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What Does an Affiliate Manager Do?

By Dustin Howes
March 25, 2021

Performance marketing is all the rage in ecommerce right now and the job of an affiliate manager is in high demand. With the economic climate in turmoil, many companies are cutting their traditional marketing budgets for alternative methods.

One popular channel, in particular, is affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is a performance marketing strategy whereby you partner with independent marketers who will promote your product in exchange for compensation. Managing an army of affiliates is no easy task and the entire program can get quite complicated.

That’s why you need an affiliate manager.

What is an affiliate manager?

An affiliate manager is a person who manages an affiliate program on behalf of an affiliate merchant.

Growing a successful affiliate program and running successful campaigns takes a lot of ingenuity and hard work. The role involves managing people, tools, and systems responsible for bringing in revenue from your affiliate program.

As you can tell, the role of an affiliate manager requires excellent organizational and multi-tasking skills.

What does an affiliate manager do?

Research shows that affiliate marketing spending in the US is set to reach $8.2 billion by 2021.

To get a hefty share of that pie, you need the expertise of an affiliate manager on your team.

So what does an affiliate manager do?

While each affiliate manager’s daily activities may vary depending on the product and business model, there are some core tasks that every affiliate manager is responsible for. Examples of such core tasks include:

Recruits new affiliates.

One of an affiliate manager’s primary responsibilities is to recruit affiliate marketers who will promote the merchant’s product. Recruitment includes many tasks like:

  • Building target lists of potential partners
  • Hunting down contact information
  • Crafting the perfect outreach email sequence
  • Accepting applications
  • Following up high-potential affiliates

Recruitment can take up a huge chunk of an affiliate marketer’s time as an affiliate program’s success relies on growing your network of affiliates. It is vital for every affiliate manager to fill their pipeline by recruiting new partners every week.

Grovia is my go-to solution for recruitment, but check out my full list of affiliate manager tools.

Dustin’s Choice

When it comes to recruiting affiliates, Grovia has the best solution on the market today. They have a top-of-market software solution that finds niche relevant content partners and their contact info. They have a wide range of solutions for any company’s budget, from DIY software to a full-service recruitment outreach solution. If you are looking for recruitment help, take a call with my buddy Rob at Grovia.

Platform Private Software

$297 DIY software per month

Full-service starts at $2997

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Activates affiliates.

It’s one thing to have hundreds of affiliates on your roster. But it’s another thing to keep all affiliate accounts active.

That’s why affiliate activation is one of the critical roles assigned to an affiliate manager.

Affiliate activation means motivating new affiliates and stagnant ones to promote your product. This involves equipping them with the right information, incentives, and tools to help them be more effective.

Setting up a welcome sequence of emails is a clutch time-saver for affiliate managers that help your affiliates hit the ground running.

Befriending affiliates.

An affiliate manager wears many hats. Good affiliate managers know the value of providing top-notch customer service and going the extra mile to see their partners become successful.

  • Human resources. This role involves managing your affiliates and making sure they are productive. It also involves collecting payment info and making sure affiliate payouts are accurately paid on time.
  • Customer support. When your affiliates run into problems, their first port of call is the affiliate manager. You may need to help your affiliates with common issues, including providing them with coupon codes or helping solve a problem they may have with your dashboard or links
  • Brand liaison. Affiliate managers are the first people affiliates will come to with brand questions, so they need to educate themselves on the brand.
  • Friend. When you spend your time helping partners succeed, you become vested in their journey and they become vested in yours. I’ve created hundreds of friendships through the years and keep in touch with them well after my time managing a program has ended. This type of networking is priceless.

An effective affiliate manager must be a people person. As the liaison between affiliates and your brand, they must understand and empathize with both parties they represent.

Monitors and ensures compliance.

Monitoring for compliance is another critical responsibility of an affiliate manager. A couple of reasons an affiliate manager must be vigilant concerning compliance include:

  • Compliance helps protect your brand’s image.
  • Saving the company money during payouts.
  • It ensures all affiliates don’t break government regulations and program rules.
  • Creates a safe space for advertisers and publishers to operate from.

Compliance is an integral part of affiliate program management. It ensures the longevity and success of your program.

Learn more about the Red Flags of affiliate fraud you should be looking for.

Optimizes affiliate marketing programs.

Optimizing an affiliate marketing program involves monitoring your program’s performance and looking for ways to improve it. Of course, improving your program means incremental growth, which is what every business aims for.

