Affiliate Managers – Everything You Want to Know About Them

Are you a company looking to hire an in house affiliate manager? Maybe you’re looking for an affiliate marketing company to manage your program.  Or are you an affiliate and just want to know what the affiliate manager you’ve been talking to is supposed to do for you, there can be a lot of questions and confusion.

This guide will help you learn everything about the job of an affiliate manager including:

affiliate managers - questions and answers

What is an Affiliate Manager’s Job?

The job of the affiliate manager can be looked at in three separate parts.

  • Ensure proper tracking and tools are provided
  • Provide support for the affiliates within the program while recruiting new ones
  • Protect their company from fraud and theft

Ensuring proper tracking includes testing and implementing advanced tracking including cross device when available, setting up attribution lines to credit value adding partners and the basics like regular pixel installation.  Their job also includes keeping up to date with ad blockers, browser cookie blockers and rules/laws regarding tracking users.  Providing support is the next job of the affiliate manager.

They need to be able to understand SEO, where and when to use affiliate links vs. CPM or CPC ads and also help to generate new streams of traffic for the affiliate.  This helps the affiliates drive more traffic to the brand they manage the program for so everyone wins.

Good affiliate managers will know how to:

  • Send educational newsletters to affiliates (not just here’s a deal)
  • Write quality newsletters for the affiliate to send to their own lists that match their tone and feel
  • Create content ideas based on keyword research and conversion data
  • Help to include product links, video and other affiliate tools into the affiliates’ promotional channels
  • Educate the affiliate partners on new opportunities and channels like PPC, YouTube or Instagram
  • Develop creative including banners, html based emails and more
  • Troubleshoot website issues and help resolve them

They also need to work on recruiting new affiliates.  This is not bringing in coupon sites and software, it is going out and finding influencers, bloggers, complementary companies, YouTubers, PPC and Social Media advertisers and other partners who have traffic they can send to the store.

The last part of the job is to protect their company or client from theft.  This includes removing no value affiliates (adware that just poaches internal efforts and monetization scripts that do not generate new exposure), providing solutions for sites that poach the shopping cart so they do not get credit or as much if they aren’t adding much value (i.e. coupon websites showing up in Google for brand name + coupons) and detecting fraudulent activities like stolen credit cards, bad leads and customers who return products after the commissions have been paid out.

How Much Do Affiliate Managers Make?

Some affiliate managers make $35,000 per year while others make $100,000 plus.  This depends on the location they live in, how intense and large the program is and the company itself.  Many get a percentage of total sales as a bonus which is why they allow low value and no value partners in.  It is quick and easy money with zero work.  This is also true with outsourced affiliate managers.

A prime example is a coupon website that shows up for the company’s name plus the word coupon code.  If the customer is already checking out and sees the coupon code box, they go to Google and type in your store’s name and coupon code or promo code.

If you allow this type of partner into the program, you now have to pay commissions on this sale, and the affiliate manager will also get their bonus.  There is also no incentive for them to actually remove these partners since it is easy money.  Many affiliate networks also encourage this because many of them also earn money on the sales.  I highly recommend you do not pay bonuses to affiliate managers on these low value sales because in most cases the sale would have happened with or without them and with or without the coupon site that is only intercepting your customer at checkout.

Which Skills Do They Need to Have

Ideally an affiliate manager will have a mid-level to advanced knowledge and skill sets including:

  • SEO
  • Monetization (not just affiliate marketing)
  • Email marketing
  • Design including banners, landing pages and emails
  • HTML/CSS
  • Conversion optimization
  • Content writing.

Having someone who also worked in a fast paced service industry role like a server in a diner or a call center operator with a quota is a bonus.  They will be used to being friendly when dealing with heated people and great at multi-tasking.  These are vital skills that affiliate managers should have.

What Do Affiliate Managers Do?

This depends on if they are good or not.  A good affiliate manager will send at least 30 to 50 recruitment emails per week, if not a few times a week.  They will follow up with current partners to see what they need and they will test tracking on a weekly or monthly basis.  Checking the tools in the program for accuracy like making sure the datafeed is up-to-date is also very important.

Good affiliate managers will also write copy for their partners or create outlines based on keyword research and conversion data and teach their partners how to optimize it on their own sites.  If they don’t have the skills, they’ll use the company’s SEO and PPC marketer to help with this.

They should also be talking to the rest of the marketing team or the owner of the company about what the partners need which could include getting products for review, bonuses to incentivize them to promote the program more heavily, or to get custom deals and commissions for top performers that add value.  It is also the affiliate manager’s responsibility to keep partners up-to-date on new products and with all types of possible creatives and strategies.

How to Find Good Affiliate Manager Groups

There are numerous groups of affiliate managers, but as you get involved you’ll see that many are very niche and incredibly opinionated.  Some are hosted in private Facebook communities while others use chats.  I personally like the ones that that use video conference calls.  If you’re in a city with a large digital community, you may find a local meetup to network with.  The key to finding the right affiliate managers group is to look for options with members that have similar and different opinions than you.

Some are huge proponents of adware that can take credit for other channels.  I personally avoid these groups and recommend you do too.  You’ll see ones that create whitelists of partners to work with.

If the whitelist is for low value and no value partners like trademark + coupon PPC bidding, or adware, and everyone is saying it’s a good thing, then you probably want to avoid these groups.  With that said, if you see this type of topic, but also see members explaining why trademark + coupon PPC bidding is bad for your company, and there is a good conversation, then it could be a really good group to be in as you have both good and bad affiliate managers making up the community.

Some affiliate managers groups are for ones that do influencer and value adding programs only.  These are my favorite, but you also miss out because you don’t get to keep an eye on what is bad and new trends that can hurt the company you represent.

The best way to determine if an affiliate managers group is good is to look at the topics being discussed.  If you see a lot of personal conversations and complaining as opposed to actual topical discussions and debates, avoid it.  The ones that have good conversations from both sides and don’t have a ton of complaining or endorsements of bad behavior are the best ones to join.

Affiliate managers are a unique group of professionals and are often underrated in their role.  Good ones will have an advanced knowledge and be able to do proper SEO content writing, know how to optimize videos on YouTube for evergreen traffic, and work to prevent affiliates from poaching your shopping cart.  Unfortunately many companies do not see this is a high level role so they allow entry level marketers and agencies who are only out for their own bottom line to take over the programs. That is why some other industries look at affiliate marketing as a low value channel.

If you’d like me to help write a job description if you’re hiring an affiliate manager, or you’d like to have my company manage your program, contact me through this form and I’ll be happy to help.

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