Affiliate management professionals are constantly testing out new theories and strategies to improve current recruitment practices and achieve greater efficiency in their efforts. Unfortunately, many affiliate managers may be doing more bad than good with these efforts, while others might simply be adhering to standards of recruitment that are counterproductive to their goals.
With that in mind, here are five common mistakes that affiliate managers make. By recognizing the potential for your own management practices to fall into one of these ruts, you can take a proactive approach toward steering your management in the right direction — and getting more economy out of your recruiting efforts.
Affiliate Management Mistake No. 1: More is Always Better
Maybe you're approaching affiliate recruitment like fishing: the more hooks in the water, the more likely you will be to snag a big one, or to snag many small ones. Unfortunately, that's not how it works, and the main reason it doesn't work is that affiliate accumulation has rarely proven itself to be the most lucrative approach.
Affiliate management has long been governed by the 80/20 rule, which stipulates that 80 percent of your revenues will come from 20 percent of your affiliates. Obviously, there can be variances from this rule in some cases, but when looking at affiliate management with an industry-wide lens, this long-held rule continues to hold true.
There's always a temptation to seek out new affiliates in hopes of increasing revenues. And, of course, recruitment shouldn't be marginalized at the hands of this rule — it's important to actively pursue new affiliates that can add to your bottom-line. But when you're working with fixed resources, it's unwise to spread yourself thin and hope that you can still snag some worthwhile accounts.
Quality always outweighs quantity, even if it's sometimes difficult to keep that maxim in focus.
Affiliate Management Mistake No. 2: Recruitment Isn't That Important
The flip side to shamelessly recruiting and hitting on as many leads as possible is the risk of undervaluing the recruitment process altogether. Recruiting takes time, and it's common to question whether the time investment is providing a solid return. But even if you think your current affiliate situation is good enough to be content with it, you're treading into dangerous waters.
If you aren't growing, you're shrinking. That's a business rule applicable to any industry, including affiliate management. But there are a lot of factors that can play into the recruitment process and the best ways for organizations to approach this process. Larger organizations may have more flexibility in allocating higher numbers of man-hours every week to recruitment, while for smaller organizations the margin for error can be quite small.
For mid- and large-sized organizations, devoting one to two hours daily to recruitment may be an effective strategy. For smaller organizations, one to two hours every week may be more realistic. Recruitment practices should be scalable to fit your resources, but whatever you do, make sure you aren't ignoring the task altogether.
Affiliate Management Mistake No. 3: The Affiliate Program Information Page Sucks
It may sound a bit blunt, but many affiliate information pages are lacking in information and professionalism, and they can be damaging recruitment practices as a result. The information page is vital to your success in obtaining new affiliates, and it needs to be in the best shape possible.
All too often these pages fail to be properly advertised on the company's website, and they rely on hype rather than facts and results to impress affiliates. Many affiliate managers also fail to use these pages to host promotions that can generate new business.
The efficacy of the information page can be determined by the page's performance stats. What are the conversion rates for referrals and leads generated through the page? If they are low, it's probably because the page itself is poor quality. Once you get it in shape, take time to publicize the information page via the organization's various social media outlets and other marketing materials, such as company newsletters.
Affiliate Management Mistake No. 4: It's OK To Be Shy
Affiliate managers are more effective when they make their face synonymous with the program they are managing. This can be tough for some personality types to accept, but it's important to get out there and get familiar with other professionals.
There are a number of ways these connections can be established. Meetups and other networking events can be very valuable. When you're in these settings, it's key to have an elevator pitch prepared to quickly get prospects engaged and interested in your organization and its offerings. If you're not a strong face-to-face person, there are other strategies that can be effective, many of them based online. You can build your reputation by writing guest blog posts, contributing to podcasts, interacting in industry forums (such as the Affiliate Summit Forum or Women Online Marketers United) and — of course — being active on social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Affiliate Management Mistake No. 5: Employing Outdated and Ineffective Strategies
The best illustration of these strategies is the used car salesman pitch, which is rife with jargon, overstatements, and generic and misleading content. People can see right through these strategies and they just won't work in the long run.
Similarly, mass solicitations are ineffective because they take the quantity over quality approach, and their impersonal nature is a turnoff to many targets. A personal approach toward carefully selected targets will be much more effective, even if they require more of your time.
Finally, make sure you find ways to stand out from the rest of the competition , whether that's through exclusive deals, special commissions, contests or other incentives. You also want to employ a diversified approach to recruitment. Whether that's through social media announcements, affiliate directories, advertising, cooperative marketing or through your existing customers, make sure your organization is employing a multi-channel approach.
If you are aware of these common pitfalls and make efforts to avoid replicating the same errors, you'll find yourself ahead of the majority of your competition. And by resisting the use of cheap recruitment tactics, you'll enjoy a better standing with prospects and stand a much better chance of recruiting those quality affiliates you seek.