So, you’ve done your homework and you know your brand needs to adopt affiliate marketing as a strategy to help grow your ecommerce presence.

In case you’re not sold on affiliate marketing yet, let’s consult a marketer’s best friend—data!  It’s important to note that on average, affiliate marketing accounts for 15% of the total eCommerce advertising revenue which includes paid search, social, organic, direct and email. It’s virtually the same percentage as email marketing. That’s impressive, is your brand missing out?

However, now that you know you need an affiliate marketing program in your digital marketing suite, you need to decide if you are going to run it in-house or work with an agency. It can be a conundrum and that’s where this post comes in. We do realize that we are an affiliate marketing agency, and this can make us a little biased–but, we’ve also been around the block and know what works and what doesn’t. So, stay with me.

Who Shouldn’t Work With an Affiliate Marketing Agency?

This post is not a sales pitch so let’s identify who shouldn’t work with an affiliate marketing agency and should run affiliate marketing in-house:

  • Brands who haven’t worked out their image and online presence—affiliate marketing is not a good avenue to test out how your brand should present itself
  • New brands who aren’t committed to spending money through Paid Search, Social Media, Influencers and other online marketing channels thinking that affiliate marketing can drive all their sales. I mean who doesn’t like performance based marketing? But, it’s only part of the piece of the online marketing puzzle.
  • Brands who don’t realize they need to spend money to make money.

The Realization of Starting from Scratch

Bringing affiliate marketing in-house may seem like the more profitable option at first. But, when you realize everything that is involved with building an affiliate marketing strategy from scratch, you will see that you can make more money and generate revenue faster if you work with an agency.

Relationships and methodology aren’t built overnight. And if you build your affiliate marketing program from scratch—you’ll quickly realize this.

It’s All About Relationships

Affiliate marketing doesn’t exist without relationships.

Sometimes it can be hard to get the attention of high-quality publishers but it’s an agency’s job to broker these relationships for your brand. An agency already has relationships with publishers in place and can activate them a lot faster than your brand can on its own.

More publishers mean more money and increased brand awareness. So, if you’re looking to scale your affiliate marketing strategy, you need to form A TON of relationships. Keep in mind that these relationships need to be high quality, not just anyone willing to post about you. You need to ensure that your publishers have a reputation of converting traffic into sales.

A Dedicated Team

It’s likely that you can’t build out a 3-man team dedicated to affiliate marketing. After all, if you’re going to do it in-house, you have to stay up to date with rules and regulations as well as strategy. Add in all the relationship building and process monitoring, and you’ll quickly realize this is no one-man operation.

If you choose the right agency, your brand will have multiple dedicated people on board. People who are up to date with FTC guidelines and have quality relationships. Multiple, experienced eyeballs on your brand’s affiliate marketing program leads to more creativity, scalability and you’ll benefit from all the experience an agency has to offer.

Better Rates

We mentioned earlier that an agency can actually be more cost effective than running affiliate marketing in-house. One of the reasons why that is the case is because agencies have worked with affiliates for years and on an ongoing basis and can often negotiate better rates for their clients.

Many times, agencies have better pricing from affiliate networks as well.

When you scale your affiliate marketing program it’s important to keep a pulse on the percentage of sales you’re paying your publishers. Being a brand who is just starting out, you may have no way to gauge what a good deal is. But, that’s the agency’s job—to get your brand the best rate possible while fairly compensating the publishers.

The Experience to Know What Will Work

It’s critical in an affiliate marketing strategy to know your way around the digital landscape. Things like types of relationships, how to go about earning media, what to pay, how to track performance, and paying out publishers all comes from experience.

The right agency will not only be able to tell your brand what to do, they’ll also tell you what not to do. And why not to do it. This will all be based on experience and feel free to ask potential agencies about their experience in your sector and how it will dictate how they represent your brand.

Staying on Top of FTC Guidelines

FTC guidelines mandate that publishers disclose their relationship with the brands they post about. If they fail to do this, the brand gets in trouble, not the publisher. Weird, I know, but this guideline among others, are mastered by affiliate marketing agencies. They know how posts should disclose brand relationships and what that disclosure needs to look like to make sure your brand doesn’t get in trouble. Going about it alone can lead to a lot of headaches and messy legal troubles. 

Final Thoughts

Whether or not you choose eAccountable as your affiliate marketing partner, you probably know by now that your best bet is to work with an agency.

Feel free to be picky and vet your agency for experience in your brands field.

Things like relationships with publishers, affiliate marketing methodology, monitoring the landscape and negotiating publisher rates all comes from experience. If it sounds a little overwhelming, you should probably partner with an agency who has your back when it comes to all things affiliate marketing.  

Do you have any questions about working with an affiliate marketing agency? Feel free to get in touch for a free affiliate marketing audit!