Do Affiliates Want Relationship, Communication, or Neither?

A few days ago, I published a brief article based on the data retrieved from both Econsultancy’s U.S. and U.K. 2009 Affiliate Census reports, and from the newest Affiliate Summit’s 2010 AffStat Report. The article was entitled: Communication with Affiliates: Methods and Frequency, and appeared at

I think everyone had it all pretty clear in their minds until Jeff Molander challenged us to look at the subject from a very different angle. In the comments under my above-quoted article he wrote:

Affiliates don’t want to be spoken to. And when they do they prefer infrequent contact (frequency) and in ways that do not create bonds/relationships (email).

The real truth about successful affiliate marketing is that it’s NOT “about relationships” as all the experts have claimed for so many years. …lack of communication is what everyone wants — both sides.

Nobody is in this for an honest, meaningful relationship.  And it’s silly to think they should be.

It, actually, is not too strange someone should claim something so diametrically different from what all 3 of the above-quoted affiliate surveys report. After all, it is true that affiliates are in this business not to create bonds, but to be fully independent and free to decide for themselves. But we are not talking about shifting any of that, are we? By relationship and communication, the majority of merchants, and affiliates, imply sincere and open business relationship and communication; and experience proves that those that do have any personal-level relationships/communication involved frequently end up forming the more successful merchant-affiliate partnerships.

Of course, the above is merely my personal opinion; so, to see what affiliates themselves think I started a poll where I asked affiliates to express their opinion on the subject. Here’s how the poll results look at the moment this post goes live:

Relationship, communication or neither?

If you are an affiliate, and haven’t cast your vote yet, please participate in the poll here. Additionally, if you want to comment on any of the above (either as a merchant, or as an affiliate), please do so in the “Comments” area below. I am very much looking forward to hearing people’s opinions on the subject.

8 thoughts on “Do Affiliates Want Relationship, Communication, or Neither?”

  1. The thing is… okay, I chose both because if you don’t have honesty between the affiliate and the manager, bad things happen, and of course, communication is necessary for there to be any relationship at all – quiet or otherwise.

    However… I think if the question were reworded slightly, say “would you rather have frequent, friendly communication or would you rather the relationship be kept quietly professional”, you might see different results. As an affiliate, there are few managers that I want to be friends with, but there are certainly some – because I attend things like Affiliate Summit, and I enjoy hanging out with these people in a non-professional capacity.

  2. Good point, Daniel, and I agree with that. When building relationships with affiliates, merchants (and affiliate program managers) need to be sensitive to the fact that not all affiliates are looking for friends. And that is absolutely fine. Build solid business relationship (based on sincerity and openness, which build trust)!

    Among other things preference of “infrequent contact” was mentioned. I don’t about that either. Survey results say the opposite.

  3. As someone who is in contact with his affiliates personally and in a pretty high volume on a daily basis, the feedback I get from my affiliates is definitely a “both”.

    From personal contact, you can tell which affiliates prefer to be left alone and which ones want to be in contact, share ideas, remain updated and/or simply shoot the breeze.

    I can tell you that our TOP affiliate are always looking for a time to say a quick hello, meet up for a coffee or simply talk shop.

    I cant tell you the amount of times that a simple phone call has worked wonders with an affiliate who either has an issue or doesn’t, but is simply reached out to. The amount of appreciation can then be manifest via different avenues from that point on.

    As long as you aren’t stepping on any toes, constant communication is very important, in my opinion.

  4. Affiliate is all about sales! Obviously you’re going to give more and get more from people you like, as opposed to ones you don’t know.

    When an affiliate of mine is declining in sales, or has a problem of some kind, I’m much more likely to throw them a bone if they seem like they are willing to do the same for me. We’re all in it together, making or losing money at the same time. If someone is friendly and reaches out to me every so often I feel that they are invested in what they are doing, and will work with me to find a compromise and make the sales happen.

    Jeff’s snippet has some truth though. I think there are lots of calls that happen without purpose. I like to search for the affiliates that I see opportunity with or that need some extra work, and call those folks with an agenda and a goal. We’re all busy, and a “How’re ya doin'” call doesn’t usually fit into the day. 🙂

    Thanks Geno.

  5. Good to hear perspectives of AWeber (Ron Givens) and Cabela’s (Samantha Peterson) affiliate managers on this important question. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I agree with both of you. The key is in being attentive and taking things gently (not “stepping on any toes” or intruding into anyone’s private space) and sensitively.

  6. I like to think of a business relationship as a facilitator. Just as I have different types of friendships, I will have different types of relationships.

    My relationships with merchants vary, according to needs and likes. For me, a relationship is sometimes just simple communication and accessibility, having a merchant respond to my queries and providing me with timely information. In exchange, I too respond to their queries.

    For others, my relationship may be more developed, sharing a cup of coffee at a conference or each of us calling to exchange ideas or thoughts.

    For a few, it means calling to simply shoot the breeze.

    In all cases, I have learned to separate business from friendship and each is stronger as a result.

  7. Excellent observations, Melanie. I fully agree. The response/approach is greatly contingent on the very definition of the word “relationship” (or phrase “meaningful relationship”), and/or what both parties put into it.

  8. this post can really help affiliates,, it is just really encouraging and great. I do agree with Geno. MELANIE has made excellent observations

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