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 programme.
The role an affiliate programme management agency plays can vary depending on a variety of factors, including:
- the size of the business
- the maturity of the affiliate programme
- additional resources needed to support a high-performing affiliate programme
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 programme.
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 programme.
Whatever the situation is, an affiliate marketing agency should be able to serve as an extension of the brand to ensure their affiliate programme 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 programme management agency will help brands by developing and executing strategies that align with business goals.
Depending on the lifecycle of the affiliate programme, there are four key areas where affiliate programme management agencies can add value: Build, Grow, Refine, and Expand.
1. Build and Launch
Building and launching a new affiliate programme can be a daunting task without oversight by someone with expertise in the channel.
Engaging with an affiliate programme management agency to support the build and launch of a new affiliate programme can help ensure that the programme 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 programme.
- 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 programme management agency informed of what's going on within their business, including promotions and new product launches, so that the programme 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 programme 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 programme has continuous new partner recruitment and optimisation.
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 programme management agency should still be focused on growing the programme to align with your business goals.
However, at this juncture, you may find that the number of new, scalable partners joining the programme has decreased compared to the growth stage. This is a period where you'll find your programme 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 programme 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 programme to help grow your email acquisition list.
Or, maybe you're considering expanding your affiliate programme into new countries or regions. If your affiliate management agency has experience and expertise with global affiliate programme management, they will be essential to your expansion efforts.
Global expansions of affiliate programmes have been increasing over the past few years. Most brands and companies are now seeing how globalising 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 programme management agencies are also skilled in the day-to-day operations required to manage a high-performing affiliate programme. Programme 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 Programme Management Agency. Or, simply contact our team with questions!
Renee Christensen is the Client Success Director at Acceleration Partners.