4 Steps to organizing a smart Affiliate Challenge

An affiliate marketing challenge is one of the methods you can use to grow the number of affiliates in your program, to activate the idle ones or to motivate even more the ones that are already performing well. All in all, it is a perfect way to improve the results of your affiliate program.

Getting the challenge ready is not rocket science, but you need to check a few steps in order to make most of it.

  1. Set your affiliate challenge objective straight.

Before you think of what you want, you need to know what you’ve got. Take a closer look at your affiliate program and see what works well and what could use some improvements. Are there any doors you could open?
Even though the main goal of a challenge is to raise your sales, there are also other sub-goals that need to be achieved. Some of them can be:

  • Growing the number of affiliates
  • Growing the number of active affiliates (that send you traffic and that generate sales)

If you want to use the challenge to attract new affiliates, you have to ensure that the prize offer is substantially over the usual earnings of an affiliate for your niche. But don’t forget the basics: make sure that your program has an attractive offer for affiliates and that it can outrun the competition, provide all the information that your affiliates need to know about your products, services, target customers or special deals.
Raising the number of active affiliates so that they deliver more is a goal that targets both inactive affiliates and the program performers that could always improve their results. You need to keep in mind that for the affiliates the prizes are also a safety-net and challenges should be a good way to interact with them and gain their trust.

2. How to choose your affiliate challenge prizes

The prizes, their value and especially the way they are granted is a very important part of organizing a challenge. Any opportunity to make extra money will not be missed by any affiliates. Bear in mind your challenge’s objectives when you decide on the prizes and on the competition rules. You can find below examples of what prizes you could grant:

  • Preferential commission

The good part about this is that a generous commission can activate a big number of affiliates and bring higher sales. There is a dark side of this, too. It has little long-term effects, meaning that at the end of the competition the number of active affiliates will decrease or just be reduced to the initial level.

  • Special offer for top affiliates

Granting a special bonus scheme for your most performing affiliates (top 3/5) is another way you can reward your hardworking affiliates. The good part about it is that several affiliates will fight for the top spots which will determine an increase in sales for you. However, your prizes really need to be motivating enough to prompt the affiliates to go the extra mile.
If you decide on this kind of special bonus scheme, you should also consider the generated sales volume when setting a prize value. That means that the affiliates will be rewarded based on the achieved results. This also means that you have better control over your costs.

  • Special prizes

Offering prizes for the affiliates who generate the highest number of valid commissions in a day, or to those who generate the highest sale or drive the biggest number of new customers during the affiliate challenge are other options you should ponder. This way you give a chance to other affiliates, who are not necessarily bringing on big volumes.
As general recommendations, a minimum of 3 affiliates should be rewarded, regardless of the option you chose. Either prize option you decide on, it should always reward performance.

3. The affiliate challenge timing

You should carefully consider the period for unfolding your challenge. You should make sure the considered time is not a sale regression period for your store. The affiliates are not the ones that are creating demand, they can only accelerate an advertiser’s sales. Overlapping an affiliate challenge with a sales promotion is a good idea to help growing the affiliate program.

The period should be clearly defined and must follow this 4 big steps:

  1. Communicate the challenge, the prizes and the necessary conditions to be met for achieving them.
  2. The actual challenge period
  3. Commission processing period
  4. Select and announce the winners

The cookie life
There are some things that need to be considered for the actual challenge period. First of all, during that period all generated commissions must be taken into account, regardless of the cookie life. On the last day of the challenge cookies will still be placed but if there are registered commissions afterwards that resulted from those cookies they won’t be taken into account for the challenge.
How long it should last?
As far as the time period of the challenge is concerned, we wouldn’t recommend a challenge shorter than one month. Usually challenges that last less than a month don’t meet the expected results or the results are significant only after a while. This happens because each affiliate tests the program first to see the conversion rate and the whole flow of the process after the cookie placement.
On the other hand, a challenge that lasts more than 2 months can be difficult to undergo for small affiliates that have lower resources than the top affiliates, so they don’t compete on a fair level. Therefore, we would suggest as an optimum period 1 month and a half.

4. Affiliate tools and communication during an affiliate competition

If you want to get the most out of your challenge, you should be able to provide the newest tools (banners, product feeds) and to communicate proactively with your affiliates.
Try setting a weekly communication plan with your affiliates and inform them on the up-to-date ranking, as well as best selling products, best active deals that could give affiliates a hand on constantly optimizing their promotion strategies.
Challenges should be organized regularly, but not too often as it may determine some affiliates to only lie in wait for your competitions and not be motivated otherwise to generate sales.

And remember to also make it fun! 🙂

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