Should I outsource my affiliate program?

This is a question often pondered by companies, particularly those that are used to having everyone "in-house." The answer is simple, if you can find someone as experienced and professional as an outsourced manager, and you can afford to pay a full time salary, as well as taxes and benefits, then the answer, obviously, is yes.


Unfortunately, the probability of finding a seasoned manager to work for you "in-house," is very remote. Typically, you will end up finding someone fresh out of college who is eager, but has no idea what they are doing. If you have the time to invest in allowing them to learn what they are doing, this could be fruitful eventually, but the learning curve in affiliate marketing is quite steep.


Reasons for outsourcing


Here are some of the things that make a seasoned outsourced manager superior over someone with very little, or no affiliate marketing-specific experience:

Seasoned outsourced mangers typically:

  • Database: Maintain lists of hundreds, even thousands, of established career affiliates, often with current emails and phone numbers.
  • Relationship: Have working relationships with tons of top-notch affiliates, from all demographics, who will often promote their programs just because the affiliate knows the manager and enjoys working with them.
  • Set-up: Can set up affiliate programs at most of the third party affiliate networks (Commission Junction, Linkshare, Shareasale, Avantlink, Pepperjam Network, Affiliate Window, Webgains, and others) with their eyes closed... What may take a new manager weeks to set up can often be done in a couple of days by these professionals.
  • Optimize and rescue: Understand how to rescue an under-performing or non-performing program, and can quickly evaluate, based on years of experience with affiliate programs across a variety of niches, how to optimize a program for optimal growth.
  • Less expensive: Typically cost companies 1/2 to 1/3 what an "in-house" manager would cost.
  • Case studies: Can provide case studies to assist you in evaluating their performance with other companies, so you know what kind of results they typically see up front.
  • No unreasonable contract: Will not lock you into a contract for an unreasonable length of time. The industry-average commitment is usually 6 months to a year, but you can find companies that will offer a thirty day out clause, so if you are ever unhappy you can terminate services.
  • Results Work with a company because they are giving you great results, not because you are trapped into a contract.
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