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Affiliate management/recruitment

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Sunday June 25, 2006 )

Imagine having a sales force of thousands ; all basically doing their own thing? Frightening stuff – welcome to the world of affiliate management!

Running an affiliate program is a great way to expose your products and services to a broader audience without a huge outlay, but it can be fraught with hazards – marketing, technical and legal. Many programs that could have achieved great success fail due to basic management and recruitment errors.

In my role as an affiliate program manager, I saw affiliates do all sorts of weird and wonderful things, including:

– the inevitable banner shooting gallery, where your banner is among three hundred other (usually flashing) creatives on a single page.

– affiliates copying the entire site belonging to the merchant – sometimes in the most awful way; which can damage a brand.

– fraudsters joining an affiliate program and then buying the merchants’ products using stolen credit card details in order to generate commissions.

– totally misreprenting products and then linking to order pages. This can create a lot of sales… and refunds.

– affiliate links being included in malware.

– affiliates generating tons of garbage traffic to the site, threatening server stability.

.. and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s well known that in most affiliate programs, only the top couple of percent of affiliates will be very productive. This can mean you spend an awful lot of time communicating with people who may never produce a single sale. An affiliate salesforce is not comprised of robots, but of humans; and some companies forget that.

There’s also the merchants who treat affiliates as an expendable resource – good affiliates are like gold and should be treated as such. Even the less-productive ones should be treated with respect; not just because it’s the right thing to do; but think “word-of-mouth”.

Affiliates are skitterish by nature as most who have been involved in affiliate marketing for any length of time have been burned at least once by a merchant. If you have an affiliate start posting negatively about your company around the web, it can prevent some “power” affiliates from signing up.

Regardless of all the hazards and pitfalls, having an affiliate program has been an integral part of the success of many online businesses for years, and will continue to be for many years to come. Get it right and it can be the most cost-effective and productive marketing you’ll ever do.

If you’re contemplating starting up your own affiliate program, or even if you’ve had a program established for some time, you might find my updated article on affiliate recruitment and management of value.

Also well worth considering is taking a full course in affiliate management and recruitment strategies – good quality courses do exist and you don’t need to leave your chair to attend :).

I was recently sent a sampler kit of The Affiliate Manager – 1st edition (aff) training course. The *sample* I received weighed 10 pounds according to the shipping docket; so I hate to think what the full course weighs :). It’s a very comprehensive training course covering everything from techniques for recruiting the right affiliates, to legal issues, to motivating your salesforce – and keeping them in check.

The Affiliate Manager – 1st edition is due for release on June 27 and consists of a series of DVD’s containing interviews with over a dozen affiliate marketing industry heavyweights, a huge manual/workbook, plus a stack of useful checklists and templates. While it’s not available for a couple more days, you can pre-register your interest now via the link above.

The great thing about the training course is that it’s not just for beginners – I’ve already picked up some very valuable tips just from “The Affiliate Manager Boot Camp” DVD which is included in the training course – on that DVD is 4 hours video coverage of a couple of industry experts who spoke at the Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas earlier this year. I love having access to this sort of info without having get off my ass ;).


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