmarks discovered that affiliates’ top-preferred method of communication, chosen by over 62% of respondents, is “direct personal email.” Additionally, AffStat 2015 discovered that more than a third of affiliates deem relationships “crucial” in their choice regarding affiliate programs to “join, promote” or “terminate.”

Go on now – reevaluate your own affiliate activation strategy against the RITS mnemonic.

Prussakov runs AM Navigator affiliate management agency, chairs Affiliate Management Days, speaks, writes, blogs, consults.

This article appeared in issue 33 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in January 2016. http://issuu.com/affiliatesummit/docs/feedfront-33

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