15 Affiliate Program Promotion Ideas to Keep Affiliates Engaged


So you’ve launched your affiliate program and hopefully invested some time and effort into marketing it and recruiting affiliates. Now you can rest easy and let sales flow, right? Wrong! You need to focus on affiliate program promotion.  It is the only way to make sure that your affiliates remain active and engaged. It may also help you activate and engage new and stagnant affiliates.

New programs are launched all the time, and your competitors are surely doing something to steal your affiliates or divert their attention. You need to motivate yours and keep them close through any means available. One way of doing that is by becoming their leader and supporting their growth. Another way is to run various affiliate program promotions and contests.

But coming up with attractive ideas for your promotions and contests can be challenging. This is especially true when you have a tight budget to stick to and a long period to cover. Should you give up? Under no circumstances! You just need to find your inspiration and learn from those who are already doing it successfully. Here is what you can do:

We decided to help by laying out a few affiliate program promotion ideas that our agency has tested throughout the years. You will find most of them described in Geno’s Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day. As you review them, remember that the key to success is keeping things fun. Your affiliates are not in this just for the money. They will appreciate a good laugh, a challenge, an interesting idea.

15 Easy and Effective Affiliate Program Promotion Ideas

1. Better Base Conditions for Select Affiliates

Do you want to steal a top traffic driver from a competitor, convince a top reviewer to give your product the upper hand, or engage specific types of affiliates? Offer them better conditions than your standards. Thus, if your standard commission is 20%, consider increasing it to 25%. If the standard cookie life is 90 days, you could extend it to 120 days.

You can make the preferential base conditions permanent or temporary. For example, they could apply only during the first month or three months from the affiliate’s joining date. They could also apply to a specific number of transactions (5, 10, or 50).

ShareASale encourages this practice by allowing merchants to set individual and group commission rules for their affiliates. They also make incentives mandatory for their Recruitment Tool. Merchants wanting to use it in order to invite publishers to join their program are forced to set an incentive.

It can be a flat amount, an additional percentage to the standard commission, or even a commission multiplier. It can apply to all transactions, a specific number of transactions, remain valid forever or only for a specific number of days.

ShareASale affiliate program promotion ideas

Remember that the better base conditions can be offered anytime, not just when onboarding a new affiliate. For example, you could offer them to niche affiliates during low sales periods. You could motivate them to promote you more aggressively and, thus, generate more sales.

2. Giveaways

Affiliates love gifts, even when they have to work for them. Those who are only building their way in the industry love them even more and often see them as encouragements. You do not even have to spend too much. Here are some affordable giveaway ideas:

  • Domains – You can look up domain names suitable for promoting your products or services and register them for just a couple of bucks. Such small investments could have huge returns once the new affiliate websites go live and start promoting your products and/or services.
  • Products or subscriptions – Besides rewarding your affiliates for their performance, you also encourage future promotions. The products or subscriptions will enable your affiliates to test them, know them better, and review them on their websites or social media profiles. This type of affiliate program promotion works especially well for new-product or service launches.
  • Tools – All marketers use tools for SEO, social media, working with data feeds, checking content grammar and originality, etc. Offering them access to such tools could be a great way to show your appreciation of their efforts and help them improve their performance. You cannot go wrong with tools like SEMRush, Yoast, Hootsuite, Grammarly, etc. You could lower costs and obtain even better results if you manage to convince developers to create co-branded versions, perhaps with limited functionalities and upgrade options.
  • Passes to industry and affiliate marketing events – We’ve already explained that these events are excellent affiliate program marketing opportunities. You could also use them as an opportunity to meet and lay the foundation for a closer collaboration with your super affiliates.
  • Gift cards or credit – They can be for your own products or services, Amazon, or one of your collaborators. They can have any value and remain valid for any given time period. As you review various options, focus on personalization and context.

