This article by Tara McCommons first appeared on the Revenue Performance website.
Managing an affiliate program can be an arduous task. Imagine if you were also responsible for providing your affiliates with the ongoing infrastructure to support their operational and technical needs?
In addition to managing network programs, many affiliate managers are also spearheading one-on-one specialized relationships separate from their network programs, effectively growing into in-house programs.
The reasons for choosing to keep these select partnerships in-house vary, but oftentimes it’s due to the uniqueness of promotion on behalf of the partners, concern that a network would circumvent the direct communication and a belief that keeping these relationships in-house will result in a cost-savings (with the absence of having to pay network fees).
Here are key areas that may surprise you when exploring why you should lean on your network to help empower your in-house relationships to soar:
1. Customer Service: Who else better to explain the nuts and bolts of affiliate marketing (and all it’s critical parts) than your network representatives? Recognizing some of your in-house partners may lack an understanding of the need for tracking code or how to properly implement their tracking links; wouldn’t you want to free up your time in explaining the basics and instead defer to your network’s expertise? Ask about in-house migration assistance to ensure a seamless transition for you and your partners.
2. Transparency: Most CPS Networks appreciate when merchants desire transparency and direct communication with their affiliate partners—an essential part in maintaining lasting relationships. A private campaign is one example of how a network can impart the mutual transparency between you and your select partners without risking interference from other network assets. Ask your network how they can support this for you.
3. Reporting: Do your in-house partners have automated access to real-time reports offering granular KPIs (e.g., device type, region, product id)? Equipping affiliates with network reporting capabilities can be a pivotal game changer for your partners allowing each to focus on optimizing what is working and minimizing what is not. Giving a partner access to the data needed will enable them to optimize effectively and achieve greater revenue for you.
4. Cost: The cost of maintaining affiliate relationships in-house is often underestimated. In removing the network, affiliate managers now add the cost of assessing the quality and legitimacy of the partner, managing ongoing payment obligations to partners (only after earning their trust that you will in fact pay them for their efforts) and being at their beckon call to provide operational AND technical support. Involving a network (that can rely on economies of scale to accomplish these tasks at a much lesser cost) will alleviate these responsibilities, allowing you to spend your time on other revenue-producing initiatives, such as arming affiliates with competitive offers. You may also be surprised to find that some networks will offer a reduced fee structure with your in-house relationships.
5. Affiliates: That’s right, affiliates. By providing your esteemed partners with a network solution, you are demonstrating your commitment to delivering the technical and operational tools needed to foster success. Such a solution will likely appeal to savvy partners that may have otherwise dismissed your partnership proposal due to the lack of a polished infrastructure. And, let’s not forget the talent pool of affiliates available to you for new partnership opportunities!
Migrating your in-house affiliates to your network is service for which CPS networks should be of serious consideration. Allow your network to help you help your partners flourish!
Tara McCommons is VP of Sales and Marketing at LinkConnector, and she is also a Board of Directors Committee Chair with the Performance Marketing Association.