Six ways affiliate managers can add value for publisher partners

As the owner of a general personal finance blog, I have more than 100 different affiliate relationships. Many of my site’s partners have dedicated affiliate managers, so on any given day, I can correspond with a dozen or more people, all with different needs. It can be a lot to manage.  Since affiliate revenue is […]

R.J. Weiss guest blogger

As the owner of a general personal finance blog, I have more than 100 different affiliate relationships. Many of my site’s partners have dedicated affiliate managers, so on any given day, I can correspond with a dozen or more people, all with different needs. It can be a lot to manage. 

Since affiliate revenue is my site’s primary source of revenue, developing quality relationships with my partners is one of the most important things I do. And that’s especially true because, on more than one occasion, my affiliate managers have been the actual catalyst for growth — for me and thus, them.

We all want to get the most out of our relationships, so I thought I’d share some of the best ways affiliate managers have helped “The Ways to Wealth” grow. That growth, while much appreciated on my side, has also enabled us to send high-quality traffic back and help these companies grow. 

  1. Real-time data

First thing: we need data, and we need it in real time to be our most effective. Yet I often come across companies looking to partner that offer only monthly reporting. That’s not good enough for us as a referral publisher partner to be able to make our wisest, most profit-bearing decisions. 

From a referral partner’s perspective, such infrequent reporting makes the relationship very hard to grow both in the short and long-term — especially for publishers that buy paid media, where ROI needs to be justified much sooner.

Budgets for paid media are often adjusted daily. But without daily feedback, it’s impossible to know whether it makes sense to increase or decrease spending.  Real-time data is key to profitable decision-making. 

  1. Share more data

Beyond the basic information that affiliate managers provide — such as clicks, conversions, and total revenue — referral partners benefit from behind-the-scenes data that only affiliate managers can access.

For example, it helps to see data about the quality of traffic we’re sending to our partners. Often, one source of traffic, or a certain web page, has much higher quality than another. It’s important for us to know (and know quickly) if one source is sending poor quality traffic because we don’t want that to harm the overall relationship.

Nobody benefits from low-quality traffic. The better the data that referral partners are given, the better equipped we are to make changes and ensure a win-win situation.

  1. Help us set goals

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that referral partners appreciate when affiliate managers work with them to increase the CPA of an offer. But we also understand that, at the end of the day, that might mean less money for enterprises.

As a partner, the thing I appreciate most? Working with an affiliate manager and setting goals that will get my site into the next payment tier. This way, it’s a win-win all around — we can send more overall traffic to your program, and both of us see increased revenue as a result. 

It’s these conversations that are often the precursor to significant growth. If I know I can earn 20% more per conversion by crossing a certain threshold, I can increase my paid media spending accordingly. 

Of course, I also understand that it often isn’t possible to increase CPA. But again, this is where it helps to have good data and to set goals for what’s needed to have that conversation. 

For example, having access to the right data often leads me to remove offers from specific pages. This leads to an increase in overall quality, which in turn leads to the ability to scale up the offer since the quality has improved.

  1. Sharing and highlighting important updates

From a referral partner’s point of view, there are two kinds of product updates:

  • Updates that require immediate action or on-site changes
  • Everything else

It can be difficult and time-consuming to identify which of the two types of updates when they’re sitting in my inbox.

We publisher partners understand the importance of having the most up-to-date information on our sites. In fact, depending on a site’s niche and competitiveness, this can be a major ranking factor that has a significant role in how much traffic Google sends to the content.

As such, anything affiliate managers can do to make us understand when we need to take action — even if this is a special call-out in the subject line — is very welcome.

  1. Share best practices

Many of my best conversations with affiliate managers have involved discussing best practices from partners with similar business models. While we’re not looking to steal our competitor’s secrets, knowing what’s working and what’s not across the industry is one of the most useful things an affiliate manager can share. 

That means affiliate managers who really understand the different business models used by publishers have an advantage and are better equipped to help us grow. For example, if an offer is doing very well with sites that have a similar traffic channel — such as Facebook ads, Pinterest ads, Instagram, SEO, etc. — that information is very useful. 

  1. Give us the bad news fast

The reality is that every referral partner is different. From the advertiser’s side, sometimes it makes sense to either reduce or drop budgets, or change a partner’s CPA. 

It’s unfortunate, but it happens. And when it does, it’s helpful to know as soon as possible. Ideally, it’s best to know beforehand that there may be some upcoming changes in the program. This way, we can prepare for those changes ahead of time. These changes can have a ricochet effect across our entire site, requiring dozens of edits. The earlier we know, the more time we have to prepare.

Some closing thoughts

I started “The Ways to Wealth” as a side hustle. I would work on the blog in the morning before going off to my “real” job. But with little time for the business, it wasn’t always easy to set a meeting with affiliate managers, or even to keep up with my inbox.

However, some of the first affiliate managers with whom I came in contact held my hand, shared best practices, shared data, and helped me set goals. These actions were big factors in why “The Ways to Wealth” has now reached more than nine million people and driven significant business to its partners — and we’re looking forward to growing more in the future.

About R.J. Weiss: R.J. Weiss is the founder and editor of The Ways to Wealth, a personal finance blog that has helped more than 8 million people learn better ways to save, earn and invest. A Certified Financial Planner™, husband, and father of three, R.J.’s work has been featured in Bloomberg, Business Insider, CNBC, Forbes, and many other outlets.

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