Affiliate Managers - Definition and Function of an Affiliate Manager

If you are new to the world of affiliate marketing and are wondering what are the key functions of affiliate managers, then keep reading this article to know all the details.

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing model where third-party affiliates are compensated to market a product and generate fresh traffic to the company's products or services. Depending on the arrangement, the business rewards the affiliates for bringing in visitors or customers.  

In this context, an affiliate manager is responsible for managing an online affiliate network or program for a merchant. Affiliate managers take care of various important tasks to make sure the entire affiliate program runs smoothly.

If you are looking to hire an in-house affiliate manager or casually came across this term and are wondering what affiliate managers do all day. Then keep reading this article. We cover the affiliate manager definition and the common important day-to-functions they undertake.

Affiliate Manager Definition

Affiliate managers are responsible for managing an affiliate program from end to end for an online affiliate advertiser or merchant. Their basic functions range from recruiting new affiliate partners to the program to finding different ways to increase the performance of the affiliate marketing channel. 

Their main responsibility is to liaise with existing affiliate groups and provide them with all the tools needed to drive maximum output. They also work on optimizing processes and providing the partners with the necessary support they need to drive the best results.

The affiliate manager works on constantly improving the affiliate program by brainstorming the best strategies suitable for the program. They also cooperate and report to the advertiser/merchant, to keep them updated on the various happenings. Overall, affiliate managers have a number of different responsibilities to undertake which we will be discussing below.

affiliate managers

An affiliate management program can be set up in-house or can be outsourced. An in-house affiliate management program will include the company's own employees. Such in-house affiliate programs will have a full-time affiliate manager position and in some cases even a dedicated affiliate management team. 

On the other hand, considerably smaller programs are outsourced to an affiliate management company. The affiliate management company will take care of all subsidiary activities involving the affiliate program.

What kind of projects does an affiliate manager work on?

The main goal of an affiliate manager is to ensure the successful completion of an affiliate campaign. So any task that directly supports the end goal is undertaken by the affiliate manager. 

The general set of activities may range from creating creative content like banners or HTML-based emails to formulating a set of rules that affiliates need to abide by to ensure the proper functioning of the entire campaign. 

Affiliate managers also advise and educate affiliates about different copywriting techniques, new opportunities, and ways to promote the product and general marketing tactics. 

What are the Functions of an Affiliate Manager? 

The affiliate manager as mentioned before takes on the responsibility of managing all channels of the affiliate program. The day-to-day functions of an affiliate manager overall focus on the optimum functioning of the entire program. The main functions of an affiliate manager are as follows. 

  1. Recruiting new affiliates to the program and screening applications; plus managing the entire onboarding process.
  2. Managing all the affiliates and recruiting new ones to ensure maximum referral traffic from the affiliate network.
  3. Ensure support and provide proper tracking and tools to the affiliates.
  4. Overseeing the day-to-day operations of the affiliate campaign to ensure maximum return on investment.
  5. Drive and maintain creative units and promotions for the program.
  6. Developing personalized strategies for the program to deliver a specific volume of sales in a period of time.
  7. Report the day-to-day activity of the affiliate program to the advertiser/merchant.
  8. Brainstorming improvements and best practices to maximize performance.

All-in-all a dedicated affiliate manager would aim to optimize their network. But apart from the main functions, the role of an affiliate manager also has a coaching aspect to it. Affiliate managers are responsible for training and educating the affiliates on the best ways to improve their click-through rates. 

To support their teams effectively and maximize the performance of the affiliate program, an affiliate manager will

  1. Share educational content with affiliates through newsletters.
  2. Create precise content ideas after thorough SEO-based keyword research and conversion data. 
  3. Introduce new marketing channels and opportunities like PPC, YouTube, and Instagram.
  4. Finding influencers, bloggers, Youtubers, creators to collaborate with to divert their organic traffic to the main product or service. 
  5. Troubleshoot various issues the team faces and work on resolving their queries.

From a coaching and recruiting perspective, affiliate managers also write notes for their affiliate partners and teach them different ways to optimize the content on their own site. They also routinely check with individual partners to solve their problems that work as a general checkup on any particular needs. 

Affiliate managers also work on protecting their clients from possible theft. This is done by weeding out non-performing affiliates, solving common problems, and identifying fraudulent activities or bad leads. 

An affiliate manager has to have a basic understanding of ad blockers, browser cookies, and other laws regarding tracking users. They also work on finding new ways to drive traffic to the individual affiliates, so eventually, the surplus traffic gets diverted to the main brand. 

Finally, an affiliate manager will have to communicate with the marketing team or owner of the company about providing bonuses or incentives to affiliate partners to promote the program more heavily. Providing custom deals or higher commissions to best-performing partners can also work as a good incentive to drive more gains.  

Main Skill Sets of an Affiliate Manager

Since the main task of an affiliate manager is to provide support and optimize content and gains by educating affiliate partners. Typically, an affiliate manager will be well versed in different marketing techniques that help with their day-to-day activities. Some of these skill-sets include:

  1. Search Engine Optimization
  2. Email marketing
  3. Content marketing
  4. Designing attractive banners, landing pages, newsletters, and emails
  5. Conversion optimization
  6. Content writing
  7. Basic HTML/CSS

Apart from these technical skills, affiliate managers also should have good communication and people management skills. This is important as the majority of an affiliate manager’s role involves communicating and dealing with different partners to drive results. Below we have also mentioned the 5 main marketing and sales skills that help with an affiliate manager's job.

Marketing and Sales Skills Set

Here are a few common marketing and sales related skills that aid the role of affiliate managers.

1. Developing knowledge about the digital landscape 

Most affiliate managers have to operate in the digital world on a daily basis. Understanding different digital traffic sources and leveraging various digital marketing tools and social media platforms to run successful affiliate campaigns is one of the main functions of an affiliate manager. In that context, a basic knowledge of the digital landscape is one of the skills an affiliate manager has.

2. Excellent communication skills 

As this is a managerial role, affiliate managers will most likely have excellent communication skills that enable them to manage their affiliate network. In Particular, virtual communication skills are extremely important in any case. In general, knowing how to build relationships is an important part of any job.

3.  Deep understanding of marketing principles

Since an affiliate manager’s job is to optimize strategies to get maximum returns, every affiliate manager will be competent marketers, with a deep understanding of basic marketing principles. This will enable them to attract affiliates to their program, advertise their products efficiently, and understand the current trends to remodel their strategy. 

How much do Affiliate Managers Make?

Commonly, an affiliate manager’s income will heavily rely on the location they live in and the scale of the affiliate program they are managing. Most often, an affiliate manager will receive a commission, ie, a percentage of sales they make. In some cases, they might receive a flat fee from the merchant. 

Final Thoughts

The day-to-day tasks of affiliate managers involve recruiting, managing, troubleshooting, coaching, coordinating, and brainstorming activities to help the affiliates and to optimally manage the entire channel.


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