Before you get started with an affiliate marketing program, you need to decide who is going to manage your program for you. The success of any affiliate program is heavily dependent on the person who is managing it. Many businesses make the mistake of setting up an affiliate program and assuming it can run on auto-pilot, only to learn the hard way that an affiliate program will only be successful when properly managed. There are two routes to consider when choosing an affiliate program manager. Do you want to hire someone to manage your program in-house, or hire an outside agency?
In-house vs Agency Pros and Cons to Consider
Experienced in-house managers are hard to come by. Most of the time, companies end up hiring someone with very little experience, who is tasked with myriad other job functions in addition to their affiliate marketing responsibilities. They’ll need to be trained and many in-house affiliate managers admit that they learn entirely on the job.
The right affiliate marketing agency has years of experience managing affiliate programs. Their account managers are experienced, allowing them to fully train their support staff. When you hire an agency, they’re ready to hit the ground running and start managing all aspects of your program.
Time and Resources
Unless your in-house manager is focused solely on your affiliate program (which can be cost-prohibitive for some companies), they might not be able to dedicate the proper time and resources, when factoring in their other responsibilities. In addition, for a large affiliate program, even one person fully dedicated to the program might not be enough.
Agencies generally have a team of people working on your account. While they are likely not working exclusively on your program, they have a process in place and multiple team members to fulfill all the necessary functions of an affiliate program.
An in-house manager is likely to have a better understanding of your individual business, as they work in your offices. Additionally, you can train and mold your in-house manager to meet the specific needs of your business. An in-house manager can also ensure a more seamless communication and can be easier to control in terms of cross-channel strategy alignment.
You’ll need to provide your agency with a thorough understanding of your business and individual needs. You’ll have to be sure to keep your agency in the loop when it comes to your other marketing channels, to ensure a consistent brand voice. A good agency will work with you to set up a process for regular communication.
Hiring an in-house manager means adding another salary, benefits and all the other costs associated with a new hire. Additionally, if the program requires additional support, those salaries will have to be factored in as well.
For a program requiring a full time account manager or more, agencies are usually the most cost-effective. Agencies generally work on a retainer plus a performance incentive. You’ll often find that the level of experience and number of hours dedicated to your program far exceeds what you could expect for the same cost when hiring in-house.
Whether you choose an in-house manager or an agency, the most important thing is to look for someone with great people skills, who can build the relationships you need, and someone with excellent analytical skills, who can analyze the results of their efforts and course-correct as necessary. But most importantly, choose someone you can get along with. Because without excellent communication between you and your affiliate program manager, your program manager won’t have the information and tools they need to drive your program forward.
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