How to incentivise your affiliates and encourage them to promote you

When asked ‘Which attributes would encourage you to work more closely with an advertiser?’ affiliates ranked ‘Affiliate Incentives & Promotions’ number 5 out of a possible 12 answers, according to the European Affiliate Marketing Landscape Report released last year. With thousands of merchant affiliate programmes in existence, you need to not only make sure you are offering regular incentives and promotions that make your programme attractive, but that these offers stand out from the crowd and bring affiliates on board. A well planned promotion engages your affiliate base, and better still, encourages new publishers to join your programme.

What do you want to achieve?

In order to plan out your affiliate incentive, you need to make sure you set out your objectives. What exactly is it that you are hoping to achieve from running a promotion? Do you want to increase affiliate sales? Reactivate your affiliate base? Attract more affiliates, or gain additional exposure from your existing affiliates?

What doesn’t work

A mistake I once made many years ago when starting out in affiliate marketing, was to offer a Christmas prize to the affiliate who generated the most revenue throughout the month of December. In hindsight it was pretty obvious which affiliate was going to win the prize, with zero additional effort on their part. During the course of this promotion the smaller affiliates will have felt very much left out, feeling there was not much point in taking part as they were never going to win the prize.

A lesson learnt here; make your affiliate promotion as inclusive as possible. A low barrier to entry ensures that as many affiliates as possible can enter your promotion. A promotion that seems far out of reach will discourage the smaller affiliates from participating. By ensuring every single affiliate can enter, you are maximising the potential exposure of your programme. Don’t neglect your small affiliates, as you never know, that small affiliate today could be a superstar tomorrow.

What does work

Performance based incentives

Offering incentives to the most improved publisher, based on a percentage increase in performance from one month to the next, rather than simply handing a prize to the publisher with the most sales, is a better way of including all your affiliates. It is also a fantastic way of re-engaging your inactive affiliates, especially if the rewards are something worth promoting you for.  There are a number of rewards you could offer your publishers; increased commissions for a set period, a one-off bonus payment, a generous bespoke discount code, or a money can’t buy reward.

Prize draws

Prize draws that offer money can’t buy rewards, such as VIP events or tickets to a sold out show, are very appealing prizes. The latest gadget or console may have been a great prize a few years ago, but the chances are if a publisher wants the latest iPad, they will probably go out and buy it for themselves. The affiliate marketing world is full of affiliates making a lot of money, and offering an iPad as a prize has been done so many times, it is nothing new. Red Letter Days are well known for offering amazing incentives at Christmas, such as a 7 night stay in Rio, and a holiday for 2 in Beijing. Whilst your budget may not stretch to such a prize, it is worth thinking out of the box and offering something unique to your affiliates, especially around the festive period when there are no end of affiliate promotions and incentives.

Tiered volume targets

You can offer a set of rewards based on tiered volume targets. For example, if an affiliate hits £1.5k revenue in a 30 day period, they get a one off bonus payment of £10. If an affiliate hits £3k revenue in a 30 day period, they get a one-off bonus payment of £20, and so on. You can mix the rewards up to offer prizes, bonus payments and increased commission rates. A tiered volume promotion rewards both your small and large affiliates.

Simplicity is key

Don’t over think your affiliate incentive. Keep it simple, to the point and explain the promotion clearly. Give the affiliate everything they need to go ahead and promote you; provide creatives, landing pages, deep links and images.

Make sure your affiliates know exactly what they need to do to participate, and also make it clear what the rewards will be. If a promotion sounds too complex, it will probably be dismissed by affiliates.

Finally, keep your promises

It is important that you stick to your offer, and follow through with your promises. Make sure you are offering something you can stick to. It may be worth starting small and gauging response to your promotions. You can grow your incentives as your affiliate base grows.