Appointing a dedicated affiliate manager to oversee your program and partners is crucial to its success.
Nearly all networks offer a service that involves an element of program management. This SLA (Service Level Agreement) will come with an additional cost that does not always equate to the desired outcome.
This network management will be able to provide network, industry and even competitor analysis. But, will often lack the tailored resource needed to manage your specific program.
In this instance, appointing a dedicated affiliate manager to oversee your program can help reach the right levels of success.
What is an Affiliate Manager?
An affiliate managers key role is to oversee all the websites or apps that are promoting your brand and for which you reward with a commission for any action (sale/lead).
Most, if not all of these affiliate partners will be housed through a traditional affiliate network or a white-label option.
Recruiting an affiliate manager in-house or through an OPM agency (Outsourced Program Management), should be the same. They should act as a part of your current team. That means they are knowledgeable of your product or service and are able to identify key audiences that your brand appeals to.
The better-qualified affiliate managers will have a good understanding of other digital channels and how customers interact with these through their purchase journey.
Remember, affiliate marketing is in essence a payment model more than a channel. Within it, you will be interacting with partners that cover content, display, PPC, website conversion optimisation and much more.
This is why it is vital in order to engage and negotiate with this varied range of partners that your affiliate manager understand different digital channels.
Affiliate Manager’s Daily Activity
No two days are typically the same in affiliate marketing, but on a daily basis, your affiliate manager will be covering some of these key tasks.
An affiliate network is a great place for affiliates to find and apply to a range of different affiliate programs.
As such, your affiliate manager should be checking publisher approvals daily and vetting any site that wants to promote your brand.
Once approved, I would recommend a personal message to introduce the manager and the brand. This can all be automated but engages new publishers from the start.
The first 24-48 hours of a website applying are the most important. Maintain the momentum of them wanting to onboard and promote you by approving within this timeframe.
Never rely on your network for all your recruitment though. Your affiliate manager needs to be actively seeking and looking to onboard partners he feels are a good fit for your brand.
Essential Reading: 36 ways to find and recruit new affiliates.
Actively talking to your affiliates will help keep them informed and engaged with your company.
How you break this down will depend on your time and resources. But, I encourage regular calls and meetings with your top 10 and less frequent email messages with those between 11-20. For the rest of your program, regular newsletters should suffice.
The email or phone correspondences with your affiliates could cover a range of queries. It could be an introductory website overview or a simple request in grabbing a code.
By giving the affiliates as much info as they need to be successful you should be lessening the need for them to speak to you with regards to more mundane, admin tasks.
A simple email flow can cover where to find their links, or offers and give information on best sellers or key messages. This can be automated through a CRM upon the affiliate signing up.
Essential Reading: Affiliate Emails: 4 Ways To Better Communicate
Every website you work with could have individual asset requirements, whether it is just a merchant page or more specific exposure.
These will take time to brief in and get built, while your affiliate manager needs to make sure they encourage the greatest number of clicks.
You can cover the generic sizes with your affiliate banners in the network. But, again these need refreshing every couple of months and assessing whether they are working hard enough.
After you have created robust terms and conditions when you launched your affiliate program. It is important to ensure they are being adhered to.
The necessary areas of compliance to focus on as a priority are:
Coupons – Make sure no one is stealing any other partners exclusive codes or is promoting non-affiliate offers.
PPC – If you don’t allow affiliates to bid on certain keywords surrounding your brand you will need to check daily.
Tip: Check out of office hours, as this is typically when some might take the opportunity to break the program terms
Content – This is about ensuring your brand and its content is being placed only on the sites you have specifically approved
Essential Reading: The Four Foundations Of Any Successful Affiliate Program
It is incredibly important to continually measure the success (or not) of your affiliate program. Typically these are against internal company KPI’s (Key Performance Index) and will require daily, weekly or monthly reports.
Every affiliate manager should be using their network data as a source of decision making when it comes to optimisation of their program. So, ensure they are adept in this area.
To make things easier to digest, it is sometimes worth using third-party tools. They will aggregate all your affiliate numbers into a custom dashboard you can build against internal KPI’s.
For example, all my brands like to see like-for-like numbers. So, gross revenue before returns/declines etc. But, without some manipulation, networks nearly always show net as the default revenue figure. Which makes my third-party reporting tool a necessity.
Essential Reading: Managing Affiliate Network Data In Google Analytics
The affiliate network you have chosen to go with is more than likely the essential hub of your program.
It is where the majority of all transactions are tracked/paid and where your affiliates will learn and engage with your brand. This means it is essential to keep it updated and make sure all affiliates are being paid their earned commission.
Start by covering the basics and your banners, product feed and profile terms are all updated regularly.
Next, your affiliate manager should be keeping on top of any transactions queries. They also need to check if invoices and commission payments are being made regularly.
This activity in the background will ensure the smooth running of your affiliate program to keep your partners happy.
Resource: Essential Affiliate Tools
To supercharge your affiliate program, your affiliate manager should be getting placements with key partners.
Booking slots in newsletters, paid articles or with website banners can bring essential eyeballs to your brand. The hope then, is that the eyeballs turn into customers.
But, ROI needs to be factored into every decision. An affiliate manager should be finding opportunities and negotiating coverage to fit within their ROI targets.
Often, this can take meetings, calls and back and forth emails till both parties are happy. Then the affiliate manager needs to get any assets or content created. In addition, setting commission or tenancy payments up in the network.
When you extrapolate this throughout the program and the number of potential opportunities this can become essential, but time-consuming.
As you can see, the role of an affiliate manager is a varied one. But, they are key players to getting the most out of your affiliate program.
If you need any more guidance with regards to affiliate management and what you might need as a company. You can drop me a note in the comments section or reach out to me through my contact page.