Affiliate Manager Lessons – Training

Posted November 10, 2012 in ,
Last updated: September 14th, 2021

The need for affiliate manager lessons and training has gotten more coverage this year than any other.  As our industry matures, we need more well trained individuals and great programs to train these affiliate managers.  It’s something that’s been lacking for a long time and one reason we developed the MyAffiliateCoach training series way back in 2010.  But what exactly does an affiliate manager need to know in order to be a great affiliate manager?

I thought I’d outline the topics that we teach in our MyAffiliateCoach program.  We got a bit beyond the more tactical and elementary things such as what this thing called affiliate marketing is, how to load creative, how to launch a network…  We dive into what makes an affiliate manager great, and focus there.

I’m reminded of my first few weeks at Coldwater Creek about 11 years ago (wow, can’t believe it’s been that long).  During your first week there, you take the Gallup personality test.  I was no different and took mine, I’d taken many before and always enjoyed the process.  I like learning about myself so I welcome these sort of things.  The results didn’t come to me specifically, they came to my boss, and I can still remember her laughing when she opened it up – I had thought I was so wrong for the position that she thought it was funny.  Turns out I wasn’t.

My two biggest traits were Strategic and Communicative.  She thought it was funny that I fit exactly what she felt was the exact characteristics of a great affiliate manager.  I personally think she was right (in my most humble opinion).  With those two characteristics, and a significant amount of mentoring and training on her behalf, I became a very good affiliate manager and that experienced propelled me, and now my staff, for years to come.

I learned quite a bit there.  Many things specific about affiliate marketing, but many things specifics about business in general, and businesses like relationship marketing.

Why was Strategic so important to being successful?  Strategy, by definition, is a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for reaching a specific goal or result.  In affiliate marketing you are always working to figure out what methods, tactics and plans you should be developing and executing to reach your customers and increase your program’s performance.  You need to be able to look at the big picture, rise above the minutia of technology and tactics to determine your best route to success.  Each partnership is different too, so you need to be able to look at that relationship and devise ways to make that work for your organization.  Partner A reaches your customers, but you need to figure out how to take advantage of that and you need to do that together.

And Communicative, what’s the deal with that?  In affiliate marketing your success or failure depends on the relationships you have with your partners.  Relationships are built, not bought and they don’t happen overnight.  And to be really successful, you have to enjoy the entire process.  If you love working with people and are great at communicating with them, in just about every way, then you’ll be great at affiliate marketing.

So what does an affiliate manager really need to know?

The Basics:  This is pretty simple stuff.  Things like:

  • what is affiliate marketing
  • who are the players (networks, affiliates, managers, opm’s)
  • What type of affiliates there are out there
  • how to reach affiliates
  • how to incentivize affiliates
  • the importance of relationships in affiliate marketing
  • creative (banners etc)
  • tools that are available
  • commission structures
  • and more basic stuff

Most of that can be taught/learned fairly quickly.  And it helps if your personality traits fall in line with being strategic and wanting to talk to people.  Learning the networks is fairly easy as well.  Most of the networks have help guides and great people to walk you through each step.

All of the above we teach in our MyAffiliateCoach 12 week program.  But there is more to being a great affiliate manager.  There are more lessons that every affiliate manager should learn.  Let’s talk about those too.

Setting Goals and Using KPI’s

You need a destination in mind before you can plan on how to get there.  We use SMART goals at JEB and teach them in our MyAffiliateCoach training programs.  Smart goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.  We teach you how to create them and how to achieve them.  Read more about SMART Goals, one of our key affiliate manager lessons here.

KPI’s or Key Performance Indicators Key  are quantifiable measurements that can be measured before a goal is attained.  They are signposts that tell you whether you are on the right track or not.  In Affiliate marketing they can be clicks per day, number of active affiliates, number of affiliates you have contacted, number of placements you have received and so on.  We teach affiliate managers how to create them, how to identify them and how to interpret them personally for their program and their company.  You need these signposts to know, before your deadlines, whether you are going to achieve you goal or not.

Developing a Success Plan

When you plan, you succeed.  When you plan often you succeed more and more often.  We teach a quarterly planning process, utilizing our own version of the tried and true concept of Continuous Improvement.  Whether your program has been up and running for years, or you haven’t even launched yet, you need to know how to perform a thorough assessment of your program’s performance or it’s potential.  Before you develop your plan, you need to know where you are, our coaching program walks you through exactly how to do that, with live instruction by JEB’s CEO and senior managers.

Planning for things such as:

  • Recruitment Targets
  • Merchandising
  • Promotion Calendars
  • Incentive Programs
  • Seasonality
  • and more
Enables you execute, measure, alter, measure and repeat.  Our affiliate manager training, which includes over 23 individual affiliate manager lessons, walks you through the same process we use for all of our clients.  The same process that helped us achieve the Rakuten Linkshare Affiliate Agency of the Year in 2012.

Building Strong Relationships

All the lessons, training, tactics, creative, incentives and everything else mean very little with good relationships with your partners.  It’s pretty simple.  If you don’t take care to build strong relationships and take care of those individuals, it’s going to be a difficult row to hoe. Now, I’ll admit, not everyone is the “life of the party” or a Chatty Cathy, and being personable and developing relationships doesn’t come easy for all.  But even if you fall into that category, there are proven ways you can become a reliable and fantastic partner to deal with.  We go over all of these ways in several of our affiliate manager training modules.

With 12 standard modules, and 11 additional Bonus Modules, our affiliate manager lessons, MyAffiliateCoach, helps good affiliate managers become great.  Contact us at or 1800-208-6215 for more information and start your affiliate manager lessons today!

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About the author

  • Jamie Birch

    Jamie Birch


Jamie is the owner and principal of JEBCommerce. His extensive Internet marketing experience includes all facets of online marketing: email, paid search campaigns, customer retention programs, and much more. This wide range of disciplines has enabled Jamie to excel as a business leader and JEBCommerce to realize a great level of success for its clients. Jamie cut his “affiliate marketing teeth” managing affiliate programs for many well known companies before spending several years at Coldwater Creek, a Top 5 nationwide women’s clothing retailer. While at Coldwater Creek, Jamie established and managed affiliate campaigns, email campaigns, and SEO campaigns – an opportunity that allowed him to develop many of the proven processes JEBCommerce successfully employs today. In recognition of his professional leadership, the affiliate marketing industry has consistently nominated him for Annual Pinnacle Awards over the years. In addition to individual accolades, JEBCommerce is gaining momentum within the Internet marketing industry and is experiencing positive, exciting growth. This is a direct result of Jamie’s positive leadership, integrity, and earned respect – from his clients and industry peers. Need a speaker for your next event? I can do that, too!