10 Ways to Engage Dormant Affiliates

January 17, 2022
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Recruiting your affiliates is the first step to building a successful affiliate program. You’ve already put in the time to initially recruit, onboard, and engage your affiliates, but the work doesn’t stop here. Keeping your current affiliates engaged and reengaging inactive affiliates can be an exhausting process. Sometimes inactivity among affiliates is inevitable no matter how hard you try to prevent it. So what do you do with your inactive affiliates? Our article addresses this very question. We’re going to review our top 10 ways to engage dormant affiliates (and revitalize your affiliate program in the process).

In A Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing, Geno Prusakov says “Sooner or later every affiliate manager has to face it--most affiliates on board the affiliate program are inactive. Some have christened it a 5-80 rule: 5% of your affiliates do 80% of the work.” So, how can you engage the other 95% of affiliates? Read on to find out.


Who are dormant affiliates and how are they different from active affiliates?

Dormant or inactive affiliates are idle affiliates within your program. In contrast, active affiliates generate activity for your company. Dormant affiliates aren’t labeled solely based on the number of referred sales. Other categories of inactive affiliates are affiliates who receive:

  • Impressions from banners and/or links but no generated sales
  • Clicks but no sales
  • No clicks and no sales

Active affiliates are exactly the opposite. They drive impressions, clicks, and/or sales for your company.

Sure, you can let dormant affiliates stay inactive and you can spend your energy recruiting new affiliates, but inactive affiliates are an easy target. They’re already involved and clearly expressed interest in your program, but now they need additional encouragement and tools to continue to promote your products or services. So, if they’re so interested in your program, why did they become inactive?

There are various reasons why including:

  • General business/fatigue in their own lives
  • Not receiving enough encouragement or support from you to promote your products or services
  • Confusion on how your product works
  • Better incentives offered by other programs

It’s easy to speculate on causation, but difficult to determine what’s made an affiliate dormant without directly asking them. Contact your affiliates directly or send a mass survey asking your inactive affiliates about their dormancy. To better organize the survey process, create an affiliate group of only dormant affiliates. Affiliate groups allow you to categorize your affiliates by type. Designate different rights to different groups and send emails to any selected affiliate group of your choice. This way only your inactive affiliates are targeted.

And this perfectly leads us to our next section.

10 Ways to Engage Dormant Affiliates

#1 Send an enticing “we miss you” email

When “we miss you” emails and other welcome back emails don’t add value to the affiliate marketer, these emails can come across as desperate. But simply because an affiliate is inactive doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you. Perhaps they were derailed by another company’s offer or neglectful because of something in their professional or personal lives. Either way, it’s important to remind them of your existence and add value to your email. What do we mean by “value” exactly?

For example, a general sales reengagement email offers an incentive to reel customers back in. TheVitaminShoppe’s “We miss you” email below incentivizes purchasing from their store. The email was targeted to inactive customers who hadn’t purchased a product of theirs within three months, with the goal of getting them back into their “healthy habits” aka purchasing from their store.

Alt text: vitamin shoppe we miss you discount emails

In your welcome back/we miss you email, use a similarly enticing offer.

Craft a special offer for your inactive based comprised of one or a few of the following ideas:

  • A bonus for the next sale (some affiliate programs offer $50 for a sign-up bonus)
  • A contest with exclusive prizes targeting dormant affiliates
  • Promotional pricing (offering 20% off discount codes for an affiliate to purchase your products, or offering an additional percentage off for the affiliate’s followers)

There are two ways to message your existing inactive affiliates:

  1. Email affiliates by group or individually
  2. Send an inactive affiliate newsletter

With LeadDyno, you can do either or both. With method one, target your inactive affiliates by splitting them into groups.

You can also split inactive affiliates into separate groups by type of inactivity. For example,

Group 1: Inactive affiliates with no clicks and no sales

Group 2: Inactive affiliates with clicks but no sales

Group 3: Inactive affiliates with impressions from banners and links but no generated sales

After splitting the affiliates into types or groups, send out emails targeting each group’s individual needs.

Any payouts or incentives are best communicated through email or newsletters.

Affiliate newsletters are one of the best communication methods because they keep your affiliates engaged in selling your products. Use them to alert your affiliates about

  • New features
  • Sales
  • Products
  • Updates to your program

In your email to your inactive affiliates, remind them of your commission/payment structure and add in an additional first sale bonus or other incentives in the process.

Using an application like LeadDyno allows you to track leads generated by each affiliate. When you sign affiliates up to your program, you can give each of them a unique link. With these links, you can track every impression, click, and sale. Tools like LeadDyno provide a consolidated view of how each affiliate performs, allowing you to track and analyze their progress and send commission payments to them directly.

