You have made the decision to outsource your affiliate program management. Now, you need to know what makes a good affiliate manager. With so many companies offering so many services, how do you know what to look for in a program? By looking at a few key elements, you will find the right program to match your needs.
Start with Recruiting
Since recruiting new affiliates is at the heart of all affiliate programs, you will want to look at how the company does recruiting, if they do it at all. An experienced affiliate management team will be able to lay out their plans for recruiting new affiliates to your program.
Support for You and Your Affiliates
Next, you will want to look at the support factor. You need someone who is there to answer your affiliates’ questions and help them when they need it. Therefore, you will want to look at the turnaround time for response.
Ask the company:
- Are questions asked through e-mail, phone, or support forum?
- How long before a response is given? (It should be less than 48 hours on weekdays.)
- Will affiliates be assigned a case manager/personal contact?
- Is support given with creating websites/designs/e-mails for recruiting new affiliates?
- Do they help with blogs/social media/websites?
- Do they help with PPC, SEO, and SEM?
Additionally, you want to ask how they handle affiliate questions:
- Are you expected to handle affiliate questions or will they?
- Is there a support forum for affiliates?
- How do they handle affiliate disputes?
Customization of Features
Not all affiliate programs are the same. Therefore, you may not need as much help as other programs do. While recruiting is the main target for outsourcing, you may want help with promotions and record keeping.
A complete service will do everything from recruit the affiliates, track the sales, track the pay, suggest and implement promotional ideas/contests, and suggest ways to improve your program. If this is the case, you need to ask how they do each of these services, especially when it comes to paying affiliates.
Affiliate Pay and Taxes Records
Part of tracking pay involves tracking tax records. All affiliates must sign a W9. Since the IRS does accept digital signatures, this should be easy enough to obtain and keep. However, you need to make sure this gets done one way or another.
If you are uncomfortable outsourcing this particular aspect, you can always use free software. Free software is available to online business owners to track and maintain affiliate tax records. It is simple to use and will fit right in to your already-existing payroll system.
Affiliate program management is a tough job and outsourcing is generally a good idea. Keep these key points in mind and you will find the right company to run your program.