April 26, 2024

Affiliate Marketing Agency vs. In-House Affiliate Management

Which affiliate marketing path leads to incremental growth? It’s not always one or the other.

Here’s a question I get asked all the time: Why should a brand work with an affiliate marketing agency as opposed to maintaining an affiliate program in-house? (Or, vice versa?)

What often gets misunderstood is that this is not a binary decision. There are many scenarios that benefit from blending the two options—in-house affiliate management PLUS affiliate marketing agency expertise.

For example, at PartnerCentric, we have many clients we’ve worked with in a purely advisory capacity. But more often, we’ve employed our proprietary affiliate marketing tech stack and full data-driven strategic services to effectively manage all parts of their affiliate marketing. No arrangement is exactly the same, but one truth remains constant: Melding affiliate agency expertise with in-house affiliate teams can be the best of both worlds.

Of course, there are brands that simply don’t have the bandwidth or expertise (or both) to successfully run their affiliate program. They bring in PartnerCentric to do everything for them, soup to nuts, and want to be involved as little as possible. We are, of course, able to accommodate that as well.

Which approach is right for you, to maximize affiliate performance? Let’s look at some specific reasons to consider enlisting an affiliate marketing agency to perform affiliate management—whether consultative or full-scale.

Limited Affiliate Marketing Expertise

When I look to find partners and vendors within my own company (e.g. branding, web development, etc.), I want someone who has done that “thing” over, and over, and over again. I want them to have learned all the lessons—and figured out how to avoid the pitfalls—so I don’t have to try to catch up. 

It’s not a weakness to recognize you don’t have the experience or expertise in one area or another. Again, even if you have the knowledge, bandwidth can still be an issue. What matters is how to achieve your business objectives in the most effective and efficient way possible: a high-velocity, speed-to-value strategy towards growth.

Sharing Affiliate Marketing Management with Multiple Responsibilities

Even if the person tasked with in-house affiliate marketing management possesses the knowledge to successfully run an affiliate program, chances are that’s not all they do. It’s likely they’re pulled in 20 different directions, daily, and have to answer to a number of different stakeholders. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why marketing professionals wouldn’t be able to give the program the breadth, depth, and TLC to really let it grow to its fullest potential.

Lack of Affiliate Marketing Industry Insights

With any marketing initiative, industry insights are not just valuable—they are crucial. What is the point of “logistical” expertise if you don’t do something with it? We must go deeper. It’s imperative to guide your decisions on both objective data and affiliate expertise, rather than taking the approach of, “Let’s just try this and see if it works.”

What happens when it doesn’t work? I always start with asking these questions:

Partnering with an agency allows you to have full confidence in your investments. Doing so provides you with seasoned reasoning behind those investments so you are making the best-educated decisions to move forward with your performance and growth goals. It may be that the affiliate channel really isn’t the right fit for your brand—but you won’t fully know that until you understand the factors contributing to affiliate program disappointment.

Leverage Affiliate Marketing Expertise to Drive Growth

The decision surrounding affiliate marketing agency involvement should reflect your brand’s specific needs, bandwidth, and expertise. Whether you require full-scale affiliate management or just consultative guidance, the right agency partnership can ensure your affiliate marketing efforts not only meet your expectations but exceed them. I hope you embrace the flexibility and depth that comes from expert collaboration to truly leverage your affiliate marketing potential and drive your business forward.

If you’d like to learn more about our collaboration options,

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