Experience v. Learning Curve
Choosing the right management option along with choosing the right affiliate network are key elements to the success of your program.
Once you have done the research, educated yourself on the various affiliate marketing options you will need to decide if you plan to manage the program internally or have it managed by your affiliate network provider.
Note for clarity –I am talking about managed vs. self-managed using an affiliate network provider like the ones discussed in Post #4.
The term “self-managed” can also apply to affiliate tracking software one can install on their site and build an affiliate program completely from the ground up. The benefit of going with a network is that they already have publishers and merchants as well as experience and support for the affiliate rookie.
Self-managed means that you, someone in your organization, or your marketing coach will manage all aspects of your affiliate marketing program. This includes everything from the launch of your program to the daily operations. There is a substantial time commitment involved in getting the affiliate program set up properly, recruiting publishers to join your network, managing the commissions and product offerings.
Even with the self-managed option you can get assistance from the program provider during the initial set up. Do not hesitate to call on your program provider to share their expertise in recruiting publishers and optimizing your campaign. Since most program fees are based on a percentage of sales it is still in their best interest to make sure you succeed.
A managed program (by your affiliate program network) typically includes an account manager assigned to manage the daily workings of the program, facilitate publisher recruiting and staying on top of ad expirations, product offerings, etc.
Managed programs relieve the burden of necessary daily tasks. However, in my experience, you still want someone within your organization to provide management oversight for the program.
Saving money is a real benefit of managing the program internally. However many affiliate networks do not offer managed programs for small merchants. By managing the program yourself you can save on the management fees (which can include flat rates, minimum rates and percentage of sales). You will pay a premium for the managed version, however if you do not have the right person who can devote the necessary time to building your program then the managed version would be worthwhile.
Properly planned and managed affiliate programs may become an additional revenue stream for your business. Make sure you understand all the available management options (and the value-added options) before you choose an affiliate network program provider. As always, consult your marketing coach during the selection process. He or she can help you avoid the pitfalls and work towards making an affiliate program a profitable revenue stream for your business.
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