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5 Ways to KEEP Affiliates Happy & Motivated!

Linda Buquet

Affiliate
affiliate
I was blog tagged (see below) and asked to write about:
5 Ways You Can Keep Your Affiliates Happy.

It's taken me over a week to write this due to a myriad of server and tech support problems. I tried to come up with ideas and concepts besides the obvious "increase commission" type tips someone would come up with if they were just writing a quick and dirty list. Hope some of these affiliate-friendly ideas help you grow your program!
<blockquote><strong>#1 Do Unto Others!</strong>
EVERY time you face a tough decision about your affiliate channel, pretend you are one of your own affiliates and walk in his/her shoes. <strong>Imagine being an affiliate who's income is reliant on the integrity of the merchants they work with. If you were YOUR OWN affiliate, would you be happy with the decision you are about to make? Would you be happy with this type of treatment? </strong>

<em>Before you cut commission, reduce cookies, hop networks or send another crappy activation email... think about how you would feel if you were on the receiving end. </em>This seems like such a simple principle yet many merchants and AMs just don't seem to practice it. <strong>Do unto others and watch your program grow!</strong>

<strong>#2 Pull Your Program Out of the Dark Ages - Keep up with technology</strong>
I can't believe most merchants still don't offer RSS product and coupon feeds, video ads or widgets. Sheesh, most affiliate programs don't even have blogs and some don't even have datafeeds.

<strong>Some merchants are slow others are just plain clueless! Affiliates are nimble creatures that can turn on a dime to adapt new technologies and they want OPTIONS!</strong> Set your program apart by offering the marketing options early-adopter affiliates want, that competing affiliate programs don't yet have.

<strong>#3 Find Out What Your Affiliates Want and Give it To Them!</strong>
I was in sales and sales management for 15 years and I always subscribed the the principle "Find Out What Your Customers Want and Give it To Them!" Ask your affiliates the questions "What do you want" or "What can we do to improve our affiliate program"? I'm not certain you'd get many replies by email or by a survey, but a great way to find out is by asking your affiliates in your favorite affiliate forum or your own blog. Be prepared for possible flaming if your program isn't up to par, but you can get some valuable insight that can be used to help your program thrive and stand out from the rest.

<strong>#4 Think Outside the Box! Offer Affiliates a Free Consultation</strong>
I've always loved the idea Mike Payne the Affiliate Manager at zZounds came up with. Read his activation letter in the blog post below for complete details about how to implement this.

Snippet: "We have not received any traffic from your site - but I'm confident that we're just a phone call away from developing a great income stream for your site. I would like to offer you a free consultation on how to effectively monetize your web site with zZounds content." Go read the rest - it's worth the trip! <a target="_new" href="http://affiliate-blogs.5staraffiliateprograms.com/2006/08/29/affiliate-activation-email/">Ultimate Affiliate Activation Email</a>.

<strong>#5 Raise Commission and Increase your Cookie Duration - Money talks!</strong>
How long has it been since you did a competitive analysis of your program??? Can you afford to give your affiliates a raise?</blockquote>

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BACKGROUND - I was blog tagged again. Everyone knows I hate getting tagged and ignore most memes.
Here's the full scoop on who tagged me (Thanks Teli!) and who I tagged next at the 5 Star blog.
<a href="http://affiliate-blogs.5staraffiliateprograms.com/2007/08/03/5-ways-keep-affiliates-happy/">5 Unique Ways to Keep Your Affiliates Happy</a>
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Affiliates, merchants and affiliate managers...
share your thoughts or add other ways to keep affiliates happy below.
 
Voluum

Teli

Affiliate
affiliate
Linda,
You're the absolute BEST. :D Thanks for not holding it against me for tagging you for this meme - trust me, I thought long and hard about it b/c I know you're not big on them. But, picking your brain? I couldn't resist.

You've given some awesome tips and definitely some I need to abide by myself. Can't wait to see what Sean, Anik, and Andrew all come up with.

~ Teli
 

Teli

Affiliate
affiliate
Sorry it took me so long. I have been working on it little by little in-between life's challenges -
mainly hosting problems.

There's no need to apologize, Linda. Sometimes things take extra time due to unforeseen circumstances, and I'd say hosting issues is a pretty big one.

You're right that thread has a heated debate going -- hosting in general is a heated topic. Reading it brought a rock back to my stomach from some bad hosting experiences, but luckily (knock on wood), things have been pretty good for the most part.

What got me was a host I'd been with for nearly two years (hey, I'm a very loyal person) allowed my blog to be hacked and didn't even bother to tell me about the problem. I only noticed it because my earnings from the site took a steep drop and when I checked the rankings in Google, MSN, and Yahoo! the site had dropped to the deeper pages.

After checking the cached versions of the site, I saw what had happened. Basically, the host restored an old back up of the site (which was poorly done and left the site riddled with errors) and that whole incident left a bitter taste in my mouth.

