For businesses looking to maximize their marketing return on investment, affiliate marketing is a worthwhile option to explore. This technique involves paying commissions to third-party partners (affiliates) in exchange for promoting a brand’s products and services.
Done well, it’s a great way for businesses to grow their audiences and gain respect in niche communities. The trick lies in balancing a whole host of affiliate program management duties to ensure continued success.
An affiliate campaign needs, for instance, the right affiliates — ones with the type of audience a brand is looking to attract and the right skills to properly promote the target products and services. Those affiliates typically need some guidance when getting started, and they’re likely to continue to have questions down the line.
At the same time, most affiliate programs need someone to track numbers, watch market trends, and make analyses that gauge their program’s efficacy. The list of essential duties goes on. Affiliate campaigns are about more than just adding a few partners and hoping they’ll bring in new sales. There’s a great deal of optimization that influences success, and it’s an affiliate manager’s job to stay on top of it all.
The following will explain what an affiliate marketing manager is and highlight the vital role within a brand’s marketing scheme.
Recruiting and Onboarding New Affiliates
For an affiliate program to work, it requires partners to promote the brand’s goods and services. Sometimes these partners will seek a business out, but it’s often the job of a good affiliate manager to recruit the program’s best possible affiliates.
Competent affiliate managers have their fingers on the pulse of whatever industry they’re working with, so they’re more readily able to identify potential partners — like bloggers, influencers, reviewers, or YouTube personalities — who are a proper fit for the brand.
An affiliate manager might send out dozens of affiliate recruitment emails in a single week. In addition to attracting those partners to the brand, affiliate managers are responsible for onboarding those recruits to understand what’s required of them. This often involves training new affiliates on the ins and outs of the program, so they can hit the ground running and start promoting the brand without delay.
Supporting Affiliates and Managing Relationships
As time goes on, affiliate managers adopt a coaching role with respect to affiliate partners — supporting them so that they can maximize referral traffic.
For instance, managers might provide educational material to affiliates, informing them of the best promotional channels to use and strategies for enticing potential customers. This allows partners to stay on top of trends and adjust their approach based on conversion data gathered by the affiliate manager (as opposed to just winging it).
Alternatively, managers might advise on copywriting techniques or even generate personalized content on behalf of affiliates to distribute to their audiences, which aids them in brand promotion. These are just two examples, of course, but the broader point is that good affiliate managers play an active role in affiliate success.
All the while, affiliate managers facilitate the ongoing relationship between a business and its affiliate partners. A manager must identify a brand’s top-performing partners, then serve as a go-between who can answer questions, resolve issues, and keep the partnership running smoothly for the benefit of all parties involved.
Tracking Metrics and KPIs
There’s an abundance of numbers that can indicate an affiliate program’s performance. An affiliate marketing manager is responsible for tracking these numbers and then analyzing them to make recommendations to a business on how to adjust its affiliate programs for improved performance.
This requires knowledge of the most critical metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to follow — beyond the total sales a program generates. Should the business be placing emphasis on the click-through rate? Conversion rate? Average order value? An affiliate manager can determine what’s most important and set up the proper tools to record the necessary data.
From there, a manager will know the right questions to ask to assess the health of the affiliate program, such as:
- What’s the program’s conversion rate compared to other marketing channels?
- What’s the program’s overall return on investment?
- Are affiliates staying active? How is performance distributed among affiliates?
- Is the program bringing in a steady influx of new customers?
These and other queries are vital to learning how a business can optimize its affiliate performance, which is another element that falls within an affiliate manager’s purview.
Maintaining Affiliate Program Health
Affiliate marketing managers take several steps to strengthen the programs they manage. Using the insights they gain through program analysis, they can identify what’s working well and what needs improvement, then take the appropriate corrective actions.
For example, say an affiliate manager notices that new customer growth has fallen due to a lack of affiliate engagement. They may determine that stronger affiliate incentives are necessary to improve partner activity and that a refresh of marketing and creative materials might bolster their promotion efforts. These types of determinations are in addition to the routine upkeep most affiliate managers will perform, which includes:
- Purging low-value affiliates from the program
- Investigating potentially fraudulent affiliate activities
- Keeping links, landing pages, and other online material up to date
Strong managers stay on top of every aspect of the affiliate program that they can control to keep this marketing channel growing and the leads flowing.
Affiliate managers are a key component in campaign success. They take on and streamline several tasks that businesses might otherwise overlook, providing the extra edge necessary to maximize both the quality and quantity of inbound leads.
Without an affiliate manager, most affiliate programs drift, rudderless, and fail to meet the expectations set forth by their respective brands. It’s important for businesses to invest in competent affiliate program management, complete with cutting-edge affiliate channel tools like LeadDyno.
With these elements in place, it’s much easier for brands to keep their affiliate programs flexible, adapting to changes in the market, and anticipating trends that might alter the best way to achieve affiliate success.