10 Activation Techniques for Your Dormant Affiliate Partners

How can you prevent partners from becoming dormant? What about once they are dormant? Here are 10 tactics to help engage inactive partners.

Anna Weeks
Senior Associate

When scaling affiliate programs, it’s not always possible to keep all partners engaged. Some partners go from being top partners to not driving any traffic for the program. Although it’s natural for some partners to become dormant overtime, it’s important to regularly engage with them to maintain those relationships, and better yet, prevent disengagement in the first place. 

What does it mean to be dormant?

A dormant partner can mean a few different things. For instance, dormant partners can include:

  • Click active and revenue inactive
  • Click inactive and revenue inactive
  • There are even more dormant partner classifications depending on the event types tracked  (ie. click active, trial inactive, etc.) 

The timeframe you’re measuring is also important when assessing dormant partners; typically 3 months is a reasonable amount of time to determine if a partner has become dormant. Keep what kind of partner they are in mind as well; a small blogger will have a different amount of clicks driven than a large CPA network. You should also consider when the partner joined the program and their past performance to get an idea of if they’ve declined or increased overtime.

Why did these partners become inactive? 

Before you attempt to re-activate, first diagnose why partners are becoming disengaged. For instance: 

  • Have they tried promoting and the material didn’t connect with their audience? 
  • Are they lacking the resources to make content? 
  • Are they dissatisfied with their commission structure? 
  • Are other affiliate programs or sponsorships more lucrative? 
  • Could a technical error be messing up their tracking? 

To answer those questions, begin by assessing how many partners have become dormant, how their relative performance has changed, and what similarities they share. Split them into groups. To get more granular, send out a survey to affiliates who have gone dormant to share their pain points and provide feedback, offering an incentive for filling it out. You can also learn a lot by studying the top partners in a program and what makes them successful. Use those insights to develop a targeted reactivation approach.

10 Effective Activation Tactics to Engage Affiliates

A one-size-fits-all activation approach often yields poor results, so it’s necessary to tailor your strategy depending on affiliates’ wants and needs. Here are 10 activation techniques that will effectively reengage dormant affiliate partners so they can start driving revenue and remain active in the program.

Offer Incentives

One of the most effective ways to activate dormant affiliate partners is to offer them incentives for their participation. This includes things such as increased commission rates for a limited time, bonuses for reaching specific performance milestones, or exclusive access to promotions and discounts. Offering incentives can help motivate inactive affiliates to engage with the affiliate program and start generating revenue again.

Provide Training and Support

Another way to re-activate partners is to provide them with training and support. This could include things like educational materials, webinars, and one-on-one coaching. Understanding the nuances of how different types affiliates promote is key to making the most out of all partners in a program. Creating training materials which cater to specific partner categories is the best way to provide affiliates with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. Doing so can increase their confidence and motivation, which eventually leads to better performance and revenue generation.

Update Affiliate Tools and Resources

In many cases, dormant affiliates may not be generating revenue because they are not using the most effective tools and resources. Oftentimes, affiliates may not know how to access promo codes or creative assets, so when onboarding a partner, sharing an Affiliate 101 guide will not only allow the affiliate to be more likely to get started but also reduce the burden on affiliate program managers; a win-win for everyone. If an affiliate is using outdated materials after they’ve been in the program for some time, sending regular creative refreshes as they are released will help them stay on their game and prevent them from becoming disengaged. Updating and improving the tools and resources available to affiliates can help to make their job easier and more effective, making it more likely they will engage with the affiliate program. 

Communicate Regularly

Maintaining regular communication with affiliates is another important way to activate dormant partners. This could include things like newsletters, email updates, and personal phone calls or messages. Staying in touch with affiliates can help to keep them informed about new developments and opportunities within the affiliate program, and can also help to build relationships and foster a sense of community and collaboration.

