Affiliate Management: Creating A Successful Relationship With Your Top Affiliates

We recently discussed how to recruit super affiliates, so I want to go further on that and share ways you can build on that relationship with your top affiliates.

Merchants and Affiliate Managers have specific needs and objectives, and so do their Super Affiliates. Sometimes the two don't necessarily see eye to eye, or the objectives may not jive. This is where it pays to have an open mind, and a vision of the bigger picture - the ultimate objective.

There are 5 major issues that I hear from both sides. I'll address each of these issues from my side of the fence, as an active super affiliate:

The Cost of Affiliates

Merchants sometimes question the cost of affiliates. To those merchants, I would say: consider your affiliates as your marketing team. Instead of paying an in-house marketing team, you pay based on performance only.

You will reach customers that you may not have reached otherwise, so your affiliates are actually generating revenue instead of costing you money.

Affiliates will also create buzz across blogs and forums, and start social media conversations. These discussions coming from a variety of sources are much more valuable than one company shouting about their own product.

While employees may expect or require regular pay raises, regardless of their performance, affiliates can simply be rewarded based purely on performance.

Branding Issues

Super Affiliates will often register a domain name and redirect it to the merchant site as a means of cloaking their affiliate link. This can cause some concerns over branding for the merchant.

Case in point is my domain redirect for Mobile Store Maker, which is http://www.easymobilestore.com. While affiliates can and will create buzz and exposure for your brand, the main objective is to increase sales.

If a merchant is especially concerned about preserving their brand, they can easily set up special landing pages on their domain for super affiliates.

The affiliates job is to pre-sell the product, and bring you new potential customers. Branding, conversions and follow-up are the responsibility of the merchant.

Interact With Affiliate Campaigns

You may not be able to keep tabs on every single affiliate in your program, but you definitely want to keep a finger on the pulse of your super affiliates.

Set up Google Alerts, groups in TweetDeck, a directory in your Feed Reader, or however it is most convenient for you to keep an eye on their promotions.

This allows you to enter the Social Media conversation and/or the discussion within their blog comments and provide additional support and credibility. Not only does this increase conversion rates, but it also strengthens your relationship with the affiliate - which will give them incentive to continue promoting for you.

Don't Compete With Your Affiliates

Never, ever, ever compete with your super affiliates - especially not on their turf. If you enter an affiliate's Social Media conversation on Facebook or Twitter, or you comment on their blog post, use your affiliate's referral link to your site - not a direct link.

You want to support your affiliates 100%. The minute a gaping black hole opens up that bypasses their referral link... is when you'll lose them as a promotion partner.

Be A Team Player

Treat your top affiliates - your super affiliates - like partners. Consider them part of your team. They will often have valuable feedback, or spend their day interacting directly with your target market, that could be as much an asset to your company as the sales they generate.

Best,

p.s. Rosalind Gardner turned ME into a $uper Affiliate. Whether you are new to affiliate marketing, or looking to take it to the next level, you’ll benefit from her Super Affiliate Handbook. That link will take you to my in-depth review of her latest version of SAH. It’s updated often. Enjoy!

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 15 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. Mark Mason says:

    Interacting with affiliate campaigns is probably the most important point in this post, Lynn. When I promote a product in a blog post, a comment or a tweet from the product owner acts a social proof that my recommendation is valid. After all, if I have the attention of the guru product creator, I must be on the inside and know what I am talking about.

    • I agree with Mark for that particular point. You will always going to get a bigger response the moment you actually when people have tested a product and giving their postive approval of it.

  2. It's also important for affilaite managers to be open minded when their affiliates come to them to solve problems. I was the top affilaite for a company a couple years back, and my tracking told me I wasn't getting paid for all my sales.

    When I asked them to look into it, and actually proved it to them (I asked them to purchase through my links ans see what happened, and of the 3 orders placed, only one registered), they took 1 year to get back to me and tell me they couldn't find anything wrong with their tracking.

    You can believe they lost me as an affiliate, and I was selling in excess of $300K a year for them. Now they have their tool free number right under the name of the product on every page: talk about bad affiliate management!

  3. It's also important for affilaite managers to be open minded when their affiliates come to them to solve problems. I was the top affilaite for a company a couple years back, and my tracking told me I wasn't getting paid for all my sales.

    When I asked them to look into it, and actually proved it to them (I asked them to purchase through my links and see what happened, and of the 3 orders placed, only one registered), they took 1 year to get back to me and tell me they couldn't find anything wrong with their tracking.

    You can believe they lost me as an affiliate, and I was selling in excess of $300K a year for them. Now they have their tool free number right under the name of the product on every page: talk about bad affiliate management!

  4. Kevin Chong Kok Sing says:

    Great information as always!Will definitely put these pointers to use.

  5. Kevin Chong Kok Sing says:

    This is a great list. thanks for sharing.

  6. i think the key is Joint Venture. Offer something that have mutual benefit to make the big boys want to work with you.

  7. As an affiliate myself I am dissapointed with the way some companies manage their affiliate programs. Out of date or incorrect data is one thing that really drives me mad.

  8. Rich Spies says:

    Great info Lynn. As an affiliate manager and you being one of our Super Affiliates, I love getting this feedback. You can rest assured that I am taking from this and others comments to improve upon our own program everyday.

  9. Very good list... keep up the good work. I only use one campaign but I´m planning to upgrade.

  10. Valokuvaaja says:

    I think that ut´s sometimes hard for the customer to understand who´s who when one is moved from place to place.

  11. You're so right ! Many merchants do not see their publishers as a partner, some see them as their enemies that stole their money. What a ... ! I worked at a online shop and we gave our publishers the best conditions we could. This brought us a lot of customers through the affiliate sites.

  12. I think a big part of engaging the relationship with you affiliates is just keeping track of the relationship. What was communicated, their interests, dislikes, etc. It is surprising to me how many people do not use any sort of CRM (customer relationship management) tool to help them in pursuing those relationships. I would recommend that everyone find a system that is effective. Microsoft excel and outlook may work for a small number, but it gets almost impossible to manage effectively after 50+

  13. If you want to give something special for your best affiliates you should consider giving them special payouts or unique campagins. One thing you could do is to give a new campaign to your best seller affiliate before anyone else. That way the affiliate could use email lists and benefit by being the only one marketing the deal to customers.

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