3. Performance-Related Commission Increases and Bonuses

Your goal is to sell as much as possible, and motivating your affiliates to sell more could be a way of accomplishing it. You can set milestones or targets for your affiliates to reach starting from your and their current sales levels, and increase their commission or award them a bonus when they reach their target.

For example, if you have an affiliate driving close to $10,000 sales every month and earning a 10% commission, you can increase their commission to 15% on all sales or only on those exceeding the $10,000 threshold. Another option is to pay them a fixed bonus, like $100 on every 100 or 1,000 products sold.

Do not hesitate to use the same system on your low-performing affiliates. Reach out to them with private offers or set lower bonus thresholds. Your goal should be to have as many active and successful affiliates as possible. This way, you will not depend on one or two to drive most of your sales, and you will not be affected if one of them stops promoting you.

Before you promise any bonuses or commission increases, do your math. Calculate all your costs and earnings and make sure you can afford those commissions and bonuses. The last thing you want is to discover that you’re paying money that you don’t have or you can’t keep your promises to your affiliates and have to drop commissions.

4. Arithmetic Progression Bonuses

This type of bonus system is great because it allows you to engage affiliates from all categories. As the name suggests, you calculate it by arithmetic progression: you set a common difference and increase the bonus on every sale by that difference. For example, if you leave the common difference at $1, you pay $1 bonus on the first sale, $2 on the second one, $3 on the third one, and so on.

You can also apply the bonus to every given number of sales. For example, you can use $5 as the common difference and apply the bonus to every five sales. This means you would pay $5 on the fifth sale, $10 on the tenth sale, $15 on the 15th sale, etc.

5. Celebrations

Everyone loves celebrations, especially when they bring about promotions, contests, and bonuses. Therefore, find several reasons or occasions to celebrate with your affiliates. If you can’t think of any, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Company launch datecelebrations for affiliate program promotion
  • Website launch date
  • Affiliate program’s launch date
  • Flagship product launch date
  • CEO/founder’s birthday
  • Industry-related events (invention or discovery of main material)
  • Round numbers of customers/subscribers/social media followers/sales, etc.
  • Merchant ranks or ratings
  • National and worldwide awareness days
  • National holidays

Create a representative image for each celebration. Build your promotions around the numbers, dates, or products that you are celebrating. Lay out the details of your promotion, and email your affiliates in advance. It is important to give them time to prepare, announce their participation, devise their own strategies, etc..

Let’s say you are celebrating 10 years from your company launch. You can:

  • Increase the commissions your affiliates earn during the following 10 days by 10%
  • Offer a $10 bonus on every 10th sale of that day or for the following 10 days
  • Set up 10 prizes or give away 10 products to reward various performances, etc.

The idea is to personalize your promotions and give your affiliates a sense of belonging while also making things fun and interesting. You will be surprised at how responsive affiliates are to such initiatives and how easy it is to engage them and keep them hooked.

6. One-Week Affiliate Program Promotions

You could organize such promotions in the first week of every month or season and allow their consequences to expand over the rest of the month. To keep things fun, build every campaign around a different idea.

You can give the week a fun five-letter name (HAPPY, CRAZY, NEWBY, SWEET, etc.), use the first five letters of the alphabet, the numbers from 1 to 5, or the colors of the rainbow. Assign a letter, number, or color to every day, and build a promotion around it or dedicate an activity to it.

Ideas for Letters

A – Answer, Analysis, Award – You can ask questions about your products or services and reward the correct answers, analyze average program results and reward affiliates exceeding them, award various performances.

B – Bonus, Bounty, Banner – Pay a bonus to all affiliates for the sales driven that day, pay a bounty for every affiliate or sale referred that day, or create a personalized banner for the affiliate who drove the most sales.

C – Coupon, Conversion, Clicks – Make available a coupon valid for exactly one week, reward the affiliate with the highest conversion rate or the affiliate who drives the most clicks.

D – Domains, Deals, Datafeed – Give away free domains, launch a new deal, or reward datafeed affiliates.

