Affiliate Manager Question – Should I Clean Out Affiliates?

Posted May 16, 2011 in

Should I clean out non-performing affiliates from my affiliate program - a MyAffiliateCoach student question.We had a great MyAffiliateCoach session last week and our one-on-one’s with our student affiliate managers were awesome.  I always enjoy spending time with each student individually to talk about their specific questions, obstacles and concerns.  It’s one of my favorite parts of my job, I can see why teachers do what they do.  It’s so rewarding.  As I prepare for one of our individual sessions in a few moments, I was reviewing some of the questions from our last group module, Building Strong Relationships.  One of the questions stuck out to me and I thought I’d address it here on our blog today.

So what was the question? “Is it time for me to go through my affiliate program and “clean up”, or out, all the non performing affiliates?”

I know this question has been addressed many times over the years, and I believe at one point I was on a panel at a conference discussing such an issue, but for affiliate managers just getting into the space, it’s appropriate.  Allow me to give my $.02.

Simply put – No, no real need to do it.  But, that is based on a few assumptions:

  • You have a solid process for evaluating and approving/declining affiliates
  • You are actively communicating with your affiliate partners
  • You are actively pursuing deeper relationships with your affiliates
  • You are providing your partners with your contact info so they can get a hold of you

There are several reasons why managers look to remove their non-performing partners:

  • concern for fraud
  • “if they aren’t performing, why are they in?”
  • perceived time savings from managing smaller groups of affiliates
  • concern for brand misrepresentation by their affiliates
  • desire to have a higher percentage of affiliate partners active in the program
  • “I want a smaller, more manageable group of affiliates

All very legitimate concerns.  Let’s look at each one.

Fraud:  If you have a well thought out, and working, application evaluation process, should you really need to worry about inactive partners?  If you are evaluating each one before they come in, this should limit your risk and liability.  Go back to your process (do you have one) for evaluating affiliates before you think about a broad clean up.

Why are they in my program?:  There are many reasons why affiliates join programs.  I’ll let affiliates comment here about that.  But, consider this:  your affiliate partners saw something about your program that was attractive at some point.  They may be planning a new website or other marketing initiative down the road and wanted to get your creative now.  They may have had plans on integrating you into their marketing, but haven’t gotten to it yet or got side tracked.  There are a number of different reasons.

Time Savings:  Are you really spending hours managing in-active affiliates?  We perform a significant amount of outreach to these partners, that takes time.  But, they joined your program for a reason and they can become active for a good reason.  Beyond outreach, how much time is dedicated to managing individuals or are not contacting you or taking your time?  I don’t ever really see this argument.

Brand Representation:  This is a big concern the larger the company you represent.  But, these affiliates are inactive, they are not representing the brand at all now, and your approval process should limit your liability here.

Higher Activation Percentage:  This one I do completely understand.  I like to see those percentages go up, but I like to see them go up by actual increases, not manipulation.  Again, your front line process, application evaluation, should be your primary target here.

Smaller and More Manageable:  Is that the goal of your program?  What I would suggest is you write down your goals now.  We use SMART goals combined with KPI’s to structure our expectations and plans around.  I would venture to say this is not on that list.  You have limited time and resources to managing your program, start with your processes and these things won’t be an issue.

So, in summary, look at your processes first.  Make sure you are letting in affiliates that are in line with your goals, and these “clean ups” wont’ be necessary.

What do you think?

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About the author

Jamie Birch


Connect with me on: Skype
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!