INside Performance Marketing
Top 50 Industry Players from 2017
What Super Affiliates Want
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What Super Affiliates Want


Disclaimer: The term ‘super affiliate’ has been applied to me by several people in this industry, but never by myself. I think it’s because I earn a full-time income from affiliate marketing. I am not the CEO of some huge cashback or voucher site. 

1. We Want to ‘Set and Forget’

The reason we do what we do is because we value time over money. Most of us were in dull office jobs before we discovered affiliate marketing as a way to break free of the 9-5 slog. A super affiliate is constantly seeking out the next passive income stream - if you can provide that then we’re interested. We know there is work involved in the initial phase - setting up, integrating, testing, keyword research, creating campaigns. We want to do this and then take our kids out for the day/walk the dog/go for a nice lunch. The more you can automate things for us, the more chance you have of getting us to promote your offering. 

2. We Want Long-term Relationships

We’re not interested in a flash-in-the-pan lead trial which doesn’t convert for you. As I mentioned, the work on our side is all done at the beginning of a new relationship, so anything short-lived is a waste of both time and money. In order to develop long-term profitability, feedback and communication is absolutely vital. We need to know what works and what doesn’t work for you so that we can change things if needed in that initial phase. 

3. We Want you to Stop Squeezing our Margins

Having done this full-time for eight years I have spotted the same pattern with every single affiliate deal I have done, whether through network, agency or direct to merchant:

  1. I start sending conversions to the merchant.
  2. Everything goes swimmingly for a while and communication levels are low. When there is contact, everything is said to be going well. 
  3. After a period of time which could be months or even years, I get a call saying that the quality of conversions is down (I haven’t changed anything) and the commission level needs to come down to reflect this. Or, the criteria must be tightened. 

Both these things amount to the same thing - the merchant is trying to squeeze the affiliate’s margin. There are various reasons why it happens - a new marketing director wants to shake things up; their business is going through a few problems or changes; they are simply trying to save money. Whatever the reason, it eventually happens with every campaign and it is highly annoying. If you do decide you need to lower the commission or tighten the criteria we need to see some pretty convincing evidence that it is absolutely crucial to the future viability of the relationship - otherwise we are likely to take our business elsewhere. 

4. We Want you to Tell us the Truth

If you are reducing the commission, come straight out with it. Don’t talk to us like we’re idiots who won’t understand what ‘revised commission structure’ really means! You’re more than happy to shout a commission increase from the rooftops so don’t go all shy if you have to reduce it - just tell us bluntly. Also, if we’re one of your top affiliates and you get wind of a program closure, a heads up would be nice so we have time to arrange alternatives. 

5. We’re More Interested in Reliability of Payment Than Speed of Payment

Most of the super affiliates I know are pretty wealthy. They are really not bothered if they don’t get paid weekly because cashflow is not generally a problem. You should focus more on speed of validation than speed of payment - this way a super affiliate knows what money is coming in (eventually) and can keep an eye on margins. Trust is built through regular payments over time. 

6. We Want Easy Access to Stats

I am guilty of checking stats far too often. It’s very addictive to sit there and refresh stats all day, watching for new leads or sales. Lots of affiliates do this. We want this information to be as easy to read as possible, on as many devices as possible. This saves us time and allows us to easily keep track of a campaign’s performance. I was on holiday in Spain last week and needed to check what I’d spent on a mobile ad network for a particular day. Armed with only my iPhone I was shocked to discover that I couldn’t check stats for a custom date range - only today, yesterday, last week, last month etc. Highly frustrating as it meant I had to pause that particular ad campaign until I got back home. 

7. We Want Human Interaction

Most super affiliates I know work very flexible hours from home. This lifestyle is regarded as the Holy Grail by many people but it does have its drawbacks. I would never go back to working in an office full time but I do miss the office environment and interaction with colleagues from time to time. If you can give us a call, or even better arrange to come and visit us, you’re more likely to get our business. If there are long distances involved, then arranging to meet at a conference can be a good idea - this way the affiliate can schedule several meetings in the same day. 

8. We Want Transparency

A successful lead generation campaign is more about high conversions than high volume. We know how many leads we’re sending you but we are often kept in the dark over your conversion rate. Provide us with more information so we can tweak our ad campaigns accordingly and improve your bottom line. 

9. We Want CPL (Cost-per-lead)

This point relates more to lead generation affiliates. We’re not interested in back-end, cost-per-sale deals unless it is used as a way to monetise leads which otherwise fall outside a main set of criteria. Cost per sale makes us far too reliant on the ability of a merchant’s call centre to convert a lead. In my experience it rarely works as a merchant doesn’t have the incentive or sense of urgency to convert leads like they do with a cost per lead arrangement. That’s not to say that affiliates are not bothered about the merchant’s conversion rate, just that once the lead has been delivered it’s up to the merchant to call it as quickly as possible and convert it into a sale. There’s nothing we can do to influence the conversion rate once a lead has been delivered. 

10. We Usually Want to Work Directly With a Merchant

If a super affiliate works through an agency and/or a network it cuts into the affiliate’s margin, so they would much rather work directly with a merchant for a higher payout. The volume and conversions provided by a super affiliate is usually sufficient to persuade the merchant to set up a separate deal. This is not always the case, and not working directly is not always a deal-breaker. Sometimes working through an agency or network can be far less hassle than working with a merchant who has no proper tracking or systems in place. If an agency or network can get close to the commission offered on a direct deal and their reporting/tracking is superior, then the affiliate may decide to take the easier option. 

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Mike Madew

Mike Madew

Michael Madew is a pay-per-click (PPC) marketing consultant with over 10 years experience. He has limited consultancy slots available to businesses who want step-by-step help to create and run their own profitable PPC campaigns. 

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