Just what is an activation bonus? Basically it is a reward (of some sort) paid to an affiliate for joining a program and becoming “active” by beginning to promote that program.
The Superficial Bonus
The most common Activation Bonus seems to offer immediate gratification in the form of: 1) Join my program and put up a link, 2) Send me an email showing me where you put that link, and 3) I will put a $5 bonus in your account. The amount may be different but I have seen a lot at the $5 level. Even if this scenario were to offer $50 it is NOT a good approach. I call this a superficial bonus because, while it may get a few affiliates to sign up, it does little for the serious growth of your program.
Imagine this scenario. The part-time, Mr. Moonlight Publisher, announces to his wife at breakfast. “Hey, Honey, I’m taking you out to lunch. I just made 20-bucks from Dandy-Merchant for putting a banner on my site. Yeah, and I just put it on top of the other forty banners*** on that page. We’re starting to make money – we had seven visitors on that site this month.”
Good? Not good? Do you really want that kind of exposure for your brand? You make the call.
Serious Activation Bonus
A more meaningful payout for the affiliate and a much better “activation” for your program might discourage that first affiliate but may attract an affiliate with an established following. There are many creative possibilities – but don’t just offer a cash-for-a-link deal. You might say that commissions on the first two sales will be doubled. If it is a relatively high-commission item that might be good incentive – and you will have some sales generated. You might also offer a (reasonable) increase in commission if two sales are made within the first 30 days and/or an increase in cookie life (maybe from 30 to 90 days). One that would certainly interest me would be an increase in commission level after making five or ten sales – with no time constraints. (Note that I am NOT advocating a tiered commission structure. Some well-experienced marketers love tiers but I do not – but my reasons would be food for another discussion.)
To which program do you think the serious affiliate would give consideration? Almost a no-brainer. Which affiliate would you rather have in your program. Again, a no-brainer. 🙂 Keep in mind, however, that the serious affiliate will look at more aspects of a merchant’s offer than just commissions before deciding whether or not to invest his/her time in activating your program.
*** Of course if you were not “Auto Approving” affiliates into your program you wouldn’t have that banner farm in there. heh