1. Our “Screening” of Your Affiliates Is Limited To Auto Approval
There aren’t many cases where an active affiliate manager should set your program to automatically approve affiliates. Fraud is rampant and many affiliate applicants should be rejected from the outset, especially if you are trying to maintain brand standards. Also, having a lot of inactive affiliates may be good for the stats, but it’s not good for the program.
2. When We Get a Chance to Market, We Market Ourselves
At industry conferences, many affiliate managers are often found promoting their management services rather than their programs—even though such events offer a rare opportunity to meet and recruit affiliates. This should be a warning about priorities. The best managers are found by referrals from existing programs they’re managing.
3. The Reason We Can Charge So Little Is That We Do Very Little
Many companies and managers spread themselves too thin, taking on a lot of small accounts to meet a client’s limited budget. If you are paying less than $1,000 a month for management, you are likely getting a manager who’s inexperienced, spread thin, not very engaged and may be managing 10+ accounts. Maybe this person sends out a few emails each month and possibly a newsletter, in which case it is pretty profitable work for $1,000. Between four and five accounts is the maximum that anyone can manage well on a full time basis.
4. Coupon and Incentive Sites Are Our Best Friends
Coupon and incentive sites are often the steroids of affiliate programs as they can provide a short term boost that create long term issues. They have the ability to drive a large percentage of sales for your program, but also have the potential to be margin killers and can make the program less attractive to non coupon affiliates based on their behavior. Make sure that your affiliate manager is not too cozy with these sites and can hold the line for your terms and conditions if there is a violation.
5. Our Industry Expertise Is Whatever Industry You Are In
Relationships in the affiliate space tend to be specialized around industries. A manager who runs non-competing programs that target the same demographic will be in a much better position to find and recruit new affiliates who are a good fit for the program. Make sure to ask potential managers about their clients and contacts in your industry.
6. When We Say Personalized Outreach & Communication, We Mean Mail Merge & Answering the Phone
Everyone knows a plug-and-play form e-mail when they see one: “Dear X, it looks like your site, Y, is a great fit for our program,” and affiliates read right through this. Sincere personal outreach is far more effective, but also more time-consuming. Less than 1% of managers will put in this type of effort and tend to just wait for what comes to them. You should work with your manager to indentify affiliates who are a good fit for your program as they might not be from the traditional affiliate base. Research and one to one outreach is time intensive, but it works.
7. You Will Be Lucky to Hear From Us Once a Month
A good program can’t be run without frequent two-way communication. If someone says they can run the program without your involvement, that’s a bad sign.
8. Our Background in Marketing Is Limited To Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is just one piece of a company’s larger marketing plan and how it integrates with these efforts will have a large effect on its success. To sell affiliates on the program and help them market effectively, a manager needs a strong background in online marketing. If your manager’s knowledge of online marketing is limited to the affiliate space, his or her performance will be limited as well.
9. There Is a Lot of Fraud in Affiliate Marketing
Fraud monitoring is an integral part of effective affiliate management. The issue is that managers want to reach their sales goals, so there is a disincentive to police this carefully. A good manger will see the forest from the trees and make sure that you keep dishonest affiliates, trademark bidders and other offenders out of the program. They will also set up processes to proactively void fraudulent or returned sales.
10. Our Past Clients Are Mostly Out of Business & We Often Get Fired
You want to associate yourself with success and people who are successful over the long term. Many new online retailers come into online marketing with a lot of money to burn, no real business plan and a lack of focus on profitability. Good affiliate manages are interested in clients who are going to be in business for the long haul. Check out past clients and see if they are still around. Also, the average affiliate manager tenure is often less than a year. Ask firms or managers why they lost accounts or call a few clients who fired them and find out the reason for yourself. The references that people don’t give are sometimes the most relevant.
11. Our Last Big Hit Was a Long Time Ago
What do venture capitalists, athletes, MC Hammer and many affiliate managers all have in common? The answer is that their reputation was based on a past success that has not been duplicated. This success may have also been during the bubble days of the internet for retailers when every site was growing their top line as fast as they could at the expense of profit, making for a rising tide that raised a lot of boats. Also beware of managers who tout a single blue-chip client because this client may claim the majority of their attention at the expense of other clients who feel underserviced. Focus on recent performance and client satisfaction