The 3 Cs of Affiliate Programs with Matt McWilliams

When Matt McWilliams started his affiliate program in 2004, he took the three blog posts he could find on the topic and built the successful company we see today. He has trained over 300,000 affiliates in the past ten years and continues to help other entrepreneurs and affiliates achieve success to heights they once thought unrealistic. Part of his secret to success lies in three key points he calls the three Cs. From his experience, using these essential points in an affiliate program ensures greater success and better synergy among all involved in the process.


Contests provide additional incentive for your affiliates to push themselves farther than they may have otherwise gone. But many programs limit the effectiveness of their contests. McWilliams says, “The big mistake I often see big affiliates make: We got a top 10! Number 1 for this launch gets a prize!” And then he follows with the question, “Well, what about 11th place?” These kinds of contests may incentivize your top runners, but they will likely have a demoralizing effect on your remaining affiliates. Instead, build programs that offer minimum prizes.
You want contests to be fun and engaging. Setting up prizes from a minimum standpoint opens up the fun to more affiliates and encourages everyone to keep pushing—not just the best. Here are a few examples:

  • Base Sales: Every affiliate to make five sales get access to a digital course. Or everyone who makes ten sales wins entry to a networking event.
  • Raffles: Every 25 sales enters an affiliate into a drawing to win various prizes.
  • Make a top leaderboard. Why just show the top 10? Show the top 50, the top 100 if you have a program that can support it.

Involving as many affiliates as possible in incentivized contests will produce more outstanding results. It gives everyone something to work towards other than a quota and encourages friendly rather than bitter competition.


When it comes to communicating with affiliates, you want to over-communicate. The biggest mistake McWilliams sees is when a big product launch comes up, and the program gets their affiliates fired up. When the product launches, they stop communicating. Communicating before, during, and after events is necessary to ensure your affiliates stay on top of their sales. If you are worried about repetitive content becoming bland, McWilliams has a few tips on keeping things interesting.

  • Share content. Make them feel a part of the process. Give them some behind-the-scenes access to the upcoming promotion.
  • Hammer in the dates. You cannot be overly repetitive when it comes to highlighting key upcoming dates.
  • Give them a plan. Guidelines help affiliates fall back on a predetermined structure when they need it.

Communicating with affiliates cannot be stressed enough. McWilliams believes one should communicate “on average 3-4 times more than you think.”


Coaching your affiliates involves making them well-informed on the product they are selling and providing strategies to use. The most important thing to do is share the strategies, phrases, wording, etc., that works or does not work for you. You do not have to share the complex formula of success or failure that you have experienced, but share the principles of those formulas. If this sounds like you should be treating your affiliates as internal marketing, you would be correct. McWilliams believes an affiliate treating events or product launches to be the top success factor in affiliate programs. Using these three Cs to nurture an atmosphere where affiliates treat a product like their own, everyone achieves greater success.

Beyond the wealth of information GLO members received from Matt McWilliams, those who attended the live event gained access to thousands of affiliates. Be sure to take advantage of our live events to gain more of these unique opportunities.


EJ Niemczyk

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