The Complete Guide to Sales Force Incentive Compensation by Zoltners, Sinha and Lorimer equates “incremental sales” with “salesperson sales” or “those sales that require sales force effort” (pp.
Such an approach perfectly fits the affiliate marketing context. In the framework of affiliate programs, advertisers often analyze affiliate performance looking at it through the prism of incrementality. Are affiliates driving new business or those that would have occurred without their involvement anyway?

In preparation for Affiliate Management Days SF 2014, I have recently interviewed Chuck Hamrick, a well-known affiliate marketing veteran who will speak at AM Days for his first time in two weeks, and asked him: “With the vast majority of merchants interested in having their affiliate programs drive truly incremental business, what types of affiliates you would recommend they recruit, and why?” Chuck replied:

My preference is a mix and it takes time to recruit productive affiliates to your program and get them active.

Partner with 1-2 PPC affiliates who “bid the gap” for your merchant, finding terms they missed. Pick 5-10 coupon/deal sites that are responsive to getting your ads up quickly and taking them down when expired.  Content/Review sites are great and will need content/videos. Bloggers have low conversion so you need a bunch. Offer samples for reviews.

Datafeed/price comparison needs a detailed datafeed with sales price (often left out). Partner with a few loyalty but insure they are not using software to hijack others sales. Specialty affiliates can be tested such as email marketers, contextual, third party tool sites, cart abandonment, social. Be open minded as affiliates are the R&D arm of online marketing. When in doubt, talk to the affiliate directly.

You may read the full interview here, or listen to Chuck share more of his wisdom in San Francisco (on March 19-20, 2014) during the Inside the Mind of the Super Affiliate panel and his Using Affiliate Forums and Blogs to Create an Online Reputation session.

Image by Renjith Krishnan via