Say you’re a business leader or a company owner looking for high-quality affiliates. You’ll find hundreds upon hundreds of online guides that can help you do so. After all, nowadays, considering the constantly evolving online marketing ecosystem, affiliate marketing has become a must for any business that wants to succeed.
Yet, there comes the time when you’ve managed to recruit your affiliates - at least a decent number of them - and are having trouble knowing what to do with them. Knowing how to establish affiliate partnerships is one thing, but knowing how to manage affiliate partners properly is an entirely different thing.
Failing to do so can lead to various unwanted scenarios, such as losing one (or more) of your precious affiliates or even seriously compromising the financial status of your business. And trust us, even the best need advice regarding matters like these since the affiliate-hunting world is vicious, and it’s easy to get swayed into making a wrong business decision.
We’ve created an affiliate marketing guide that’ll tackle exactly this issue: how to manage your existing affiliate partners. Keep on reading to see our nine tips for managing affiliate partners that’ll help you establish firm and lasting partnerships with productive results!
Invest in Affiliate Tracking Software
We’ll get straight to the point. One of the quickest, easiest, most innovative, and most practical ways to manage each affiliate partner is to invest in a sound affiliate tracking software system. Whether you decide to buy one or construct one yourself, it’s up to you. What matters is to have a reliable tracking software option at all times.
This covers various essential aspects of your relationship with your affiliates. To begin with, it can help track potential productive affiliate partnerships based on specific business niche indicators suggesting what kind of affiliate partners you’re looking for.
Once you’ve established a partnership, the affiliate tracking software will be able to constantly keep track of each transaction, including which client saw which affiliate’s advertisement, how the client accessed your business service or product, and how the product or service was purchased. The software will track all activity and memorize all e-commerce activity relevant to your business and its relationship with your affiliates.
What this means, essentially, is that you’ll be able to know which affiliate does its job most effectively, which affiliate earns you the most traffic, and how easy it is for clients to access you through each of your affiliates. Having this information regularly at your disposal influences how you position yourself towards each of your affiliates, and it also influences every affiliate management decision you proceed to make.
Know Your Budget and Limitations
However, many other factors influence your business decisions as well. You cannot proceed to make a change in your approach or stance towards your affiliate partners before you heed all of these possibly influential factors. The next one that we need to mention is knowledge of your own business. More specifically, the budgetary limitations you have at your disposal.
Let’s put it. Even if a particular affiliate is bringing in 80% of the customer revenue that you have, the commission rate you offer them won’t be able to exceed a certain amount. If you’re still managing a relatively small business with limited financial resources, this holds. An affiliate is supposed to help you establish and grow your business, not lead you to crippling debt.
On the other hand, if you believe that you can afford to pay a specific hard-earning affiliate more than you do (and appropriate to what they deserve), you need to alter your commission percentage contract to keep the other party satisfied. Otherwise, they’d have no reason to continue their partnership with you.
When it comes to such issues, it’s essential to always know the particular condition of the business and niche landscape at the moment and to know which are your most severe competitors. Suppose you notice that a competitor with similar financial allowances can offer better deals to your affiliate partners, which could result in them leaving you. In that case, you need to immediately up your game.
Always measure your budget and limitations well, and make sure that every decision you make is well-thought-out. Time and hasty decisions or those decided on under emotional sway have led to disastrous long-term consequences.
Pre-Established Rules Can Save the Day
Another thing that can lead to disastrous consequences for your business is poorly negotiated business plans. Of course, this can be applied to all facets of business leadership, but that only means that affiliate partnerships aren’t excluded either. Let us explain.
At the start of your partnership with a given affiliate, you need to strictly decide what both of you are and aren’t allowed to do within the scope of your collaboration. Unless you negotiate all terms, including those of commission rate amount, and whether this amount can be flexible or not, various potentially damaging outcomes can appear. To name a few:
You decide on a fixed commission rate. Over time you notice that this affiliate is:
Doing a better job than other affiliates, thus deserving a higher commission rate; or doing a worse job than other affiliates, thus deserving a lower commission rate.
