One of my frequent readers asked a question of me I thought was a fabulous topic, and a much overlooked question by many. The question was "How do you set up an effective affiliate / or performance marketing team? What positions do you feel are vital?" Great, question! Thanks for asking it.
The best affiliate managers I know have a variety of skills, and the best affiliate programs generally have an entire team of skilled people working on different aspects of the program. Here are the roles and skill sets I would recommend in order to build your powerhouse affiliate marketing team.
1. Program Manager (aka: Affiliate Manager, Account Manager, Affiliate Marketing Specialist)
This is your main contact person who executes the day to day tasks of your affiliate program. They should in extremely friendly, love helping people, be professional and responsive and have a quick turnaround on urgent tasks. They should be knowledgeable about the affiliate marketing space, know what issues to look out for, how to motivate affiliates, how to drive sales and understand numbers and at the very least, understand some basic HTML in order to understand basic tracking issues and help affiliates with code implementation on creatives like banners and text links as needed.Generally it's this person's job to take care of all affiliates, recruit new affiliates, get them set up and motive them to perform.
These people (when first coming into the industry) usually come in from either a sales, communications or customer service background.
2. Technical / Back-end Support
This person's job is to help with creative uploads, tracking issues and questions, fraud monitoring, reporting and at times research. They should have a technical / analytical mind and be able to handle a lot of things thrown at them at once. They should also be able to have a fast turnaround on questions / inquiries as they come in.
3. Graphic Designer
In order to turn over high quality banners, landing pages and other creative work, it's a good idea to have a solid graphic designer as part of your affiliate team. This person's job is to create new banners with each season, create exclusive banners when asked by the affiliate manager and keep the program and the company brand looking aesthetically exceptional. They should be familiar with banner best practices, common size requests and have several design capabilities for static, animation and flash work as needed.
4. Team Leader / Program Strategist
This person is responsible for managing the entire affiliate marketing team and leading them to continued success. The team leader ensures items are being completed in a timely manner, that goals are being met, that team members are performing according to internal requirements (or better), working with the executive team on placement, positioning, budgets and main messaging, then communicating that to the rest of the team for consistency and proper execution. In the case of an outsourced affiliate management agency such as our own (and even internally) that person would either be the CMO, VP of Marketing or VP of Affiliate Marketing.
For some smaller companies, one person has to fill all these rolls, however those with a more formal structure, larger budgets and a more vested interest in their affiliate marketing program will consider at least these four positions to start. On a separate note - depending on the size of the business, there may be multiple affiliate marketing teams internally focused on different geographic regions, each of which would have at least one if not all of the listed four roles.