Undoubtedly the biggest part of an affiliate manager’s duties is finding and recruiting new publishers. Since interaction with potential partners mostly occurs via email, LinkedIn, Skype or any other IM system, we need to figure out fast who the person behind the words is. And even though new affiliates are usually interested in a specific vertical or niche to promote, our job as affiliate managers is to quickly understand such affiliates’ needs and respond to them.
Being a part of the online world, affiliates are very dynamic. They like to compare and test conditions, to change advertisers and offers. Some are loyal to their networks; others are suspicious and change partners as soon as something starts bothering them. Over the years, I have encountered all kinds. Whatever the case, there are some important basic strategies that can help affiliate managers understand who they are dealing with and how to establish relationships with future partners.
Unlike employees, affiliate marketers are not necessarily associated with any organizations. If they were, it would be much easier to check their background and experience. Yet, understanding their professional experience is a key to the rest of your interaction. In an ideal world, all affiliates can and are ready to promote any offer that you put in front of them; in real life, it depends on their professional background directly.
How do we decide whether to approve a certain affiliate? By evaluating a complex of factors such as how long they have been in online marketing and what companies they have worked with. There are networks that have extremely low approval rates and surviving their due diligence is like getting an entry pass for life. Other companies make you raise a red flag. Sometimes we go as far as asking for proof of working with another respectable network and get references from respective affiliate managers. We’ll also look at available social network profiles and the number of contacts the affiliate possesses on Skype. Every little bit helps.
Even the way a person talks can tell you a lot. A conversation with an experienced performance marketer is never vague and abstract; they get straight to the point and know how to describe their experience in appropriate industrial terms.
What we don’t care about is formal education. In fact, some of the most successful affiliates I know didn’t even finish high school.
Once you understand it’s an experienced affiliate you are talking to, it is time to switch to the customer retention mode. Experienced affiliates will want to get specific, updated statistics for each offer, and you need to have this information at hand. Communication with old players is always intense and keeps you alert. They seek to be surprised and exposed to new techniques and methods. Do you have at least a few of them up your sleeve?
This is also the part where finding the right CPA offer starts. As I have said before, in most cases affiliates will come to you for a specific offer or category. However, an affiliate manager can recommend a certain niche or offer if he thinks it is a good match for certain marketer’s experience and needs.
Is it a good idea to change verticals? In my experience, it is challenging but possible. Even moving in between categories of the Health & Beauty niche is difficult sometimes, but changing from lifestyle offers to loans is a whole new level of difficult. Loans and binary options are similar niches, which means the transition from one to the other will not be that big of an issue.
Don’t get me wrong – we are always happy when an experienced affiliate asks to promote more offers, but you must make sure they understand what they’re getting into. An experienced affiliate has large potential to succeed in other niches. He knows the trade and understands the basics, which means that the learning process is much faster.
Whatever the case, focus on a limited number of offers. Offering too many will be confusing for the potential partner. Your recommendations must be focused and concise. Provide an offer name and its ID number in the system so that they don’t have problems finding it. Include the CR and EPC information. Be confident; be ready with creatives and information regarding the offer’s mobile and web abilities.
An affiliate manager needs to keep tabs on the selection of offers at any given time.
Sometimes a publisher will be looking for a specific offer, and if you don’t have it, it’s your job to try to find out more about it. Affiliates are looking for a trustworthy partner, and helping them get a specific offer is one of the best ways to prove your superiority over competitors.
I only have touched the tip of affiliate recruitment and retention. Being an affiliate manager for several years teaches you to be patient and attentive, but we have to remember that nothing is set in stone in this industry. At some point you will realize that you can still learn so much from a young enthusiastic publisher eager to make money. The bottom line is that we need to stay open and listen – you can never know who your next biggest publisher will be.