How To Know When Your Affiliate Management Relationship Has Lost That Loving Feeling
Valentine’s Day means different things to different people. For some, it's all about love and romance. But for others that just might not be the case.Have you ever been in a relationship where you put up with your partner but knew in your gut that you just weren’t happy? You knew you deserved better but it was easier to do nothing than take action? This predicament doesn’t just happen in romantic relationships. It also happens in affiliate management relationships, specifically those between a retailer and the network managing their program. One of the most common things we hear from retailers who’ve made the decision to leave their network-managed relationship is that, while they were unhappy, they couldn’t exactly put their finger on why. They might have liked the team they worked with but just didn’t feel that they were getting the attention that they deserved. And they were right. A growing number of retailers have begun to understand that partnering with a network to manage their affiliate program is not a best practice. If you too have started to recognize that you’ve lost that loving feeling with your network management, these three reasons may be the cause:
1. No Time for TLCIt’s well-known that in an affiliate network management model, one person often works across 10-20 accounts. With so many different programs to oversee, it’s near impossible for a program manager to give each retailer the time and attention they deserve. When an affiliate network manager’s attention is spread between so many different retailers, their efforts tend to be:
- Reactive instead of proactive, especially in terms of strategy and affiliate recruitment.
- Limited (or non-existent) in relation to new ideas for program growth and development.
- Lacking in consistent creativity, oversight and management.
2. Speculative SpendAsk any relationship therapist what one of the main sources of relational discord is and they’ll all tell you the same thing: money. When a network manages a retailer’s affiliate program, they often charge a single performance fee for both managed services and technology (tracking payments, etc.). Even though technology and services are very different, there really isn’t a clear understanding of the breakdown of these costs and the value of each. As an example, if you spent $500,000 with a network for managing your affiliate program, wouldn’t you want to know what percentage is going to technology and what percentage is going to services? Of course you would! That way you’d be better able to evaluate whether or not you’re getting good value in each area – especially since technology and services are very different. But in a network-managed partnership, that doesn’t happen. What if I told you that you could get high-quality tracking and payment for $120,000 a year? Would you still be willing to pay a $32,000 monthly “services” bill from the network for value-added services? Since the network doesn’t bill you separately for services, you don’t really get a chance to hold them accountable. What if they did nothing that month?
3. Conflict of InterestAt a digital marketing conference that I presented at last year, I asked the audience two questions:
- If they had a PPC Google campaign (hundreds of hands went up).
- If they would feel comfortable having Google as their paid search agency (every hand went down).
- Focus on the bottom line of the program
- Remove channel overlap
- Carefully monitor a program for fraudulent and low-quality affiliates. Low-quality affiliates may include:
- sites that make-up offers or force clicks
- affiliates pretending to be the merchant in pay-per-click ads
- e-mail spammers
- toolbar sites that steal affiliate credit and numerous other violators.