7 Challenges Affiliate Managers Face Today

[Liveblogging from Affiliate Management Days SF 2012]


In case you’ve missed my opening remarks at the first-ever Affiliate Management Days (AM Days) conference in San Francisco earlier this morning, among the things that I’ve talked about were the challenges that affiliate managers face today. I believe there are at least 7 major ones:

1. Last click vs multi-click attribution → Should we stick with the current “last click wins” model, or look beyond it, exploring attribution models that seek to measure the present day’s multi-touchpoint ecommerce? If we go the latter route, what solutions are available for implementing this multi-click attribution? And also, how do we ensure that our affiliate remuneration is structured in a fair way, rewarding all key referrers in an enticing way?

2. Leveraging emerging trends → Facebook is huge (set to reach 1 billion users in a few months); Twitter is growing even faster… Yet, major brands are shutting their Facebook stores down. Does it mean that social commerce has no future? Or maybe they just aren’t doing something right? Opportunities also abound in mobile, video, and other quickly emerging areas. How do we leverage these trends, especially through affiliates?

3. Affiliate compliance → How do you ensure 100% compliance with your paid search policy? How do you police compliance with the FTC’s rules on endorsements and testimonials? How do you fight click fraud?

4. Managing the unmanageable ones → And how do you manage these born-to-be-free self-managed marketers called affiliates? Is it even possible to manage those who by definition are intolerant of managerial approaches to them? Or maybe it is the channel (and/or our affiliate program) that we are really called to manage ?

5. 5% of affiliates driving 95% of sales → We’re told: “Forget the Pareto principle! The 80-20 Rule doesn’t apply in affiliate marketing, where it gets transformed into more of a 95-5 rule.” I disagree. The fact that only 5% of your affiliates are generating the majority of sales/leads doesn’t cancel the fact that the other 95% of them joined your affiliate program on a reason. You didn’t make them sign up! They had a plan for your program, and it is now our job to get them excited about your affiliate program again.

6. Marketing to marketers → But how do we effectively market to those who are marketers themselves? How can we motivate affiliates to work for us in the most efficient manner they can?

7. Staying up-to-date → And, finally, in an industry so dynamically developing as ours how do we keep up-to-date with the latest news, developments, and opportunities to enhance our marketing through affiliates?

All of the above will be tackled/addressed in the course of the next two days at AM Days San Francisco 2012. Some of the sessions will be covered in a live-blogging format at AM Days’ blog, at Small Business Trends, and also at mThink.com. It is my understanding that there will also be some coverage of the conference at ReveNews (but, most likely, after the conference ends).

4 thoughts on “7 Challenges Affiliate Managers Face Today”

  1. Pingback: Marketing Day: March 8, 2012

  2. Hi,

    Interesting post.

    I definitely agree with point 5 – I find that so many merchants only want to target the top 5-10 affiliates…

    Whilst these are extremely important, merchants also need a separate marketing consideration for the medium/long-tail affiliates. They may have slightly different motivations but if correctly engaged, they can collectively generate significant sales too.



  3. 95/5 is for lazy managers or people who wouldn’t know how to motivate a heart attack victim to start exercising.

    I strive for 80/20. Never hit it but I’m getting close with one program…84/16 last quarter.

    1. Matt, thanks for chiming in. Always good to hear from you.

      I’ve just looked through the programs that we manage and see 15.34% activity index in the worst case, and 20.22% in the best one. Seems like right around the mark you’re suggesting above.

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