Affiliate Programs are being adopted by many Startups and established businesses as a channel to generate incremental revenue and traffic. However, like any other Marketing Channel, it’s imperative for you to ensure that your business has hired the right person responsible for managing the program.
In the current scenario, you find businesses investing in dedicated resources to manage their SEO efforts, SEM Campaigns, Content Marketing, Email Campaigns and so on; this helps you leverage on the experience and strategies of the person in-charge, and quickly focus on methods that would help you realize the objectives set for that channel.
Similarly, appointing the right individual for the responsibility of managing your Affiliate Program will ensure that your Affiliate Channel is meeting its goal, and is adding around 15% – 20% to your total revenue.
The responsibilities of an Affiliate Manager are myriad, which is why it’s important to look out for some key skills while hiring for your program.
The Responsibilities of An Affiliate Manager
Now the skills required for an Affiliate Manager would involve a good mix of Sales, Account Management, Internal Team Coordination, Content Marketing, Social Marketing and a bit more of the good online stuff. But before I start elaborating on the skills, it’s essential to understand the tasks that your Affiliate Manager will be performing on a day to day basis which is what makes the above mentioned skills important.
On the face of it, these are some of the important activities or tasks that your Affiliate Manager will be executing:
1) Recruiting quality Affiliates
2) Activating your dormant Affiliates
3) Conducting research of your competitors
4) Gauging Leads & Sales No’s & Commissions to be paid
Now these are just a handful of the very important activities that will be performed by your Affiliate Manager, however, just doing this will not help you in operating a successful Affiliate Program. Apart from the above your Affiliate Manager will also be involved in –
1) Analyzing Top Affiliates based on Clicks, Impressions, Leads & Sales
2) Building Commission reports for internal use
3) Discussing strategies with Affiliates to increases Sales generated
4) Coordinate on exclusively branded landing pages for trust
5) Work out bonus commissions
6) Coordinate with the Marketing Team for fresh Marketing Collaterals like Banners, Email
Templates and Promotions
7) Mailing & Keeping Affiliates well informed about any promotion underway
8) Comparing network results to analyze performance
9) Providing networks with the necessary marketing instruments required by the publisher base
10) Coordinating with Network on fulfilling Commission Payouts
How Do I Hire My Affiliate Manager – Internally | Experienced |Outsourced
Internally – you can consider sourcing your Affiliate Manager from the current pool of talent available within the company. This also helps if it’s not viable for you to invest in a dedicated resource for your Affiliate Program. Selecting someone from the Marketing Team (SEM Expert) to handle a dual responsibility will ensure that they have the basic understanding of Performance Advertising, and can learn the techniques of Affiliate Marketing as and when they interact with your potential Affiliates.
Hiring internally also means that you don’t have to invest time and money into educating your Affiliate Manager about your Product or Services, and they have already developed a rapport and working relationship with your Marketing Team. This comes in very handy with day to day activities at a company; the Affiliate Manager can easily coordinate with the concerned people and have essential Marketing Instruments created when required. Moreover, your Affiliate Manager can take back important points from manager or marketing discussions, and quickly create campaigns that would provide exciting opportunities for both your business, and your Affiliates.
Experienced – hiring an Affiliate Manager internally as its advantages as discussed above. However, it also involves a learning curve wherein the appointed Affiliate Manager would have to first understand the nuances of the program and build relations with Affiliates before the program can start seeing success.
This is where hiring an Affiliate Manager with experience can help out. The cost of hiring a dedicated resource for an Affiliate Program would be high, but it helps since the Affiliate Manager already understands what goes behind operating a successful Affiliate Program, and would have already developed a working relationship with a network of Affiliates. Additionally, if you’re hiring an Affiliate Manager that has already interacted with Affiliates from a separate category but attracts the audience that you wish to target, then you’ll start seeing results being delivered soon for your program.
For instance, if you’re a Fashion based E-Commerce website and you have recruited an Affiliate Manager who has had experience dealing with Affiliates that talk about Jewelry. Without delving too much into specifics about the demographic of the audience, your fashion based business will manage to leverage on the connections the Manager has already built.
Outsourced – as a business you can also choose to outsource your Affiliate Program to a network. What this offers you is the advantage of an inventory of publishers that can immediately pick up your campaign, and start promoting your services. Plus you have access to experienced personnel whose sole objective is to ensure that your campaign seems attractive to Affiliates, and that your objectives are being met.
The minor issue with the outsourced setup is that since the Affiliate Manager for your program is external to the company, they will find it tough to maintain a cohesive relationship with some of the stakeholders within the company. For instance, the Marketing Team, Sales Team, Customer Relationship Manager, Management and so on. These are important responsibilities of an Affiliate Manager.