#2 Giveaways

Giveaways are another incentive for dormant affiliates. Your affiliates became your affiliates for a reason: they believe in your company and in your company’s products and/or services.

There are three ways to successfully create a giveaway campaign:

  1. Give away free promotional products for your affiliates to review.
  2. Organize a competition with prizes for affiliates. Who doesn’t want to compete for an extra bonus or a free $200 gift card?
  3. Give away early access to new features or product releases.

These giveaways are effective motivators for dormant affiliates. You’re giving them special access to offers unavailable to the public and to common customers. The increased exposure and revitalization of your inactive affiliates make giveaways an easy engagement strategy.

#3 Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts aren’t only for the children among us. They’re a great strategy to get your affiliates actively exploring your website and your products. The more familiar they are with your products, the better they’ll be at marketing them.

Follow the traditional scavenger hunt format by asking your dormant affiliates simple questions regarding your website and your products. For example,

  • “We offer returns. How many days do you have to return a product to our store?”
  • “What year was our company founded?”
  • “What are our top three selling historical-fiction books?”

Or you can also host a treasure hunt by providing item names only and instructing your dormant affiliates to locate those items on your site.

Incentivize it by exchanging a completed questionnaire to increase an affiliate’s commission, offer a product sample, or the chance to enter a sweepstakes to win an iPad. Anything to get your affiliates engaging with your brand is a winning strategy.

#4 Increase commission for a limited time

If you don’t have time to put together an elaborate scavenger hunt, no problem! Consider increasing commissions for a limited time. This is also the perfect opportunity for that “we miss you!” email.

In the above example, we created, notice how we’re not using a forceful tone. We remain friendly and open but also casually add in our extra 5% commission incentive.

#5 Attract sales with coupons

Who doesn’t want to save an extra dollar or two or twenty? Coupons are a great way to attract new customers. A study at Claremont University discovered that receiving and using coupons decreased stress and decreased oxytocin levels (which are associated with happiness) by 38%! And there’s more. 80% of shoppers who use coupons say they feel smarter.

Coupons are a triple reward: they help affiliates sell your product by providing a discount to the consumer, your business makes a sale, and the affiliate receives a commission from the sale.


#6 Allow affiliates to test drive your product or service

Give your dormant affiliates a sneak peek into a new product or service you’re offering. Not only does your affiliate get a free product, but also, you’ll receive feedback on it before it is shared with the public, allowing you to work out any kinks in production. Trusting your affiliates with this task further fortifies their respect for your brand, increases brand loyalty, and increases their investment in your company’s success.

#7 Provide support to your dormant affiliates

If your dormant affiliates are struggling to make a sale or get impressions, email, or mail them a guide or starter kit. Providing support means offering your affiliates the opportunity to contact you when they’re struggling or need help. Offer your email address and address any relevant questions related to your program. Affiliates want to rely on you. They appreciate it and offering support builds necessary rapport.

Have affiliates that need constant hand holding? Send them a link to your marketing blog or send them any relevant material about your product.

Keep your answers succinct and use templates for frequently asked questions. Give your affiliates any and all resources to aid them in their success.

#8 Ask for their feedback

Dormant affiliates are the best resource for useful feedback. There’s a reason they’re not actively engaged with your affiliate program so find out why. Ask for feedback on your products and on your affiliate marketing campaigns. Affiliate marketers typically endorse products they believe in, so find out what’s blocking their progress in your program.

Additionally, ask what affiliate marketing materials they might appreciate now or in the future. Then, you can adjust your marketing strategy to better serve the needs of your affiliate team.

#9 Share recognition and success stories for your program

Share affiliate success stories on your website or on your social media channels. Feature your top earners and recognize them for their efforts. Everyone wants to feel appreciated.

Create an “Affiliate Features” page and show your affiliate marketers you have an investment in them as people and not only as marketers.

#10 Organize a webinar

In the year of the internet 2021, COVID introduced us all to the glories (and perils) of Zoom. Physical meetups are difficult and often expensive, and your affiliates tend to be spread out around the world. Webinars for affiliates offer an alternative due to their lack of physical limitations. Interact with your dormant affiliate partners online. This personalizes it as they’ll put a face to a name. Consider using Google Hangouts or Zoom to organize these large-scale webinars. Google Hangouts allows up to 24 participants for video calls, and the free version of Zoom allows for 100 participants. Include breakout rooms and Q&A sessions, share affiliate updates, and foster organic conversation in a safe environment.


But all is not lost! Even though it may seem like a challenging task, there are ways to reengage your inactive affiliates. And we’re here to help. We hope these tips will make the process a little less daunting for you and help you keep your affiliate program running smoothly. Have any other tried and true methods for reengaging affiliates? Share them with us in the comments below!

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