Guide to Managing Affiliate Partner Relationships


There’s a golden rule of affiliate management: “Keep your super affiliates happy.” Satisfied affiliate partners work much harder to promote and sell your products and services. Managing your relationships with them should be at the top of your list of priorities. Consider this one of your strategies to continued growth within your affiliate marketing channel.

However, many agencies have no set process for working with affiliate partners. Instead, it’s typically an ad hoc affair. Some affiliate managers are better at handling relationships than others. It may be tempting to attribute success to an individual’s temperament or ability, but managing relationships is about the process.

This guide will help you develop a reliable and enduring relationship with your partners to help you generate more ROI from your performance marketing efforts.

Management is top of mind

Every affiliate needs lots of attention. Building and maintaining relationships is key to success — simply providing partners with a tracking link isn’t enough to cultivate relationships that will make you successful. It doesn’t stop there.

This means personalization. Affiliate management tools can help track the management process, but to distribute content, generate leads or drive traffic, a human touch is also required. Find out what your competitors are doing with them, ask questions to find out what drives traffic, what tools do they need to drive sales. I’ve found the more you ask, the chances are you will unlock a new opportunity. You’ll need to get to know your affiliate partner by maintaining regular contact through your communication channels, whether it’s through email, instant messaging or by phone.

Go out to events with your partners, networking events are a great way to put a face to a name in the affiliate marketing industry. A lot of partnerships, new offers and opportunties arise this way.

Provide contact information

Your media partners want to be able to contact you whenever they have a question. Make sure to provide your contact information as part of your on-boarding process. Beyond email, you should implement a common messaging platform — Skype, Slack, or Google Chat — where affiliates can easily reach your managers. I use Skype and Email daily with my affiliate partners. Having the option to talk in real-time will help establish smooth communication and avoid misunderstandings.

The more accessible you are, the more engaged your affiliate partners will feel when doing business with you.

Keep partners informed

As part of your regular communications, it’s important that you keep your media partners up-to-date on any changes to your products or services, whether it’s a new feature, product, upcoming launch or an upgrade. Having this information will not only help them better promote your product, but they’ll become more invested in their relationship with your company. Feed them with as much as you can. I’ve recently built the email communication using MailChimp to segment the type of affiliate partners we have by their business model, region and language. This enables me to send personalized information whilst keeping the partner informed.

Demonstrate your relevance

Whenever you connect with your affiliate partners, they’ll want to remember the value of your relationship and how it benefits them. It’s essential to connect with affiliates with the objective of helping them make their work much better. Highlight the advantages of your business and be clear about the purpose of your goals so that they can help you improve your campaign performance. Discuss ROI, Traffic growth and other key objectives and goals you have and ask about their goals too, and align with each other.

More than likely you will use Google Analytics to monitor your affiliate partners performance, be transparent as best you can, explain your Average Order Values (AOV) and Conversion Rates to your affiliates, it gives them a sense of how well their campaign can do.

Monitor for fraud

Not all affiliate partners can be trusted. While it’s important to build relationships with affiliates, you should also recognize when it’s time to cut non-performing partners loose, or those who use fraudulent and unethical means to try to sell your products and services. Try to use a warning communication to give the affiliate partner time to respond, act on the issue within a time frame, set a deadline. Keep in mind that monitoring for compliance and affiliate fraud is a specialized activity, using your analytics, tools that monitor click fraud, search and coupon usage will help you to decide on the action to take.

Use a performance marketing tool

You will likely deal with various tasks that can make it difficult to develop relationships with your affiliate partners, let alone look at the big picture. Such tasks often include:

  • Identifying, vetting, selecting, and on-boarding partners
  • Communicating back and forth with partners (one at a time or mass communication) to develop and optimize campaigns
  • Keeping on top of ROI and the partners performance
  • Providing and managing changing creative assets
  • Preparing regular reports for analysis

When you are performing these tasks manually, it may result in lost emails, misinterpreted directions, delayed campaign launches, and wasted time and resources.

Depending on the size of the business, activity, and budget you are managing the affiliate program for will determine if you could look to delegate some of those tasks to others in your team, allowing you to focus on your ‘super affiliate partners’.

Use a suitable CRM platform, I suggest HubSpot, its customizable, connects to Gmail, MailChimp and has a free account option. Remember, log your calls, notes and emails in a CRM and train your team to use it well.

Building trust

Ultimately, a successful affiliate partner relationship is one where both sides can trust each other. So important, consider this;

  • Maintain regular communication
  • Collaborate to set up a schedule and marketing system that both sides agree on
  • Clearly define your commission offers, media investment and payout terms
  • Make sure that you pay your affiliates in a timely manner

In the end, the time spent cultivating a good working relationship will improve ROI for not only your media partners, but your offering as well.

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