Skills Required For The Responsibilities Of An Affiliate Manager
Sales – an Affiliate Manager needs to be able to place your businesses best foot forward while pitching your Program to a potential Affiliate. This is tantamount to the effort that goes behind closing a sale. It may require a few interaction between your Affiliate Manager and the Affiliate before the latter decides on partnering with the company.
An Affiliate is scouring across the Internet for businesses that can help him/her earn well in terms of returns, and for Products or Services that could offer value to their audience. You can be rest assured that your competitor has also tried approaching the same Affiliate asking him/her to promote their business; additionally if it’s a product that’s web based and can be accessed from a device using the internet then you could face international competition as well.
In this case your Affiliate Manager needs to explain the value that the Affiliate can derive off partnering with you, or the advantage that you offer over some of your rivals. It’s more of building a relationship of mutual trust and belief rather than hiring an external individual to just promote your service.
Account Management – it’s one thing to recruit good Affiliates, and another task to get them activated. While managing the program, your Affiliate Manager will be tasked with the responsibility of having to connect with really good Affiliates, and discussing the possibility and advantages of partnering with your business. At the end of some successful conversations, your Manager may even manage to get the Affiliate to Sign Up and partner with your business, but only to realize that the Affiliate hasn’t started promoting your business even two months down the line.
This is where your Affiliate Manager needs to continuously communicate with the partnered Affiliate. It’s essential for the Manager to understand the requirements of the Affiliate, and try to gauge if there’s something unique that your business can offer its Affiliate to promote the Product or Services well. Your Manager will periodically have to provide reports relating to your Affiliate regarding their Clicks, Sales or whichever other metric is important for your business. This helps the Affiliate strategize and understand what’s working and what’s not.
Constant communication between your Affiliates and your Affiliate Manager is crucial for your Affiliate Program to be able to meet its objectives.
Number Crunching – like for every other function numbers are also very important for your Affiliate Program. This is where investing in a good Affiliate Analytic software would pay off. Knowing which Affiliate is driving you a lot of your referral clicks, generating a majority of your leads, and who’s providing you the most conversions becomes very important when your business decides to create optimization strategies.
It just doesn’t end there; it’s also important to perform trend analysis to figure out cycles. For instance, in one month you may have received 500 Clicks and 50 Sales, and in the preceding month 700 clicks but just 40 Sales. At this point the responsibilities of an Affiliate Manager would involve having to export data, take a look at top performing Affiliates for both months, and then analyze what caused the rise in sales even with a lower number of clicks. Was it a special incentive, or well written content used by the Affiliate? This will help in pulling out trends to know what works and what may not, or devising bonus commissions that can help motivate specific Affiliates to do better.
Team Coordination – an Affiliate requires a range of material or activities to be completed in order to be able to successfully promote a business. For this to happen, your Affiliate Manager will need to effectively communicate and coordinate with a host of functions within your business.
For instance, you’re running a special promotion on one of your top selling Products for a particular month; there could be a few Affiliates that ask for a special landing page and special Banners to help promote your product, and simultaneously you need to ensure that your Affiliates are informed well in advance about the promotion. In this case, the Affiliate Manager will have to coordinate with the folks from your Marketing team to have the necessary prepared, and ensure that it gets delivered at the time requested for.
Additionally, constant coordination with the Finance team is required to make sure that Commission Payouts are made correctly, and at the scheduled time. If there’s one thing that an Affiliate doesn’t appreciate, it’s an unorganized payout schedule. Your Affiliate Manager will also have to regularly get updates from the Sales team & Account Management team to gauge the quality of leads & conversions being delivered by the Affiliates.
All of this helps the Affiliate Manager optimize his/her campaigns better, and make quality decisions.
Self Motivated – I would refer to this as a quality more than a skill, but this is equally important to have. Your Affiliate Manager should be someone who even in tough times can hold their cool and work towards achieving objectives.
It’s easy to get bogged down with the pressures of having to recruit quality Affiliates (they don’t come easy), and then working towards activating them to achieve tasks. Your program manager should be someone who has demonstrated through their experience how they’ve managed to perform even when the situation hasn’t been favorable for them.
Conclusion: The responsibilities of an Affiliate Manager are vast which is why it’s important to ensure that they pack the right set of skills needed to handle the program. It certainly pays off in the long run since you manage to recruit an excited bunch of Affiliates that are working hard towards increasing your Sales Revenue.
How do you manage your Affiliate Program? Have you hired internally, an experienced personnel, or outsourced it to a network? How’s it performing for you?