Q: After three months, my company’s CEO is getting ancy regarding our affiliate campaign. We’re a somewhat niched market and we’ve had an account with Commission Junction that has so far yielded very little activity and even fewer sales. At what point should we simply pull the plug on our affiliate campaign?
A: One thing I hope you did before you got started was to do some competitive research in your niche.
This is something I always do when a prospective client comes to me about outsourcing their affiliate program. I like to be sure an affiliate program makes sense for a company.
One indicator is whether your competitors have an affiliate program. This is certainly not a perfect measure, but if they don’t have an affiliate program, this might lead you to question why.
If your competitors do have affiliate programs, be sure that yours is competitive or better than theirs.
Also, look at your current sales without an affiliate program. Affiliates are generally not going to make or break a company, but they can bring in a bunch of incremental sales or leads.
If you already have a vibrant business going, it’s probably safe to assume an affiliate program would be a good addition to your marketing arsenal.
This doesn’t help you, but hopefully some future folks looking into affiliate programs will dig a little before deciding they need an affiliate program.
So anyhow, your affiliate program isn’t working out after three months. I’d generally set an expectation of 3-6 months for an affiliate program to gain momentum, but that’s based on the affiliate program being proactively managed.
I’ve seen too many companies assume their affiliate program can run on auto-pilot. That’s not the case, and if you’ve been operating in that fashion, it’s time to allocate more resources to the affiliate program.
I would recommend running your affiliate program with three ongoing directives: recruit, activate, and retain affiliates.
It’s essential that you recruit affiliates into your affiliate program, have a process in place to activate them, and then work to retain them.
Affiliate marketing isn’t like other marketing channels. Money alone cannot power it – you need to focus on the relationships of your affiliates, too.
If you’ve been doing all of this and you simply cannot gain traction, you might want to consider bringing in a consultant to troubleshoot the affiliate program and relaunch it.
Now if that doesn’t work, put the poor thing out of it’s misery and move on.