How To Run An Affiliate Program That Boost Sales

how to run an affiliate program

Content updated February 2019

Many affiliate programs begin with new ideas and enthusiasm for sharing your products with new audiences … but progressively lose that focus as time goes by.

As the focus wanes, so do the commissions, and new sales: a downward spiral of unenthusiastic affiliates and a decrease in revenue.

It doesn't have to be like that – but, if you're the one running your affiliate program, the responsibility is on your shoulders to kickstart a new revolution of affiliates who care passionately about the same things that you do.

Start Your Own Affiliate Program That Stays Competitive And Profitable

Ok, so you have an affiliate program (or are about to build one in the near future). Before looking ahead at longevity, review the program to make sure you have the foundation built:

  1. A great product
  2. Resources to help your affiliates succeed
  3. Bandwidth in your business for proper setup and ongoing management

(We go in-depth about the setup in this article: How To Use a WordPress Referral Plugin To Increase Your Reach and Revenue)

Rekindling Enthusiasm In a Fading Referral Program

Referrals who see consistent revenue from promoting your products will naturally stay engaged with your program.

But the rest of your affiliate marketers–those who perhaps got off to a rough start, or those whose referrals are more sporadic–need help staying motivated and focused.

Why Affiliate Contests Can Help Boost Sales

For the go-getters, contests tend to be invigorating. You can easily create an affiliate contest leaderboard using the AccessAlly membership plugin for WordPress.

By presenting a challenge, and providing the structure and motivation to accompany it, a well-designed contest can truly get your team back into gear.

Adding a Leaderboard to the Game Also Increases Motivation

With the right setup, a leaderboard is truly a tool that establishes some strong momentum and motivation for your affiliate contests. The setup you use for your affiliate leaderboard should include:

Tracking For A Limited Time

Setting a strict “start” and “end” date for your contest will allow everyone to start off on the same level. High performers will begin alongside the affiliates who haven't been making a ton of sales.

how to run an affiliate program

You can choose whatever length of contest you want, of course, but I have to say that month-long affiliate contests are one of my favorite.

A month is long enough for each affiliate to be able to formulate a sales strategy, but not so long that it causes burnout.

Top Performers

One thing that we really like to do when we run affiliate contests is only show the top 3 or top 10 affiliates on the leaderboard.

First, because keeping a list of all affiliates (especially if you have quite a few) on the leaderboard tends to be a little overkill. It also might be deterring in situations when an affiliate chooses not to participate in a particular contest, but still has to see their name on the list of an all-affiliate leaderboard.

A “Top 10” affiliate leaderboard, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to amp up the rewards and offer a little more incentive for affiliates to dive into the fun of the challenge.

how to run an affiliate program

For example, you might choose to offer an exclusive bonus for the top 3 performers at the end of the contest. It will give your affiliates more incentive to track exactly where they stand in the competitors…and what it'll take to get to the top.

Track Relevant Numbers

Typically, an affiliate contest is used in conjunction with a focused marketing push for a specific product.

In these cases, your leaderboard should be able to filter out any non-pertinent information (and a bonus for you if this happens automatically!).

how to run an affiliate program

Our AccessAlly leaderboard allows you to choose whether you want to track the number of sales or the dollar amount of revenue sold through each affiliate.

Whether you choose to track sales of a specific product, sales of all product (“top affiliate of the month”), or the dollar amount of sales (used with multiple products, since some will be worth more than others) is totally up to you.

Keep It Updated

So the other thing to keep in mind is that a leaderboard isn't going to be super effective unless it's being updated consistently.

By offering up-to-date information, you can ensure that affiliates will be checking in frequently to the Leaderboard “hub” to check out the latest rankings.

With the AccessAlly Leaderboard, all stats are automatically updated every 24 hours. So if the sale has been processed successfully, the numbers will show up the following day.

If you're running a leaderboard through another piece of software (or doing it manually…), take the time to ensure that all numbers are up to date at least once a day, especially during shorter contests.


Our Affiliate Contest Checklist

Running periodic affiliate contests has become a regular part of our schedule.

1. Decide on Prizes for Top Affiliates

Before the contest even begins, we make sure that we have a few stellar prizes ready for top performing affiliates. One thing we like to ask ourselves when picking out the right rewards is: “Is this something of value that our affiliates would be tempted to buy on their own?”

If so, the prize is a good one and will help keep the motivation high.

2. Write Swipe Copy For Affiliates

Another big part of the setup process is writing swipe copy. This saves time for your affiliates and increases the chance that they'll participate on a deeper level. (Remember: your affiliates are likely busy with other jobs and projects; make it easy for them to promote your products!)

  • Write social media swipe copy for Facebook and Twitter posts
  • Write a sample email newsletter that affiliates can simply copy + paste to use

3. Get Affiliates Excited

This is where your motivational skills come into play! Amp up the anticipation before the contest by sending out an email or two, then take the time to keep the momentum going strong throughout the duration.

  • Before contest:Write & send email to all affiliates, announcing the affiliate contest, rules, and prizes. This should include helpful hints for how they can join in the promotion.
  • During contest:Write & send 3-4 emails full of encouragement to all affiliates throughout the duration of the contest.
  • After contest: Write & send a wrap-up email that announces prizes and winners, and is full of gratitude for the partnership of all affiliates.

See The Affiliate Contest Leaderboard In Action

Click here to check out AccessAlly.

So…how are you going to improve your affiliate program?

How To Run An Affiliate Program That Boosts Sales For Your BusinessAn affiliate contest and leaderboard is simple to setup and use, with the right software including AccessAlly.

And reaping the rewards of an increased business revenue and excited affiliate partners can be so refreshing for a hard-working entrepreneur.


About The Author
Maria MyreMaria Myre is the word person at AccessAlly, where she spends her days sipping on espresso and exploring new, intuitive ways to connect entrepreneurs with the tech tools and training that will best fit their business needs. When she’s not writing tech-y business stuff, Maria enjoys art, horseback riding, and adventuring in the Great Outdoors.

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