Earlier this morning affiliates of a program — which positions itself as one lead by a “full-time affiliate manager” — received an interesting email. Here is an excerpt from it (with sensitive information removed):
In attempts to make our group of affiliates stronger and to provide a better experience to our customers we are going to be making some changes to our program. The first change we are making is one that will create stronger relationships between [Merchant's Name here] and our affiliates. In order to do this we are going clear out all of our inactive affiliates that have grown to a large number through the years. This should make it so that we can keep a better eye on who is performing and be able to provide certain promotions and incentives to the ones that will benefit most. Please respond to ensure that you are kept along with the active affiliates during these changes.
In order to “create stronger relationships” with affiliates or make things more manageable for the affiliate manager? Somehow, it feels like more of the latter (than anything else). After all, “clearing out” affiliates from a program isn’t the best way to strengthen relationships.
The “please respond to ensure that you are kept along with the active” ones part is also a bit confusing. It seems that going through the purge, they are saying: if you reply to our email, we’ll give you a second chance.
Overall, the above illustrated way is one of the worst approaches an affiliate manager could take. Last month, when discussing the question of “retaining” affiliates, I pointed out that when it comes to affiliate programs — where in the vast majority of cases only between 5% and 10% of affiliates are active — we should be focusing on activating the stagnant ones at least as much as we’re focusing on recruiting new affiliates. Experience shows that when activation is taken seriously, an affiliate manager may bump that 5%-10% number to 20%-25%. So, if “inactive affiliates have grown to a large number through the years,” treat it as an opportunity! You didn’t make them join your program in the first place. It was their decision, and they likely had a plan for you. Revive the relationship by offering them reasons to activate. Don’t just kick them out!
Looking at the age of the affiliate program whose manager sent out the above-quoted affiliate notification, I believe that they have around 3,000 affiliates aboard. If 10% of them (300 publishers) are active now, and smartly-crafted activation campaigns can increase this number at least two-fold, we’re talking about adding 300-450 more active affiliates tapping into your existing database of already-signed-up affiliates. What an opportunity, isn’t it?! I hope they will see post, and reconsider their approach.
Furthermore, if they don’t know how to do it, I am willing to do it for them free of charge. In fact, if you’re reading this, and you are in a similar situation, contact me today. If such numbers of your affiliates are inactive, I believe that the opportunity is so obvious that I will work with you on performance basis only.