I was asked to speak at ShareASale ThinkTank 2013 on the topic of what to expect from an affiliate manager. Here are the basics offered to affiliates in the 30-minute discussion last week in Denver.
The good news is, the affiliate managers that were present at ThinkTank are good enough to follow these basic rules. There are also many great managers out there that add value to both the merchant and the affiliate. The bad news is there is an even greater majority of managers that fail in every possible way. Your job as an affiliate is to find the right programs with the right managers and never be afraid to ask questions. Many affiliate programs are run by the owners of the company, the marketing people with 22 other jobs or just someone assigned to figure out what affiliate marketing is all about. Which means they don’t really “get it”.
You should expect an affiliate manager to respond to your questions or application within 24 hours. It’s our job to be helpful in a timely manner. If they don’t answer, try again. Then give up at some point and move on to a competitor.
Best Practices Training
Our job as affiliate managers is not to teach you how to be affiliates. Our job is to teach you how to sell our products. We can help here and there but we will send you to resources such as Shawn Collins Extra Money Answer and others. We can give you best sellers, best categories, best links to use, seasonal opportunities and ideas.
Being an Advocate for Merchants and Affiliates
Affiliate Managers are paid by the merchants to work with affiliates. In general, we have to obey the merchant and enforce the rules they impose. But that doesn’t mean we can’t argue on your behalf. Highly profitable ideas come from the affiliates on the front lines of sales. It is our duty to pass along recommendations and advocate ideas that will help affiliates, as long they don’t hurt the merchant.
Give Real Effort to Fix Issues
Our datafeed has missing images? On it, we will contact the merchant immediately and pester them until it’s fixed. Many things are out of our control but we need to be the ones pushing for change. Paypal tracking not working right? When affiliates notice things like this, everyone benefits because it could be affecting the merchant in all marketing channels. As soon as it’s fixed, everyone makes more money across the board.
Running a Clean Program
If you read this blog, you know I run clean programs. I keep the paths as clean as possible to make sure content affiliates have higher conversions. I don’t want to run the numbers up in the program just to look good. My goal is to shoot for as many new customers as possible and to not degrade other channels. It would be nice if more programs were managed this way.
VIP Commissions Based on Performance and Effort
I appreciate effort more than performance sometimes. Many managers/merchants only reward the top affiliates. What if most of them are not putting forth the effort of reviews and unique content and combinations of datafeeds and other tools? Why should they get paid more for doing nothing extra? Work hard and work with us and we will reward you. But don’t demand it because of who you think you are.
Monthly Newsletters that are Relevant
We send newsletters every month for our programs and we make sure they are relevant to the best practices paragraph above. Many affiliate newsletters come across as customer newsletters. Hey, buy this now, you’ll love it. No, we give affiliates the tools and ideas they need to pre-sell to customers. No fluff. Keep it simple. We send them as needed so sometimes they come more than once a month but never daily or weekly. We also don’t send them on the first of the month when all the other 3,000 newsletters show up in your inbox. We want you to actually read our newsletters because they will help you make money.
These are the tools you need for success. The fresher the better. Even though I have one program with banners older than me, they still work. The datafeed is updated daily, so that counts. If you think the banners are ugly, tell the affiliate manager. If you have a suggestion on the datafeed, tell them. If you want a vanity code, ask.
This gets a little harder for those of us that are busy with multiple programs but a good manager will find time to review your site with you as it pertains to a merchant’s promotions. Show us your landing pages, ask us for best practices. I won’t give away other affiliate’s secrets but I can point you in the right direction. Don’t use that banner, promote this product instead and use this text link. Add this image and get rid of that paragraph.
Honesty and Professionalism
I shoot from the hip. I didn’t rehearse this ShareASale presentation. It’s how I manage programs every day. I give honest feedback and expect the same in return. I love my job and I have a good time doing it but I want these relationships I’m building to last a long time. Affiliate marketing has its challenges and managers don’t need to sugarcoat answers.
After my presentation, I heard from several affiliates how shocking it was to hear that they could ask affiliate managers for many of these things. One of them said, “I’ll be hitting reply on those emails more frequently now that I know what’s going on behind the other computer.” Affiliates need to do more to build the relationships with good merchants and managers. If you aren’t getting what you want from them, move on to the next merchant that is willing to help you as much as possible. We really do exist!
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