Every time I launch a new affiliate program for a client, and affiliate-referred sales start rolling in, the client gets happy. Then a few weeks into the process, clients start getting impatient. “So when, when will we get the real super affiliates to start pushing us?” — they ask.
I believe that a little fishing analogy explains how things really work. But before I get to it, let me mention a few things as an introduction. Unless at the time of starting your affiliate program your company is already one of the major brands (either per the Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Retail Websites list, or per the Fortune 500 lists, or any other widely recognized rankings), you will have to do some convincing to get those super affiliates on board. In this particular context your most convincing argument is your affiliate program’s statistics. On Commission Junction, for example, prior to joining your affiliate program, affiliates are able to review your 3-month and 7-day EPC [definition here], as well as your program’s ranking on a 5-bar scale which reflects the program’s performance as compared with the other affiliate programs on CJ. On ShareASale affiliates can see your EPC, reversal rate (a very important metric that many other affiliate networks do not disclose), average sale amount, and average commission amount — all in the course of 7 and 30 day periods.
If your brand is not as big as the ones on the above-quoted lists, and you do not have a proven track record in the affiliate marketing industry, you’ll have to start from scratch. You will have to first hook the “smaller fish” to use the performance that they will show in your program as bait for the “bigger fish”. Of course, this is only an illustration, and I hope it does not offend anyone. I want to emphasize the importance of smaller affiliates here. First of all, they will help you build your new program up to make it more attractive to bigger affiliates; and secondly, you never know which one of them will be the next super affiliate. So, be patient, persistent, and attentive to the needs of all affiliates who have chosen to join your affiliate program, and the success will follow.