One of the keenest observations I’d heard from Sam Harrelson from an older episode of Geekcast is when he was in the process of adding Twitter to an affiliate network’s communication channels, some of the affiliate managers were happy that they had another channel to send out new offer information to.
If you’re an affiliate signed up to multiple networks, you’d receive a constant barrage of daily emails with subject lines like “network exclusives, promote now!”, “Highest payouts!” and “Hot new offers”.
Likewise, I’ve checked out a couple of affiliate marketing forums where networks have sponsored sections of the forums and populated these sections with “These offers are hot!” then proceed to list down payouts and offer caps.
I don’t know how you feel, but this is pretty much tantamount to email and social network spamming by overzealous affiliate managers.
A good affiliate manager should know when to promote offers and when to back off. And emailing/hounding me when I say I’m busy is one way to get on my really bad side.
The other thing that’s disturbing is how little time many affiliate managers take to understand their affiliates. Granted, each AM might have 500 affiliates under them with just 5-10% of them actively promoting campaigns.
But my thought is this – If you’re already investing a couple of minutes using an instant messenger or making a phone call to the affiliate: what’s the best way to use this time?
1) TELL the affiliate about your best converting offer, and the exclusives and the highest payouts. (I doubt an affiliate running a credit repair website might be able to clear many acaiberry lead gen offers for you…)
2) Should you ASK the affiliate what type of offers they’re interested in, and filter your pool of offers down to the most relevant 10-20 and email that information over?
The concept of customer relationship management (CRM) does not apply only to the advertiser-affiliate network relationship because the advertiser is paying for the leads/customers, I’d say that affiliates are equal part “customers” in the equation too.
Having said that, using Twitter, or a blog to publish an endless stream of breaking news on “offer updates” is just another way of doing what everyone else is doing.
Here are a couple of ways to disrupt the “traditional” way of affiliate management, and stepping the standards up a notch:
Engage with affiliates: This is more than just sending me a Christmas card (even if I live halfway around the world), it’s engaging and understanding your affiliates’ requirements.
Geordie Carswell, back when he was CEO of affiliate network Revenuewire, would be available over AIM to give PPC campaign tips and promotion ideas. Likewise, Mike Krongel, CEO of Intermark Media which owns the Copeac network would be available too.
These days, Ralph Ruckman AKA “Ruck” is active on the Wickedfire forum and actively posts on the Convert2Media blog and gives out promotion ideas on the C2M affiliate forum with clear, actionable ideas to promote the offers on his network. Not to mention that his partner and co-founder Steve Howe practically lives on AIM.
Building A Goodwill Virus: I hadn’t heard of Market Leverage till meeting some of their team at the Affiliate Summit last year. Since then, they’re proactively got my mailing address from my domain whois information and sent me a schwag bag earlier this year (and included some gifts for my daughter too).
Likewise, they’ve been following on their promotion efforts by organizing a series of contests on the popular blogs and rollout their “Cashinator” money grabbing machine thingie at events they’re taking part in. While these items and cash won’t be significant for successful affiliates, it does demonstrate that affiliates are a priority for the network and building credibility and a reputation among the affiliate community are some of its goals.
Also, having a regular video broadcast does help build the reputation of the affiliate network (or merchant). Market Leverage has it’s Market Leverage TV weekly broadcast, while Buy.com has it’s Buy.tv broadcasts.
If anything these intiatives demonstrates the networks or merchant’s investment in long-term projects which will ultimately bear fruit from its core of affiliates.
Taking some of lessons to mind when attending an event like Affiliate Summit will help any network get more mileage out of their participation in the event.
- Mike Jenkins, founder Market Leverage
- Geordie Carswell, former CEO Revenuewire
- Dina Riccobono, Market Leverage marketing manager