If you’ve researched affiliate management and the factors that contribute to a successful affiliate marketing program, you’ve likely read that the relationship is a key component. Like any relationship, you need to start somewhere. Sometimes, you are starting from scratch; other times, you may have a pre-existing relationship that you can build upon and make better.
If you’re managing your affiliate program in-house and you don’t have much affiliate management experience, you may find yourself in a “first date” situation with your affiliate partners. Like any first date, things can get awkward if you misstep or don’t know how to interact with your affiliate partners.
If your company has retained an Affiliate Management Agency, you can let the agency take the lead to ensure you’re getting started on the right foot and doing things the right way. Regardless of your affiliate situation, I wanted to share some ideas around how you can improve your affiliate relations in 2013.
1. Understand An Affiliate’s Preferred Communication Method & Availability
Many times your affiliates may have a day job or other responsibilities that they need to attend to during the day when they are not available to take a phone call or exchange emails.
While your goal as an affiliate manager should be to help your affiliates earn enough commission to allow them to be a full-time affiliate marketer, you also need to recognize and understand their current situation and communication preferences.
If your affiliate has a 9 to 5 job, understand that they’re likely easier to communicate with via email, and their response is likely going to come late at night or early in the morning. It’s important to respect their communication preferences and the best time(s) to reach them. If you can’t figure it out by how and when they respond to your correspondences, just ask.
2. Listen To Your Affiliates, Understand Their Needs & Bring New Ideas To The Table
Have you ever found yourself in a situation with a sales person where they have not asked any questions about what you need and clearly have no clue about what you want? I have, and so have many affiliates working with affiliate managers. As an affiliate manager, sometimes the best thing you can do is research an affiliate’s website, ask relevant questions, and listen to what your affiliate has to say.
Once you have an understanding of what your affiliates need, then you can present ideas and opportunities for them to become more successful in your affiliate program. If you have a meeting with one of your affiliates and don’t have a clue about their website or how they promote advertisers, you’re better off rescheduling the meeting after you have the opportunity to do your homework.
3. Ask Your Affiliates For Constructive Criticism & Feedback On Ways You Can Improve Your Program
While it may be difficult to ask and humbling to hear the answer, asking your affiliates about ways you can improve your affiliate marketing program could be the best solicited advice you can ask for — whether you like it or not. This is probably best accomplished by asking questions via email or by creating a spreadsheet that has a scale where affiliates can rate various aspects of your program.
You can keep it simple or allow affiliates to provide free-form feedback — your choice. Be sure to thank affiliates if they personally submit feedback. If it is anonymous, send out a communication summarizing the results and action items you plan on implementing as a result of their input.
Of course, what you do with the information your affiliates provide is most important and will show your affiliates how much you value their opinion.
4. Provide The Resources To Help Your Affiliates Become More Successful
Making useful resources available to your affiliate partners can be easier than you think. You don’t need to create a separate affiliate microsite to make these resources available, either. Walk down to your marketing department and ask them for any collateral or product marketing materials they have sitting around.
If they have it electronically you can easily send this out to affiliates. If it’s hardcopy, figure out the best way to scan it and convert to a PDF. Making these types of marketing materials available to affiliates will help them understand your products, brand, and target audience.
If there are any concerns around confidentiality, update your affiliate program Ts & Cs to include language about privacy and/or mutual non-disclosure.
5. Personality Can Go A Long Way In Affiliate Management
One thing I’ve learned in business that holds true in affiliate marketing is that people like to know there’s an actual person behind the email and at the other end of the phone. That means be yourself and let your personality show.
Being professional and understanding the core business of your affiliates is absolutely critical to being a successful affiliate manager, but it’s your personality that will make you memorable.
There are many things that go into building strong relationships in business — but at the heart is being able to effectively communicate and create solutions to complex challenges. Affiliate management is no different.
The most successful affiliate managers know that the key to success is having great relationships with your affiliate partners and doing things the right way consistently. At the end of the day, if you help your affiliate partners become more successful in the program, they will help you be a more successful affiliate manager.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.