This morning I've got an interesting email in my inbox, apparently from someone that has read one of my articles (so after all someone is reading what I write). I think it was one of these: "6 Tips for Affiliate Managers: or "Affiliate Merchants Mistakes". I'm going to copy paste the email below because it's actually raising some good questions:
Hello there, I read several of your articles. In one, you mentioned wishing that people would ask for advice on how to become better affiliate marketers, and that there are so few people asking for advice.
Well, I want to put my product on affiliate networks and do it right, in a way that treats my affiliates well, where everyone is happy and makes a profit. While there's a lot of information of varying quality on the internet about how to be a good affiliate marketer (as in selling other's stuff through affiliate networks), there is very little information about how to be a good affiliate manager (using affiliates as a way of driving your business).
Do you have any advice on how to set up good affiliate programs that will increase my sales and make my affiliates happy?
Indeed there is less information out there about managing affiliates than information for the actual affiliate marketers. And of course I won't be able to put on this blog post the holly grail of the affiliate management. But what I can do is to say how to start and this is about having the right mindset.
The right mindset when working with affiliates
If I were to describe how you should work with the affiliates and put this only in a few words, then that would be: affiliates are an external sale force and you should treat them like you treat your regular sales. Let me explain:
Your sales people should know the product. Same for the affiliates.
Basically what affiliates do, they make a pre-sale of your product and prepare their site visitor to buy from you. This means that they should know your product features and benefits in order to make an efficient sales speech. For the affiliate managers it means that they should "teach" the product to the affiliates.
Your sales should have access to tools and additional materials to make the sale. Same for the affiliates.
They need marketing materials, banners, keywords, product descriptions and the right tools to use all this on their site. For the affiliate managers it means that they should provide the materials and the tools to the affiliates with ease.
- The activity of your sales people should be tracked and analyzed. Same for the affiliates. First, the tracking will help affiliates adjust their sales speech and marketing strategies for the best conversion ratio. And not only how many sales they did, but also keyword tracking, revenue per click, and buyer behavior. Affiliate managers should provide the best reports money can buy to their affiliates and also use reports to efficiency based management.
Sales people should be rewarded for performance. Your affiliates just as well.
About 10% from your affiliates will actually make some sales, while the rest will be dormant. To keep things going, affiliate managers should reward the selling affiliates with incentives to keep them happy - this will help them sell even more.
Of course the 4 points above could hardly answer the question on how or what an affiliate manager should do. But it's a great exercise to get into the right state of mind.
PS: if you are looking for information on affiliate management, then this forum comes first to my mind.