Affiliate Activation Campaigns to Re-energize Affiliate Partners

When it comes to most affiliate programs, it truly is quality, not quantity. Since the bulk of your revenue will come from a fraction of your entire affiliate pool, it’s important to always be reaching out to potential new affiliates. Just imagine if the majority of your revenue comes from just three or four major affiliates. Then imagine two or three of them leave your program for a competitor’s. Or maybe they just shut down their business for good.

Yes, just like with a financial portfolio, you should always be diversifying. And that means bringing in new clients, as well as keeping the top affiliates happy. But another key area to consider is your stagnant affiliates. The ones who signed up with your program a year ago, or two or 10 and for whatever reason never really took off. The best way to reach them? That’d be an activation campaign.


What is an Activation Campaign?

An activation campaign is a high falootin’ phrase that basically means “light a fire under your affiliates’ keesters.” It’s generally a short-term campaign to inspire and reward your lower-performing (or non-performing) affiliates. This could be through a variety of means like a sweepstakes, revenue increase or straight payout.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to an activation campaign, other than the fact that the desired results are all the same: Get non-active affiliates more active. Every campaign can be different and you very well may have to try a few different approaches before you find the one that works best with your audience.


Eye on the Prize

The best way to incentivize anyone to do anything is by offering a reward. In this case, you’re looking for affiliates to do a better job of optimizing and promoting your program. So the first thing you need to do is decide on exactly what you want to offer in the campaign.

You have a lot of options at your disposal. You can simply offer an increased commission throughout the campaign timeframe itself, or even suggest that if they achieve X number of sales during the timeframe, that they’ll get bumped to that higher commission rate for the next month (or even quarter). Generally you should shoot for a 1 or 2-month stint for an activation campaign. That gives affiliates enough time to jump on board and try to achieve your goals.

You can also offer a flat bonus, such as a $25 bonus once you have your first sale during that timeframe. If your website sells products, you may even want to consider giving away something of value that your affiliates may actually want. The cost will be less for you and a neat reward for them.

Additionally, you can run an incentivized contest. It’s best to narrow the participants to your less-active affiliates, or else your top dogs will steal the show and your inactives won’t even bother participating. Just be sure to let the participants know that they’re all on a fairly even playing field, since they’re mostly inactive affiliates. Then pick the timeframe and set some goals: the affiliate with the most number of sales (or most sales dollars earned) in the timeframe wins your mega big prize. The bigger your prize, the better your shot at participation. Offer up a few hundred bucks, something fun like an iPad, or a huge commission increase.


Pick Your Partners

Once you’ve figured out your timeframe, prizes and campaign structure, you just need to finalize one piece: the participants. Give yourself some criteria to target. What’s most important to you: sales, impressions, clicks, dollars? Pick one and then look for affiliates who haven’t hit a certain threshold. Maybe it’s affiliates who have 0 sales in the past quarter. Or publishers with 0 clicks this month.

You can certainly pick more than one criteria if you’d like. It all depends upon how large your pool of affiliates is as well as how many inactive affiliates you’re looking to kickstart again. Once you’ve made your criteria, do a search and put your list together. Be sure to save that list, as it’s your Bible for the success or failure of the campaign.


Keep in Touch

Once you’re ready, put together a short and effective email blast explaining the campaign. Be sure to explain all the details, including the criteria for success, deadlines and prizes. It’s also a good idea to make it as easy as possible for affiliates to participate. So in your email, include affiliate URLs for your site. Use homepage links, best sellers, coupons, sales, whatever will help them make a sale.

You’ll also want to reach out to your campaigners at least 2 more times during the life of the campaign, depending up on how long you’re running it for. Send a reminder about halfway through, and then a final “last chance” reminder about a week before the campaign ends.


An Unexpected Bonus

When the campaign ends, send a thank you email to everyone for participating and dole out the loot. You also need to claim your prize: success! Run reports on everyone you invited to the campaign. How many actually saw an increase in clicks or impressions? How many had sales? How much money did it make? This data will prove crucial to you. Now don’t be discouraged if only a very small handful of affiliates joined in and had success. You’re looking to kickstart a few solid affiliates with huge potential. They could quickly grow to become one of your big guns in no time at all.

Another benefit of running an activation campaign is that you can use it to clean house. If you’re program’s been live for five or more years, you probably have hundreds, if not thousands of affiliates who do nothing more than take up space in your database. After this campaign, kick those inactives out of your program. They’ve done nothing for you in the past and they continue to do nothing for you even after a big campaign push. So weed out the non-growers. It’ll not only make your affiliate pool a tighter, more manageable group, but it’ll increase the value of those in your existing pool.

Now, go out there and get active!