So you’ve made the decision to outsource the management of your affiliate program to an OPM agency. There are a variety of reasons why this may happen. It may be that you need help to effectively run the program, or you realize it’s a full-time job, or you want to bring in seasoned professionals who can take your program to the next level.
There are so many agencies out there, it’s hard to know which one is the right fit for your program. To make things easier for you at this stage, I have put together a list of guidelines that will help you choose one that works best for your business.
Research the various agencies out there and come up with a list of those that you are interested in. Do a competitive analysis of the prospective OPM agencies and come up with a pros and cons list. Reach out to them all to gain information — some will offer a free consultation and may even do an audit of your program. At the very least, you may count on an exploratory phone call or a series of email exchanges. Some agencies may have software or tools that they use and offer free demos. All of this provides you with valuable information on what the OPM agency could do for your business.
It’s also important to research your competitors. Look and see if any have outsourced their programs and who they are using. Find out information on how their programs are running as that can give you insight into what you might want for your program and ultimately help you decide on an agency that is the best fit. Our Guide to Affiliate Marketing Competitive Analysis and Intelligence will help you here.
2. Understand Your Objectives
What do you want to gain? Is it incremental sales, industry knowledge, assistance in policing affiliate compliance, more partners? By understanding what you want to achieve by outsourcing your program, you will identify the type of agency that might be best suited to your needs.
3. Experience and Expertise
This doesn’t just mean how long an affiliate management agency has been in business, but also the types of clients that they have worked with. Are they managing any competitors of yours? If they aren’t now, do they have a track record of successful affiliate program management for your competitors (or closely related merchants)? Also how active are they in the space? The industry changes rapidly and you want someone that keeps up to date with what is going on. Do they attend major industry events? Do they ever speak at any of the events? Not only does this mean they are up-to-date on the industry but when attending these events, they can give your program maximum exposure.
It’s also worth looking at the team as a whole and assessing their combined experience. How long have they worked at the OPM agency, and what exactly will each team member bring to the table?
In many agencies you will have access to your own dedicated affiliate manager, but also have the ability to leverage the expertise of the whole team. The experience they bring will ramp up your affiliate program at a much faster speed and help you achieve our objectives.
Affiliate marketing is a relationship-driven business. Agencies have spent a lot of time developing and growing relationships with networks and publishers and hiring an agency gets you access to those relationships immediately. Find out about their connections in the industry and if they have relationships with publishers that would be key to your program.
A key consideration in outsourcing your program is the cost.
What added value can an OPM agency bring to you? They can provide discounts at affiliate networks and often come with various tools that you would otherwise need to invest in if you were to manage the program internally. By using an agency you get the benefit of all the tools and their expertise in using them without the upfront cost of purchasing and training!
Ask about the agency’s pricing structure. How do they charge for their services? Most agencies will have a monthly fee along with a performance bonus. This means they are incentivized on performance so more likely to want to grow your program.
Ask if you can reach out to other clients! It’s helpful to get the opinions of others that have used their services. If the agency has been around for some time, they should have a variety of clients that you can reach out to for feedback.
7. Consider the Bigger Picture
Do you plan on outsourcing any other marketing channels? If so, it might be worthwhile considering agencies that can handle it all. This way they can create an integrated approach across all channels and know exactly how affiliate ties into the mix.
No matter what agency you choose, have a strategy in place and work together with the agency to help grow your business.
We hope that we have given you some helpful guidelines as you try to select an OPM agency that is the right fit for you. Good luck with your program and feel free to contact us or comment below with any ideas or questions.