Why We Don’t Have Any Affiliates – By David Vogelpohl

by Jenae Reid on September 8, 2016

feedfront-35-cover-188x240Getting rid of all the affiliates in your affiliate program is a big move. In this article, I’m going to tell you how you can get rid of all your affiliates, and why it can be one of the greatest things you’ve ever done for your affiliate program.

The word “set” has 464 unique definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary. That’s the most of any word. I’m pretty sure if industry definitions were included, the word “affiliate” would have been crowned king.

“Affiliates” can be defined by any number of things, like the types of businesses they are, monetization models, and verticals within which they operate. Ask a stranger at the next Affiliate Summit what they think an “affiliate” is. You’ll likely be shocked by the answer.

So if we’re all confused, how confused is everyone else?

Outside of our industry, the word “affiliate” conjures up everything from a neck-beard wielding basement troll to large companies working as agents for other companies. Typically, the perception of what an “affiliate” is, is based on a person’s past professional experiences and random articles they have read.

This perception gap with reality can confuse the internal teams you work with, people you hire, and even the affiliates themselves. This is why we made the epic decision to get rid of all the affiliates in our affiliate program.

We started by identifying what types of businesses were in our program. We had bloggers, tools, publishers, ecommerce, membership sites, agencies, arbitrageurs, and a handful of other types of businesses. We looked long and hard, but we couldn’t find any affiliates. Step one, complete.

Once we realized that the entities in our affiliate program were actually types of businesses, we made one fundamental change to our vernacular.

We stopped referencing “affiliates” as “affiliates”. Our publishers, bloggers, tools, and agencies were called by the type of business they were and not a loose linguistic construct. We downplayed references to the “affiliate program” and focused more on words like “referrals” and “commissions” as it related to the context of our partners’ businesses.

Affiliates became more engaged and more responsive to our prospecting efforts. Our focus on their types of businesses helped us also identify opportunities to create custom tools and campaigns designed specifically around the verticals of the businesses in our program. The affiliates loved it.

The result in this change in mindset has helped us create one of the highest sale-active affiliate ratios in affiliate marketing (even with an open program), and an affiliate team that is tuned into the needs of the businesses who promote us.

The first step in getting rid of your affiliates is to realize they’re not “affiliates” at all. They’re businesses who deserve the respect of calling them what they are. Focus on them, and then they’ll focus on you.

VP Web Strategy, WP Engine. Over twenty years’ experience in the affiliate marketing industry.

This article appeared in issue 35 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in July 2016. https://issuu.com/affiliatesummit/docs/feedfront-35

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