E – Evolve, Elevate, Evaluate – Reward affiliates with a positive evolution, elevate commissions, evaluate and reward affiliate performance, content, etc.

Ideas for Numbers

Associate the number of the day with any of the following:

  • Domains given away
  • First or highest value transactions rewarded
  • Bonuses every x transactions
  • Free products
  • Percentages of commission increase
  • Days of sales, increased commissions
  • Program enhancements announced
  • First affiliates to reach a threshold

Ideas for Colors

Associate each color with a product or service, or use its significance to reward various affiliate activities and performances. For example, red can be about affiliates who have shown you the most love by promoting your products or services exclusively. Yellow could be about newbies or affiliates who have just joined your program and are already driving results.

Green could be about growth and sustainability, about affiliates who are constantly growing or deliver consistent results. Blue could be about hope, promises, loyalty.  You could connect orange with ripeness, experience, content quality.

In the end, it is all about connecting words and meanings. The goal is to give your promotions a dash of fun, a positive general message, and some consistency. It is up to you how often you run these campaigns or what their consequences are.

They can impact only the respective day or week, the rest of the month, or even several months. Generally, affiliates lose interest with time, so rather than extending a campaign over an entire year, it is preferable to organize several different campaigns.

7. Bonus Weeks

This affiliate program promotion idea works especially well for activating and motivating new and stagnant affiliates. They involve paying bonuses, cash prizes, higher commissions, or offering gifts to affiliates who manage to drive certain performances during the respective week, for the respective qualifying actions.

Depending on your goal and program specifics, you should make sure that the bonus you are offering is accessible to the affiliate category you want more involved. Thus, if you want to engage new or stagnant affiliates, rewarding the highest sales may not work.

You may want to focus on traffic, promotion of specific products or services, first sales driven by the respective affiliates, highest sale value, etc. Although the bonuses offered during the respective week may affect your profits, they should be worth it in the long run. Once an affiliate puts up your links and starts driving sales, chances are they will continue to do so long after the bonus week comes to an end.

8. Double, Triple, or 100% Commissions

Sometimes, it pays to double or triple your affiliate’s commissions over a short period to see the results you want in the long run. This may happen when the respective affiliate doubles or triples their usual performance, exceeds a given threshold (number of sales or gross sales amount), or drives sales on a specific category of products or services.

Common examples of such affiliate program promotion campaigns include:

  • Double your last week’s or average weekly sales (be careful how you calculate the average) during the following week and we will double your commission.
  • Generate sales of at least …….. during the following X days, week, or month, and double or triple your earnings.
  • Sell at least X pieces of that product and earn twice the commission you would normally gain.

There is no telling if your affiliates will succeed to double or triple their commission but they will at least try. Moreover, even if you have to pay double or triple commissions to a couple of affiliates, others will sell more for the same commission, so you should be able to put up with the temporary increase in costs.

The same goes for 100% commissions. They may seem unacceptable at first. However, the idea is to pay the 100% commission on every several transactions. It is up to you to do the math and decide if you can afford to pay it on every three, five, or ten transactions. Just remember that every sale on which you pay the 100% commission is accompanied by several more sales at standard commission.

9. Tiered Commissions or Bounties

Besides awarding your affiliates with increased, double, or 100% commissions, you can also pay them a commission or bounty for referring other affiliates. Consider offering them a percentage of the commissions the affiliates they refer earn or a fixed amount when the referred affiliate drives their first sale.

10. Lotteries

We all love them, even though we know that odds are not on our side. Your affiliates will love them too, especially because they all have a chance, no matter their performance. Besides, lotteries are a great way to communicate important details to your affiliates and help them know your products or services.Affiliate program promotion lottery

For example, you can draw their attention to your highest sales value by asking them to guess the chronological order of the transactions with the highest value.  You can familiarize them with the prices of your products by giving them transaction values and asking them to guess to which products or services they refer.

