Nearly every prospective client that calls me – be it a small one-man-show business that has just started a website, or a large corporation with years-long online presence – asks the same question: “How many affiliates will you recruit for us; and how quickly?” The desire behind the question is clear. The belief is that the quantity of incremental sales/orders is directly proportional to the quantity of affiliates recruited. Alas, my friends, it seldomly is so! In fact, it is wrong to approach an evaluation of an outsourced affiliate program manager (OPM) with this question. It is equally wrong for OPMs and/or affiliate networks to charge merchants for the number of affiliate sign-ups, but it’s a topic in itself, and I will not develop it in this post.
What merchants need to understand is that a recruited affiliate means nothing until the affiliate activates his/her account! Power affiliates know this, and unlike many of the ‘newbs’, often activate their accounts immediately upon joining an affiliate program. Connie Berg of FlamingoWorld.com, for example, admits: “I have to activate and get links up right away or I forget to activate”, and she does.
Besides understanding that affiliates need to activate their accounts, it is also important to distinguish between the quality of affiliates. A banner farm type webpage that has your creative up with a dozen of other merchants’ banners is nowhere close in quality and value to a blogger that writes on the topic of your niche. Remember Gandhi’s famous phrase “It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity”? The centuries-old truth is still the same (affiliate marketing is no exception): quality always prevails over quantity.
To summarize, do not worry about the numbers of affiliates recruited. Focus on what really pushes sales. Work on recruiting (or having your affiliate program manager recruit) quality affiliates, and activate ’em while they are hot.