Motivation by Threat Never Works – Especially with Affiliates!

Posted on4 CommentsCategoriesAffiliate Program Management

Every email sent to an affiliate threatening them with “termination” unless they do something (and here it doesn’t matter what the affiliate manager is asking for — putting up links, traffic referrals, or lead/sale generation) is a big thick nail in the coffin of the affiliate program. Even in traditional management contexts threats are demotivating. How could anyone expect them to work in performance marketing contexts? I just don’t understand it…

Here’s a video from one of my Affiliate Summit presentations where I spoke on the topic:

Speaking in Alexander Hiam’s words, we want to present affiliates “with opportunities to succeed instead of telling them what to do”. Merchants should always remember that affiliates were the ones who have chosen to work with them — to invest their effort, time, and money into the promotion of the merchant’s product/service. And that step of theirs should be valued. It — as well as the very idea of performance-based remuneration! — should also dictate our approach to affiliate motivation.

4 thoughts on “Motivation by Threat Never Works – Especially with Affiliates!

  1. Timely post. I’ve noticed a flurry of Get Active or Get Out e-mails for the new year. I received one from FootSmart today.

    I just don’t understand the thinking. It would seem that the goal of Internet marketing is to have as many links up as possible, distributed throughout the Internet.

    Get Active or Get Out implies that not only must the links be up, but they must drive traffic, and even sales. If I was a business owner and heard about my AM doing sending these types of e-mails I would be livid.

    Link volume, in itself, has value and each link is just one event away from being a big money earner.

    1. Thank you for your comment, James. Yes, the logic there is just out of place… As for the timeliness: sadly, posts on this topic are always timely. I can only hope they reach the right ears.

    2. Good post. I’ve been seeing more of these emails, too. The other thing you see a lot is something like, “You haven’t done anything for us.” The implication is that we’ve not put in any effort, we’re “inactive”. The truth is that, speaking personally, I’ve put in time, researched the niche and their site specifically, made at least one page for their product, added links & backlinks, done advertising….. What they may mean is they want you to bring in more money than you have and faster. But to say or imply that we’ve not done anything for them is off-putting. It’s as unfortunate for us as it is for them.

      1. Great point, IM. It is terribly “off-putting” to put in the time and effort, and then be told that you haven’t worked hard enough… or, worse yet, be kicked out of the program (without any prior notification). This was precisely the (sad) tendency I wanted to address.

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