In affiliate marketing, there are two words that are essential to the success of an affiliate marketing program: engagement and activation.
en·gage: to occupy, attract, or involve (someone’s interest or attention).
ac·ti·vate: make (something/someone) active or operative.
Any brand that has an affiliate program – especially one that’s predominantly made up of content affiliates – will find that they have some affiliates in their program who have yet to promote their products or services (not “engaged”), as well as affiliates who are engaged and driving clicks, but aren’t driving any revenue (not “activated”).
Figuring out ways to engage and activate affiliates is a top challenge for most brands. It requires a significant amount of time and an understanding of the challenges that affiliates face.
For example, a key reason for both lackluster engagement and activation is availability. Most content affiliates have a part time or full-time job in addition to their affiliate marketing activities.
As such, the amount of time they have available to devote to their affiliate efforts (reading affiliate emails about brand promotions, writing their blog posts, promoting their blog, staying on top of their social channels, website SEO, etc.) is limited.
Figuring out strategies that will help get them motivated to promote your products and services is fundamental to the health and profitability of your affiliate program.
Whether you’re trying to engage your affiliates to promote your program or activate them to drive sales, there are four things you need to do:
- Focus on the end goal. Are looking to drive sales? Grow brand awareness? Increase clicks? Before you start rolling out initiatives to engage and activate your affiliates, it’s critical to clearly define your primary objective and determine what success looks like in both the short and long term.
- Determine what audience you want to go after. Once you know what your end goal is, it’s beneficial to refine your list of affiliates and target partners who are best suited to help you reach those goals. Most affiliate network platforms allow you to tag and send targeted promotions to certain affiliates. You’ll also want to analyze how much traffic and/or sales they are driving for your brand, if their site is up-to-date, whether they are talking about topics on their site that relate to your brand, etc. While time-consuming, this legwork is an important part of getting the right incentive and information in front of the right affiliates.
- Decide on your incentive. Is it a promotion? A product? An early release? A vanity code to a few select, high-value content affiliates? What can you offer your affiliates – especially your content affiliates – to make them feel special and enthusiastic about promoting your brand?One idea is to offer exclusive discounts to smaller partners. Retailers often want to only give exclusive discounts to the big hitters, but giving an exclusive discount to smaller partners can result in new customers that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise, which could mean more incremental revenue. Another idea is to give a few content affiliates a sneak-peek at a new product a day or two before it launches. You could also let certain sites promote the new product early and give them an exclusive, affiliate-only landing page to promote on their site. Again, this makes affiliates feel valued and also helps you drive excitement toward content sites.
- Personalize your affiliate communication. If you want to engage your affiliates (content affiliates in particular) and get them motivated to promote your brand, it’s important to build relationships with them above and beyond just sending an email with your promos.It’s not enough to just include their name in the email intro, either. That’s a good start, but it’s much more meaningful when you get personal. Reference one of their recent blog or social posts. Did they write a particularly insightful blog article? Mention it and call-out what you liked. Did they post a funny quip on their Facebook page or post a cute photo of their new pair of jeans on Instagram? Mention it.Yes, this is super time-consuming, but it goes a long way to earning affiliates’ trust and respect. And it’s the people who know, like and trust you who will be more inclined to promote you.
Our 3-point checklist for working with content affiliates may also be useful.
Affiliates are your brand advocates. They are the ones who will speak most highly of your company, products and services and encourage others to spend their money with you. If you want affiliates to give your brand attention on their blog and social channels, then you must give them the time and attention they deserve as well.