Effective affiliate management is key to making your affiliate program work. And, given that affiliate marketing is involved in 16% of all the ecommerce sales in the US and Canada, you really do need to make it work if you’re hoping to sell in the digital marketplace.
In this article, we’ll break down the fundamentals of building (or refining) an affiliate management strategy, so that your business can reap the full benefits of your affiliate marketing program.
We’ll also show you how monday sales CRM can make managing your affiliates a breeze, with our pre-made templates, email automations, and easy-to-use boards that keep all your affiliate information at your fingertips.Try monday sales CRM
What is affiliate management?
Affiliate management is the oversight and coordination of the “affiliates” (or partners) involved in an affiliate marketing program.
Affiliates are business partners who help promote your services or products in exchange for a commission (or other incentives). They might be industry influencers, content creators, coupon providers, comparison sites, or even individual fans of your business.
Affiliate management encompasses everything from forming sound relationships with affiliates to keeping track of their performance, implementing plans to motivate them, and ensuring the success of your affiliate program.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a marketing strategy where you partner with affiliates, who then use their platform to market your business to their audience in exchange for a commission. You might decide to pay that commission every time a lead comes to your website from your affiliate’s website, or every time a lead purchases your product or service because they heard about you from one of your affiliates.
Typically, a company will provide its affiliates with a unique tracking link or code. Then, when a user clicks on the affiliate’s link or uses the code, and then completes the desired action (such as filling out a form or making a purchase), the affiliate is credited with the referral and given a commission.
Affiliate marketing is a great way for companies to expand brand awareness and drive traffic without upfront costs. Because you only pay your affiliates when they generate sales or leads, affiliate marketing is a lower-cost alternative to paid advertising or other marketing approaches. Small wonder then that 80% of brands are currently using affiliate marketing.
The 3 main types of affiliate
You can usually group your affiliates into three categories, based on the depth of the relationship they have with your company:
- Unattached affiliates have no specific association with your products or services and simply recommend them to their audience in exchange for a commission. For example, let’s say you sell fitness equipment. A blogger who writes listicles about health, wellness, and fitness might include your products in a blog post about the best home workout equipment, alongside many other products.
- Related affiliates have a stronger relationship with your products or services, and probably personal experience using them. To use our fitness equipment company example again, a fitness instructor might create detailed reviews of each of your fitness products. This kind of affiliate marketing is likely to generate more engagement and traffic than a casual mention in a blog post.
- Involved affiliates are involved with your brand specifically and act as active marketing partners. With our fitness equipment example, an involved affiliate could be a fitness instructor who partners with you to create video tutorials for their audience showing how to use your products.
When developing your affiliate management program, it’s worth noting down the quality of the relationship you have with each affiliate. Your expectations and investment in unattached affiliates will be very different from those you should have with your involved affiliates.
What does an affiliate manager do?
An affiliate manager is responsible for finding, recruiting, onboarding, communicating with, and developing incentives for a company’s team of affiliates. Effective affiliate management ensures that your affiliate program runs smoothly, that your affiliates are actively engaged with your brand, and that they have everything they need to achieve your mutual goals.
5 tips to build (or improve) your affiliate management program
If you want to get the most out of your affiliate marketing program, you need to manage your affiliates effectively. If you’re just starting out with affiliate management—or you already have an affiliate program in place but you aren’t seeing convincing results—these tips should help you boost your results.
1. Choose the right partners
Finding the right partners is key to achieving significant results from your affiliate program. Look for affiliates that are:
- Influential in their communities — Your ideal affiliates have an engaged audience who trust them and are ready to take their advice.
- Proactive — Affiliates who will actively promote your products and services without needing too much direction or prompting will be more effective than those you constantly need to push.
- Motivated — Even if someone is influential, they may not be very interested in marketing your products or services unless they are likely to see significant commissions in return for their efforts.
- Connected with your target market — Look for affiliates who have a relationship with your target market. Otherwise, even if they drive you multiple leads, those leads won’t be likely to purchase.
- Aligned with your brand — The wrong affiliates could put off your target market instead of attracting them. Look for affiliates who are ethical, likely to follow your brand guidelines, and whose business values align with yours.
2. Create an affiliate marketing strategy to connect with your ideal affiliates
Next, it’s time to build your affiliate network by identifying and connecting with the partners you’ve defined as ideal. Think of your affiliate program as a new product that you’re selling:
- What makes your offering different from the competition?
