As most brands who’ve launched an affiliate marketing program know, this pay-on-performance channel is high-touch, relationship-based and requires a consistent, hands-on approach to effectively deliver the desired outcomes.
This is why most leading brands and businesses partner with an affiliate management agency to oversee and manage the day-to-day needs of their affiliate program.
The role an affiliate program management agency plays can vary depending on a variety of factors, including:
- the size of the business
- the maturity of the affiliate program
- additional resources needed to support a high-performing affiliate program
As an example, a well-known national brand may have a full in-house affiliate team in addition to an affiliate management agency to support the growth of their program.
Alternatively, a medium-sized company, let’s say a brand with a direct-to-consumer business model, may have an in-house marketing manager that is stretched across several channels (e.g. paid social, paid search, etc.) and needs the help, strategic guidance and expertise of an experienced affiliate management agency to oversee the program.
Whatever the situation is, an affiliate marketing agency should be able to serve as an extension of the brand to ensure their affiliate program is being managed properly, with the right partners, commission structures, campaigns and resources to ensure the brand-driven KPIs are being worked toward and, ideally, met.
How Affiliate Management Agencies Add Value
There are many different layers that go into effectively managing a high-performing affiliate marketing program.
Typically, an affiliate program management agency will help brands by developing and executing strategies that align with business goals.
Depending on the lifecycle of the affiliate program, there are four key areas where affiliate program management agencies can add value: Build, Grow, Refine, and Expand.
1. Build and Launch
Building and launching a new affiliate program can be a daunting task without oversight by someone with expertise in the channel.
Engaging with an affiliate program management agency to support the build and launch of a new affiliate program can help ensure that the program is set up for success. This can include:
- Setting the initial strategy for the channel based on competitive insights and industry averages.
- Advising a brand (from an educated, agnostic perspective) on the tracking platform or affiliate network that could best suit the affiliate program.
- Key affiliate partnerships and campaign tactics that will help the brand achieve early results
- Determining the right key performance indicators (KPIs) to apply to the channel in order to measure success.
It’s also important for a brand/company to keep their affiliate program management agency informed of what’s going on within their business, including promotions and new product launches, so that the program management team can incorporate those into the affiliate strategy.
Once a program has surpassed the build/launch stage, your affiliate marketing agency will help you optimize and nurture the affiliate program to drive month-over-month growth.
Your program management team will home in on the type of incremental growth that is important to your business as well as ensure that your program has continuous new partner recruitment and optimization.
This means actively communicating with partners to ensure there is a steady flow of new partners promoting your brand and collaborating with your top performers to keep your brand top-of-mind.
As your affiliate program matures, which is typically around the 1-2 year mark, your affiliate program management agency should still be focused on growing the program to align with your business goals.
However, at this juncture, you may find that the number of new, scalable partners joining the program has decreased compared to the growth stage. This is a period where you’ll find your program management agency getting creative in their strategic approach to driving growth.
This might include:
- More activity around optimizing current top-tier and mid-tier partners.
- Focusing on new and unique performance partnership® opportunities for you to consider.
- An increased focus on profitability and efficiency within the channel. This could mean evaluating your program commission structure or looking at the customer lifetime value (LTV) by affiliate partner to identify where you should be focusing your efforts.
As your business expands and matures, you may find – with the help and guidance of our affiliate management agency – that there are additional ways that the affiliate channel can drive new customers that you haven’t considered in the past.
As an example, you may want to use your affiliate program to help grow your email acquisition list.
Or, maybe you’re considering expanding your affiliate program into new countries or regions. If your affiliate management agency has experience and expertise with global affiliate program management, they will be essential to your expansion efforts.
Global expansions of affiliate programs have been increasing over the past few years. Most brands and companies are now seeing how globalizing their activities and coordinating their marketing efforts as a necessity in today’s marketplace.
As brands investigate the best ways to “go global,” they are realizing that different affiliate networks, platforms, affiliates and marketing agencies have different expertise in different markets.
This is why working with an experienced global affiliate marketing agency as a single point of contact to manage the different players on the ground can help simplify and expedite the process of expanding a program into a new market or region.
Affiliate Marketing Day-to-Day
Outside of the four key areas above, affiliate program management agencies are also skilled in the day-to-day operations required to manage a high-performing affiliate program. Program operations happen daily and throughout all of the four key areas and includes management of critical tasks such as:
- processing partner applications
- sending partner newsletter communication
- performance reporting
- compliance and fraud monitoring.
Selecting the right affiliate management agency for your business is an important decision. Consider each of the four key areas to ensure you partner with an agency that has the right expertise in place to support your affiliate program’s lifecycle.
To learn more, download our e-book, What To Know Before Choosing An Affiliate Program Management Agency. Or, simply contact our team with questions!
Renee Christensen is the Client Success Director at Acceleration Partners.