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15 Steps to Success for an Affiliate Manager

By Dustin Howes
November 11, 2020

Are you an affiliate manager that is struggling to meet the demands of executives? Or maybe you are the executive looking to see if your affiliate manager is prioritizing the right tasks. This post is focusing on just how tedious the job of the affiliate manager really is.

Affiliate programs are not grown overnight. You can’t just turn them on like Facebook ads and see instant results. An affiliate manager has to be the right mix of aggressive and patient with high potential affiliates in order for the partnership to succeed. 

And guess what…an affiliate manager’s job is never complete because there are always more affiliates to recruit to the program. LUCKY!

In this post, I’ll be going over the 15 steps I personally take as an affiliate manager when growing an affiliate program. But first, let’s define…


What is an Affiliate Manager? 

An affiliate manager is a multi-tasking machine that knows how to spend time and effort efficiently to grow an affiliate program. Daily tasks include:


  • Review program applications.
  • Finding affiliates that are a good fit for the program.
    • Hunting down contact info.
    • Sending recruitment emails.
    • Sending follow up emails.
  • Protecting brand trademarks with tools like Brandverity.
  • Answering important emails with specific details.
  • Zero out the inbox for yourself, affiliates@, and support@.
  • Team conference call reviewing the week.
  • One on One calls with the boss.
  • Run WoW and MoM reports for forecasting.
  • Provide strategy and recommendations to top affiliates.
  • Message top affiliates on Skype.
  • Group Slack messages with the marketing team for progress updates.
  • Review new partner sales for fraud.
  • Plan and write a newsletter for next week.
  • Report all wins to executives for the week.

As you can see, there is a lot to do. There is one HUGE deciding factor in what makes a successful affiliate manager. No, it isn’t years of experience, or percentage of revenue growth (although this helps for job security). The biggest success metric is…


Time Management.

An Affiliate manager sits down at the computer every workday and has to pick and choose where they will be spending their time on the daily tasks mentioned above. Along with that, there are weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual tasks that need to be completed, including all reporting to the executive team.

So where should they be spending their time? The answer is easy: Spend time nurturing high potential partnerships. The execution is the hard part. Here are the 15 steps I personally take as a seasoned affiliate manager to run successful affiliate campaigns.


As you can see from this graphic, it is a pretty long journey. Here is the video breakdown of all these steps.




15 steps to success for affiliate managers




  1. Find the Program.

Your first goal as the affiliate manager is to get the attention of the affiliate. Sometimes affiliates find your program naturally through the network or on a search for a new niche, but most of the good affiliates will need to be found and convinced to join. Make sure you are using the best affiliate manager tools to find affiliates. Affiliate managers must present their program to the potential affiliate partner and win them over. I have found it helpful to send media kits and one-sheeters about the program, offer up incentives to join and drive volume and ask engaging questions.


  1. Review your program, product and website.

The goal is to get the affiliate excited about the products and program, so this is the affiliate manager's opportunity to entice partners to join and promote your products. Set them up with free products and share other reviews with them that highlight great selling points. Show them which landing pages are converting best and share how much some of your affiliates are making. Do what it takes to get your foot in the door.


  1. Request to join the program.

The affiliate manager needs to send out an official offer to join the program. Usually it will be with special terms and VIP commissions.


  1. Get accepted.

Harder than it sounds. If the affiliate manager does not stay on top of this, the affiliate might forget to accept the terms, or in some cases, might just move on to the next thing. Make sure the affiliate joins and provide them with all marketing materials to help them succeed. Be persistent and follow up as much as necessary.


  1. Do keyword research.

Now it is the affiliate’s turn to take the lead. They are going figure out how to sell your product to their audience. They will be using tools like SEMRush to look for high-volume keywords in your niche. Make sure you provide them with free trials and product; they will most likely test out your products and find a main keyword to target. 


  1. Do content research.

All good content is going to start with a rough outline. The affiliate will be researching what articles are doing well right now and figure out what they can do better to get on the first SERP. The affiliate will also be reading other reviews, both negative and positive, to get a grasp on what others are writing about.

Your role as the affiliate manager is to provide recommendations for where your products/services fit into their website. Offer up example evergreen posts, similar posts for competitors, upcoming promo you'll be offering, etc.


  1. Create the content.

500 to 10000 words doesn't just show up magically. The affiliate has to know the capabilities of the product to write a thorough review. They are going to think of creative ways to sell the product and link to appropriate sites, maybe even competitors. Provide them with all the ammo they need here by highlighting the best selling points for the products.


  1. Optimize the content.

Partners who actually know what they are doing, know how to rank on Google and other platforms. They have to carefully plan the content and how to maximize their efforts, but that all takes effort and time on their end. Want to go the extra mile? Offer to edit the first draft and offer feedback.


  1. Monetize the content.

Along with promoting your brand, the content is going to have other products that are relevant. They are going to sprinkle affiliate links throughout the content, call to action buttons, and maybe even some banners to entice readers to click. Provide the affiliate with the latest closing coupon to round out the article.


  1. Start to rank on Google.

It will take time for this piece of content to rank on Google or other platforms. Some articles rank faster than others. Good affiliates know the fastest way to win this game, but they all know it doesn’t happen overnight. Affiliate managers (and executives) need to be patient here and believe in the process.


  1. Start bringing in clicks.

Now that the content is live, the reach of the content will determine how quickly it will start gaining clicks. Hopefully the affiliate will hit up their email list or social following with this new content. If the content is especially good, ask your internal social team to share or include it in the next affiliate newsletter.


  1. Convert clicks to sales.

Click data is important to see what is converting. Tweaking the content to drive traffic to your site will be necessary. Seasoned affiliate managers are able to look at pieces of content and make suggestions to maximize effort. Landing pages might have to adjust to the needs of the affiliate’s audience, so make sure deep linking is enabled for tracking.


  1. Connect with the affiliate manager.

Someone on each site is in charge of affiliate revenue. You’ll need to find who that is and connect via email, Skype, or call. I love using affiliate manager tools in situations like these, and I have found Calendly to be a huge time saver when scheduling calls.


  1. Calls and negotiating commissions.

Once you connect, negotiate with the partner to figure out how you can trade more commissions (or bonuses) for more exposure. It takes finesse to help an affiliate partner promote your product over competitors, and every conversation is unique. I go over these affiliate manager techniques in the course.


  1. Creating new campaigns.

You have officially found a winning formula and the sales are coming in. Instead of spending time starting over, you should first look to replicate step 5 thru 9 all over again with THIS partner. Convincing someone with money in their pocket of doing more is a much easier conversation than starting from scratch.


Key Takeaway: This is a Long Process

As you can see, this can be a lengthy and involved process that you must go through managing a successful affiliate program. As the affiliate manager, your job is to recognize high potential in a partner and then do whatever it takes to make magic happen. Each step in this process will take efficiency; some steps are more time consuming than others. 

Unless you know where to spend your time and effort managing these relationships, you will never grow your program to its fullest potential. If you don’t have that skill set yet, I’m the guy that can help you get there. Learn more secrets to growing your affiliate program with the only online affiliate manager training course

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