Personalize the Affiliate Experience

Personalization can also play a key role in activating dormant affiliates. This could include things like tailored marketing materials, personalized commission plans, and customized support and advice. One way to do this is to familiarize yourself with what partners have already created and offer new content ideas or constructive feedback based on their existing material. Personalization makes affiliates feel valued and appreciated which will in turn increase their engagement and revenue generation.

Create Exclusive Partnerships

Another effective way to activate dormant affiliates is to create exclusive partnerships with them. This could involve offering affiliates exclusive access to new products or promotions, or providing them with unique marketing materials and support. Taking a white-gloved approach isn’t possible for all affiliates in a large global program, so identifying the ones with the most potential for scale is key. To do this, you can evaluate past performance or look at their website visitors to see their reach. Exclusive partnerships can help to create a sense of exclusivity and value which will motivate affiliates to engage more actively with the program.

Highlight Success Stories

Sharing success stories from other affiliates can also be a powerful way to activate dormant partners. This could involve sharing case studies or testimonials from affiliates who have experienced success with the affiliate program, or highlighting the achievements of top-performing affiliates on the program's website or social media channels. This can also be a tactic when onboarding partners so they can see the value of joining an affiliate program. Sharing success stories can help inspire dormant affiliates to take action and achieve similar results.

Leverage Social Proof

Leveraging social proof is another effective technique for activating dormant affiliates. This could involve sharing customer reviews and ratings, showcasing the number of customers or conversions generated by the affiliate program, or highlighting the media coverage and industry recognition that the program has received. As of 2022, affiliate marketing has a market value of $17B with affiliates responsible for 16% of online sales. The potential is here. Educate your affiliates so they can see it too. Leveraging social proof can help to build trust and credibility with affiliates so they are more inclined to invest time in engaging with the program.

Create a Sense of Urgency

Creating a sense of urgency can also be a powerful way to activate dormant affiliates. This could involve announcing limited-time promotions, offering special rewards for affiliates who achieve specific milestones, or highlighting the benefits of joining the affiliate program before a certain deadline. This is an especially effective tactic to use when a new product is releasing and the brand is looking for an extra push. Creating a sense of urgency can help to motivate inactive affiliates to take action and start generating revenue again.

Provide Recognition and Rewards

Finally, providing recognition and rewards for affiliates who are actively engaged with the program can also be an effective way to activate dormant partners. This could include things like awards and accolades for top-performing affiliates, exclusive access to events and conferences, or public recognition on the program's website or social media channels. Providing recognition and rewards will let affiliates know they are appreciated and help them foster loyalty to the affiliate program overtime, ensuring engagement in the long term.

Final Thoughts: The Art of Activation 

While the above are all potential activation tactics that can yield valuable reengagement from partners that were active before, there are some other considerations to keep in mind. 

Activation efforts can be effective. However, like many core affiliate management activities, it’s important to look at the return for time spent. If you run an activation campaign targeting the same partners every month, you may be overdoing it. Conversely, running an activation campaign once a year is leaving opportunity on the table. There’s a sensible balance of how many partners to target with what frequency and with what incentivizes. This is the art part of affiliate marketing. 

Our team doesn’t believe in a singular approach that works will for all programs. Some programs have upwards of 50,000 partners and others have less than 100 partners. The activation efforts for these programs radically differ. Likewise, some brands ship new features fast or launch new product liens often; in these examples, if there’s more to work with to engage partners, the frequency can be higher since there’s more to work with. 

Building an effective activation strategy requires understanding the history of your program, the mix of engaged and dormant partners, the availability of incentives and updates to engage partners, and the opportunity cost of activation efforts vs. other affiliate management effort. In sum, activation efforts are part of a larger strategy of where you’re taking the program and what your goals. 

There isn’t a quick and easy way to prevent disengagement from affiliates; having an active affiliate program that can scale requires personalized attention, care and dedication to the partners by rewarding them for their efforts. Building a robust global program begins with a solid foundation, so don’t neglect your partners for the sake of growth and spend time learning why something is working as much as why something isn't working. In the partnership world, if you work well together, everyone reaps the benefits.

Thanks to Owen and Faique for reviewing this article.