You can also reward the affiliate who refers the 5th, 10th, 100th, or 1000th transaction of the day, week, or month, or transactions with round reference numbers. Just make sure that your affiliates have a real shot at winning. Do not go overboard mixing tens of numbers or asking for the impossible, though, or no one will participate.

11. Creatives’ Week

Perhaps you already have a comprehensive set of affiliate creatives your program on a network like ShareASale which allows affiliates to generate creatives for any products or pages on the merchant’s website.

If you do not, it might be a good idea to organize a free creatives’ week. You can set a week for your affiliates to send you requests for different types of creatives and a timeframe within which to get back to them with the respective creatives.

You may find this affiliate program promotion idea costly or time-consuming but think of it this way: if your affiliates ask for specific creatives it’s because they need them and they will use them. Perhaps the ones you have do not match their needs and that is why they haven’t been promoting you so far.

12. Cash for Everything

We’ve already discussed how you can use cash (commissions, bonuses, bounties, etc.) to engage affiliates as part of the above affiliate promotion ideas. This idea involves combining all of the above monetary affiliate program promotion ideas in one day, week, or several days intervals.

For example, you can offer a bonus to affiliates who drive their first (and second) sale from joining your program. A bonus can be granted on every fifth or tenth sale. Another one could reward the affiliate who drives the highest number of sales or the highest amount, etc. Don’t hesitate to combine flat amounts with commission increases, 100% commissions, and other monetary incentive ideas.

13. Personalized Offers and Co-Branded Creatives

Your affiliates will appreciate something created especially for them. It can be a commission increase for a limited time period, bonuses on reaching various thresholds, coupons available solely to them, or co-branded banners and landing pages.

Just be careful about how you manage your personalized campaigns. It would be best if your other affiliates didn’t hear about them or, even better, if such offers were available to as many affiliates as possible. For example, you could make them a standard for affiliates who drive sales over a specific amount every month.

14. Product Segmentation

Some affiliates may have the possibility to promote all your products or services. Others may only have the means to promote a specific product or category. This is especially true when you have a large inventory. You should find ways to engage and reward affiliates who target specific categories as well.

Therefore, do not hesitate to categorize your products or services and supply creatives for each category. Then, use the above ideas to come up with promotions for each category. This way, you will appeal to affiliates who can and already drive sales in those categories.

Let’s assume those affiliates like your products and your approach and conclude that the effort of promoting you is worth it. They may even start new websites or add new pages to the one they have to promote other product categories as well.

15. Commission-Beating Policy

You’re surely familiar to the best-price guarantee some merchants offer. Consider offering a best-commission guarantee to your affiliates. Commit to match or beat competitors’ commissions and pay twice or thrice the difference if they find a better offer.

Of course, you should assess beforehand if your offer really is the best on the market. If it isn’t, at least make sure that you can afford to pay the commission difference to affiliates who may discover the better offers. This affiliate program promotion idea may seem difficult to implement. However, if you succeed, it could make your program the most attractive in your niche.

Final Thoughts on Affiliate Program Promotion

Many merchants do not even consider implementing the above promotion ideas. Others lack time and resources. It is a huge mistake, as promotions are the easiest ways to drive and support growth. They can help you recruit, activate, and motivate affiliates. In turn, this means higher sales and, implicitly, higher profits.

In order to reap maximum benefits, it is important to do your math and anticipate expenses before announcing any promotion. Also, clearly lay out the terms and restrictions of your promotions. The last thing you want is to allow for interpretations or give your affiliates the means to promote your competitors.

If you are not sure where to start, what affiliate program idea to implement, or how to adapt a particular idea to the specifics of your program, get in touch.

At AM Navigator, we have implemented all of the above ideas and more for various clients and under various forms, and we can easily find a formula that works for you.

We would love to hear from you if you have any other affiliate program promotion ideas as well. This way, we will all have more and, hopefully, better ideas to choose from and work with.


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