What is an Affiliate OPM? Definition & Reasons to Consider Hiring One

OPM literally stands for an “outsourced program manager.” A better abbreviation for it would’ve really been OAPM as we’re talking about an outsourced affiliate program manager here. But the commonplace term is OPM, so we will stick with it throughout this post (and the below-referenced video explanation).

OPMs are often compared with in-house-based affiliate program managers, and this is understandable. After all, the core function of both is the same: supporting and developing an affiliate program. The core responsibilities of both are also the same: (i) affiliate recruitment (from identification to outreach and follow-ups), (ii) activation of the onboarded affiliates, (iii) policing their compliance of the affiliate program’s rules and policies, (iv) communication with all affiliates, and (v) optimization of the affiliate program on an ongoing basis.

The only difference is that an OPM works remotely, while the in-house affiliate manager, typically, works on the company’s premises.
Now, let’s look at the reasons why you may want to consider working with an OPM.

I believe that there are seven specific advantages to having an affiliate OPM manage your affiliate program, or co-manage it in collaboration with your in-house team. Let’s look at these one-by-one:

1. Expertise

When partnering an OPM you are partnering with a professional (or a team of professionals) which possesses the competence in the field of affiliate program management. You do not need to invest in any additional training.

2. Experience

A solid OPM comes with a proven track record. Ask for case studies and references (from past and current clients). Ask them what exactly they will bring to the table?

Affiliate OPM Tools3. Toolset

Handling affiliate management in-house entails not only paying the program manager, but also investing in an array of tools for them to perform their “management.” An OPM, on the other hand, should come with their own set of tools (for affiliate identification, email discovery, ongoing management, compliance policing, competitive intelligence, and much more).

4. Affiliate Base

Another important component is the OPMs already-existing database of active affiliates (segmented by promotional types and verticals in which they operate). It aids both in the initial affiliate onboarding, and with their ongoing recruitment of new affiliates.

Affiliate marketing connections5. Relationships

Beyond the relationships with affiliates, a good OPM agency also has numerous valuable connections with(in) affiliate networks and other affiliate tracking solutions, technology providers, and industry as a whole. This will help them secure wholesale discounts and other perks of all kinds for you.

6. Representation

Most OPM companies regularly speak and exhibit at key industry conferences and events, and they can (and should) give your affiliate program additional visibility at these.

Affiliate program growth7. Vested Interest

I always recommend structuring your contract with an OPM in such a way that they have a direct interest in the program’s growth. Performance bonuses work very well for this. These can be tied to incremental affiliate-referred revenue (e.g. as compared to the previous year’s performance in the corresponding month), or new customer sales, or anything else that is of true value to your business.

In conclusion, let me say this… I do advocate that (on all of these reasons) OPM agencies add tremendous value. However, in the most developed affiliate programs that we have managed, the success was always a result of teamwork — a collaborative effort between the OPM and the advertiser’s in-house team. As one client of ours once put it:

To make the most of their efforts, be an active participant in your affiliate program. They can be a great extension of your marketing team, but unless you equip them with the internal data to help them succeed, your own journey to success may take longer.

Good luck in reaching new heights, however your affiliate program is going to be managed!

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