Affiliate program and campaign optimization requires adeptness at understanding and analyzing data and implementing data to improve your program. It also involves discovering the most effective marketing channels for your product.

The primary purpose of optimizing your affiliate marketing program is to:

  • Increase efficiency of the affiliate manager.
  • Improve the quality of traffic your affiliates send you.
  • Increase the conversion rates of your landing pages and offers.
  • Drive more sales and revenue.

When revenue goals are reached and exceeded, it makes you look good to executives. Oftentimes they will invest more marketing budget into doing exploratory campaigns if the affiliate program is successful.

Help direct your affiliate’s creative efforts.

Content plays a massive role in whether your affiliates will succeed in marketing your product or not. Sometimes affiliates may need guidance in creating effective content for their websites. An affiliate manager should understand the difficulties of content creation and help affiliates hone their skills in this area.

An affiliate manager may seem like a luxury. But just by looking at this tip of the iceberg of responsibilities, it’s clear that an affiliate manager is necessary if you’re running an affiliate program.


Need an affiliate manager? Here are your options.

By this point, it’s probably clear — you do need an affiliate manager if you’re to get the best out of your affiliate program. However, getting one isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. You have three good options available for getting help with managing your affiliate programs.

  • hire in-house.
  • hire an agency.
  • to train a junior marketer or VA.

Let’s look at these options and consider their pros and cons.

Hire an in-house affiliate manager with experience.

One of the first options you have of getting an affiliate manager is to hire one in-house.

Hiring in-house works best for companies that want to really invest in the growth of the program. An in-house manager is going to have a great understanding of the brand and can assist with customer support when affiliates have questions about the product. Other advantages of having an in-house affiliate manager include:

  • Dedicated to your brand.
  • Can react quickly to shifts in your brand’s promotional strategy.
  • Easy collaboration with the marketing team.
  • 40+ hours a week to the program growth.

The only downside to hiring a full-time in-house affiliate manager is that it requires more resources.  Examples of where you’ll spend money on an in-house affiliate manager include:

  • Salaries (that range from $40,000 to $80,000).
  • Computer, monitors, and accessories.
  • Office space and furniture (if onsite).
  • Benefits package.

You’ll also have to budget time and finances for training to keep your affiliate manager(s) up to speed on current industry trends and best practices.

In a nutshell, hiring an in-house affiliate manager is an excellent option if your brand has a growing affiliate network. A growing network means your affiliate program is generating revenue. And if you’re playing your cards right, that revenue could sustain an in-house affiliate manager.

Hire an agency.

Going the agency route is an excellent option for brands that have already worked with an in-house affiliate marketing manager and want to scale. Grovia, the agency I partner with, is doing incredible work in affiliate recruitment.

Remember, relationships play a huge role in the success of any affiliate program. This is the biggest asset an agency brings to the table. Because they have an extensive network of affiliates, they can help you create partnerships with affiliates who have the right kind of audience for you.

Other advantages of hiring an agency include:

  • Faster initial growth of the program.
  • Expertise to recognize the big players in your niche.
  • Access to advanced tools and systems that the agency has invested in.
  • Cheaper than a full-time manager.

One factor to consider when looking for an agency to manage your affiliate marketing program is that they will nott be fully integrated into your business. This may result in slower execution of campaigns as collaboration and communication may be slower.

With their expertise, agencies bring effective strategies to the table. They also have the human resources to execute. This gives you peace of mind that your program is in good hands. It also leaves you with more time to focus on the core aspects of your business.

However, the caveat of going the agency route is that an agency will charge anything from $2,000 to $10,000 per month and may require a minimum six-month retainer.

Hire a smart junior marketer or intern and train them.

Another way to handle your affiliate management is to hire a junior marketer (or intern) and train them.

Training your own team ensures an alignment of your culture, values, and mission. It also ensures that your affiliate manager(s) know your product and brand well enough to craft tailored affiliate campaigns.

Training one of your junior marketers is one of the most cost-effective ways of getting an affiliate manager for your program. It’s an investment you’ll benefit from for years.

At Performance Marketing Manager, we have designed a one-of-a-kind training program for affiliate managers. We train our students on the best strategies to grow the revenue of affiliate programs. Among other things, the course helps students:

  • Master time management
  • How to recruit the right affiliates
  • Strategies to develop profitable relationships with your affiliate partners

The Performance Marketing Manager course features eight hours of conference-style video training. It is jam-packed with over 50 tips, tricks, and hacks that are guaranteed to turn your junior marketer into a rockstar affiliate manager.

