An affiliate manager oversees affiliate publishers on behalf of an advertiser. They will recruit, manage the program, work with current and prospective affiliates answering questions and resolving issues. Their job also involves optimizing the program, working with the network, ensuring compliance and analyzing the program activity to find areas for improvement. It requires someone who is data-driven, can multi-task, and is relationship-focused.
Because of the rise of affiliate marketing, there are a variety of books and events designed to help affiliate managers become more successful. A book that I have found super helpful and breaks down exactly how to excel at running an affiliate program is “Affiliate Program Management: An Hour A Day” by Geno Prussakov.
I’ve compiled a list of key tips that I have learned along the way that have helped me become successful. This isn’t a comprehensive list but it’s a great place to start for someone who is starting their career in affiliate marketing or for anyone wanting to improve their skills.
1. Research the Product and Industry
Before you can manage an affiliate program, you need to have extensive knowledge of the product.
Learn as much as you can about the product, the customer, competitors in the space and general knowledge about the industry. The more you know about the product, the better equipped you are to answer questions and come up with strategies.
2. Set Your Program Up for Success
Make your program compelling. Set up a comprehensive overview within the network so potential partners can see the benefits of promoting your products and how they will be compensated. Provide your partners with all the tools they need to succeed. This means having updated creatives & promotional offers. The easier it is for them to promote and the less work they have to do, the more they will want to work with you. Don’t just limit yourself to adding banners and graphics in the network. Develop a sales pitch for your affiliates and give them all the information they need on your product and company. Show them what sets you apart from your competitors and give them examples of how other successful affiliates have promoted your product. Provide them with lifestyle images, videos, and even product samples so they are enthusiastic about your brand.
3. Focus on Affiliate Recruitment
Recruit, Recruit, Recruit! You should constantly be looking for new partners. You can’t rely on partners that you have in your program and should always be in recruiting mode. This article on affiliate recruitment explains in detail the strategies that are proven successful.
4. Work with Affiliate Partners
Recruitment is important, but there’s more to successful affiliate program management. In particular:
- Activate. You have spent a lot of time recruiting affiliates. Once they are in your program, engage with them, and activate them. Develop relationships from day one. They will get an email from the network but send out a personal welcome email encouraging them to reach out with questions or concerns. Let them know that this is a partnership and that you want them to be successful. Set up an activation bonus so they start promoting you immediately.
- Diversify. Make sure you are not reliant on one type of affiliate to drive sales. It’s not wise to put ‘all your eggs in one basket’. Make sure you have a good mix of affiliate partners.
- Optimize. Look at the various type of affiliates that you have within your program and look at optimizing each group. Content, blogs, and coupon sites can be optimized differently so it’s important to come up with tactics and strategies for each group.
5. Remember to Communicate
For me, this is one of the most important ways to set yourself up for success. Over-communicate with your partners. Send affiliate newsletters through the platform used to support your affiliate program, schedule monthly, bi-weekly or weekly calls and always be super prompt to respond to emails. I also like to give partners several ways to connect — email, Skype, and even phone calls. Be conscious of time zones so you know the best time to reach partners.
6. Be Strategic
- Plan for success and constantly evaluate your program for ways to make it better for partners.
- Have a promotional calendar that you share each quarter so that your partners know your key promotional dates. You may have some sales dates that extend beyond the usual retail dates of Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Black Friday & Thanksgiving.
- Does seasonality affect your product and should you plan key promotions around that time?
- Can you offer exclusive offers or bonuses to partners?
- Are there new product launches and if so, plan in advance with affiliates so they schedule posts and promotions around the launch.
- Can you send products out for review?
7. Invest Time in Relationships
I can’t begin to tell you how important it is to develop and cultivate relationships. Building strong relationships with your affiliate partners can make a huge difference to the success of your program. These relationships also need to be mutually beneficial. You need to view these relationships as partnerships where you are just as concerned about the growth of their business and what you can do to help them.
It’s also important to develop relationships within the affiliate world. Learn from others and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice.
8. Focus on Data
Rely on data from your affiliate program. Great affiliate marketing is always data-driven, as it’s data that going to show you what is going on and how you can optimize. Where are clicks coming from, who is converting, does mobile convert better than desktop, what types of affiliate partners perform best for you? I would advise you to dig into your program’s data as this will give you great insight and help optimize the program. I like to spend the first part of my day looking at the performance from the day prior. I also do a week over week review and month over month for the program as a whole and for top partners. Use data to make decisions.
9. Gain Industry Knowledge
Be knowledgeable about the industry. There are lots of ways to get involved and know what’s going on. Follow some industry blogs, get involved with the Performance Marketing Association, attend industry events where you can meet not only with partners but with others in the industry. Industry events will have a great panel of speakers and lots of workshops and breakout sessions. Check out the comprehensive list of Affiliate Marketing Conferences in 2019 here.
10. Give Back
Most of the above-quoted will benefit greatly if/when one learns to give back. After all, it’s a relationship-based industry that we work in!
Back in 2007, Missy Ward of Affiliate Summit started Affiliate Marketers Give Back. Since then, close to a hundred of affiliate marketers “helped to raise over $600,000.00 for organizations that fund breast cancer research, treatment, awareness and community programs.” But this is just one way you in which you could “give back.” You may also do this by sharing your time, knowledge and effort (like Geno Prussakov of AM Navigator does through his articles, presentations, and pro bono work), and in many other ways.
I’d love to hear if you have any tips or tricks that have helped you become more successful in your role. Please do share them using the “Comments” area under this post. If you have any questions, please contact us and we’d be delighted to help.