How Can a New Affiliate Manager Find Clients?

I have received a very good question from a starting OPM (outsourced [affiliate] program manager). After a detailed preface on his attempts to get good clients, he wrote:

question-markDo you have any advice for a new affiliate manager? I mean, I know what I’m doing pretty much, and when I’ve found clients, they’ve chosen me over other people (largely because of education), but how do I find a good client? I’ve found clients, but aside from the unforeseen possible divorce, they’ve all been lumps. How did you do it when you first started out?

Great question, and thank you for asking it.

I believe there are several things a new OPM can do to increase their chances of finding really good clients:

1) To begin with, you can approach merchants without affiliate programs, showing them which of their competitors are already running successful affiliate programs (you’d want to give them some actual data on these; which you may pick up from joining affiliate networks, and checking programs out as an affiliate).

2) Secondly, you can approach merchants with existing but underperforming affiliate programs, asking if they could use help. Pointing out to some of the obvious mistakes you see in their current program setup is always good to do right in your very first email to them — just remember to be diplomatic, and professional.

3) Finally, publishing material/useful content on affiliate marketing (in your own blog, blogs of others, magazines, other periodicals, various online forums, and other channels) helps you get the exposure you as an OPM need, and facilitates building your personal brand in the industry.

Proactivity always pays off (regardless of the context, and certainly in the above-quoted one).

3 thoughts on “How Can a New Affiliate Manager Find Clients?”

  1. Great Article Geno.

    I do have comment/question regarding what you said above.

    “You mentioned above that you can approach merchants with existing but underperforming affiliate programs, asking if they could use help.”

    My question to you is, how do you know if the merchant’s program is underperforming? (I am guessing, that you would check out their EPC on the network they are on), which leads me to ask, what is considered a Good EPC and Bad EPC?

    Thanks again for writing this article.

  2. Good stuff Geno – you might also want to add that the new OPM that is looking for business should do some homework when approaching sites with existing programs to make sure they aren’t under contract to another OPM.

    “Poaching” clients won’t make you many friends in the industry and if you are respectful of colleagues, you’d be surprised how many will send you leads if they get interest from a prospect they can’t take on.

  3. Thank you very much for your comments, gentlemen.

    Ashish, EPC would indeed be one of the metrics publicly-viewable (for prospective affiliates) in most cases. However, EPC alone is not gonna give you much info (for example, as I’ve had a quick glance at 4- and 5-bar merchants on CJ, I’ve noticed that their EPCs range from some $40 to about $300). What I’d do is compare them to their competitors, looking at EPCs, rankings (if the network provides you with such), conversion and reversal rates, payout and performance incentive structures and bonuses, how developed (underdeveloped) their creative inventory is, how well they communicate with affiliates (some networks will keep an archive of all their previous newsletters) both through newsletters and their own website (affiliate program blog, FAQ section, etc)… All merchants will have room for growth, but some — significantly more than others.

    Wade, I appreciate you bringing up the point you’ve brought up. While there is no unified opinion on this subject even within OPM circles (there is a handful of companies that are actually openly targeting other OPMs’ clients), the vast majority of OPMs agree not to solicit clients of fellow-OPMs. And you’re right, going after competitors’ clients “won’t make you many friends in the industry” while “if you are respectful of colleagues, you’d be surprised how many will send you leads”. I couldn’t have put it better!

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