Does Your Agency Offer Affiliate Management?
Most online marketing agencies already manage search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), display, pay-per-click, email and even traditional media advertising, but only the great ones add affiliate program management for their clients.
When agencies add affiliate management to their tool belt, they provide a valuable service to both existing and potential clients. This can be a very attractive value-add for potential clients; only paying when results are produced is the cornerstone of affiliate marketing.
As with most business decisions, you should consider the needs of your customers. As more businesses engage in affiliate management, ask yourself, can they do it better in-house than you could as their agency?
Getting Your Agency Started with Affiliate Management
1. Set Up Affiliate Tracking Software
Before you sign up affiliates, create offers, generate tracking links and report on your success; you’ll need to establish an affiliate tracking system that will meet your agency’s needs. Knowing how many affiliate programs you’ll be managing on your client’s behalf will better position yourself to find and set up the right affiliate management software.
What you’ll want to look for in a strong tracking software; will it cost an arm and a leg, are there set up fees, does it have a 2-way API, what’s their average downtime (you’ll lose data when this occurs), can you customize it for your client’s brand, is there fraud detection, how many affiliates can you manage, is there a limit to how many offers you can manage, does it send emails, does it support multiple currencies, is there real time reporting? These are some elementary and great questions to ask yourself when evaluating your options.
While affiliate management is a skill set that can easily be learned by an online marketing specialist, it might beneficial to hire an experienced affiliate manager. Affiliate managers know how to on-board, communicate, provide data and set expectations for affiliates and networks.
2. Build an Affiliate Base
Signing up affiliates to promote the offers you manage is the key to volume, conversions and success. As an agency, you have a distinct advantage over businesses entering affiliate marketing: a roster of clients. While making sure not to violate client confidentiality, you should think of existing clients and their customers as potential affiliates.
If you provide a steady stream of clients, affiliate networks may be willing to give your offers priority with top-tiered publishers. As you scale your affiliate management, you can negotiate favorable contracts with networks and thereby set yourself apart from other agencies.
3. Synergize Your Performance Marketing Strategy
Your agency provides many different traffic sources as it is; SEO is low volume, SEM has become expensive, email marketing utilizes questionable tactics and social media is still developing. By including affiliate marketing in your existing channel mix, you can take advantage of synergy.
The volume from affiliate marketing can be huge, you set the payout points; ensuring that ROI is constant and meets your clients needs. It’s easily controllable; you create the offers, your affiliates promote them and your client generates additional customers. Many affiliate systems enable you to set specific credentials that need to be met for an action to be considered payable. You can verify and approve any sales or leads generated through your client’s program, ensuring quality and legitimacy.
Your Agency’s Affiliate Value-Add
Many businesses are able to attract affiliates by leveraging their brand, however, smaller companies need to recruit by promoting their program through affiliate networks; this takes time and resources. Your agency will be able to work directly with major networks and promote your client’s programs and offers. The results will be beneficial for all; increased affiliates, larger volume, more sales and conversions, and ultimately, larger advertising budgets.
While it’s relatively easy to get started with affiliate marketing, creating a program, setting up offers, managing affiliates and measuring return on investment (ROI) can take a lot of time. Many businesses can’t or aren’t willing to invest the necessary resources to manage their own affiliate marketing efforts. Your agency will be able to provide alternatives to all of these barriers and generate additional revenues for your clients.
As an agency, you can make the whole process seamless for the client, managing both analytics and strategic decision-making for their program’s affiliates. By building affiliate management into the core services of your agency, you can provide round-the-clock volume that will produce superior results.
To learn more, download our Ultimate Guide to Partner Marketing — the industry’s only step-by-step guide to building a successful cross-channel partner marketing program.
Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.