Two areas that you might not think have any relation to each other, but actually skills to excel in each very much compliment each other.
I believe that an absolutely critical quality in managing a successful affiliate program relies on social management. It’s all about staying socially engaged with the affiliates. Delivering them updates, interacting and responding to questions and issues, and also crafting the program to “catch” an affiliates interest.
Of course product, site design and conversion, merchant reputation and market are all critical as well however these aspects are also of critical important to the overall sales effort for a merchant (direct sales). These things need to be tip-top before the affiliates even get involved.
So provided, that the above features (product, site, etc.) are all above grade or unique in relation to your competitors, the advantage that can be gained through your affiliates will be achieved through the management of the program. I’ll go into exactly how a program can set you apart and be your competitive advantage in a later post, but my intent here is to discuss how important “social” is to managing and succeeding with affiliates.
You will probably be in competition with other merchants for high quality affiliates just the same as you’re in competition with those merchants for customers. By proactive social management of the affiliate program, you can set your program apart from your competitors and give yourself a significant edge.
In addition to the above mentioned overall value propositions for sales, affiliates must be engaged with your program and motivated to put in the work to drive customers. The groundwork exists, laid prior to program promotion, by setting up the terms and tracking for the program, and providing tools to use such as banners, links and a value proposition to work with.
Now the affiliate must be motivated to actually build your links into their site, and start a campaign to drive visitors to their links. This is one of the hardest parts of affiliate program management.
It’s much easier for an affiliate to click a button, “Apply to Program” than it is to get an affiliate to decide to put in the effort and put up some links. A few qualities help:
- Staying actively engaged in the program by putting out updates, creative and program news. Affiliates love to see an actively managed program rather than one “coasting” along. It’s easy to see when a program is managed in an “after thought” kind of way.
- Responding quickly to any affiliate inquiries.
- Designing interesting creative or copy that affiliates will feel confident to put on their own sites.
All of these aspects, with their corresponding similar aspects in customer social media management, can help break you out from the pack. A good affiliate manager lives and breathes this stuff. It’s a natural progression for someone with affiliate program management skills to also be adept and engaged in social media marketing.