Q: We are a growing B2B website that added an affiliate program about 6 months ago. While the growth of the program has been decent, we have hit a bit of a wall lately. Our biggest challenge is in getting larger affiliate sites to give us a chance. We have strong rev share numbers (5% on an ave order size over $300), but still can’t seem to crack many of the big players.
Part of the problem is we aren’t well known yet, and B2B is still a distant second as far as affiliate networks go. But, we have hit a bit of a ceiling and don’t really know how to proceed. Can you give me some advice on things we might be able to do to be more attractive to larger affiliates?
A: First of all, I took a look at your Web site. I am not going to mention it, so I don’t embarrass you, but one thing you have to do is to stop hiding your affiliate program.
I went to your site and I couldn’t find anywhere to join your affiliate program or learn more about it.
I was looking all around until I finally happened upon your affiliate program by clicking on one of the navigation tabs and found a link to the affiliate program down the list on that “Resources” tab.
You did an excellent job of burying your affiliate program, so most affiliates will never find it.
The typical convention is to put a link to your affiliate program in the footer of your site. You can’t expect affiliates to do a bunch of legwork to find whether you even have an affiliate program.
That’s one thing – fix that immediately.
Another thing is that I don’t know your space well enough to know how well you rank against your competitors. You say you have a strong rev share of 5%.
That may be very true, at least in your eyes. Hopefully, you are making this statement with the knowledge of the rates your competitors are paying their affiliates.
And if those are competitors that your potential customers will recognize, the reality is that you need to cut into your margins a little deeper to give a reason for affiliates to sample you.
Otherwise, I don’t see affiliates abandoning the proven brand names to test you out for the same commission rate.
So anyway, make the affiliate program easier to find, and pay better than your established competitors.
Also, when you try to lure in the big players, don’t offer them 5%. You should have two levels of commission (or more): your basic rate and your VIP rate for the super affiliates.
When you’re soliciting these top affiliates, tell them you pay 5% to everybody else, but you will pay them 7%, 8%, or whatever you can work into your margins, because you value and respect them.
The super affiliates rightfully expect to be treated better than the affiliates who will bring in a sale or two a month for you.
Their ad real estate is more precious, and you’ve got to pay for access to it.
I think if you make these changes you will see some nice growth in your affiliate program.