Optimizing Affiliate Management

Linc Wonham
by Linc Wonham 09 Nov, 2010

There are few opportunities on the Web that give a better return on investment than a well-executed affiliate marketing campaign. It costs next to nothing to get started, but the best ROI requires a little TLC.


That is why the success of any affiliate program falls largely on the way it is managed, whether that's done by a major network, an outsourced program manager (OPM) or a small business owner forced to wear many hats. Below are some important best practices for managing a profitable affiliate program, all of which can dramatically increase the rewards.


Research, Recruit, Motivate and Communicate
Conduct the appropriate market research necessary to identify the best available opportunities for producing revenues. In particular, look for merchants that exhibit the best potential for growth and efficiency for online marketing campaigns. Conduct the search with professionalism and demand nothing less from prospects. Then motivate new and existing affiliate marketing partners to the point that both parties are working hard to achieve the same goals. Always keep the lines of communication open, whether those communications are positive or (constructively) negative.


Design New Programs
Website owners can expect from their affiliate marketing programs what they put into them, which is why it's always important to be creating new opportunities. Designing effective lead-generation programs and processes is an integral part of growing online revenue. Many webmasters are content with dropping some seeds in the ground to see what comes up, but affiliate managers that provide constant care to their programs are generally rewarded with healthy commissions throughout the year.


Build a Portfolio
Once the proper research and recruiting has yielded some motivated merchants, and new lead-generation programs are being conceived in perpetuation, repeat the process over and over to build a portfolio of revenue-producing affiliate campaigns. A portfolio can be as large or as small as the additional demands of the business allow, but the greatest rewards will come from campaigns that receive the most attention.


Evaluate Individually
Each campaign will require management on a daily basis, which may include creating marketing materials, performing analysis, reporting on metrics, maintaining advertising compliance, etc. Frequent evaluations and communications with merchant partners are essential parts of this process.


Strategize and Plan
Analyze each campaign and evaluate its long-term performance. Comprehensive reviews will help achieve this goal and enables the program manager to work with merchants on a strategic level in order to capitalize on any opportunities for growth and improve on any areas of concern. After carefully evaluating the individual campaigns, take an overall look at the affiliate program as a whole and see how it could be managed better - there's almost always room for improvement.