In my last post, I discussed Outsourced Affiliate Program Management Vs. In-House Digital Marketing Generalists, and also made the promise to discuss and compare an outsourced affiliate program manager vs. an in-house affiliate program manager. Let's get right into it.
Assuming you've made a commitment to your affiliate program, and have decided to bring on a dedicated affiliate program manager, the first decision to make is whether or not you'll want him/her to work on-site or remotely. Affiliate program management can be conducted almost all digitally outside of traveling and attending affiliate marketing events and conferences. Since most business with affiliates is conducted via email, social network/forum, or via phone calls typically it is not necessary for an in-office presence. By considering a remote working affiliate manager, you greatly increase the talent pool from which you can draw. Affiliate program management, quite frankly, is a very rare and niche skill. It would take an incredible stroke of luck to find an experienced affiliate manager both local to your business and available for hire.
An alternative would be to hire an experienced digital marketing generalist and then have them obtain instruction, or self-train for affiliate marketing. There are excellent books written on affiliate program management, and also a few podcasts dedicated to affiliate program management learning and tips. I think that a whole post can be dedicated to resources, so expect that soon. So, assuming you've found a candidate willing and capable to train for affiliate program management, it will still take time to build up the relationships and trust with affiliates. Also, once an affiliate manager is trained up, they now have a very marketable skill to offer other employers who are willing to entertain remote work. So perhaps your competitor will be benefiting from your time and financial investment in creating a great affiliate program manager.
Now, these potential issues don't even consider the usual expenses associated with hiring a new employee. Salary, health and benefits are all part of the package. Plus just the simple chemistry of how a new person interacts with existing employees is so important, and a risk, that is often not considered until it's too late. If it isn't working out with a hired employee, it's often times not a simple task to let that employee go. Plus, all the knowledge and contacts the employee built up during their time walks out the door along with them.
Now, let's compare this to hiring an outsourced affiliate program management agency. First, immediately upon hiring an agency, you're getting the ultimate in knowledge and experience right out of the starting gate. No need to invest time and training since from day one an agency can hit the ground running. Sometimes a very short start-up period is necessary for the agency to understand your business, and how to position it with affiliates both as an attractive program but also advice/instruction to affiliates how to best sell and market your products/services.
Typically, there isn't a high level of turnover in an outsourced affiliate program management firm (well, not in the good ones), so there should never be an issue with knowledge transfer. In the rare event, you're not happy with the agency, terminating a business relationship with a hired consultant is typically much easier and pain-free than terminating an actual employee relationship. Your agency knows this also, so they are constantly working hard to keep you happy and keep the program performing well, since they certainly don't want the contract terminated.
Lastly, but certainly not least, consider the cost. Often times hiring a firm (along with all of the resources and tools a firm carries, such as content writing, trademark protection, reporting tools, creative personnel), is just plain less expensive than hiring a full-time staffer. Considering the monthly salary + benefits + insurance + desk-space/training/human resource, it's more often vastly less expensive.
To me, and hopefully to you, hiring an outsourced affiliate program management agency is a no-brainer. If not, if you're still on the fence, drop us an email and perhaps we can personalize and better highlight the pros and cons for you.