So what does this have to do with marketing or affiliate managing? Other than I am in these fields and wanted to share a cute picture of the cat sleeping on the husband, it's a good metaphor for inactive affiliates.
Now, the only reason our cat is sleeping on him is because he's asleep and doesn't know it. If he were awake, the cat would be hitting the floor in less than a minute. At any moment he can wake up and kick Lunchbox to the curb (yes, my cat is named Lunchbox). So since he's asleep, the status quo of the cat sleeping with him is maintained.
He could wake up at any time and the cat will be gone. An inactive affiliate could wake up to your program at any time and decide to clean house, drop your program, heavily promote your program, or just leave the cat on their lap - you never know. This is a good argument for why affiliate managers should leave inactive affiliates alone and not deactivate them. Use the "wait and see" tactics as a manager. It's actually less work for you to leave inactive affiliates in the program (but still keep track of how MANY are inactive and reach out periodically) than to continually try to weed them out. And they could end up being great affiliates in the long run.
Now, this is what I've heard EVERYWHERE, but I have to tell you - honestly, inactive affiliates annoy me. I understand their reasons for signing up then not doing anything, I really do. I've done it myself. But in my professional life, I'm a neat freak. I like to keep the program tidy and make sure that the performers are being represented and those that are asleep at the wheel are not. Additionally, the more inactive affiliates are in our program the more dragged down our EPC gets.
We're not the first company of our kind with a strong affiliate program, so trimming the fat is necessary to keep our EPC up and really stand out amongst the competition. Right now I see this as a necessary evil of the rat race. Eventually I hope that our EPCs will be good enough even with the less active affiliates to be a more wide open program.
In the meantime, just answer my email and let me help you :p