Q: What can you do/give besides increasing commission to make affiliates happy?
A: There isn’t one solution for every affiliate program, so the first thing I would suggest would be to ask your affiliates what they want.
As far as components of your affiliate program that will make affiliates happy, and increase the chances that they will actively promote your affiliate program, consider the following feedback from affiliates in the AffStat Report:
- Length of Time for Return Day Cookies
87% of affiliates want the cookies for return days to be active for 30 days or more.
- E-mail Creative and Suppression Lists
60% of affiliates maintain an opt-in list for their site(s). Many of these affiliates are interested in running your offers in an HTML solo e-mail. But to do so, they will need quality, tested creative, as well as a mechanism like UnsubCentral to scrub their e-mail suppression list(s) against yours.
- Promoting your Company with Pay Per Click Search Engines
33% of affiliates are promoting their affiliate links through pay per click search engines. And if you are ok with it, many affiliates would like to bid on your brand name. David Lewis makes a compelling argument for this practice in his ReveNews blog, “PPC Bidding by Affiliates: It’s about Controlling Your Brand.” Either way, let your affiliates know your rules, and provide them with keywords that convert well for your program.
- Offer a Variety of Linking Types
Affiliates need you to provide them with the tools they need to promote your company. That means a couple 468×60 banners and a text link that’s simply your company name will not suffice. As you can see from the chart below, affiliates want banners, dynamic rich media, data feeds, text links, storefronts, HTML for solo e-mails, pop-ups, and individual product links. You might be surprised to see that 37% of affiliates want text links. I know I’m surprised at how many affiliate programs don’t provide text links of different lengths for e-mail newsletters and such. Like I said earlier, ask them what they want.
- The Face of Your Affiliate Program
When affiliates were asked about the most important factor in choosing a merchant, 22% cited the affiliate management of the program. Affiliates want to know who to contact if they have a problem or question, so make this as easy as possible. Do this, and word of mouth spreads that you’re an accessible affiliate manager – buzz marketing is a great affiliate recruitment tool.
- Competitive Commission Structure
In addition to affiliate management, affiliates are also choosing the programs they join based on payout amount and history (18%) and EPC (20%). If your commission structure falls below your competitors, you’re going to have an awfully hard time making your affiliates happy, or retaining them for that matter.
- Commission Frequency
The frequency that you issue commission payments will have an impact on your ability to recruit and retain affiliates. 68% of affiliates polled said that this is a factor when they are deciding which programs to join. The standard is net 30 days from the end of each month.
- Methods of Commission Payment
Affiliates want options for the way they receive their commission checks from you. While 45% are content with a check, 39% prefer direct deposit, and 13% want their funds via PayPal. Also, 2% of affiliates (generally the bigger players) wish to receive commissions by wire, and 1% (popular with casino affiliate programs) prefer NETeller.
- VIP Commissions
In your question, you mentioned increasing commissions, but there are various ways to do it. I would suggest publishing a base commission rate, but being prepared to pay a VIP commission rate to the higher volume affiliates from the start. Or at least make a tiered reward structure available to all of the affiliates.
- Communicating With Your Affiliates
Affiliates want to hear from you, but not too often. Bear in mind that they belong to dozens or hundred of affiliate programs. More than half think that a monthly communication (i.e. affiliate program newsletter) is sufficient. And the vast majority want to hear from you by e-mail, rather than IM or phone.
So how you structure your affiliate program and run it day to day will have a significant impact on the happiness of your affiliates. Treat them like respected partners, ask them what they want, and then do your best to give it to them. Good luck.