There are many ways in which a merchant can choose to manage their affiliate program and there are reasons for all of them.
Normally, the choice comes down to the following 3:
1. Manage in-house/Client managed
2. Network Managed
3. Affiliate Marketing Agency Managed
All of the above can work perfectly well, but as we look into this further, I hope to explain just why working with an affiliate marketing agency is the best way to go and how choosing this path will provide your business with the best value and return on investment.
In short, what’s in it for you? Let’s find out, shall we…
Value goes beyond what you see in a report
Value can be interpreted in different ways. Many people see this as simply a number, X cost £Y which is more than Z so I am choosing Z. Although, it is really not so cut and dry as that.
You should also be focusing on the long term plans for your affiliate program and how a particular service provider promises to help you deliver on those plans. There are questions you need to ask yourself before you make a decision about who manages your affiliate program that go above and beyond just how much it’ll cost you.
For example, you are currently with an agency, the program is growing and year-on-year figures are encouraging. But perhaps there’s internal pressures telling you that you could employ somebody to run this in-house, and therefore utilise their time across other channels, too…
What might the implications be of taking the affiliate program away from an agency?
Multiple Affiliate Networks and Programs
One of the big bonuses about working with an agency is that normally they work with multiple networks, which carries huge benefits:
1. Much larger pool of affiliates to look at and recruit from.
2. Each network will have a publisher manager who we can talk to about new publishers and vertical specific publishers.
Agencies work across numerous affiliate programs. At Silverbean, our affiliate team currently work across 40 programs covering a variety of verticals. This means the agency can spot affiliates that are performing well on one program and recruit them to another. This is something that definitely cannot be done in-house, meaning you’d be losing out on potentially huge ROI and brand engagement opportunities simply due to lack of access to top-performing affiliates.
Due to the frequency that account managers talk to and interact with affiliates and networks, it is often possible to get better rates for packages or integration costs. The reason for this is that agencies build up these relationships over years, we see them at industry events and meet with them regularly. I for one consider some of the publishers I deal with to be genuine friends, who I would gladly meet with outside of the office. It goes without saying that by building strong working relationships with key publishers, they’re more inclined to offer more favourable rates for our merchants. Win, win!
Invaluable Experience and Knowledge
Within Silverbean for example, the affiliate team has more than 25 years of combined affiliate knowledge and more than 40 years in digital marketing as a whole.
This kind of experience means we have seen it all and know what works and what doesn’t. We’re able to tailor a campaign to suit your business objectives, not to mention the historical data we can use from all of our promotions over the years.
An affiliate marketing agency will have campaign data from old programs, affiliate lists, GAP analysis and not to mention up to date industry insight.
At an agency, you will most likely never have just 1 person working on your account; you will most likely have a small team. For example, at Silverbean you will likely have:
• 3 people working directly on your affiliate program (Head of Affiliate, Account Manager and Account Executive) sometimes it may be more.
• Industry knowledge (not limited to affiliate) and tools shared from the SEO, PPC, Content/Social and CRO departments.
Having a set up like this means more time can be dedicated to certain tasks instead of one person being torn between 5 or 6. For example, an account executive can spend time doing quality recruitment, affiliate approvals and affiliate communications, while the account manager can focus on setting up promotions, building affiliate relationship and implementing your strategy. The Head of Affiliates would oversee all of this while helping to devise the affiliate strategy and ensure the program is working towards your long-term objectives and KPI’s.
Our clients have also benefited from Silverbean resources being used not only on successful affiliate campaigns, but also brand-building influencer events. We’re recently coordinated a number of successful events for our clients, like our blogger evenings for furniture retailers Oka Direct and the ‘Wicked’ launch event for theatre tickets website ATG Tickets.
There is always a temptation to look at a fee and say, “well I can pay someone that amount and they can do that job 5 days a week”, however can they really do the same job? Given what we have looked at, there is far better chance of continued growth if your program is managed by a professional and knowledgeable affiliate marketing agency. By removing the agency, you remove your access to numerous networks, invaluable expertise and years of affiliate data from historic accounts and campaigns.
Of course, you could say we’re a little biased because we know how much we’re able to offer our affiliate marketing clients, however it’s important to realise what’s at stake before you remove your agency from the equation.
To discuss our wealth of knowledge and experience in affiliate marketing across a range of industries and networks, or to receive case studies and further reading, feel free to contact a member of the team. You can reach us by entering your contact details in the form below, or by telephone on 0191 406 1200.