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Chris Kramer

How to Build an All-Star Affiliate Marketing Team

Chris Kramer
How to Build an All-Star Affiliate Marketing Team

Today’s affiliate marketing space is like your nerdy high school friend who went on to launch a tech startup and became really cool. At its core, affiliate marketing is the same. But over the past few years, it’s grown into a more mature version, and this year is sure to bring additional opportunities and sophistication to the space.

As the field of affiliate marketing develops, it’s important for companies to hire and establish affiliate marketing teams to get the most ROI from this avenue of online marketing rather than have one person handle all of the variables and tasks.

Affiliate marketing teams help build an efficient and quality-focused sales funnel and likely work with marketing and acquisition teams to form the foundation of performance-driven marketing teams.

Having a Team Dedicated to Affiliate Marketing Is a Must

It takes a lot of different skill sets to effectively manage an affiliate program. The skilled negotiator, the data geek, the heavy lifter, and the passionate leader are all very different people, and it’s unlikely that you’ll find those all wrapped up in one person.

By tasking a single person to perform all of the different tasks within an affiliate program, you’re guaranteed to have people working either above or below their typical expertise level. A company’s affiliate marketing program will be most effective when the company hires team members who can develop and execute specific affiliate marketing tactics well.

Who Are the Key Players of an Affiliate Marketing Team?

There are five major roles that make up a fully functioning affiliate marketing team. These key players include:

  1. The Senior Strategist: The senior strategist is an experienced team leader who has the ability to plan ahead and keep his team focused. This person establishes the team roadmap and understands how each team member’s role contributes to the team’s overall achievements. Without this seasoned person to guide the team, an affiliate marketing team likely won’t reach its goals because of all of the new developments that are popping up within the space.
  2. The Affiliate Manager: The affiliate manager should have good negotiation and people skills. This person’s primary responsibilities are recruitment and optimization of affiliates. This person is also usually the “face” of the program — someone who top partners know they can rely on to get a deal done or get problems resolved. Affiliate marketing relies on relationships, and a good affiliate manager perfects the art of managing relationships with top partners.
  3. The Data Analyst: The data analyst is an Excel wizard who has such a tight pulse on the incoming data that he acts as the team trend spotter. This person handles reporting and analytics, and he helps cut through all the clutter and presents new opportunities for the team to pursue. He may also find fraudulent activity and help save thousands of dollars in potential commissions by spotting questionable activity that others wouldn’t normally be able to catch.
  4. The Ad Operations and Technology Specialist: The ad operations and technology specialist pays extreme attention to the details and has a technical background. This person plays an important role behind the scenes as he ensures link tracking works properly, creative elements are uploaded, and the back end is running smoothly.
  5. The Associate: The associate doesn’t need much experience but must have a desire to learn and the ability to support the rest of the team. This is typically an entry-level person who is getting trained on all aspects of an affiliate program. He touches a variety of projects, including competitive analyses, affiliate approvals, research for recruitment, and more.

But before hiring all of these great people, it’s important for hiring managers to research the news and trends within affiliate marketing to ensure they’re up to speed on the skills and knowledge their affiliate marketing team should possess.

What to Look for in the Best Team

Once hiring managers are informed about the current state of affiliate marketing, they should reach out to agencies or companies that have built successful affiliate marketing teams to discover how those teams are structured. When hiring managers are ready to begin finding candidates, they should consider the following things when deciding who to hire:

  • Attitude: When hiring for junior positions, look for those who will be most likely to move into senior roles. Ask questions about what motivates them, and look for people who have a deep desire to learn.
  • Ethical Standards:Relationships and reputation are still a critical part of affiliate marketing. Companies should always hire people who have high ethical standards and who will help build a great reputation for the affiliate program. Nurturing solid relationships with the major players in the industry can mean the difference between success and failure for some programs.
  • Skill Level:Each role is important, and companies should make sure skill sets align with job descriptions. Don’t have senior team members doing basic tasks, such as reviewing affiliate applications or writing newsletters. Likewise, don’t have junior members begin working on strategy or forecasting. Hiring a team with different levels of experience is key.
  • Experience:Experienced affiliate managers are challenging to find, so maintain a constant search for top talent. Hiring managers are likely to find experienced affiliate managers at industry events, such as CJ University, the Rakuten Marketing Symposium, and the Affiliate Summit Marketing Conference.
  • In-House vs. Freelance: As companies develop an affiliate marketing team roadmap, they should consider whether all team members must be in-house or whether certain positions can be hired out. The time to outsource will be tied to the scale and demands of the program, and the company must determine whether it has the manpower to handle larger programs or the team will need outside support during those programs.

Affiliate marketing programs are a driving force behind any company’s online marketing strategy. To ensure a successful affiliate marketing program and get the most ROI, companies should hire dynamic affiliate marketing teams that can strategically maneuver this growing and changing space.

Chris Kramer is a founding partner at House of Kaizen, a leading end-to-end digital performance advertising agency based in New York City, London, and Lagos, Nigeria. Chris is the head of affiliate marketing for the agency and considers his most important task to be creating a performance-based service for his clients that’s centered on continuous optimization.

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