I am signed up with a number of affiliate programs for the purpose of monitoring their promotions and affiliate motivation methods; and the day before yesterday (on March 17 at 2:05 pm) one program manager has sent me a newsletter which started with the following text:
I wanted to follow-up with you regarding the Tractor Supply Activation Campaign as our reports show your site has not yet generated any sales with our program for the past 6 months. We want to help you make the most of our partnership and begin generating steady revenue.
Exclusive One Time Offer!
We have extended you a 7% Private offer now through March 31st as an incentive to become active in the [Merchant’s Name] program. Please log into your [Affiliate Network’s Name] account to accept this offer to take advantage.
AND, as an extra incentive…
Generate $500 sales during this time frame and we will extend the 7% private offer through April 30th.
I am not mentioning the name of the company, because it is really irrelevant here. I will use them as an example of how this could have been handled better.
The default affiliate commission in this program is 5%. They have raised it to 7% for me for 14.5 days in March, and are telling me that if I generate $500 in sales during these 14.5 days, they “will extend the 7% private offer through April 30th”. And then what? Then it’ll drop back to 5%. Well… Maybe not. Maybe it will stay at the 7% mark through the end of the next month if I generate $500 (or will it be $1000 for the full month) in April too, and so on.
Here’s why I do not believe it’s a good incentive:
Anything that involves a commission drop isn’t a good idea. It just doesn’t go down very well with affiliates. Once you’ve raised that commission for them, either keep it at that level, or at the very least, give them a longer-term perspective (e.g.: keep generating $500 in sales every month, and we will keep you at the “private offer” level). Another option, which may even be more attractive (as dollar amounts are generally much more enticing than percentages), is offering your affiliates a cash bonus for performance.
For example, if $500 in sales over 14.5 days makes economic sense for you to give affiliates extra 2% in commissions, they why not offer them an automatic $10 bonus on every batch of $500 in sales sent in? After all, it is a fairly small gratitude as it is; so why cut it back at any time?
Also, when bonuses are tied to a time period (say, all sales through the end of Spring will qualify you for a $20 bonus per every $1000 sales sent in), it comes across much better than a temporarily raised commission level.
Affiliates reading this, I would also appreciate your input if you want to post it in the “Comments” area below.