Recently I spent some time on the phone with Evan Weber, CEO of Experience Advertising Inc., discussing what makes an amazing affiliate manager. For those of you who already know him, I’m sure you know he is a wealth of information on the topic. For those of you that aren’t familiar with him or his company, head on over to their website http://experienceadvertising.com/ and check them out. They have some amazing affiliate resources that will teach all types of strategies for online marketing. Evan is the self-described “ultimate affiliate manager”, who is extremely passionate about what he does, and doing it very well. He has been in the online marketing industry since the late 1990’s, and is well-versed in all types of Internet marketing including: SEO, pay-per-click search, social media, affiliate marketing, ecommerce, email marketing, and more.
Evan, what makes a great affiliate manager?
There are many characteristics to being a great affiliate manager, such as being very friendly, outgoing, proactive, helpful, and knowledgeable about online marketing. Many affiliate managers however get thrust into that role without any previous online marketing experience. They don’t have the background or the skills needed to really help their affiliates become better affiliates; and most importantly they don’t connect with them as friends and build the relationship. Your affiliates are your salespeople on the web and should be treated like gold and spoon-feed whatever they may need. They should be responded to immediately and facilitated as much as possible to promote the company or offer. Unfortunately, too many affiliate managers don’t take the time to get to know their affiliate,; but rather just push offers on them and expect them to produce sales. I like to get to know every affiliate my agency works with on a personal basis, so I can analyze what they are doing with their online marketing and provide helpful suggestions and strategies. I find this is always received really well and I get a lot of positive reinforcement from the affiliates I interaction with in this way. I look at it more as an opportunity to help them expand their online project, rather than a means to an end.
How would you advise affiliate managers to become better affiliate managers?
There definitely needs to be a good process in place in place for how everything is handled related to the affiliate program, from screening and approving, to maximizing the EPC average, to sending quality newsletters on a frequent basis. The two most important factors to growing an affiliate program are recruiting new affiliates and managing current affiliates. Many companies have a good amount of affiliates signed up, but not really many participating. You need to do something to set yourself apart from the other 1000’s of companies they could be spending time promoting, like running exciting sales contest with guaranteed prizes. Also, communicating and messaging your affiliates is of the utmost importance and should be done amazingly. “Being there” for your affiliates on a 24/7 basis is always the best policy in my opinion, so people don’t have to wait to be approved or for their question to be answered. It also shows you are there for them, whereas your competitor may not be, so you will win their loyalty.
Another valuable part of the affiliate management process is to have a really good affiliate strategy in place; ask yourself “What are we doing to grow our affiliate program?” This needs to be evaluated on a monthly basis. Focus on how you are inspiring your affiliates to produce more traffic and sales, as well as how you are recruiting new affiliates from sources like affiliate networks, search, and Facebook. Personally contacting each and every affiliate and offering to have a phone call with them is a great way to increase participation and get more affiliates inspired.
So it would seem a good affiliate manager has to be knowledgeable to be effective?
If you want to be a great affiliate manager you have to educate yourself! You need to have a strong skill set in HTML, SEO, site building, site editing, search engine marketing, newsletter sending, content strategies, and social media. In order to help your affiliates learn, grow, and produce, you have to be an expert in your field. There is so much free information out there, use it to become a better online marketer yourself so you can impart that knowledge to your affiliates. Also, make sure to always build relationships with your affiliates, and be accessible. They shouldn’t have to wait until Monday to be approved to be your affiliate. While they are waiting for you to approve their application, they have already been accepted to your competitor’s affiliate program.
What do you think about how to fully maximize an affiliate program?
An affiliate program is never fully maximized. You always have a certain amount of people participating and a certain amount producing traffic and sales. The key is to increase the overall recruits and participation levels, so more traffic and sales will be generated. Regarding recruiting…there are always more producers out there, and you need to go out and find them. Remember, your affiliates are not a means to an end. Get to know them, their niche, their needs, and work on building the relationship. Then you can expect to have a large, productive affiliate program.