A Day in the Life of Brand Affiliate Managers

A Day in the Life of Brand Affiliate Managers

Being a brand affiliate manager is hard. You have to overcome major hurdles not just in your role, but alongside the industry as a whole. The affiliate and partner marketing industry has a wild history, which explains a lot of the struggles of being an affiliate manager. 

 

OVERCOMING AN OUTDATED REPUTATION

First of all, there’s the C-suite. By and large, they are part of an entire generation of people who don’t trust affiliate marketing. From their perspective, they saw the affiliate industry as the “wild west” with no incremental revenue, no attribution, and nobody knowing what was going on.

 

They don’t see how the channel has evolved, and still view it as “scammy”. They’re happy with what they know, and don’t give the time or money to give the channel the chance it deserves.  

 

Meanwhile, you’re competing with other channels. While in fact CPC is increasing, no one seems to be aware that the affiliate channel is a proven, low-risk reliable partner to traditional paid media and paid social channels. 

 

Then there’s this problem with data. It’s really, really difficult to get industry benchmarks that help with the image. There’s no trusted authority who can help validate the channel to people outside the industry. Now, virtually every conversation you have is trying to change people’s minds.

 

There is still a fraud reputation issue, particularly in the US, and although it has evolved since the “wild west,” it is still a lingering problem.

 

PROVING (AND CONSTANTLY IMPROVING) YOUR PERFORMANCE

You have to work with publishers and make sure the content put out is quality, built on trustworthiness, and reflective of the brand. You’re sharing data and creating a two-way conversation to get better results, more conversions, and more customers. But with last-touch attribution, the right people aren’t always accredited the sales. 

 

Post-pandemic, it’s never been more important to diversify your partner bases. Some key partners aren’t reliable anymore, while others are entering the fold as viable publishers who want to work with brands.

 

Then there’s this looming question of what changes to privacy and cookies from browsers means for the industry.

 

FINDING AND LEVERAGING EXPERIENCE

Now what would really help is a competent, experienced, agile team to help you tackle all these problems. But… It is such a challenge to hire the right people with the right skills. And with a general industry lack of brand affiliate manager certification, training or professional development… it’s more or less impossible to get a specialist without training every skill set yourself.

 

That’s… a lot. A WHOLE lot to manage.

 

And we know that you need support. Which is why we’re bringing together brands and publishers to build partnerships at Affiliate Summit West. We’re also designing an agenda tailor-made for YOU that will help you:

 

  • Get the most from your partners

  • Prove the value of the affiliate channel

  • Take partnership programs global

 

Because as wild as the origin story of affiliate is, the future is full of nothing but potential. And the best part about being in this industry is coming together to connect and share knowledge that will help us succeed in that bright future. All it takes is a little imagination.

10 Things Affiliate Managers Should Equip Affiliates With

10 Things Affiliate Managers Should Equip Affiliates With

Earlier today, every affiliate marketer aboard Amazon Associates program received the following announcement:

Amazon Associates' Idea Hub

We are being told that Amazon Associates‘ newly-created “Idea Hub” is meant to equip its affiliates with “content ideas such as inspirational promotions, events, deals, and products throughout Amazon in one place.”

The idea isn’t new. We’ve been encouraging merchants to put together such affiliate resources for nearly twenty years. It helps your affiliates by acquainting them with your program and what you sell, equips them, and gets their creative juices flowing. But what exactly should you equip your affiliates with? Of course, you could offer a myriad of things, but at bare minimum, we recommend providing them with the following ten:

1. Product Information

Sounds simple? It is for you, because it’s your product and no one knows it better than you. But affiliates, generally, participate in multiple affiliate programs and it is those that go the extra mile of educating them about their product(s) that truly stand out. We recommend putting together affiliate-centric slide decks highlighting the features and benefits of your products or services, and equipping affiliates with them.

2. Keywords

Keywords help with focus. Whether it is paid search efforts, hashtags on/for social media marketing, or search engine optimization, affiliates appreciate guidance on the optimal keywords and key phrases that characterize your product or service. RingCentral realizes this and on their Affiliate Program Best Practices page they equip affiliates with the keywords to consider:

RingCentral affiliate program best practices

3. Demographic Insights

Help your affiliates understand your primary target market. Start with the basics (gender, age, income), diving into the details (children, religion, ethnicity, etc), and cover also the geographic piece. Ensure that they are equipped with this knowledge to market you to the right audience(s).

4. Lists of Bestsellers

Regardless of what you sell, you know what sells best. This data is invaluable for affiliates! So, share it with them, providing respective deep links (or tools/ways to grab these), creatives, landing pages, and any other product- and audience-specific insights.

5. Reviews & Testimonials

On a recent call I’ve had with ConsumerAffairs.com, their rep gave perfect definition of a consumer review. He called it “a sales pitch from an existing customer”. That’s exactly what it is!

Consumer Reviews

When your prospective buyer enters the consideration phase of the sales funnel, other customer’s testimonials become a powerful marketing tool. As with all things marketing, you want to include these in the arsenal that empowers your affiliates to sell.

6. Videos

If there are any helpful promotional videos that you may provide to your affiliates, please do! Some affiliate tracking platforms would enable you with tracking video plays as conversions, others would allow equipping affiliates with video creatives… Whatever you have to work with, videos are powerful. They boost engagement and increase conversions. If you have them, do provide them to your affiliates.

