How do you go about shopping for your Affiliate Marketing Agency? Putting your marketing strategy and execution in external hands can be nerve-wracking, so Ignite OPM’s put together some prerequisites to consider during the search for your Affiliate Marketing Agency.
First and foremost, when searching for an Affiliate Agency, you’ll want to understand how much experience an agency has in the affiliate channel. Experience directly correlates with publisher relationships, so if an agency’s worked in the affiliate channel for 20 years they should have a wide variety of publisher partners. If these partners solely specialize in deal and loyalty, then the affiliate program won’t be able to scale properly. Maintaining relationships with publishers who manage traffic in all areas of the buyers funnel is crucial to the health of a balanced affiliate program. In addition to the buyers funnel, it’s important to consider the agency’s relationships with mobile-specific partners to develop mobile web and app traffic. This fact is further amplified by a 2018 study forecasting that over one-third of retail sales in the U.S. will be made using a smartphone - which equates to over $1 trillion in retail purchases in the U.S. alone.
In addition to experience, incrementality is a huge determining factor for affiliate agencies. It’s pertinent to dive into an agency’s approach and learn how they create strategies to drive new, incremental traffic for their clients. If you aren’t seeing signs of incrementality in an agency’s strategy, it’s likely their methods are stealing traffic from other marketing efforts. When an agency takes the time to understand its clients’ goals and internal strategy, it can better support the overall marketing efforts and align the affiliate strategy to drive the highest profitability.
As with most things in business and in life, integrity is critical when searching for your affiliate agency. Agencies that are largely performance-based generally have a greater chance of growing your affiliate traffic because they have bills to pay. Look for a partner who works as an extension of your internal team so that they always have your brand’s best interest in mind.
A question we can take from applying to any job we’ve ever had is, does the agency you’re considering have references who speak highly of them? Do they have happy customers? Do they have a good reputation in the affiliate space? If the agency is doing their job, they will have high client retention, references who praise their services, and partners who enjoy working with them.
When looking internally, pay close attention to the client to account manager ratio. It’s important to keep the number of clients to account managers low to ensure your account is getting the attention it deserves. Furthermore, does that account manager have a full team backing them up? This is essential, as no one person can do it all.
Finally, compliance and brand protection is a necessity when considering affiliate agencies. Does the agency have compliance services to consistently monitor your campaigns? Will they actively resolve trademark plus bidding issues, toolbar abuse, and oversee FTC compliance while adhering to your brand guidelines?
While the search for an affiliate agency may seem daunting, it’s important to take the time to ensure your needs and standards will be met. Characteristics such as experience, incrementality, and integrity are vital to the health and success in the affiliate channel. Happy customers, an even client to account manager ratio, and compliance services are the cherry on top to ensure your brand a running start and a quick-to-scale affiliate program.