This might seem counter-productive for those affiliate managers who work with big brands or who tend to seek out only top partners, but it’s critical to the success of an affiliate program of any size.
You must think small. By that we mean that you need to cultivate relationships and drive productivity among mid-level and small tier affiliates. You must also seek out niche and vertical-specific affiliates.
Thinking small is in the best interest of the merchant because doing so creates a balanced affiliate program. A balanced program includes not only large affiliates but also features a healthy number of small and mid-level affiliates. You need to safeguard the program against the sort of losses that can be suffered when a top partner drops off or loses interest in promoting your offers.
It is, afterall, the new affiliates (who tend to be small- or mid-level at the outset) who continue to drive the growth of performance marketing. According to the 2012 Affiliate Summit AffStat Report, 17% of affiliate marketers joined the industry in 2011 – and a further 4.5% joined this year. It’s a mistake to ignore this large and new segment of affiliates.
To attract the small- and mid-level publishers, you need to give them reasons to join and be excited about your program. A bonus for new affiliates would help – as would activation campaigns that reward those affiliates who move up from one tier to another by driving more sales or leads during a specified timeframe.
You’ll need to provide extra support for these affiliates but your reward will be in their growing contribution to a balanced and thriving affiliate program.
Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.