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Size Does Matter: Affiliate Incentive Programs

Smart bosses know that employee appreciation programs with meaningful incentives are the best way to maintain a happy and productive workforce.  In affiliate marketing, it’s no secret that affiliates put more effort into promoting for managers and networks that show their appreciation through realistic incentives. Too often, affiliate rewards programs backfire because they were implemented with a “one size fits all” mentality. I’m here to tell you that size does matter. While offering the same incentives to all affiliates is certainly easy and convenient for the affiliate manager, some affiliates – specifically the top producers – might see the reward as an insult.  Offering a bonus to affiliates who double their sales in a given time frame sounds generous on the surface, but it will be next to impossible for your rock star sellers to achieve that level. As a result, they will pour their efforts into programs that offer more attainable goals.

Size Matters. We’ve all heard of the 80/20 rule: 80% of your traffic is driven by 20% of your affiliates. The bottom line is that your top performers are essential to the success of your program, and you need to show your appreciation in a meaningful manner. When creating the perfect affiliate incentive program, ask yourself how your rewards program will impact your top-tier affiliates. Will they see it as a true incentive or a punishment?

Develop an LTIP. Consider a Long-term Incentive Plan (LTIP) for top money-makers who consistently maintain or exceed a pre-determined level of sales. Maybe that takes the form of an increasing commissions ladder where for every year an affiliate stays with you and maintains top-tier status, his or her commission automatically bumps up a rung.  You could also offer a milestone incentive program that rewards loyalty and pays out at the three- to-five year mark. The benefit of offering an LTIP is that you retain quality affiliates in exchange for, hopefully, some measure of loyalty.

Create a STIP. If an affiliate rewards program has an LTIP, it should also have a STIP. You guessed it: Short-Term Incentive Plan.  This could be something as simple as a limited-time bonus offer that encourages affiliates to bump their sales by a pre-set percentage by a certain date. Or, you could offer an increased commission on a particular product or category. This works well if you have extra inventory or a new product to promote.  Again, size matters. You should create one program for your middle- and bottom-tier partners and a separate program for your superstars.

In addition to providing a means to show your appreciation to your partners, incentive programs have the added bonus of encouraging affiliates whose sales linger in the middle-to-low range to step up their game.  Ideally, your goal is to gain more top-tier performers.  Once your mid-level affiliates realize that they can successfully convert on your products, they will likely keep up their increased performance level and recognize that size does matter.

Blake Bidar
Blake Bidar
Digital Marketing Professional specializing in performance-based lead generation and online sales. I have over 6 years of experience within the Digital Marketing industry, as well as 15 years of experience in various sales, service, and account management roles. I quickly learn new concepts and adapt to new environments, effectively manage simultaneous projects and nurture positive team environments which lead to excellent project results.


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