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Successful Affiliate Marketing: Managing Your Affiliate Program

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An affiliate program can bring in plenty of sales, but it isn't cheap, and it certainly isn't free. Before establishing or expanding your affiliate program, make sure you have the proper management in place to run your program successfully for you and your affiliates.
This article is adapted from chapter 11 of Pay for Performance: Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants (Que, 2001).
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If you think running an affiliate program once it's set up is a part-time endeavor—just checking stats once in a while and sending out checks periodically—think again. Even if you're using a third-party affiliate solution provider to do most of the heavy lifting of your affiliate program, you still have loads of work to do to make your program a success. How well you manage your program after it's launched and how you support your affiliates will make or break most any affiliate program. In fact, poor program management and the lack of support to affiliates is where most programs fail.

There are important tasks to consider to make your program a roaring success, like who in your organization will manage your affiliate program, how you will keep in constant communication with your affiliates, and in what ways you can keep your program fresh and your affiliates loyal. All these factors, plus supporting your affiliates with marketing assistance, will determine just how well your affiliate program will perform for you.

Personnel Requirements

The most important investment you can make in your affiliate program is that of staffing an adequate affiliate team. Most places build their program, then add the responsibility of "affiliate manager" to a current employee, along with that employee's existing duties at the company. This is a mistake. You'll need a full-time team to manage your affiliate program. You need to make sure that you have the right number of staff members. According to the 2001 Merchant Report from affiliate metrix, 45% of merchants have two full-time employees or more managing their respective affiliate programs.

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