Affiliate Management is a fun and extremely fast way to grow your career. The trick is knowing how to find quality sites that add value, knowing how to get rid of the ones that don’t add value and how to show current inactive and new sites that you want to recruit why they should promote your company. Being an Affiliate Manager means that you have to be familiar with everything from PPC and SEO to Comparison Engines, HTML, Adware and knowing what adds value, attracts Affiliates who add value and how to get their attention and get them to join your program instead of your competitors. Here are five tips that you can use to help grow your program, activate old Affiliates and add value to your company.
1. Activating old Affiliates
For some old programs you’ll find thousands of inactive Affiliates that have relevant sites that still get traffic but not longer promote you. One thing that is hard to figure out is how to choose which ones to go after first. Here is the way I sort through the sites and figure out which ones to focus on first.
Traffic Volume – If a site has no traffic or is ranked really low on different monitoring sites, they drop a bit lower on my list. If they do have traffic then I move them towards the top.
Relevant traffic – Even if a site has traffic, it has to be relevant to your site or your clients sites. The next thing I do is look at the keywords that are driving the traffic and the pages that rank for those terms. If everything is off of terms like store name + coupon then chances are their traffic won’t convert for you and they’ll try to rank for your trademark + coupon. If you sell blue widgets and they have traffic on purple widgets and the two products are 100% different, chances are they won’t convert for you either. If the site only has one or two pages getting traffic, chances are I’ll drop them lower on my list since they have a dead site with only a couple of active pages.
Activity – If I see a lot of activity on the site like shares, tweets, comments, etc… The site probably has an active readership and gets traffic across all posts. This moves this site into the top of my list because a new post can mean traffic and sales.
Pages that have the traffic – The next thing I do is look at the pages that have the traffic on them. I look to see what keywords they could link off of that are relevant and could drive sales, what banner ads they have and how they could add in my clients without hurting their SEO, content or taking away from their user experience.
Once I have these three things (they take a long time to sort through) then I begin trying to reactivate them. The nice thing about going through all of the inactive sites like this is that now you can more easily reach out to them and you’ll have your target list that has a much larger potential to drive relevant traffic and can convert that traffic into sales that add value. One other thing you’ll want to do when reaching out to inactive Affiliates is to make sure that the emails you send are unique to their sites with actual recommendations to show them you actually researched their sites instead of just asking them to place a banner or text ad on their site.
2. Use Relevant Metrics, Not Network Stats
I usually ignore network stats like EPC. Many of them are made up fake numbers that mean absolutely nothing. EPC for example changes depending on the types of partners you work with. If you have someone that sends a large newsletter blast, your EPC will tank. If you have trademark bidders, coupon poachers and adware targeting your shopping cart, your EPC will be really high. Smart Affiliates who add value and know better ignore this. When an Affiliate manager talks about a high EPC, value adding Affiliates who are smart run because something is messed up in the program or it is probably not managed properly. The same goes with an extremely high conversion rate. Chances are someone is ripping them off or poaching their cart which means the legit Affiliates sales aren’t safe either. Another thing to avoid are being a 5 bar merchant or top 100. That could mean to some Affiliates that you allow anything goes, coupon sites to poach, etc… Some of them look for low volume programs because there is less competition, probably not the thieves and they can build a stronger relationship with their new merchants because they are a top performer and are keeping their sales. Being in the top 100 is great, but have reasons why you are there and show that you have value adding partners, not partners showing up for your trademarks or trademarks + coupons.
3. Using Fake Promises and Bad Images
Saying things like you have the best tracking and using images like piles of money, cars and that you can earn thousands of dollars a day will chase away legit Affiliates. You’ll get some sign ups from new Affiliates, but they’ll eventually leave and serious partners who can drive traffic will run because this looks like a scam. Everyone who is legit and will become an actual full time Affiliate knows it takes a lot of hard work and that they will probably never become a millionaire. By putting up images and making false promises, you’ll chase the serious people away. Also, unless you have a custom built system that tracks with more than cookies or server to server and url tracking, you have the same exact tracking as every other program that is using your software and system. If you work with sites that rank for your trademark + coupons or adware companies, your tracking is somewhat flawed because original referrals are going to be overwritten by this which means your value adding partners cookies will be replaced and someone who didn’t refer a customer will take credit for the sale. Instead of talking about these things and showing images that people will make millions, talk about the actual amount of money the average affiliate can make, your average order value and other metrics that will help them to estimate their earnings with you. Serious Affiliates will like the honesty and will put you ahead of your competitors because you are providing them with real information to help them figure out what their actual potential is within your niche and program.
4. Have your Affiliates broken out into categories and their stats broken out as well
One thing that can help you to recruit is to know how each type of Affiliate and category does in your program. If you break them out into Mommy Bloggers, Product Bloggers, Email Companies, PPC Affiliates, Content Sites, etc… and then also have the next break down of categories, you’ll be able to list the stats and metrics for those groups. Potential Affiliates can read through the stats and then figure out the best way to promote you, which pages to promote you on and how you compare to the programs they are currently working with.
5. Use related sites to find new partners.
One thing that you can use to find new sites that may not rank in the search engines but have traffic are sites, like Alexa, that show related sites based on content, keywords and audience. By typing in some of the sites that send relevant traffic and then looking at the related sites, you can find a ton of new sites that can send you similar traffic with similar audiences and drive sales that add value. Another tool is Yahoo’s site explorer or a backlink tool that shows you who is linking to your top Affiliates and where their traffic is coming from.
Once you have this you can reach out to these sites and try to recruit them since they have the traffic that is converting for your current partners. One thing you don’t want to do is to tell them who your current partners are, try to get them to change the links to your current Affiliates’ sites into affiliate links instead of backlinks or giveaway any strategies. Doing that will cause your current Affiliates to not trust you, hurt their rankings in the Search Engines and hurt your company as a whole since you have now hurt the traffic that is coming into your site and lost the trust and probably the traffic from your current performing partners.
Affiliate Management is an awesome job and something that can always help to grow a company. There is never a reason for a program to go flat, but you may hit a couple of times where your program starts to level off until you can find a new niche to go after. One of the most common reasons a program stops growing is that you are working with non value adding Affiliates which means you won’t get sites that do add value because they don’t want to see their cookies get overwritten, or that your manager forgets to try recruiting similar sites instead of just going after sites that are showing up in the Search Engines. Even sites that get no Search Engine traffic can still have traffic from referrals, readers and other channels like social media which means the amount of sites you can recruit is almost endless. There are a ton of other tricks you can use for recruitment, management and activation like bonuses, custom commissions and deals. Feel free to leave your own tips or tricks in the comments section.