Three Groups Affiliate Managers Must Keep Happy – By Christopher Park

by Colleen on May 2, 2014


tl;dr – A successful affiliate program must keep 3 groups happy — management, your affiliates, and your customers.

As an Affiliate Manager, who should be on top of my list of people to keep happy? Management? Customers? Affiliates? It can be a difficult balancing act when the answer is “all three”, but becomes easier when you know their wants and needs. feedfront-issue-26-cover-small

I’ve been employed by Blair for over 25 years, so I know the company extremely well. I know which months are busier than others, what the short-term and long-term goals are, the average cost of goods, the average number of items per purchase, etc.

Obviously a company will give an affiliate manager guidelines on what it expects from the affiliate program, but the more a manager knows about the company, the more effective his affiliate program will be at meeting the company’s goals for the program.

To have a successful program, an affiliate manager also needs to keep the company’s customers happy, and know who that customer is when adapting the affiliate program to target “new to file” customers. I know the “Blair Customer”, and what she’s looking for. Our customers are very value-conscious, and my promotions need to reflect that!

She is likely to make a purchase if she feels she’s getting a good product at a good price, and she’s much more likely to make a purchase if she also feels she’s getting a deal. I also need to remember that our customers are less affluent, so my expectations of certain affiliates need to be adjusted. Cashback affiliates typically do better than say, an affiliate who donates a portion of the sale to the shopper’s favorite cause.

When evaluating new affiliates for the Blair program, I know that the target Blair customer is a more mature woman, less affluent, an empty-nester with grown children, and her wardrobe is typically conservative. She’s more apt to visit a site dealing with retirement ideas or camping than college life or European travel.

Finally, I need to keep my affiliates happy. Generous commissions are an obvious start, and I’m able to offer a good percentage. I realize I need to offer a bit more, because Blair doesn’t have the name recognition of certain other apparel retailers. I also need to “close the deal” when an affiliate sends one of his visitors to my site.

I am able to do that with the knowledge and promotions listed previously. My affiliate programs are never on “Auto Approve”. I review and evaluate each and every application personally. I also make certain that I’m accessible to my affiliates. I try to answer emails and return phone calls within a few hours, my contact information is always included in my emails, and I typically provide a cell phone number with my out of office email replies.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t keep everyone happy all the time, but with a bit of knowledge and effort, my affiliate programs are proof that I’m successful the majority of the time.

Chris Park manages affiliate programs for Blair, Old Pueblo Traders and Bedford Fair.

This article appeared in issue 26 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in April 2014.

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