I got an email from a prospective client who wrote:
We have an existing program on [Affiliate Network Name here] for our ecommerce company called [Advertiser’s Name here] but are looking to outsource affiliate recruitment.
After digging a little deeper, it got apparent that this advertiser believes (and expects) the network to take care of everything related to affiliate program’s maintenance but affiliate recruitment.
This is a common misconception. I addressed it a couple of years go in this post, but let me revisit the topic today.
Affiliate networks normally provide merchants with the infrastructure to run an affiliate program (taking care of tracking, reporting, hosting creatives and feed(s), taking care of 1099s, and paying affiliates). Affiliate management, however, is something that is not provided by (the vast majority of) affiliate networks by default. Besides the affiliate recruitment mentioned above, affiliate management, also entails affiliate activation (in most cases, over 80% of “recruited” affiliates remain stagnant), policing affiliate compliance with your TOS and policies, communication channel support, and ongoing program optimization (based on competitive intelligence, replicating what has worked well for you before, as well as relying on your affiliate program manager’s expertise and advice).
So, unless your contract with the affiliate network explicitly presupposes affiliate program management activities, do not expect them to take care of them. Hire an affiliate manager (or outsource the management)!