Cool Tools for the Affiliate Manager

The job of an affiliate manager is widely varied and time-consuming. You wear the hat of a consultant, analyst, marketer, therapist, customer-service agent, and a number of other positions. But to juggle all of these roles successfully, you need help.

I’m always looking for tools and resources to maximize the effectiveness of my program, and I’d like to share my favorites with anybody in the affiliate marketing community who hasn’t heard about them. No disclaimers here — these are resources that I personally use and stand behind.

Get the Affiliate Advantage

An affiliate manager needs as much help as possible to analyze performance and consult affiliates. While affiliate managers covet more data and resources, these are luxuries for too many. However, WebPartner offers a very helpful product called Affiliate Advantage that helps translate all the data you receive on your affiliate sites into business intelligence that you can leverage to increase revenue.

Affiliate Advantage helps affiliate managers measure and improve the effectiveness of their affiliate programs in a number of ways. It shows how affiliates are merchandising the sites and provides insight into the quality of customer experience at affiliate sites. It measures and ranks affiliate performance to better assess ROI. And it identifies a set of best practices in performance and merchandising that can be deployed across their affiliate network.

Finally… Aggregated Statistics

One of the problems with affiliate marketing, especially from the perspective of super affiliates, is the incongruous reporting from the solution providers. How aggravating is it to have to hunt and gather statistics in different places and formats from all of the providers?

AffTrack is a service that aggregates data from multiple reporting systems and helps keep track of accounts receivable. It provides an automated, efficient way for affiliates to manage, track, and maintain performance statistics of the affiliate programs to which they belong. The top-line reporting is sent daily via email, and the Web-based reporting offers the ability to drill down to all sorts of great affiliate stats minutiae.

The demand for aggregated reporting was recently addressed by Be Free with the Performance Partner Program. This program provides enhanced reporting only to super affiliates, but if enough affiliates and merchants demand it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this reporting trickle down to the masses.

Groups Think

Yahoo Groups offers a suite of integrated e-marketing solutions to maximize the ability of merchants to retain and create loyal affiliates. The suite includes an email discussion list, chat, database, polls, and a number of other useful tools. All of these components are tied together with a management interface.

The main focus of Yahoo Groups is the email discussion list, which enables an affiliate manager to develop a community of affiliates that have opted in to participate in an ongoing discussion about that affiliate program. This list serves as a means for communicating regularly with the affiliates, and it also provides them with a means to interact with one another.

The Missing Linkz

Your affiliates are itching to promote you in their email signatures and text newsletters, but those bulky solution provider links are too long and messy. While the standard 468 x 60 banners can be pretty, the top affiliates are making it happen with big opt-in email lists. Make it easy for your affiliates (and your own tech crew if your site belongs to affiliate programs), and let them know about ProLinkz.

ProLinkz, an ancillary or “back-end” product that helps affiliates track and manage their online marketing activities, is a CGI Perl script that lets affiliates create uniquely coded links that redirect to any URL they specify. Other features include the ability to count all hits and referrers to these unique links and link activity reports on the fly, and the flexibility to organize links in groups for easier project management and tracking.

Announce Your Program

Most affiliate managers know about Affiliate Announce, but I’ll describe it for the sake of our newbie friends: Affiliate Announce is a service that will submit your affiliate program to all of the affiliate directories.

Submitting your affiliate program to all of the directories can be time-consuming. The nominal cost for using Affiliate Announce pays off in time saved.

This service was founded by U.K. affiliate marketing guru Neil Durrant, author of “The Practical Guide to Creating and Managing a Profitable Affiliate Program.”

I am sure there are plenty of other great tools and resources out there, and I would love to hear about them. If you are using a particular product or service to simplify affiliate management and assist your affiliates, please pass it along to me at scollins@clubmom-inc.com.

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