Affiliate Program Management Tips

Affiliate Program Management – Common mistakes and how to avoid them!

As an OPM (Outsourced Program Manager) and Affiliate Agency owner, I’m constantly being asked how to improve affiliate program revenue and build partnerships that scale. Often when a program isn’t growing I’ll find 8/10 the stagnation is almost always attributed to poor affiliate management and bad customer services within the affiliate management team. This is not a criticism on staffing but rather a result of fast industry growth and a lack of active on the job training and skills development.

I’m on a personal mission to help our industry change and provide support for Affiliate Managers to improve program management techniques. So much so that I’ve been holding a series of FREE live monthly webinars designed to help anyone in the affiliate marketing learn how to manage their partners more effectively and drive consistent sales.

If you want to attend my next webinar – you can join us here on 26th July.

3 Key Affiliate Program Management Tips

There is a general industry misconception in affiliate marketing that iGaming affiliate managers and affiliate programs have a poor reputation for affiliate management. I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Roo Wright, a former super affiliate, affiliate program manager and more recently, the co-founder of Mitigatr.com a full managed affiliate compliance solution to get his take on how iGaming Affiliate Program Managers stack up against Retail in affiliate program management.

Here are the top 3 things he shared with me from his own experience working across multiple verticals as a super affiliate and affiliate program manager:

1) Avoid poor communication and improve affiliate onboarding.

RW: In a recent consultancy job, the affiliate I was working with conducted business in the dermatological space. The site attracts over 3.5 million site visitors per month, many of which are located in the United States (roughly 70 percent). During this contract, I discovered that affiliate programs outside the iGaming space are not very well run at all!

LJ: What do I mean by “not run well” at all?

RW: Well, to start, actually getting a reply when applying to a new program was the first issue. Upon submitting an application form, many programs didn’t even bother to respond. Even with supporting documentation about traffic volume, keyword rankings, and how relevant the program’s products would be to the site audience, we didn’t have much luck. This kind of inferior affiliate / customer service puts a bad taste in the affiliate’s mouth at the start of the relationship, which is never a good thing.

LJ: First impressions count in business and in affiliate programmes too. It’s the simplest of things to get right when you think about it and should be an important part of your partner onboarding process. 

2) Learn there’s a difference between your affiliate’s location and traffic sources they can offer

RW: Also, many programs declined our application due to me being based in Australia. The affiliate managers just assumed that the traffic we had was therefore also from Australia or New Zealand. However, as I mentioned earlier, 70 percent of the traffic was from the United States, followed by the UK and other locations before Australia and New Zealand. So, they had declined the application before they even understood what the potential would be to their business. Others requested that I sign up for the Australian portion of their program. Some didn’t want to sign us up at all. Yet, we had viable traffic with converting keywords and a great understanding of the industry as a whole to offer.  To be honest this is one thing that iGaming industry does particularly well. Trying to find new deals is something iGaming affiliate managers do well!

LJ: Agreed, we do focus a lot of effort on partner discovery in iGaming vs what I’ve seen in the retail space and often this is the one thing that can make or break a programmes performance over the long term. We always tell our AMPP students and our AM team to ask more questions. Engage with partners consistently and learn what works for them and our clients to meet our marketing goals. If you follow that formula you won’t really ever loose a lead. 

3) Set up your tracking software to support your affiliates marketing needs.

RW: I have also noticed how poorly set up the affiliate program tracking software was in many cases on retail programs. There were no creatives available. You could only link to the homepage with no option to link to a specific product page in other cases. Even worse, one program only had banners to promote the affiliate program and did not have any banners for its products. Most of the affiliate platforms fell flat vs what’s available in iGaming in my experience.

As an affiliate I just wouldn’t trust the tracking behind them, especially given the poor service and communication from the affiliate managers themselves. The iGaming space seems, to me, to be at the forefront of affiliate marketing in this regard. Affiliate managers, while given a hard time, are actually on the whole, very proactive at what they do to engage affiliates and get deals done. An iGaming affiliate manager is managed and held to strict KPIs, and they do have to communicate with affiliates regularly to achieve these outcomes. The affiliate tracking platforms in the iGaming space are some of the most robust and advanced on the market. As such, the affiliate feels comfortable in promoting that brand as the level of data they receive is.

LJ: I actually discussed this exact point on a recent podcast with AWIN in terms of how affiliate program management techniques have developed differently between iGaming vs Retail. Whilst the tech solutions on offer  to brands are robust within retail thanks to the work of networks and tech companies the pro-active program and relationship management is often missed causing programs to stagnate in growth over time. Brands can choose to manage their affiliate programs in silos missing out on joined up marketing or outsource expertise to meet success metrics and KPI’s. Ultimately communication is key for successful affiliate marketing and that means your affiliate managers need to be digitally up-skilled and adept communicators.

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