Powerful Affiliate Incentives: The Ultimate Guide

January 6, 2022
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Affiliates can help you reach a wider audience and lend their trustworthy voices to your brand to bring you more customers and sales.

But how do you make sure they keep their energy up and work harder at referrals to increase your sales constantly? Using affiliate incentives to deliberately reward your high-performing affiliates — whether with money, gifts, special offers, achievement rewards, or something else — can help motivate them to keep driving sales.

The Benefits of Affiliate Incentives

It takes time and effort to find and engage quality affiliates. Once you find them, though, your work isn’t necessarily done. Keeping them engaged or re-activating stagnant partners is often easier and more cost-effective than going out and starting from scratch with someone new.

Incentives give affiliates more reason to stay loyal to your brand and lend their authoritative voices to promote your products or services. Research shows that recognition leads to increased productivity in the workplace. Although affiliates aren’t the same as employees, the same logic holds. The more plugged-in people are, the better performance you can expect from them.

Incentives aren’t only to make your affiliates feel good. That increased motivation for affiliates to stay on their toes and keep actively promoting your brand means increased referrals. And the more referrals your affiliates bring in, the more sales and revenue for you.

6 Affiliate Incentives and How To Use Them

A good incentive program is both enticing to your affiliates and practical for your business. Money talks, but it’s not the only option. Below are a few ideas.

1. Increased Commissions

A good way to incentivize affiliates in your program is to increase their commissions from time to time. Give them time-specific commission bumps — say, for hitting a quarterly or holiday goal. Performance-related bumps, like bonuses for doubling their leads or for every additional lead above a goal, can motivate them to become more strategic.

Keep a tiered commission strategy and use automated affiliate compensation models. It will fire up stagnant affiliates and make sure they work harder. For instance, if they know that a 20% increase in sales will give them 5% more commission, they’ll stay on their toes.

Gaining commissions on more leads and referrals tells affiliates that you need them to put in more effort — and that you’ll reward them for doing so. But before increasing their commissions, make sure you have the budget for it. Research what your competitors are offering to make sure you’re not paying lower or discouraging rates.

2. Offers and Deals

Giving discounts and good deals on your products or services will get your affiliates working harder. Try giving them a discount on purchases and subscriptions. Allow them to share these codes with their followers. It will give them an edge over competitors, which means more business for you. ‌

An alternative is third-party gift cards like Visa or Amazon cards allowing your affiliates to choose their rewards. And if you have affiliates who already buy from you, reward them with store credits. They’ll get to make more purchases of their favorite items without spending from their own pockets.   

Also, give affiliates access to your latest offers and content. Benefits like these make them feel like a part of your business and get them doing everything possible to bring you more customers.

3. Free Gifts and Merchandise

Free samples when new affiliates sign up for a program are common, but when’s the last time you treated your affiliates to your product? Keep the early enthusiasm going by continuing to share branded goodies with affiliate partners — and send things you think they’ll like. They’ll feel recognized as a person, and they might be motivated to share the products to their channels. 

Try sharing branded merchandise with affiliates to help them feel like a part of something bigger. Whether or not your business has logo merch, find a way to send T-shirts or mugs with your logo to affiliates.

Also, provide bonuses and store credits they can use to purchase products from your store, or even consider sending third-party gift cards they can use on whatever they want. This random gifting drives goodwill and endears your brand to your affiliates.

4. Gamification

Sales gamification is a tried-and-true tactic for driving results, and you can use it with your affiliates. Turn tasks into achievements that come with a reward, whether virtual or tangible.

Streaks that come with bonuses are popular.  For example, you can create an A-streak bonus that unlocks higher commission rates at specific intervals, such as when someone achieves a 10% increase.

Consider building a platform where affiliates can view one another’s profiles and progress. Create healthy competition with a leaderboard every affiliate can see to know where they rank compared to other affiliates. They should all be able to track referrals and receive streaks. 

Knowing their place on the leaderboard will motivate them to get more strategic in drawing more clients to you. That’s because they see how other affiliates are faring in the program and what’s at stake for them too when they up their game.


5. Leveling Up

Affiliates who feel like a part of your business will work harder toward achieving the business goals because your success will feel like their success, too. You can increase their sense of association with — and their investment in — your brand by involving them in your business activities. 

Let them in on your plans. Ask for their ideas on marketing strategies. Allowing them to develop marketing strategies and hearing their feedback on how they’d run them will make them feel like they are a part of your company. You can also send periodic newsletters to update them about upcoming activities and inventions that your sales and marketing teams have brewing.

For smaller affiliates, consider creating landing pages with a special gateway — and maybe even a discount code — for their audience so you can welcome their click-through visitors.

6. Guides and Updates

Aside from the initial welcome package outlining your program, boost your affiliates’ promotional effort by encouraging them through different program levels. You can congratulate them when they hit new marks.

And as they progress, provide them with any new information about the program. Let your affiliates in on upcoming changes, new ideas, and ongoing promos or bonus offers. But don’t stop there — solicit feedback from them. Find out how they’re managing the program, and obtain ideas on how to improve their program experience. And provide them with tips on optimizing the various aspects of the affiliate program.

Also, let affiliates know that you’re seeing their hard work by sending automated notifications when they hit targets. And where you notice an affiliate dropping off, find out why, and offer to get them back on track. It will inspire them to increase their efforts to promote your brand.

General Tips for Handling Affiliate Incentives

Cultivating relationships with your affiliates will make your program more successful and place you ahead of competitors. No matter which incentive program you decide to try, keep a few general best practices in mind.

Operate within your capability. 

Before embarking on an incentive program or model, make sure to consider your budget. You don't want to start something you won't be able to continue. Also, where a reward is a one-time thing, remember to mention it to affiliates so they don't expect it sometime soon. 

Check what your competitors are doing.

Be on the lookout for their commission tiers and the rates they offer their affiliate partners. Make sure that yours is more flexible and favorable to affiliates. 

Review your incentives regularly. 

Don't set up a commission or reward system without committing to regularly reviewing it. Check in on incentives and their rates according to your revenue rates. Confirm your incentives are being delivered on time and at the right intervals, to be sure your affiliates are getting what they signed up for. Use these reviews to understand which programs are performing well and ensure the return on investment makes sense for the results the program is driving.

Save time with a reliable and automated system. 

Find an affiliate software that will be useful for tracking affiliate performance and rewarding them when the time comes. Referral software will help you pay commissions, manage affiliate incentives, and track referrals and performance for you, freeing up your time to attend to other business needs. It makes the reviewing of incentives simpler, too. LeadDyno’s easy affiliate tracking software integrates easily with third-party platforms like CRMs and email marketing platforms and will show you the performance of each affiliate and which marketing channels bring in the biggest bucks.

Make More Sales with Affiliate Incentives

Motivated affiliates work hard to make your referral program work for them — and for you. Incentivizing affiliates drives performance and results, keeping your existing affiliates engaged. Avoid stagnating affiliate partners by compensating and incentivizing affiliates for both fulfilling their regular role and for when they go above and beyond with outstanding performance, too.

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