A recent blog post from the Harvard Business Review reveals that remote workers (or workers of virtual teams) are, actually, more engaged than people who work in company office(s).
In his above-referenced post Scott Edinger says that this makes “perfect sense” on the following 4 reasons:
- Proximity breeds complacency;
- Absence makes people try harder to connect;
- Leaders of virtual teams make a better use of tools;
- Leaders of far-flung teams maximize the time their teams spend together.
These are excellent points — absolutely all of which apply to outsourced affiliate program management. However, I like Edinger’s conclusion there too:
None of this is to say that working remotely is better than coming to the office. Or that virtual teams are better than traditional ones. On the contrary, I’m suggesting that they are exactly the same this regard: Someone working in the same office with their leader needs just as much effective communication as someone located in a different office. [source]
The latter paragraph reminded me of a fairly recent post by Jared Saunders, affiliate manager at Jenson USA and holder of ShareASale’s Exceptional Program Manager 2009 award. In his post (which I highly recommend you give a thorough read) Jared compared the pros and cons of both in-house and outsourced affiliate management. Each has its strengths, and Saunders’ conclusion was:
There are many ways to accomplish the task of successfully managing an affiliate marketing program. In my opinion your best bet is to blend the services of an outsourced program manager to get started and help train your new manager, or to alleviate your personal work load as you seek out a veteran in-house manager. Then to have your program managed in-house calling at time on an outsourced program manager to assist with their workload as the department expands. in this way will your business and profits always have the attention they need to increase and continue with out interruption. [source]
To answer the question posed in the title of this post: while not all OPMs will be better than in-house affiliate managers, many outsourced (affiliate) program managers are not worse, and some (those with the relevant experience, connections, and expertise) will, actually, be better for you.
Bonus tip: When hiring an OPM to handle the management of your affiliate program, make sure the expectations (as far as communication, reporting, optimization and program support efforts) are aligned by the contract. Don’t presuppose anything. Discuss it all in advance — so that everyone is happy with the arrangement.