So your affiliate program is starting to gain traction – how exciting! If you really want to supercharge your affiliate program, hiring your first affiliate manager might be the next step.
Affiliate managers will nurture relationships, identify new opportunities, and manage everyday operations. They can help your program grow substantially while keeping affiliates happy and motivated. But where do you find this magical manager? Here’s a guide to help you.
What Does an Affiliate Manager Do?
Before you start hiring, it's crucial to know what an affiliate manager’s role is and what you are looking for. The responsibilities of an affiliate manager can range from strategic to operational, covering a wide spectrum of tasks – including the recruitment factor.
Here's what they’re usually in charge of:
- Affiliate recruitment: they'll seek out new affiliate partnerships and identify influencers and creators whose audience aligns with your target market. Their ability to identify high-value affiliates is critical.
- Relationship management: affiliate managers need to build and maintain strong relationships with affiliates, making sure they feel valued and supported at all times.
- Affiliate marketing management: your affiliate manager will handle the nuts and bolts of your affiliate program, from tracking metrics to managing payouts. The right affiliate marketing program will make it easier for them to focus on bigger-picture tasks.
- Content and promotion strategy: a good affiliate manager will work closely with your marketing team to create promotional materials that affiliates can use to sell your products or services.
Experience to Look for in an Affiliate Manager
Ideally, you're looking for someone with technical skills, people skills, and a strategic mind. Before you publish your job description, make a (realistic) wishlist of the qualifications, experience, and skills you're looking for. What this list looks like will also depend on who else is on the team and what they bring to the table. Think of the following points:
- Marketing knowledge: a strong background in marketing, especially digital and affiliate marketing, is crucial.
- Relationship management skills: your affiliate manager will be the face of your brand to your affiliates. They need to be personable, responsive, and skilled at conflict resolution – but even better at preventing it. With every candidate you speak to, ask yourself: would I want people to associate my brand with them?
- Analytical skills: understanding performance metrics and using them to drive strategy is a key part of the role. They need to be able to translate this into strategic decisions.
- Industry experience: If you're running a software product, it's beneficial to look for a SaaS affiliate manager.
- Familiarity with affiliate software: your affiliate manager should be comfortable working with affiliate management software to manage and optimize your program.
Essential Qualities of a Successful Affiliate Manager
Beyond the experience, certain inherent (personal) qualities will set a successful affiliate manager apart. Consider these as you speak to candidates:
They are Proactive
A great affiliate manager doesn't wait for affiliates to come to them. They are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities, and they're happy to reach out and forge new connections.
They are Great Communicators
Top-notch communication skills are non-negotiable. They must be able to clearly express ideas, answer questions, and address concerns in a timely and professional manner.
Most of all, they must be pleasant to communicate with. This is crucial in maintaining healthy relationships with your affiliates and effectively promoting your products or services.
They are Highly Organized
Affiliate managers have a lot of moving parts to keep track of, from affiliate recruitment to commission payouts. The ability to stay organized and manage tasks efficiently is critical.
They are Empathetic
It’s not all numbers and business. Successful affiliate managers understand the challenges and concerns of their affiliates and are able to empathize with them. This fosters trust and loyalty, which in turn can lead to better performance from your affiliates.
They Love Innovating
The digital landscape is ever changing, and what worked yesterday might not work today. Having an affiliate manager who is creative and innovative, always ready to experiment with new strategies, can keep your affiliate program at the cutting edge.
Strategies for Finding Your First Affiliate Manager
Where could this person be? There are many ways you can go about finding affiliate managers. Here are some strategies to consider:
- Leverage your network: sometimes, the best candidates come from your own network. Ask your team, other business owners, or even your community for recommendations.
- Job boards and professional networks: platforms like LinkedIn can be excellent sources for potential candidates. Use them to actively attract talent by posting regularly and providing your followers with valuable content.
- Hire internally: consider someone within your organization who knows your product and could be a good fit.
- Affiliate marketing agency: if you want to outsource, look for an agency with experience in your industry.
Top Tip: Reach Out to Relevant Profiles in the Affiliate Space
Sometimes, the best affiliate managers might not be affiliate managers at all, at least not yet.
They could be successful affiliate marketers themselves, digital marketing managers, or sales professionals with deep industry knowledge. Look for individuals who have a clear understanding of how affiliate marketing works, the ability to establish and manage relationships, and the drive to meet and exceed performance targets.
Once you've identified such potential candidates, craft a personalized message explaining why you believe they'd be a good fit for the role and invite them to discuss the opportunity further. They might not be actively looking for a job, but if your offer is compelling, they might consider the switch.
Deciding on a Good Affiliate Manager
Now that there’s traction on the role, how do you know who’s the right one? Resumes will only tell you part of the story. Define what you want to know, and ask the right questions to make the process quick and pain-free for everyone involved. Here are some tips.
Tips for Conducting a Successful Interview
Once you've shortlisted your candidates, here are some tips for conducting an interview:
- Ask scenario-based questions: rather than sticking to generic interview questions, ask candidates about specific scenarios they might encounter in the role. How would they handle a dispute with an affiliate? How would they go about recruiting new affiliates?
- Let them talk about strategy: get them to discuss how they would strategize for your specific product or service. This not only tests their understanding of your business but also gives you a glimpse of their strategic thinking.
Involve Your Team in the Hiring Process
Your new affiliate manager will likely collaborate with various departments - from marketing to sales, product development, and customer service. Each of these departments will interact with your affiliate program in one way or another.
For instance, marketing will need to create promotional material, sales may need to understand how the affiliate program impacts their targets, product development might need feedback from affiliates, and customer service needs to be ready to support referred customers. So, involving these teams in the hiring process can offer valuable insights. They might have specific concerns or requirements from the affiliate manager that you might not have thought of, and they can ask job-specific questions that you might overlook.
Fostering a Relationship with Your Affiliate Manager
A successful hire goes beyond getting your dream candidate to sign their contract. The real challenge lies in nurturing this professional relationship for long-term success. Here's how you can set the stage for a thriving partnership:
Define Clear and Realistic Goals
Your affiliate manager will need a clear understanding of what success looks like. Start by defining measurable goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business objectives. Discuss these objectives with your affiliate manager, ensuring they understand the significance of these KPIs to your company's overall marketing strategy and how their role directly impacts your bottom line. Remember, these targets should be ambitious but achievable, offering a clear direction without causing undue pressure.
Equip Them with the Right Tools
An efficient affiliate manager will only be efficient if they have the right tools to do their job effectively. Providing your affiliate manager with robust affiliate software like Rewardful will simplify their daily tasks and enhance their productivity. Rewardful is specifically designed for managing affiliate marketing programs and includes features like an easy affiliate program setup, tracking, and reporting.
Support Their Growth in the Affiliate Industry
How cool would it be if your very own affiliate manager is the leading voice on LinkedIn on all things affiliate? Imagine if they’re seen as an authority in the field and get invited to events.
As discussed earlier, the affiliate marketing landscape is continually evolving. Encourage your affiliate manager to stay on top of industry trends and developments by supporting their participation in relevant training, webinars, or conferences. But also encourage them to build a strong personal brand in the affiliate space.
Professional development isn't just about learning the latest affiliate marketing strategies or getting familiar with new affiliate software updates. It's also about networking with other industry professionals, sharing insights and experiences. As an employer, you can facilitate this – creating a true win-win situation.
Finding the Right Tool for Your Future Hire
Recruiting your first affiliate manager is a significant step towards scaling your affiliate program. And when you use the right tools, a solution like Rewardful can simplify your affiliate program management and allow your affiliate manager to shine.