Possibly the Best Way to Boost Affiliate Program Performance

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UPDATE [of 8/23/2012; 7:32 pm ET]: By the end of Day 8, we’ve had 2 more affiliates react to the follow-up email which bumps success rate to 42%.

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As an outsourced affiliate program management agency we have recently took aboard an aged affiliate program. Having analyzed their current situation, we have discovered the program’s activity index to be at around 12.5%. No, in a market where the average fluctuates between 5% and 10%, it wasn’t bad at all.

However, we have also noticed that they’ve had a good number of super affiliates aboard — many of which were either moderately active, or inactive altogether. It is, actually, normal for bigger affiliates to sign up with new affiliate programs as they get launched on the network (and this one was an affiliate network-based program). Yet, however unfortunate, it also common for some of them to never “activate” the relationship with the merchant.

So with individualized/personalized emails we reached out to the 50 power affiliates (in our case, the program was on Commission Junction, so those were 5-bar affiliates) who were either moderately active, or stagnant. No, we did not offer them a commission increase or bonus for activation. We suggested an exclusive offer (for each) coupled with a co-branded landing page to increase conversions. And here are the results we’ve registered so far:

  • Activation emails sent: 50 (100%)
  • Bounce-backs: 0
  • Day 1: 6 positive replies (12%)
  • Day 4: 1 positive reply (2%)
  • Day 7: follow-up email -> 11 positive replies (22%)
  • Day 8: 1 positive reply already (2%)

Since we’re only on Day 8 now, we do not yet have enough data to truly quantify (in sales increase numbers) the activations that have already happened. However, the very fact that within 1 week we’ve activated 38% of the top echelon affiliates (who were either under-performing or plain stagnant before our outreach), spending under 1.5 hour on this, is worth blogging about.

Having said this, in light of the time at which this post occurs [i.e. (i) we’re waiting on more responses, and (ii) we’ll do at least one more follow-up/reminder] do expect a “Part Deux” post on the topic in 4-6 weeks time. But even now we can confidently state that with (un)/(under)managed affiliate programs the above one may well be the best and quickest way to improve the overall affiliate program performance. So, do take a serious look at that list of strong affiliates that are aboard your program, but aren’t yet producing substantial results.

About Geno Prussakov

CEO & Founder of AM Navigator – an award-winning OPM agency. Founder & Chair of Affiliate Management Days conference. Author of bestselling "A Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing" (2007) and "Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day" (2011), speaker, consultant, and affiliate marketing evangelist.

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7 Responses to “Possibly the Best Way to Boost Affiliate Program Performance”

  1. […] Possibly the Best Way to Boost Affiliate Program Performance, http://www.amnavigator.com […]

  2. Thanks for this. I have a similar method EXCEPT I did not do a follow up email. Need to add that. Do you ever work through the account managers in network like CJ?

    • Apparently, that’s a HUGE “except”, Stephanie. With only 14% of affiliates replying to the original activation email, and then (already) 28% reacting (yes, double the numbers of the original response!!) to the follow-up, I can’t wait to do our 2nd follow-up (and there will be one)! :)

      Yes, we do work with/through account managers when it comes to larger affiliates. We treat them as a good communication channel. After all, email just doesn’t work with some affiliates. And then (when phone isn’t an option, for snail mail we don’t have a good address, and email isn’t working) “account managers” is the way to go.

      You?

  3. Anil says:

    Another insightful article Geno. Something I will test out.

    Just to clarify when you say you ‘an exclusive offer (for each)':

    – What kind of offers? Like coupons, trial periods, free trials, bonuses for their customers (for example free book with every purchase)?
    – Is that 50 different offers (1 different for each affiliate) or 1 offer for all 50.

    • Anil, glad you’ve enjoyed the article. Yes, this is definitely worth your try.

      To answer your two questions:

      1) In this particular case we’ve offered them exclusive coupon codes.

      2) We’re trying to exceed their expectations, and while offering “an exclusive code” in the activation email, we’re, actually, creating two for each. Yes, time-consuming; but then again: we’re talking affiliates of such caliber where a couple could make a difference. And we’ve already had 21 (42%) respond favorably.

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