7. Promos

No, you do not have to discount the product to offer promos. Instead, these could include an offer of free shipping over a certain amount, bundles, and other non-discounting ideas. Let me also emphasize something important here: contrary to a popular belief, promos (and coupons) aren’t “necessary” for building a solid affiliate program. They do aid in the conversion, but you don’t have to work with coupon-oriented affiliates and/or offer coupons to leverage affiliate marketing effectively.

8. Top-Converting Landing Pages

We talked about your best-selling products. Top-converting landing pages may or may not be related to these. Whether it is a product- or a promo-related landing page, if there’s something noteworthy about it in terms of its performance, do share this information with your affiliates. Steer clear of disclosing any sensitive data (which may hurt your relationship with other affiliates) but do let your affiliates know what converts best. Conversion rate is a key metric in their earnings formula.

9. Marketing Planning Calendar

To ensure aligned marketing, furnish your affiliates with a marketing planning calendar. Inform them of the key marketing efforts/plans and the exact dates when to expect the respective affiliate creatives, tools, landing pages, and promos to be made available.

Marketing planning calendar

[Source]

10. Best-Performing Channels

Finally, appreciating that affiliate marketing is not a channel of marketing, analyze which marketing channels perform best for you, and equip your affiliates with this data. This will help them prioritize the techniques and promotional methods that have the higher impact, and stay away from low potential ones.

So there you have it: your own top-10 list of the insights to equip your affiliates with. Now it’s time to build your own killer affiliate resource center and/or breathe a new life into your affiliate newsletters!

7 Things Successful Affiliate Program Managers Do

7 Things Successful Affiliate Program Managers Do

Your affiliate marketing program is a serious marketing campaign that requires diligent ongoing involvement. Unlike some may think, affiliate program management is a full-time job; and within its framework the affiliate (program) manager should be taking care of seven very specific things which I’d like to cover for you in this blog post. There are five that correspond to the key responsibilities that every affiliate manager has, and two that ensure the solidity of the base on which the five stand. It is helpful to visualize affiliate program management as a façade of a building that rests on five pillars which, in turn, rest on a foundation and a footer (as exemplified below).

affiliate-management

Education

There are a few good courses and books devoted to affiliate management education and training out there (including a few authored by yours truly); and while they are definitely worth delving into, the education that should be the undergirding basis of everything that you do in affiliate marketing, is your ongoing self-education. By its very nature, affiliate marketing touches every possible online marketing channel. This makes it an extremely dynamic and quickly developing industry which, in turn, calls for daily time spent on self-education.

Networking

To paraphrase the famous saying, what you know will give you direction, but it is who you know that make things moving. Too many a time we have witnessed what a difference a direct connection means (especially when it comes to the first two of the five responsibilities described below). You will hear it time and again that affiliate marketing is a business model that is founded on the idea of an ongoing relationship. Believe it; and spend time creating new connections, developing those that require nurturing, and cementing old ones.

Moving on to affiliate manager’s duties, every manager should be expected to actively attend to the following five tasks: recruitment, activation, policing, communication, and optimization.

Affiliate Recruitment

An affiliate program manager is responsible for identifying and recruiting new affiliates. Affiliate recruitment should take anywhere between 70 percent and 85 percent of the affiliate manager’s time and is one of the most important parts of the program manager’s work. After all, affiliates are the main driving force of every affiliate program.

Affiliate Activation

Affiliate activation is one of the most frequently overlooked components of affiliate program management. Activation is a step between affiliate recruitment and conversion of the recruited affiliates into producing ones. I believe that activation should be practiced in three phases: the recruitment phase (where you motivate affiliates not only to join your program but also to put up your links and refer their first orders/leads), the welcoming phase (where you motivate affiliates to get active in the very text of the application approval email), and the routine phase (where you run aggressive monthly activation campaigns to move those who are already in your program but not yet active).

Compliance Policing

Next in importance to recruiting and activating affiliates is the policing of inappropriate affiliate behavior. Whatever you prohibit in your affiliate program’s terms of service (TOS) — be it cookie-stuffing software, typosquatting, paid search bidding on your trademarks, URL, or any variations of misspellings of these — you want to constantly police affiliate compliance with these rules. Rules and TOS do not ensure compliance, but give you grounds to police and enforce it.

Communication

An affiliate manager should also be expected to support a two-way communication channel with affiliates. I believe this responsibility is threefold: maintaining stimulating relationships with the current affiliates and continually motivating them to perform better, keeping affiliates up-to-date on new products and any affiliate program enhancements, and handling ongoing communication campaigns and all affiliate correspondence.

Optimization

Continuous affiliate program optimization is the final area of responsibility worth underscoring. Every affiliate manager is to be identifying and implementing opportunities to enhance your affiliate program, developing and monitoring affiliate-centered promotions (do not confuse these with promos directed at customers), reporting for affiliate marketing promotions and activity, monitoring competitors’ affiliate campaigns and promotions, and uncovering what actionable knowledge can be deduced from this data.

 

All of the above will be covered at great extent during my upcoming Affiliate Management Days conference, the only show dedicated specifically to affiliate management, which is set to take place on April 3-5, 2016 in San Francisco. Use code ZAC to get 25% off any full pass. I hope to shake your hand there.

 

This article was contributed by Geno Prussakov, who call be followed on Twitter at @eprussakov.