The terms are too lax. Your affiliate starts to drain your profit, using it to promote themselves and reaping more of the benefits than you.
In either case, you’ve caught yourself in the wrong position. If they’re better than the rest of your affiliates, they will, rightfully so, demand better compensation. Suppose you’re constrained by your principal business deal and cannot offer them a substantial reward for their effort.
They’ll have no reason to remain, and they’ll abandon you for a competitor.
If they’re performing poorly, you’ll be stuck with them, paying them a higher commission rate than they deserve. Of course, you could stop the partnership, but that can often be more damaging to your business than to your affiliates.
This is why it’s essential to establish the terms of the financial recompensation at the beginning of the partnership. That way, you’ll be able to adapt as the situation alters.
In the second scenario, your affiliate essentially morphs into a competitor, which parasitically draws on your business to better sustain itself. The best way to avoid such an event is to formulate the terms of your mutual agreement at the beginning o the partnership.
Assert specific rules that both parties need to abide by, and you’ll legally protect yourself from such unfortunate outcomes.
Both of these “worst-case scenarios” were exemplary of how a bad deal can ruin your partnership and your business. This is why you need to always think about imposing pre-established rules.
Always Measure Results Daily
To cover a more low-scale, practical advice that can help you manage affiliate partners correctly and successfully, we’d need to mention an activity that can easily be achieved with the right affiliate tracking software, but that is recommended with or without one; keeping track of daily results.
This can be important for several reasons:
- It makes it easier to deal with databases in the future. The more regularly you oversee the results that your affiliates bring, the better your overall grasp of the entire situation in your business. If you regularly measure all advancements or degenerations by the day, you won’t find yourself in a situation where you have to calculate strange “leaps of logic” in your databases. This can also help you address problems with your affiliates as soon as they arise, without having months upon months of accumulated data and issues before deciding to tackle them.
- It gives you first-hand insight into how good a job each of your affiliates is doing. This one is straightforward. You can see how many clients every one of your affiliates drew for the day. By following this daily, you’ll see what their work tempo is and how many clients they bring in weekly. You’ll be able to track patterns (productive or problematic) and either hammer in on them or address them if necessary.
- Finally, it’s worth noting that some companies and collaborators function in not-as-transparent ways. Using underhanded and, perhaps, illegal methods, an affiliate can bring two customers one day, only to “magically” bring in 200 the next day. These can easily be overlooked if you only keep track of records and results on a monthly or yearly scale. If you do so by the day, however, you’ll be able to find out if your affiliate partner is a fraudster and if you should consider canceling the collaboration immediately.
Strike a Balance Between Patience and Diligence
Going back to more general advice, we need to remind you of another basic rule of business - balance. In this particular case, we’re referring to the balance between being patient and being diligent when it comes to the work done by your affiliates.
If you’re a small business especially, you’ll probably have some smaller-scale affiliate partners. You cannot expect them to bring you a million customers daily overnight. And this is just an extreme scenario. Even if you’re a well-established company and the given affiliate is well-known in the niche, you can’t expect immediate results overnight.
Growing a business takes time, so you must be relaxed enough when dealing with your affiliates, or you’d be putting pressure on them for things out of their control. This is something nobody is fond of, so you’ll be increasing the chance of them abandoning the partnership if you persist.
On the other hand, however, you cannot be too relaxed, as some people - and companies - won’t work unless they are given a regular incentive. This is why you need to constantly encourage hard work and progress. Your affiliates need to know that you are a serious business and that to maintain the partnership - and the commission fee that comes with it - they need to do their part.
Aside from these strategies, one of the most important things to remember is that your program should comply with affiliate marketing regulations, such as affiliate disclosure. Your affiliate manager should ensure that your affiliates are following your terms and conditions by monitoring their promotion methods regularly.