- Who would be the right people for your affiliate network?
- Where are they hanging out online, and how can you connect with them?
- What are your program goals and how will you reach them?
3. Build solid relationships with partners
If you want your affiliates to perform, you need to make sure that you are in regular contact with them. That way, they are up to date with your products, services, messaging, and the latest news from your company. It’s also a good way to keep front of mind when they’re planning their new content. To improve your relationships with your affiliates, consider:
- Offering office hours or monthly video check-ins to keep in touch with your affiliates, answer questions, and make suggestions for how they could improve their commissions
- Setting up automated emails every time they get a new commission, so they remember the benefits of working with you
- Creating a weekly or monthly newsletter with product updates and messaging tips
- Offering additional rewards and incentives to top performers, to encourage your affiliates to increase their promotional efforts
- Creating time-sensitive campaigns where your affiliate incentives will increase for a short period only, to build a sense of urgency
monday sales CRM can help strengthen your relationship with your affiliates. Our automated email sequences and centralized communication tools can help you send regular emails and newsletters to keep your affiliates engaged and keep track of all your communications, including meetings, calls, and emails.Try monday sales CRM
4. Use affiliate management software
Effective affiliate management will require a way to store and organize information about your affiliate partners, and also a way to manage your communications with your affiliate network. Using affiliate management software will help you keep track of how your affiliates are doing, and make sure you hit your affiliate marketing targets.
We’d recommend that you look for a solution that is:
- Customizable — so you can easily set up your affiliate program, use labels to indicate different tiers for each type of affiliate, and track multiple commission structures
- Centralized — so you can bring all the information involved in your affiliate program (contact information, commission structures, campaigns, marketing materials, reports, communications, and so on) into a single shared source of truth
- Integrated — so you can easily connect your affiliate management data to your CRM, payments system, marketing communications tools, reporting system, or any other technology you’re currently using
5. Keep track of KPIs
As always, keeping your affiliate program on track will involve ongoing measurement, monitoring, and optimization. At a minimum, we’d recommend that you track the following key affiliate marketing metrics:
- Revenue: The total revenue created by your affiliate marketing initiatives
- Conversion rate: The percentage of affiliate-generated leads that result in a conversion (typically a sale, but you could also track conversions from leads to prospects)
- Average order value (AOV): The average amount of money spent per order, from the customers that were referred by affiliates (to confirm that the leads that you’re getting from affiliates are good-fit customers)
- Commission Percentage: The percentage of revenue paid out as commissions (to make sure that your commission structure makes business sense)
- Return on Investment (ROI): The ratio of revenue generated versus the cost of running an affiliate program
- Revenue per affiliate: How much each affiliate is worth to your business (to track which affiliates are most effective)
- Fraud rate: The percentage of affiliate-driven transactions that are flagged as fraudulent or invalid — so you can spot and fix potential issues with affiliate activity
Tracking these KPIs can help you monitor the effectiveness of your affiliate program and improve your results over time.
How monday sales CRM can help your partner management program
If you’re looking for a platform that can help you manage your affiliate program more effectively, monday sales CRM might be the right fit for you. Users tell us they love that it’s simple and easy to use, so it reduces the complexity of managing business processes like an affiliate marketing program. To quote Jody O, a small business owner, writing on G2,
“monday sales CRM is SO user-friendly. If there is anything you have questions about, they have so many ways to help answer your questions. There are tons of videos available that are easily accessible for any help you need. The boards are very customizable and there are so many things that can be done with just a single board. It is perfect for our small office to keep everyone connected and updated on projects.”
Here’s how monday sales CRM could help your team with affiliate management:
- Manage your relationships with your affiliates in a single, central location. With monday sales CRM, you can keep records of your affiliate’s contact and account information, log all your communications, and track their agreed commission rate and other details.
- Make data-driven decisions with real-time tracking and reporting. Gain immediate insights into your affiliate program’s performance, including per-affiliate sales performance, activity status, and more, with fully customizable pre-built dashboards.
- Connect your other platforms, including your marketing automation tools and financial management systems, to ensure smooth billing, contracting, and onboarding processes for affiliates.
- Create automated email sequences, to keep your affiliates engaged and up to date with the latest marketing resources and company news.
You can get started with monday sales CRM for free today, and see how much easier it makes managing your affiliates (and so much more!)