Ah, the “how many do I need” question. This rears it’s head so often that I believe I’ve written this blog post 4 times in the past, unfortunately I can’t find any of those to link to. Before I answer this question, let me ask you a few of my own:
- If I told you the right number was 100 affiliates and you had 100, would you stop looking for more?
- If 4 affiliates generated the revenue you forecasted from your affiliate channel, would you consider your program a success?
- If 1000 affiliates generated the revenue you forecasted from your affiliate channel, would you say you need more from less?
- What percentage of your time do you dedicate to recruiting new partners?
- What percentage of your time do you dedicate to helping your current affiliates earn more?
Maybe your saying, “Jamie, why so many questions?” Well, this question often comes from the same place. Somewhere, up above you, is a superior who looks at the numbers, knows very little about affiliate marketing, and wants to pull the levers needed to grow the program. “We need more affiliates” they say. That may be the case, but maybe not. Number of partners in your programs may not be a KPI for success in any way.
Ok, my turn to answer a question. How many affiliates do I need? As many as you need. There you go. Enjoy the rest of your day!
You didn’t think I was done did you? Why such a simple answer? Because affiliate marketing is more complex than simply pulling levers to produce sausage. It’s relationships, strategy and consistent performance from your affiliate management team over time. So, it’s not as simple as “well we have 100 producing affiliates, and we need to grow by 20% this year, so just add 20 more affiliates.” It doesn’t often happen that way.
It can also be a crutch. If your goal is 120 affiliates, or 10,000, and you reach that, your job simply isn’t done. You can have 30,000 affiliates (we have clients with that many) but that doesn’t mean you’ll hit your revenue goals. You need producing affiliates and you need to work to get there. If you use the “number of affiliates leads to success” methodology, you may simply not be able to find the number of affiliates that this line of thinking may lead you to believe you need. They may not exist.
You need partners in your program. That is for sure. But you need relationships more. Each day you need to dedicate time to finding new partners and growing those relationships. Each day you need to dedicate significant time into activating and optimizing the relationships you do have. Focus your time on those things and not so much on how many affiliates you have. You’ll see more success this way.