4. Sales incentives. Structure your commission rates so that you have additional margin to offer sales incentives. For example, perhaps you are launching a new product line and you want affiliates to focus their marketing efforts on it. If you have room in your commission structure, you can offer a temporary increase — or perhaps sales bonuses — for hitting established revenue targets. I addressed sales incentives here previously, in “Affiliate Marketing: 3 Incentives to Drive Sales.”
Treat your list well. Remember that the people you're using email to communicate with have trusted you with their email and name; they deserve your respect. Just as you deserve as a chance to convert them from customers to fans and even evangelists for your brand, people who want to talk about and share your message and get involved in any way they can.
In some ways, trying to establish a direct affiliate marketing relationship with a merchant is a lot like trying to get an advertiser to run a campaign on your site. But there is a major difference here that you should consider when reaching out to establish direct relationships: the biggest hurdle to overcome from the perspective of the merchant isn’t a cash payment (as it is with advertising) but rather an administrative burden.
If you run a B2B blog, and you want to promote affiliate deals (but you don’t want to sell), check out RevResponse. This affiliate network will pay you to promote free resources to your readers. You’ll be paid between $1.50 and $20 per download. The value to the advertiser is that they will be able to connect with your audience. If you run a content marketing program, you can use this platform to reach audiences outside of your existing visitors.
But to go back and answer your question as far as typical ROI, I would just say roughly if a business implements a referral program, you've got to keep in mind that typically you're not paying these affiliates any upfront fee. You just paying a percentage commission for a referred transaction, whether it's a dollar amount, whether it's a percentage of their order total.
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Take the email below from Paperless Post, for example. I love the header of this email: It provides a clear CTA that includes a sense of urgency. Then, the subheader asks a question that forces recipients to think to themselves, "Wait, when is Mother's Day again? Did I buy Mom a card?" Below this copy, the simple grid design is both easy to scan and quite visually appealing. Each card picture is a CTA in and of itself -- click on any one of them, and you'll be taken to a purchase page.