Choosing An Affiliate Partner
We get it. With many opposing viewpoints and endless how-to articles, it's hard to know what is best for your brand. To help you decide if an agency is right for you, continue reading. In this post, we break down the difference between managing your program in-house and the benefits of working with an agency.
What is an Affiliate Agency?
To answer this question, we need to know what affiliate marketing is and where an agency comes into play.
Affiliate marketing is a digital channel in which two parties or more enter a partnership that is beneficial to everyone involved.
A typical scenario is an advertiser (or merchant) has a product they offer. A publisher (or affiliate) promotes the advertiser's product to their large audience. An audience member is influenced by the affiliate and makes a purchase. The advertiser benefits from the sale and pays a small commission to the affiliate.
Now multiply this scenario by a thousand. Who will manage these relationships, find more publishers, or track conversions? The affiliate marketing agency does this and more.
What does an Affiliate Marketing Agency Do?
An affiliate marketing agency is a company that specializes in managing and optimizing affiliate marketing programs on behalf of brands or advertisers. The primary role of an affiliate agency is to help businesses expand their online reach, increase brand visibility, and drive sales or conversions through the affiliate marketing channel. An agency fully manages the affiliate program. The role of the agency involves a variety of tasks such as:
- Program Strategy - An affiliate agency acts as a strategic partner, leveraging its expertise and network to manage and optimize affiliate programs effectively, driving traffic, conversions, and revenue for businesses.
- Initial setup, launch, and daily management - The agency assists businesses in setting up their affiliate program, including defining program goals, determining commission structures, and establishing program policies and guidelines.
- Affiliate and publisher recruiting - The agency identifies and recruits suitable affiliates who have relevant traffic or audiences that align with the business's target market. This involves outreach, negotiation, and building relationships with potential affiliates.
- Tracking, monitoring, and reporting KPIs - An affiliate agency tracks and monitors the performance of affiliates, analyzing key metrics such as click-through rates, conversions, and revenue generated. They use this data to identify top-performing affiliates and optimize the program for better results.
- Ad creative and marketing material creation - The agency may assist in creating compelling promotional materials, banners, landing pages, or other marketing assets to support affiliate campaigns and enhance conversion rates.
- Compliance monitoring - Affiliate agencies help businesses maintain compliance with applicable laws and regulations. They also implement measures to detect and prevent fraudulent activities or unethical practices within the affiliate program.
- Optimizing - Regular reporting is provided by the agency to businesses, highlighting the program's performance, key metrics, and insights. This helps businesses evaluate the success of their affiliate program and make informed decisions.
How to Find Affiliate Partners that Meet Your Needs
Finding affiliate marketing partners that fit your needs requires a systematic approach and careful consideration. Here are some steps you can follow to find suitable affiliate partners:
- Define Your Target Audience: Identify your target audience or customer persona. Understand their demographics, interests, and online behavior. This will help you find affiliate partners who have an audience that aligns with your target market.
- Research Your Industry: Conduct thorough research within your industry to identify potential affiliate partners. Look for websites, blogs, influencers, or social media accounts that attract your target audience and are related to your niche.
- Use Affiliate Networks: Join affiliate networks that specialize in connecting advertisers with affiliates. These networks provide a platform where you can find a wide range of affiliates and manage your affiliate program efficiently. Some popular affiliate networks include ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, and Amazon Associates.
- Competitor Analysis: Analyze your competitors' affiliate programs to gain insights into their affiliate partners. Look for affiliates promoting similar products or services in your industry. This can give you ideas on potential partners that might be a good fit for your program as well.
- Establish Clear Communication: When approaching potential partners, clearly communicate the benefits of your affiliate program, commission structure, promotional support, and any unique selling points. Show how working with you can be mutually beneficial.
- Offer Competitive Commission Structures: To attract quality affiliates, ensure that your commission structure is competitive within your industry. Affiliates are more likely to promote products or services that offer fair compensation for their efforts.
In-House Affiliate Management vs. Affiliate Management Agency
In-house affiliate management can be a good fit for some situations but not all. An experienced affiliate marketing manager can deliver good results for smaller affiliate programs. In the long term these results may be underwhelming. At a certain point, the organization should seek out an agency to grow the program. Typically, a good time to seek support is once performance has peaked and progression stalled.
Serious ROI comes from leveraging a wealth of knowledge, connections, and a dedicated team. To put it straight, an in-house team cannot compete with agency-level management.
In-house affiliate managers often work alone. They cannot rely on a centralized team the way an agency can. Instead, these team members are often in different departments. As a result, the affiliate channel falls by the wayside in a sea of competing initiatives.
