We talk a lot about launching affiliate programs and building them up from nothing, but what about the struggles of the average affiliate manager who has an established program that seems to have plateaued and gone stagnant? It’s easy for an affiliate manager to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of running an affiliate program and neglect the fact that they may need to inject some creativity into their program in order to boost performance. 

Today we discuss five actionable ideas that affiliate managers can use to rescue their flatlined affiliate marketing programs.

1. Recruiting Efforts

How long has it been since you put forward a strong recruiting effort to find new affiliate partners for your program? It’s easy for a successful, established program to neglect recruitment. Sometimes a simple solution to a stagnant affiliate program is a good recruiting campaign.

Find affiliates to recruitWhen building a list of affiliates to recruit we recommend several approaches.

They all are great ways to build a list of prospects and you can do as many or as few of them as you want when starting a new recruiting campaign.

Find Out Who Links to Your Competition

By using tools like Publisher Discovery and SEMrush you can very quickly pull a large list of sites that link to your competition. The difference between the two tools is that Publisher Discovery helps you uncover those who link through affiliate links, while SEMrush discovers those websites that link directly. Once you have these large lists you can manually go through them and pull out sites that you believe to be good affiliate prospects for you to recruit. Visit these sites to pull contact info if possible and begin with your initial reach out. Make sure to always follow up consistently and do so several times before giving up on potential prospects.

Utilize In-network Search

Most affiliate networks have their own way to search within the network to try and onboard new affiliates. Make sure never to neglect these tools and try to use them daily if even for a small amount of time. Keep tabs on new publishers that join the network to see if they might be a fit for your brand.

Run Relevant Keywords in Search Engines

Another great way to recruit potential affiliates is to run search terms and phrases relevant to your brand through various search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) and see what sites are ranking high on these terms and phrases. Put these sites in a spreadsheet and reach out to them introducing them to your program and asking if they’re interested. Consider, possibly, offering an incentive to them to join if you think it could be tough to get their attention.

2. Activation Bonuses

You have a stagnant affiliate program; however, more than half the affiliates in your program don’t drive any sales or clicks! This is a very common issue so don’t think it’s just you.

Affiliate activation motivationHow can we get these affiliates active? They joined your program so they’re clearly interested in promoting what you’re selling.

The best motivator has always been cold, hard cash and it’s no different here.

Consider structuring an activation bonus to get affiliates engaged with your brand. Better yet, structure it in tiers to make each level seem attainable and not overwhelming.

For example, you could offer as little as $1-$5 simply for placing a link or banner on a quality page. You can then offer another few dollars once they reach 100 clicks. You obviously should offer monetary amounts once they drive a sale and then you can even bonus further once they hit various sales goals.

The main key here is that for minimal investment you’ll begin to engage your affiliate base and get them communicating with you. If you’re fortunate, one or two strong partners will emerge from this and your program will grow to new heights!

3. New Creatives

Affiliate creativesHow long has it been since you gave your affiliates some new creative assets to use?

Banners can go stale and little refreshing of these have always been known to peak people’s interest and provide a boost.

Consider building a content creation calendar for your affiliate program and providing new creatives to your affiliates on a semi-annual, or better yet, quarterly basis.

4. Reviewer Toolkit

Not all brands have products they can send out to review, but for the ones that do, this section is for you. If you don’t send out products to affiliates, we strongly suggest reconsidering this approach. Affiliate reviews are some of the best ways to get your product out there and also increase sales from your affiliate program.

Providing your affiliates with your product and a tool kit to help them write a review will do wonders for your program. It can also be a great way to re-engage some of your existing affiliates who may have seen their sales fall off.  I’ve detailed it in my post on how to create the ultimate affiliate marketing tool kit for your partners.

5. Affiliate Exclusive Site-wide Offer

Lastly, another good way to boost sales for a stagnant affiliate program is to offer an affiliate program exclusive discount to really get your partners excited.

Make sure the offer you choose is the best offer your site currently is offering and also insure that it is not available through other marketing channels such as email or social media. By positioning a special offer this way, your affiliates are going to be way more likely to promote it because they won’t need to worry about other marketing channels getting credit for their sales.

This offer also provides you with a great excuse to contact your affiliate base and engage with them. Extend the offer and even suggest creating exclusive, vanity coupon codes for this offer for specific partners if they like. It’s a small, easy step to take that will really go a long way in making your partners feel special and like they’ve gotten something that’s truly unique.

We hope that these tips will help you revive your program if you’re going through a bit of a stagnant period. Good luck with your affiliate program management efforts and feel free to email us or comment below with any ideas or questions.

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