Surely, the default affiliate service is good, but is it enough? Isn’t there more to be done? Hooking up advertisers with publishers, advising on business models and traffic sources. In this article, Admitad extends on how advertisers and publishers can go an extra mile to achieve better results with their account manager.
The things we do for love
First things first, there are two types of account managers in affiliate networks. One of them, the support managers, addresses immediate issues, such as timely payments, hot affiliate programs and agreements — «the essential routine». It is the first line of defence that makes sure both publishers and advertisers stay loyal to the network, and their businesses function properly.
The second tribe are business development managers (aka publisher / advertiser relations managers), and they tend to focus on strategy instead, always searching for new opportunities. If you don’t know what to do, but want to scale your business or your affiliate program up, those are the correct people to turn to. However, the chances are high they will find you first.
The problem is that these two functions are often handled by the same account manager who is assigned to multiple businesses and has to change the focus back and forth, to and fro all the time. We do not approve of this practice, but since we can’t abolish it from the market altogether, we can at least make the most out of it.
1. Tell about yourself
Even though affiliate managers know and see a lot, they are not omniscient. They are not aware of how you perceive your progress and whether you are satisfied with the quality and amount of traffic you get.
Describe your current position, articulate your needs so that the network could provide you with the service you pay it for. The more your account manager knows, the more accurate their diagnostics will be. The better they know your strong points, the higher the chances you will get to use them to your advantage.
2. Ask Questions
Sometimes a simple “What do I do?” is enough. More specific questions, such as “What affiliate programs are trending this month?” or “What advertisers would suit my traffic sources?” can be of use too.
Always remember that the account manager’s expertise is not exclusively his own — it is the result of the company’s record in the industry. Affiliate networks’ employees keep track of all the company’s success stories, and are eager to implement them by advertisers and publishers who fit certain parameters. Thus, the best practices in the market are born, tampered and refined over countless iterations.
3. Take the advice
However, sometimes it is not about how much an account manager can give, but about how much you can take. Are you asking questions out of sheer curiosity, or want to apply a new approach to your business? Once they learn the ropes, some advertisers suddenly stop heeding the advice since they do not feel safe to experiment without proper guidance.
It is up to you to take the advice you called for. There is only this much the account manager can do for you without your approval. Surely, account managers can only warn you about upcoming holiday sales, but is this really the service you’re paying for?
4. Educate yourself
It is not out of malice that marketers ignore our recommendations. More likely, they lack understanding, and cannot follow the logic — unless you explain it to them step by step a few times. Getting lost in the maze of online marketing is nothing to be ashamed of: after all, the affiliate industry is big and full of unspeakable complexities — unless you simmer in it for months.
This is easy to fix — ask the account manager to email you the educational materials, editorials, manuals and webinars. The affiliate networks tend to have plenty of those — the prominent ones do, at least.
5. Understand fraud
One of the topics you have to educate yourself on more thoroughly is fraud / shave. How exactly do dishonest publishers and advertisers fool their counterparts? If you can tell quality traffic from wrong, you may want to discover new traffic sources you were previously suspicious of.
Big affiliate networks already have designated quality control teams that protect their clients from violations on both sides — and pay for its consequences. However, if you require an extra check on the publisher or brand, affiliate network managers can test both advertisers and publishers by becoming a “secret client”.
6. Apply for testing
There a few basic ways marketers can grow beyond their usual scope:
- New markets and audiences
- New traffic sources
- New tools and business models
For new audiences, advertisers need new publishers. Account managers can get you those via paid promotions — if your affiliate network provides such services — or free of charge — by contacting them directly or setting up bridges with other teams who do. So if you have any specific websites on your wishlist, don’t hesitate to contact your manager with a corresponding request.
Next, your account manager can offer you new traffic sources depending on your goal — be it to get new clients, reignite the old ones, or boost your media presence. However, be warned — you are limited by your own prejudice. Many brands, for example, seem wary of cashback, whereas it has one of the highest conversion rates. Contextual advertising may be appropriate too — if you don’t have a traffic manager at your headquarters.
And thirdly, big affiliate networks have dedicated R&D teams to produce new tools, business and models monetization systems. Getting the upper hand over your competitors with such instruments might be easier if you find out about them in advance. Account managers can tell you more about them — even if the feature has not been officially released yet.
The Great Game
Summing it up, account management is all about long-term communication and personal relations — the better you know each other, the more trusting relations you can build. This is exactly why it’s best to hold regular meetings with your managers — at least once in a quarter. Discussing tactical issues and strategy in person makes it feel sincere, nurtures and deepens your partnerships.
Secondly, online marketing has strong dependence on the trends, be they seasonal or a twenty-teat-long thing. Adapting to these trends, feeling the pulse and such, is a perfect reason to ask for expertise — and frequently so. Please don’t lose touch with your manager and stay updated with the network’s toolbox and digests.
Finally, please remember that account managers are no gods. Yes, they are the social wizards of our online marketing, but there is a limit to their power. Saving your program from painstaking decay is within their reach, but reading your mind for details? Hell, no. It is way out of our security policy.