Additionally, you must determine how much your budget is for each lead. Knowing your budget per lead will help you determine how much you can pay in commissions. This allows you to temper both your affiliates’ and your expectations.
Below are more ways you can optimise your affiliate program from growth:
- Leverage Data
- Work With the Right Affiliates
- Monitor Affiliate Promotion Methods
Build Good Relationships
What most of these points amount to is having a good relationship with your affiliates. A good relationship can mean anything, but in this particular instance, it refers to having both a friendly attitude and understanding of the limitations of what an affiliate can do, as well as a high standard for how much work an affiliate should put into the partnership.
By establishing reasonable contact and business deal terms, you’ll both give your affiliates enough space to do what they’re best at and encourage them to do more, which would be beneficial to them and your business. Keep in mind that productive business deals are made between humans, and humans operate best when they’re treated with dignity and respect.
Like all other business partnerships, your affiliate partnerships are not an exception. Consider this not just when it comes to particular short-term partnerships but also to building a reputation for your company. The better impression you leave with your affiliates, the more your reputation spreads through word-of-mouth.
Your business will be known as both professional and tolerant, which is a combination that all potential partners - affiliate or otherwise - want to hear.
Provide Them With Special Discounts and Offers
All of this being said, there’s one thing we all know can give people that additional little motivational push from time to time: special events. And by this, we mean either competitive commission rate rewards for particular products, some sorts of special discounts, or one-time offers to strike a deal that will be more lucrative for the affiliate partner.
Realistically speaking, all business owners know that there comes a time when a given service or product needs to be sold as soon as possible or seems to be quite attractive to a large number of potential customers for a given period. Harness these periods by offering one-time deals to your affiliates.
They’ll be motivated to work extra hard for a given period and get a beneficial reward in return. This will strengthen their faithfulness to your company as their partner, and they’ll look forward to the following discount or offer that you allow them to participate in. The more of these you organize, the more motivated your affiliates will be.
Remember to Maintain Constant Communication
Effective affiliate management starts with building and maintaining a solid relationship with your affiliates. While it may seem like a lot of work, it allows you to have a more authentic relationship with your affiliate publishers, ultimately benefiting your business. For example, you can increase engagement by sending them dedicated emails and communicating with them regularly to keep them up to date with the latest developments.
Of course, the best and most reliable way to gauge how motivated your affiliate partner is is to ask them. This may seem like an elementary tip, but it is essential in all areas of life and business - affiliate marketing included. Communication is the building block of all relationships, and relationships that aren’t clearly even (often, the affiliate is subservient to the business), maintaining constant communication is a must. You’ll let your affiliates know that you care about their view of the situation and that you want to hear how their work is progressing. They will also be able to address any issue they may face as soon as it arises before it assumes bigger proportions. You’ll constantly be in on every development, and even when there are some issues with the business or with clients, this won’t remain foreign to you.
Moreover, suppose your affiliates start to grow dissatisfied with any aspect of the contract. In that case, they’ll be able to immediately notify you so that both parties can sit down and negotiate possible ways to improve the situation. We could go on like this forever, as the benefits of good communication are innumerable. You’ll essentially solve most of your problems by regularly keeping in touch with your affiliate partners.
Find High-Quality Affiliates to Save Yourself a Lot of Trouble
The final tip that we can give you is general but significant. Find high-quality affiliates. Regardless of how good you are at managing them, if you keep falling for cheap tricks and hiring sub-par affiliates, you won’t be able to guarantee the success of your business.
The first and foremost prerequisite of maintaining a healthy and productive affiliate marketing relationship is to make sure that the affiliates you partner with are professionals. They should also have a firm discipline and the ability to provide the sort of exposure that you need.
So long as your affiliates are good at doing it, most of the management weight will be split between you and them. You won’t have to carry the burden of establishing and maintaining a productive professional partnership.