As any sales channel, the affiliate part of your business needs attention in order to grow. The way you provide that very much depends on your company’s current status, goals and perspective in affiliate marketing.
There are 2 main options that you should look at: an in-house person or an outsourced program manager (OPM). The things that you should have in mind when choosing the solution that is fit for you are mainly revolving around:
Although you shouldn’t take the 5 things above separately, here’s a brief analysis of them vs. the 2 options of managing the affiliate program.
When it comes to cost, having an in-house affiliate program manager is most of the times more effective than hiring an OPM. However, as things will scale up and you need to get additional people to do the work, you may reach the point where it would be more reasonable to get an OPM agency.
If you’re a start-up company, you should definitely go with the in-house. If you’re an established company, the extra cost will also reflect the results you will get and the shorter ramp-up time of the program.
Recommendation: depending on your budget.
You want the people that take care of your affiliate program to be as seasoned as possible and know very well the affiliate marketing business. Whether your affiliate program is just starting or you want to optimize / grow the existing program, you definitely want to have an experienced person to take care of this. Unless you want to do it yourself in the beginning, there’s no doubt about it – you would be better with an agency.
Recommendation: OPM agencies usually have experienced people that can get the best results.
Suppose your company sells B2B software services. When having to choose, would you rather hire an affiliate program manager / OPM that only handled physical goods or would you go with one that has at least some experience in the software field? I think the answer is pretty straightforward :)
Recommendation: see who’s more relevant to your business: in-house affiliate program manager or OPM agency
This is also very important and should somehow be a consequence of being relevant. If the affiliate program manager / OPM has worked before with companies that offered similar products to yours, then they’re bound to have strong connections with affiliates. But this is not all – try to find out how strong are the relationships with the affiliates they know. This is important because it will determine the ability to influence possible power affiliates to promote your products.
However, keep in mind that there are some affiliates out there that promote almost any kind of products – discount websites, online catalogues, etc.
Recommendation: there’s not a clear choice here.
Consider the fact that once your program gets bigger, you will need to increase the efforts put into it. This can also mean getting more people on the job. If you have an in-house program manager, than at some point you should consider complementing their effort with an OPM agency. Or simply start with an OPM agency to begin with after finding out how big they can get with running your program at the desired performance parameters.
Recommendation: OPM agencies are more scalable than in-house affiliate program managers.
To wrap up, I would say that in the final run you should always have at least 2-3 options to choose from. Choose your most important criteria from above and then see who’s most balanced from their point of view.