Incentive strategy for an affiliate programme

The major pitfall of most affiliate programmes is that post-launch the enthusiasm fades and the momentum is not maintained. A lot of companies fall into the trap of assuming that the strength of their brand is enough to secure exposure on top publisher sites. In order to maximise the return from your affiliate programme, careful consideration needs to be paid to how you incentivise the affiliates on your programme.

The major pitfall of most affiliate programmes is that post-launch the enthusiasm fades and the momentum is not maintained. A lot of companies fall into the trap of assuming that the strength of their brand is enough to secure exposure on top publisher sites. In order to maximise the return from your affiliate programme, careful consideration needs to be paid to how you incentivise the affiliates on your programme.

Now I’m not suggesting firing out the discount codes from the get-go; instead I am advocating a strategy that includes affiliates in the conversation and rewards them for their participation in promoting your brand.

1. Prizes/competitions

Rewarding affiliates for actively participating with your brand serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it acknowledges the hard work the affiliate has put in and encourages them to stay loyal by promoting your brand. Secondly, it serves as an extension of raising brand awareness amongst affiliates and their audiences.

Check this recent case study for Hotel du Vin we here at Equator carried out for further proof. One word of advice – don’t overcomplicate things. An affiliate should be rewarded for completing a task, not just have their name entered into a competition for the slim chance of winning something. Don’t over elaborate either – you’d be amazed how well received a simple cash bonus is for completing a set task!

2. Check your levels

Opportunities exist at all levels when it comes to affiliate partnerships. The type of offer you run with a mega cashback site with an audience reach of 5mill+ differs greatly from the kind of thing you would run with a content blogger. For example you can incentivise long-tail affiliates with a bonus or commission increase for reaching certain targets (e.g. Affiliate Window’s commission by assist model that pays commission on the first click generated in a sale), whereas working with a main cashback/loyalty site you might look to negotiate an increased commission level in return for increased exposure and promotion.

3. Tiered commission

A tiered commission structure is a simple but effective way for getting affiliates onside with your brand. If you have a particular goal in mind for the affiliate channel, by all means use the flexible commission structures in place to incentivise affiliates to push particular offers.

For example, we recently ran a commission increase for certain locations in a hotel client’s portfolio over a four week period. We contacted local travel content sites to ensure we gained coverage and we also worked with larger cashback and voucher code sites to make sure we were pushing these locations onsite and in newsletters to ensure maximum coverage. With bookings during this time achieving 45% growth YoY, it is definitely a worthwhile and relatively straightforward incentive to run.

by Sean Mahon, Affiliate Team Leader