It is not unusual for an online merchant to wonder if they really should have a dedicated affiliate program manager, or if the responsibilities of the affiliate manager can be handled by an already employed member of their staff. To answer this question, you need to know what exactly an affiliate manager does, or rather, what they should be expected to do.
I personally divide affiliate manager responsibility into 5 major areas:
An affiliate manager is responsible for identifying and recruiting new affiliates. Affiliate recruitment normally takes anywhere between 40% and 60% of the affiliate manager’s time, and is one of the most important parts of the AM/OAM’s work (AM – affiliate manager, OAM – outsourced affiliate manager).
Affiliate activation is one of the most frequently overlooked components of affiliate program management. Activation is a step between affiliate recruitment and conversion of the recruited affiliates into producing ones. An affiliate manager is to motivate new and/or inactive affiliates to put up their links, or launch ad campaigns that would start sending traffic to the merchant’s website.
Next in importance to recruiting and activating affiliates is policing of inappropriate affiliate behavior. Whatever you prohibit in your affiliate program’s Terms of Service (be it downloadable toolbars that overwrite other affiliates’ cookies, or trademark bidding, or anything else), you want your affiliate manager to constantly police affiliates for these behaviors.
An affiliate manager should be expected to (i) maintain stimulating relationships with the current affiliates, continually motivating them to perform better, (ii) keep affiliates up to date on new products and any affiliate program enhancements, and (iii) handle on-going communication campaigns and all affiliate correspondence.
Continuous affiliate program optimization is the last area of responsibility I would like to touch upon. Your affiliate manager is to be (i) identifying and implementing opportunities to enhance your affiliate program, (ii) developing and monitoring affiliate-centered promotions (note: please do not confuse these with promos directed at customers), and (iii) reporting for affiliate marketing promotions and activity, as well as monitoring and reporting on competitors’ affiliate campaigns and promotions.
If the above-quoted responsibilities cannot be handled by your in-house staff, do consider outsourcing the management of your affiliate program. Should you need a hand with this, I would be happy to help.