Agencies have experienced teams focused on delivering results. While some companies are guilty of burying a single manager with dozens of accounts, a good agency knows this approach does not work. At ParterCentric, for example, we have an entire team dedicated to the program's success. We dedicate 6-8 experienced departments to each account. This approach brings 6-8 unique perspectives, solutions, creativity and more to the table.
Choosing the Right Affiliate Marketing Company
Choosing the right affiliate marketing agency is crucial for the success of your affiliate program. Here are some factors to consider when selecting an affiliate marketing agency:
- Expertise and Experience: Look for an agency that has a strong track record in affiliate marketing. Consider their experience in your industry or niche, as well as their knowledge of current trends, best practices, and compliance regulations. Ask for case studies or references to gauge their expertise and understand how tenured their team is
- Services Offered: Evaluate the range of services offered by the agency. Ensure they can fulfill your specific needs, such as affiliate program setup, affiliate recruitment, network management, creative development, reporting, and analysis. Choose an agency that can provide comprehensive support based on your goals.
- Reputation and Clientele: Research the agency's reputation and client reviews on reputable websites like Clutch. Look for testimonials or references from their existing or previous clients. A reputable agency will have a positive reputation within the industry and a strong portfolio of satisfied clients.
- Network Relationships: Consider the agency's relationships with affiliate networks. Find out which networks they work with and how they can leverage these partnerships to benefit your program. A well-established agency will have connections with reputable networks, providing access to a wide range of affiliates. A bonus is when an agency is network-agnostic and choose the right network based on their clients’ unique needs.
Advantages of Working with an Affiliate Management Agency
In the performance marketing world, agencies only succeed if the client succeeds. Many affiliate agencies will have some performance-incentive (PI) component. This translates into a dedicated team doing everything they can to help their client thrive.
The advantages organizations see with agency management are not to be underestimated. An agency can help in the following ways.
1. Leverage Strong Affiliate Relationships and Network Connections
Agencies have a wide net of partnerships that give their clients a great advantage. This is done by identifying and recruiting the right affiliates and negotiating the best rates.
Affiliate marketing agencies have cultivated thousands of partnerships and connections with affiliates, publishers, and other content creators. A diverse portfolio helps maximize results at every stage of the customer journey, reaches a larger audience, and broadens revenue streams. An in-house team would have to start scratch and need to build connections over several years. Even the most connected in-house managers would be unable to match the level of reach an agency has at its disposal.
For example, PartnerCentric touts thousands of partnerships and knows how to leverage those relationships to help position organizations at a favorable advantage. Because agencies have these existing relationships, they are uniquely qualified to negotiate the best rates.
Another advantage is the agency's network connections. Affiliate marketing agencies can have relationships with several network platforms. This means they are not tied down to any one platform the way an in-house team would be. For example, PartnerCentric works with over 16 different networks globally. We have earned the coveted Preferred Agency distinction with some of the largest networks, such as CJ Affiliate, Impact and Awin. For this reason, partnering with the right agency with the right relationships is one of the many benefits of working with an agency.
2. Affiliate Marketing Agencies have Access to Historical Data
Good agencies have years of experience in the affiliate marketing space. Which means they have access to historical data. Agencies have benchmark data on every affiliate partner, client vertical, and paid placement opportunity. An in-house team is unable to reference such benchmarks. Benchmark data is used to optimize partner conversion rates, improve Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) and negotiate lower-cost paid placements.
3. Affiliate Marketing Agencies have Expert Affiliate Managers
Affiliate marketing is a competitive landscape, and expert knowledge is a must. Hiring an untrained affiliate manager to run an in-house affiliate program is a recipe for disaster. Or hiring an agency that claims to do affiliate marketing as part of a larger digital marketing mix can be dangerous because getting affiliate marketing right requires specific skill sets and expertise.
Agencies offer a robust team that invests time and energy into maximizing the client's affiliate program. A desirable affiliate marketing agency will have seasoned account managers that have seen the space evolve and have evolved right along with it. They know what it takes to succeed and understand that it's often a team effort driven by research, data, insights, and tech.
Is PartnerCentric the Right Affiliate Marketing Agency for You?
Organizations often believe it is cheaper to hire an in-house team. However, consider the resources required to launch an in-house affiliate program–is it really saving you money?
For example, with ParterCentric, the client gets the expertise of 6-8 departments and access to proprietary technologies for protecting margin. No onboarding, employee training, planning meetings, or hand-holding is required. Affiliate agencies like PartnerCentric offer immediate expertise, faster launch, and higher ROI.If this is something you are considering, get in touch.