What skills do affiliate managers need to have?

The role of an affiliate manager requires that one have some unique skill sets. As discussed earlier, an affiliate manager must wear many hats and must be adept at switching between roles. Examples of the soft and hard skills an affiliate manager must have include:

  • Strategic thinking: Growing an affiliate marketing program requires strategic thinking to attract new affiliates and develop effective campaigns. This is why strategic thinking ranks high among the skills an affiliate manager needs to have.
  • Detail-Oriented: Attention to detail is essential in everything an affiliate manager does, especially when tracking data, analytics, and even income reports.
  • Organized: Managing and growing an affiliate program requires that you play a lot of roles simultaneously. This requires excellent organizational skills and multi-tasking abilities.
  • People skills: People skills, or the ability to communicate, interact, and influence people, are high on the list of skills affiliate managers must have. These skills are essential in building trust, growing relationships, and motivating your affiliates to be productive.
  • HTML/CSS: Having basic HTML/CSS skills is highly recommended as these are essential when crafting simple yet modern and attractive emails that display properly on all devices.
  • Graphic design skills: Knowing how to create graphics (banners, buttons, and other graphics) for social media pages, promotions, and advertisements is a must for an affiliate manager. Good graphic design skills will help you create high-quality professional designs that will help your offers stand out.
  • Newsletter formatting: Newsletters play an essential role in running campaigns and keeping in touch with your affiliates. An affiliate manager must know how to craft newsletters. From copy to design to links and everything in-between, knowing how to put it all together in a beautiful and easy-to-read email is a critical skill.
  • Content creation and monitoring: Content is the main vehicle through which creation products/services are promoting. Knowing how to create and distribute SEO-optimized content and monitor its performance is, therefore, a must-have skill for an affiliate manager.

Not everyone can be an affiliate manager. It requires one to have a unique combination of skills, patience, and a whole lot of determination. That’s why when looking for an affiliate manager, you must choose your candidate wisely.

Affiliate manager FAQs.

Covering the role of an affiliate manager in one blog post is impossible. However, I believe you now have an idea of what this critical role entails.

Before I sign off, let’s quickly answer some frequently asked questions about affiliate managers.

How much do affiliate managers make?

Whether you want to be an affiliate manager or looking to hire one, one thing you’ve probably wondered about is how much affiliate managers work.

According to Payscale, the average base salary for an affiliate manager is $54,046.

The exact figure varies according to years of experience, location, and industry.

You should also consider putting an incentive bonus in play for the affiliate manager. Here are my thoughts on what a commission structure would look like:

How can I be a good affiliate manager?

To be a good affiliate manager, you must get proper training. There are so many facets of the role that need to be mastered, so a good teacher/mentor is essential. You can fast-track your journey to being an affiliate manager by enrolling in courses like the Performance Marketing Manager, a course trusted by brands like BigCommerce, WPEngine, and more.

How to find good affiliate managers?

Start with a search on Linkedin for “affiliate manager”. Every good affiliate manager will have a strong network and profile on Linkedin. Look for diversified experience with agencies, merchants, and publishers. Lastly, duration of experience will not always translate into greatness, so make sure you don’t pass up junior affiliate managers just based on lack of years in the field. You will want creative thinkers to run your program.

Wrap it up Dustin.

Whether you want to be an affiliate manager or are looking to hire one, you must know what an affiliate manager does. Hopefully, this post has cleared the air around that.

Affiliate programs will not magically grow on their own. You need an affiliate manager to will help:

  • Optimize your program and drive relevant traffic to your offers.
  • Develop meaningful relationships with your affiliate network.
  • Create effective recruiting and marketing campaigns.

The bottom line is that an affiliate manager will help you generate more revenue from your affiliate program. If the plan is to manage your program yourself or have one of your employees do it, make sure to get the right training.

What are your thoughts on what an affiliate manager does?



  • Paul Kalka says:

    Excellent article. Although I would say that you get what you pay for in terms of the salary range you quoted. You want the best, you got to pay for it. We are performance marketers so incentives are great when it comes to compensation packages.

    • Dustin Howes says:

      I think you are right Paul. The price of poker is going up in post-Covid era. The acceptance of remote work has the demand for performance marketers at an all-time high.

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