Why Brands Should Care About Affiliate Program Management
Affiliate Management Days, a conference held October 9-10 in Ft. Lauderdale, will educate brands on how they can create and manage a successful affiliate program. Affiliate program management, the focus of Affiliate Management Days, is a subset of the broader affiliate marketing segment (covered by Affiliate Summit) which includes merchants (brands) looking to partner with affiliates (individual marketers who promote merchant products) and networks (like ad networks, connectors between merchants/brands and affiliates/sites) as well as the affiliate managers who manage affiliate programs for brands.
Geno Prussakov is founder of Affiliate Management Days (use this link for 10 percent off the conference) and we asked him to help us understand affiliate program management and how it fits into a brand's broader marketing strategy.
Adrants: Geno, you've started a newish conference called Affiliate Marketing Days which sits squarely in the affiliate marketing space. I understand it's geared toward affiliate managers but can you give our readers a broad overview of affiliate marketing, the role of an affiliate manager and then how the conference serves this profession?
This is an excellent question. The need for the conference partially stems from the very fact that many misunderstand affiliate marketing. Many online merchants think that by starting an affiliate program (an arrangement whereby independent online marketers promote your product/service, and receive performance-based remuneration in exchange), say on Commission Junction or Google Affiliate Network, and loading up their banners, they're all set, and good to go. They think that the rest is going to roll on its own. Wrong! It won't. And even if will, it will roll the wrong way. An affiliate program is part of your marketing campaign and unless you manage it, it won't succeed. Just like a Google AdWords campaign can burn you lots of money, and bring untargeted traffic unless you manage it carefully, so it is with the affiliate program.
Affiliate Management Days is a professional forum and educational conference for affiliate managers, and merchants who either already have (or are contemplating starting) an affiliate program. We are the source of knowledge on the subject.
Adrants: Why would a brand advertiser consider affiliate marketing and what sort of brands might be best suited to this marketing avenue?
When properly managed affiliate marketing programs become the most efficient routes to promoting a brand. Not many people talk about it but with its performance-based component (affiliates market brands investing their time, money, effort and only get paid when a sale happens or a lead it referred to the brand) affiliate programs can provide a lot of great branding (for businesses of all sorts) at the same time being an extremely cost-effective marketing channel (you pay affiliates for the action you predetermine and only when it occurs). Again, when properly managed is the key phrase here.
Adrants: How can a marketer increase their revenue or market share by engaging in affiliate marketing?
Since affiliate marketing isn't a "channel" as some call it, rather a compensation model/basis, by launching an affiliate program you're opening up an array of prospective partnership opportunities: paid search marketers can market you on performance basis, most comparison shopping engines will work with you on commission basis as well, content affiliates (for example, bloggers) will often write about you more eagerly when there's remuneration involved. The list could go on an on -- embracing all online, and many offline channels as well.
Adrants: Back when the Internet and online marketing made their debut, many brands were skeptical of allocating budget to such a nascent marketing channel. What tips can you give marketers who might be hesitant to launch an affiliate program?
As I've already mentioned, ultimately, you'll be paying for performance only. With proper approach the "budget" you allocate for this will pay itself off. On a separate note, an exercise that's good to undertake while deciding whether or not to launch an affiliate program, is to run a search engine check on [your keyword(s)] + [affiliate program]. Chances are you'll find out that your competitors (or merchants selling closely-related merchandise or services) are already actively utilizing affiliate marketing. With proper tools your affiliate manager will be able to find the affiliates who make your competitors successful -- to recruit these into your affiliate program. We'll actually have a session on this at the upcoming conference.
Adrants: How can a marketer best integrate an affiliate marketing program with their ongoing marketing efforts?
At all times we should understand that our affiliate program is a part of our larger online (and even offline) marketing mix. To ensure good/working integration (without any channel conflict), make sure your affiliate program's Terms and Conditions reflect everything you want affiliates to know (and comply with), and then ensure that the compliance is being policed and enforced.
Adrants: If, in fact, by engaging in affiliate marketing a marketer can essentially expand their sales force exponentially at no cost, shouldn't every marketer launch an affiliate program?
They should! But when they do, God forbid they do it without paying attention to due diligence and ensuring proper education on the subject. Come to Affiliate Management Days in Florida in a month, and we'll teach you how to do it right -- doing it all well right from the outset.
If you're interested in attending Affiliate Management Days, Geno has offered Adrants readers at 10 percent discount off the price of the conference. While the discount is good right up until the day the of the conference, Early Bird pricing ends today so take look if you think it might be worth your while.