After confronting them about it and requesting a refund for the prorated amount since I paid for a year in advance and decided that they couldn't be trusted, they asked me to jump through a bunch of hoops. In the end, I just let it go, ate the cost, and moved to a more stable hosting provider.

What's messed up is that almost a year later and they're still sending me their weekly newsletter like I care to read anything they have to say. I know that hosting can be a high stress business, but many hosting providers would do well to have a public relations liaison who could keep their customers updated on the happenings in a non-technical way, plus, treat their customers like human beings.

Hopefully this new host will work out well for you, Linda. Here's knocking on some wood.

~ Teli
 
F

fitnfree

Guest
Great post, Linda. I've had a couple affiliates recently e-mail me asking if they could assist me in any way to build long-term partnerships and I do tend to place more trust in the merchants who "reach out" in this way as opposed to those you never hear from at all.

Then you get some who send you so much spam junk you can't wait to get out of their program! Only had a few of those -- but never made one sale with any of them either. Then I wonder just how honest they are, too.
 

cdorob

Affiliate
affiliate
It's an old post, but I'm just wondering how many of the Affiliate Mangers have actually an affiliate account into their own system and try to do a little affiliate marketing to see how this feels from the other side of the fence?
 

Linda Buquet

Affiliate
affiliate
Good idea in theory Cristian but I strongly recommend against affiliate managers and merchants should not be affiliates for their own program. It's a conflict of interest and some affiliates get really upset and rightly so.

Yes AMs should know what it's like to be an affiliate, but not in their own program. Yes they should log in of course from the affiliate side, test everything, pull links and stuff to see their interface from the other side.
But no, they should not be affiliates in their own program, IMHO.
 

cdorob

Affiliate
affiliate
I know you are right Linda, and I have to agree. :D

I think I went a little to far by asking if Managers should be affiliates in their own systems, because the actual question should have been: can you be a good affiliate manager without being an affiliate marketer before?

My opinion is that if you haven't tried it on your own, you haven't built your traffic and conversion, finding niche and all the other stuff, then you are like a preacher without religion. I can't teach and help affiliates do well if I haven't test it on my own.

Which is basically what you said as well ;)
 

maranda

Affiliate
affiliate
You've hit the nail on the head, Linda. I've just sent an email with a link to this thread to a client I work with, and I'm sure they will find this info highly valuable.
 

shoelover

New Member
As far as needing to have been an affiliate to relate to one.........all you have to do is to have owned an online business and know what is involved in driving sales

Josh
 

Nicole Fortunaso

Affiliate
affiliate
Linda great thoughts:), I have always admired your relationship focus.
In the affiliate world focusing on relationships and being open to solving problems is what counts!
 

affearner

Affiliate
affiliate
Only 5 but more than what I need. This is a great help Linda. How about inactive affiliates? How do you think should affiliate program deal with them?
 

Linda Buquet

Affiliate
affiliate
Hi affearner,

Here are a couple great activation strategies and some really good points about why affiliates may be inactive.
5 Star Blogs - Search= inactive

I especially like this one:
<a href="http://affiliate-blogs.5staraffiliateprograms.com/713/affiliate-activation-email.html">Ultimate Affiliate Activation Email from zZounds Affiliate Manager</a>
 

affearner

Affiliate
affiliate
I haven't finished reading everything Linda but your personal favorite was already excellent for me. Thank you so much for this information. I've bookmarked everything.
 
C

ClearvueConsulting

Guest
Great thread, I especially like #4 and have been applying a similar tactic myself.

I do think it is important to try and see things from the affiliates point of view. As a manager, I look back on my time as an affiliate and try to offer what I would have wanted to see if I was promoting the program.

I think offering personal contact goes a long way. It may take a bit of extra time, but it's completely worth it.

Denise
 

Linda Buquet

Affiliate
affiliate
"Is it OK to immediately drop or remove inactive affiliates from the network?"

Not in my opinion. Why in the world would you immediately drop someone. Affiliates are busy. Sometimes they join while they are thinking about it, but have 3 sites on the to-do list for other merchants before they can focus on your program. They finally are ready to go and then get canned for inactivity.
Not good.
 
C

ClearvueConsulting

Guest
I totally agree Linda! Just think, the affiliate that you drop could be one of the best you ever had. Just give 'em time. :)

Denise
 

Linda Buquet

Affiliate
affiliate
That's right Denise.

Here are lots of other reasons not to expire inactive affiliates.

<a href="http://affiliate-blogs.5staraffiliateprograms.com/699/7-reasons-affiliates-inactive.html">Top 7 Reasons Your Affiliates Could be Inactive - Don?t Expire Them</a>

<a href="http://affiliate-blogs.5staraffiliateprograms.com/530/affiliate-activation-campaigns.html">Booting Inactive Affiliates? Affiliate Activation Campaigns Gone Bad</a>
 
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