How to choose an Awesome Affiliate Manager

I have had the privilege to work in different aspects of the affiliate marketing sphere over the last 5 years. This has included basic product support and agency manager at ShareASale then as a business analyst away from the front lines at one of the premier affiliate marketing agencies in the business, Acceleration Partners. As such, I think I have a unique perspective on what makes a great affiliate manager versus what some merchants find when hiring affiliate managers.
Here are some of the attributes of excellent affiliate managers:

  • Availability: I find that the best affiliate managers are readily available to discuss issues with their clients.
  • Hands on: A great affiliate manager generally is not handling 20 accounts by themselves; instead you have a team of managers and associates who know your account inside and out.
  • Connections: I find that great affiliate managers know their affiliates (big and small) by name and can reach out in an instant to talk to them and help convince them to promote your business.
  • Savvy: While not all affiliate managers are technical geniuses; they often utilize their networks, consultants and industry experts to ensure they are utilizing every tool to help win your business.
  • Great Partners: This is often a quality that is not easily measured but great affiliate managers know your business goals and needs as well as you do. More importantly, they work in your businesses best interests to help you attain those goals.
  • Results: One aspect that the best affiliate managers is the ability to show you the “real” numbers on how your program is doing and ways to improve upon those numbers.

One thing you’ll notice about the attributes of excellent managers is that all of these qualities are easily proven. One thing that I believe will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me is that there has to be definitive proof of performance. As a result, the qualities I normally find exhibited with the other types of managers are as follows:

  • Quantity over Quality: The manager has way too many clients and literally launches new ones every day.
  • Auto-Approve: The manager has so many clients, so they set everything to auto approve. This means that any affiliate may be promoting your products and you may be paying for invalid orders.
  • Feelings: These managers generally give you really flowery language and tell you how hard they are working but can never tell you specifically how your program is doing.
  • Bad Partners: These are the types of managers that when you begin to review sites like ABestWebFeedFront or other affiliate forums there will be a number of comments about the manager having had an issue with an affiliate or a network. This is usually a red flag because it will be difficult for the manager to build your program.
  • Stone Ages: One of the coolest aspects of affiliate marketing over the last few years is that there have been numerous technology advances (container pixels, attribution, etc.), but the manager who is not the best will often not be utilizing those tools and may not even be aware of them.
  • Too busy to Talk: One of the things I noticed often when working at a network was that a merchant may have wanted a call with the network and asked the manager to join the call but they might not show up. Often, I would hear that often that manager was too busy to talk to their client. Frankly, you are the one paying their fee, so it is more than reasonable to think they would be available for a conversation.

Ultimately, there is not necessarily a magic wand that will let you know exactly which program manager will be best for your business. After all, there are numerous other factors such as fees, specialty in a vertical, technical know how, etc. that may also be factors in your decision. The key here though is that affiliate marketing can be a great method to help grow your online business and the best way to ensure that happens is to ensure you have a great program manager who is going to be a genuine partner.