With successful affiliate programs, one size does not fit all

Some marketers drop inactive affiliates to focus on producers – but one marketer drove $400,000 in incremental revenue from non-producers by offering them more incentives.

Kurt Peters

Successful affiliate marketing strategies aren’t one size fits all-while some marketers regularly cull inactive affiliates to clean up their program, Dean Rist, director of direct marketing for iRobot Corp., tells Internet Retailer that in a former position where he managed the affiliate program at an audio equipment manufacturer and marketer, he took another approach. Instead of cutting them from the program, Rist says he generated an incremental $400,000 in revenue from inactive affiliates in one year by offering them more incentives.

Rist’s goal was to maximize the peak holiday sales season by securing the participation of affiliates who’d registered for the program but never put up a link to the marketer’s site. The extra incentive, offered from September through December, was an increase in revenue share received on sales that was tiered based on the amount of revenue the affiliate generated.

“You don’t ever want to leave rocks unturned,” he says of efforts to spur inactive affiliates into action. “But you don’t want to put a lot of effort into it, either.”

While some operators of large affiliate programs prefer periodically dropping inactive affiliates so as to better focus their attention on those that produce, Rist says he sees no downside in retaining most of the affiliates that sign up for a program, even the ones that aren’t active. He views those inactive affiliates as a lead generation source. “They’ve raised their hand and shown a degree of interest in your brand,” he says. “If I have to generate more revenue and boost the program, this is the group of people I am going to try first.”


affiliate, Electronic commerce, Internet marketing, Ion Television, Lead generation