The success of affiliate programs is determined by how committed the affiliates are to promoting the product or service. As we have discussed before in our Fundamentals to Running a Successful Affiliate Program article, there are numerous ways that you can help encourage affiliates to go above and beyond to help you sell more,  but one of the most effective methods you can use is to offer bonuses to affiliates that perform exceptionally well.

There are numerous bonus types you can offer but two of most effective are higher commission rates and cash bonuses. Which bonus types you choose to offer is up to you but both are effective in encouraging affiliates to promote your products or services. You could also use both bonus structures.

Let’s look at how we can setup each bonus system.

Cash Rewards

A cash reward bonus is when you award an affiliate a cash incentive for performing well. For example, you might offer affiliates a $50 bonus when they reach their first 100 successful conversions, or perhaps $100 once they have reached $5,000 in earnings.

Setting up cash bonuses is simple with the Performance Bonuses add-on, a recently released add-on from The Perfect Plugin. Once installed you can configure the bonuses you wish to offer from the settings screen:

Performance Bonuses Settings
Performance Bonuses Settings

You can setup an unlimited number of bonuses and each enable pre-requisites for specific bonuses, permitting you to build multiple levels of bonuses that affiliates can work towards.

To help incentivize affiliates, the available bonuses and the affiliate’s progress towards each can be shown in the affiliate area:

The Bonuses shown in the affiliate area
The Bonuses shown in the affiliate area

Studies have shown that in sales positions, high performers are responsible for producing 67 percent more revenue than average performers. And in many cases, the only thing separating your average affiliates from your top affiliates is a lack of motivation. Cash bonuses are a great way to help boost affiliates’ motivation.

Note: Performance Bonuses is a 3rd party add-on available from the author’s website. It is not included with Professional or Ultimate licenses.

Higher Commission Rates

An alternate, though just as effective, bonus system uses tiered commission rates to reward high performing affiliates with a greater percentage of each sale they generate.

A tiered rate scheme often looks something like this:

  • 0 – 100 referrals = 20% commission rate
  • 101 – 200 referrals = 25% commission rate
  • 201 – 500 referrals = 30% commission rate
  • 501+ referrals = 35% commission rate

As affiliates sale more, they earn more. It is a simple but very effective way to encourage affiliates to promote your products or services.

The Tiered Affiliate Rates add-on makes setting up a tiered performance bonus exceptionally simple. Just add the tiers in the settings pages and let your affiliates do the rest.

Tiered Affiliate Rates

Whichever bonus model you choose to implement, they can offer significant incentives for your affiliates.

Pippin Williamson

About the author: Pippin Williamson is the founder and CEO of Sandhills Development.


  1. How do you track bonus offers if you are doing affiliate marketing to make sure only one bonus per sale is given away?

    For example if I give away a bonus for people to buy through my link, how do I make sure I only deliver that bonus one time per purchase?
    And someone does not send their receipt to friends to get the same bonus?

    I am new to affiliate marketing, and so I’m worried.

    What do you recommend?
    If this takes off, I need to be able to stay organized, I see this getting out of hand real fast…

    1. I’d recommend not giving away a bonus to the affiliate per sale, since they are already getting their affiliate commission. The Performance Bonuses and Tiered Affiliate Rates add-ons mentioned in this article will only award the bonus or new tier when a specific number of referral or earnings is reached. If you actually meant “bonus” in terms of the actual referral commission an affiliate usually receives then not to worry, AffiliateWP is designed to only give the commission to the affiliate when a sale is made.

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