Running an affiliate program can be challenging, especially when you’ve invested a lot into recruiting, onboarding, and empowering quality affiliates.

Sometimes, even with the best preparation, tools, and resources, affiliates can get distracted, disinterested, or lose steam, causing noticeable lulls in your program’s performance – or at the very least, missed opportunities for growth and success.

It’s important to address the reasons for these slow-downs if you want to rectify the situation, but trying different tactics to bring inactive affiliates back into the fold can be like stabbing in the dark. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of some easy ways you can reinvigorate your dormant affiliates, taking advantage of the best incentives for action to help you push your affiliate program to new heights!

1. Re-engage your affiliates

Probably the most obvious of the options is to reach out to the affiliates in question. You want to do two primary things: remind them of the benefits they have access to while being a part of your affiliate program, and get feedback from them that allows you to better understand what they need and how you can customize your program to optimize their affiliate power.

Considering that people are often busy and occupied with their own lives, sending an email that catches their attention can make all the difference; simply giving them a gentle reminder might be enough for some affiliates to start moving. Perhaps they just got overwhelmed with commitments and responsibilities – or maybe they had every intention of getting involved, but lost track of time and let things slip.

Remind your affiliates about the benefits of your program, the opportunities available to them, and the reasons why it’s worth their while to put in the effort. What do you offer that your competitors don’t? What are the things that make your program unique? Encourage your affiliates to take advantage of any offers to improve their own lives and businesses!

You might also consider asking for feedback; ask your affiliates to complete a survey that helps you identify the problem. What made them join your program? What are their goals? What’s their preferred communication channel? Are they still interested in being an affiliate? Is there something you can do better to help them succeed? Do they have the resources they need? These kinds of questions alone can get affiliates re-activated, rekindling the initial desire that drove them to sign up in the first place.

You might also segment your approach, focusing on two different groups: affiliates who have not yet promoted your products, and affiliates who have tried to promote, but were unable to successfully convert customers and earn referrals. If the affiliate in question is in the former group, making sure they have all of the information, creatives (branding assets), and any other helpful tools can give them the confidence they need to start promoting. Affiliates from the latter group may just need a reminder, or an adjustment to their creatives or methods to find the sweet spot that will convert sales.

2. Give them special offers and incentives

To entice your dormant affiliates, make them a special offer they can’t refuse; consider giving them an exclusive incentive that is designed specifically for affiliates that haven’t started yet (an activation incentive), or have been inactive for a certain amount of time (for example, a cash bonus or gift card for their first sale). Time-sensitive offers are particularly effective, as the window for participation is limited; an example of this could be something like offering an additional bonus for activation within two weeks.

You could also offer them promotional deals, discounts, and special pricing for their own customers, giving them the opportunity to gain a competitive edge and get ahead quickly. When you treat your affiliates like VIP members with exclusive opportunities, access, and tools, you show them that they aren’t “just a number” – they’re valued members of your team who are participants in a win-win relationship.

You might decide to give performance-based incentives so that your affiliates know that there’s a low barrier to entry and plenty of potential for them (not just for the very top performers). Performance incentives can be based on sales count, sales volume, or other measures of performance during a certain time period, and can motivate inactive affiliates with their accessibility. Contests are especially effective, as prizes and competition are natural motivators for most people!

3. Arm your affiliates with information

Sometimes, affiliates simply don’t know where to start. Even if you give them plenty of information during the onboarding process, they might feel a little overwhelmed. People generally have an easier time with bite-sized information, as well as visual information – as evidenced by the pervasive use of buzzwords, sound bites, infographics, and video content in our culture today. They also feel less ambivalent when there are less choices available to them, so keep this in mind!

Take some of the decision-making pressure off of your affiliates; for example, you might decide to offer custom-tailored suggestions for marketing strategies, depending on their niche, style, and personality. Or, you could appeal to their visual nature by creating eye-catching graphics that communicate relevant benefits, incentives, and special offers instantaneously.

When reaching out, reiterate easily-consumable amounts of useful information such as:

  • A list of your top selling products
  • The best keywords to use
  • Product features and descriptions
  • Brand slogans and content
  • Affiliate offers currently available.

Proactively link affiliates to your FAQs and any other marketing materials or guides you have in place. Ultimately, you want to make sure they can quickly and easily understand how to get the most out of your AP. Remember – it’s always in your interest to help them do well!

4. Share recognition and success stories

Societal trends show that the best way to motivate people is to give them great role models to look up to. As humans, we only seem to want to change what we’re doing if we see someone else achieving something that we wish we could have. Think about it – how many times have you heard of people changing their minds because they were told to? Individuals are generally the most inspired to act when they see the results they want, and are presented with a practical avenue to get there.

To put this into practice with your AP, you might share success stories that communicate just how worthwhile your program is, including things like before and after stories that highlight the difference your program has made in the lives of your top performers, as well as the benefits they enjoy. You could give examples of commissions amounts earned by successful affiliates, and some of the methods they’ve used to achieve those levels.

Additionally, taking the time to give recognition to your team (whether they are your affiliate superstars or not) shows them they are actually valued – and that there are community rewards for their participation and achievement. Dormant affiliates can become inspired when they see that they really do have the opportunity to shine.

5. Provide regular updates and upgraded resources

It’s important to refresh your brand, methods and creatives to let your affiliates know that you’re on top of things and willing to evolve. When people invest their time and energy in your AP, they want to know that they’re signing on for a program that’s “with the times” and run by someone who is attentive and savvy. After all, with all of the programs to choose from online, you want to remain competitive!

When it comes to affiliates who haven’t been active at all, these kinds of touches can make or break their experience. A fresh new look with fresh new offers keeps things interesting and might just spark their interest again, especially if you give them updated creatives like banners and social media graphics to use. Usually, affiliates are always on the lookout for updated content and materials to post, so if you set the bar for quality, they may follow suit, viewing you more as an authority instead of just a benefactor.

Assess your current copy and materials to see how well they are performing in your campaigns. You might want to experiment with different designs, styles, and keywords to see what works; adjust accordingly, and pass down your new look and content to your affiliates. They will likely appreciate the personal focus, the continued support, and the effort to stay relevant.

From dormant to driven

It’s common enough for affiliates to become dormant, but at the end of the day, you’re the one in control – and you get to set the tone with your leadership! If you commit yourself to regularly engaging with your team, incentivizing them, thoroughly and effectively educating them, recognizing your affiliates, and continuously improving your program, you can inspire serious action and amp up your results, which means a more loyal affiliate base and better revenue in the end!

We want to hear from you! What have you done to motivate your inactive affiliates? What tactics have made the most difference to your affiliate program? Comment below to let us know!

Mandy Jones

About the author: Mandy Jones is a product marketing specialist at Sandhills Development, a music maker, and digital product creator. A Minnesota native, she's a frequent traveler and animal lover with a passion for creative work and digital business. When she’s not writing blog posts and doing other marketing stuff for Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP, she can often be found hanging out with other people’s pets.


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