What’s wrong with affiliate managers? True, it’s essential to focus on the super affiliates, because they are the drivers of most of the sales, leads, and clicks in affiliate marketing. But that doesn’t mean that those affiliates that have not achieved super affiliate status should be treated as pariahs.
The plain fact is that very few affiliate managers are bothering with the majority of their affiliates. According to findings by affiliate metrix, the top reason affiliate managers neglect their affiliates is a lack of time. Affiliate managers do not plan to fail; rather, they fail to plan. A little time management can translate into a lot of longevity for an affiliate program.
Who Are Your Affiliates?
The super affiliates are a finite group. You are already communicating with them, but you’ve got to shift your paradigm a bit and fit in ample time for the others, that critical mass of producers that will be with you from month to month. One rung below the super affiliates are the Up-and-Comers: targeted sites that do well enough with your program to generate multiple checks each year. With a little help, they could be the next big thing in your program.
Also, you’ve got a large segment of Onesies: low-traffic and low-revenue sites that will earn one check (maybe) from you per year, hence their name. And lastly, you’ve got the ones to avoid — the Untouchables: banner farmers; under-construction sites; no-focus, no-content, and no-traffic sites.
Time Can Be on Your Side
Sure, we all have time constraints, which result in our inevitable focus on building and maintaining relationships with our super affiliates. However, it’s easy enough to create shortcuts so that you can service all affiliates without neglecting the top ones.
One habit of successful affiliate managers is to compile canned answers to the frequently asked questions of their affiliates. Yes, these questions should already be answered in your FAQ (frequently asked questions document), but if the affiliates are asking you, they obviously do not know the answer.
Every time an affiliate asks a question, write out a thoughtful answer to that affiliate. But never rewrite the same answer twice. Instead, create a file in Notepad where you will house all of your eloquent answers. Save the file to your Desktop, and the next time you are asked a banal question about your program, don’t hit the delete button. Instead, hit your answer page, copy the answer, and shoot it off to the affiliate.
For starters, answer the following questions on your answer page:
- How can I join your program?
- When and how do I get paid?
- How do I get your affiliate links?
- Can I link to your site from more than one site?
- How do I update my contact information?
Just the FAQs
Many questions from affiliates are answered in your FAQ, but often, very few people actually bother to read it. Since some people do read FAQs, ensure that your FAQ includes an exhaustive list of questions and answers that can be easily accessed by your affiliates.
If you don’t know what people are going to ask, ask a select group of affiliates and coworkers to navigate through your program, and have each of them write down two to three questions. Answer these questions and you’ve got an FAQ. As your program grows, you will receive questions from your prospective affiliates. Whenever you answer a new question, be sure that the question and answer are added to the FAQ.
You’ve still got that issue about nobody reading your FAQ, but there’s an easy solution. Email your FAQ to the members of your affiliate program two to four times per year.
Educate to Elevate
Another measure you can take to reduce your affiliates’ need to contact you is to provide them with educational resources, such as e-books and tutorials. If you share resources with your affiliates about the dynamics of affiliate marketing and other related topics, not only will you minimize contact from affiliates, but you will also be contributing to the improvement of your affiliate sites.
One new resource, “Affiliate Marketing 101,” by Wayne and Kim Porter, is designed for those new affiliates that need some handholding and a basic education in affiliate marketing. Pass these free excerpts along to your affiliates, and it will enable you to focus more on your key relationships.
Another free e-book that affiliate managers can share with their affiliates is “Search Engine School.” I created this resource for ClubMom affiliates after receiving repeated requests for information on driving traffic. This e-book consists of easy step-by-step lessons to help your affiliates achieve better placement in the search engines.
There’s really no excuse for disregarding all but your super affiliates. Not only is it bad business to ignore the critical mass of your program, but it’s invariably easy to curry favor with the Up-and-Comers and Onesies by anticipating, and thus answering, their questions before they ask them. In order to properly manage your program and all of your affiliates, you’ve got to manage your time. And now you know how.
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