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Affiliate Networks: How To Talk So Affiliates Listen

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.

how to talk to affiliates

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?

Should you:

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…)

OR

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.

Related podcasts:

5 comments on Affiliate Networks: How To Talk So Affiliates Listen

  1. Jeremy Weintraub
    December 19, 2008 at 12:04 am (8 years ago)

    I think this is a great and a real important post. Affiliates are a crucial part in the equation and they are 100% my “customer.”
    I think it’s really important to ask and not tell, like you mentioned. Not every publisher wants Acai offers, or even cares about caps.
    Some of my most successful affiliates are niche guys or almost exclusively go after a single vertical. If I bombarded them with other offers I’d be an idiot.
    I think the ideal scenario is where an affiliate and an AM can each use their mutual perspectives and expertise to find a winning offer. At that point it becomes a true partnership and that’s what I strive for with my affiliates.
    Anyway, great post and thanks for bringing up this important topic.

  2. MLDina
    December 19, 2008 at 1:10 am (8 years ago)

    Thanks for mentioning us Andew Wee! We have a lot of fun with promotions like the swag bag and the Cashinator. It’s great to be able to provide some outside-the-box services and promotions. Glad you’re enjoying it as much as we are!

  3. Sam Harrelson
    December 19, 2008 at 1:26 am (8 years ago)

    Nice post and agreed on the over-zealous use of these tools by affiliate managers.

    That’s why I built this resource for judging how much is too much on Twitter, Facebook, etc:

    http://samharrelson.com/success/

    I hope it helps your readers!
    Sam

  4. Jim Banks
    December 19, 2008 at 10:36 pm (8 years ago)

    Andrew,

    As an affiliate network owner I sat there going ouch on reading virtually every paragraph, as in you are so right. I think some of the networks have it right and some have it so wrong (maybe with all the top 10’s/100’s doing the rounds on twitter, sphinn etc. someone will do one of those!) The best and worst.

    I guess as we sit on both sides of the fence as a network and a publisher we work on the basis of treating others as we would expect to be treated ourselves, as a publisher and as a network.

    Ideally, if you have good offers and good publishers they will do a fair amount of viral promotion for you, particularly in the email space. I know if one mailer gets an offer that really works they tell all their mailer buddies and everyone gets to make bank. Less so in PPC, but there are still a bunch of people giving away a lot of revenue generating information for free.

    In giving it away I figure all you hope for is for people to take the information you give them and that they run offers with you. I’ve given a lot of free information away on making money in ringtones from PPC and meet a lot of people at shows who want to pick my brains. I’m always happy to do that, what goes around comes around.

    I agree with you 100% that the guys over at Convert2Media have a refreshing style and openness which can only bring good things for them. I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting them, but have made a point of hooking up for drinks at #ASW09 to see what opportunities exist for us to do things together.

    That is one of the big things I like about the space, although technically these are competitors, every affiliate network has something that makes them unique and worth working with, which is why we make an effort to forge strong bonds with them all.

  5. ej-web-development
    December 20, 2008 at 6:40 pm (8 years ago)

    I think a lot of AM’s are just trying to break into the game. Even those that are somewhat established and have 200-300 offers available are fighting an uphill battle for new affiliates in a crowded market.

    I think that’s why these blog promos have become so popular. A good way of generating interest any breaking away from the pack. They want to reach critical mass where there are enough offers so that affiliates come easier.

    If you don’t have offers that my site’s readers would be interested in, why bother? You can send me all the junk about Acai and weight loss programs but thats not what my readers want.

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