The landscape of outsourced program management has changed dramatically in the last five years or so. There are now a wide variety of agencies that manage affiliate programs. Back in the day, when I started eAccountable there were just a handful of businesses that provided services to manage affiliate programs.
With this OPM boom, the relationship among the agencies has remained collegial over the years and even now with the increased competition. In fact, there have been times that we have teamed up with other agencies to handle business for a client that wanted services that we didn’t provide or we’ve been invited into a relationships because we have core competencies lacking at the “agency of record.”
But these days there is a lot of evolving and adding on new services for agencies that used to handle only affiliate program management. Many OPMs have made moves to become full-service agencies that handle many of the client’s digital needs includes, PPC, SEO, content marketing, social media, brand awareness as well as affiliate and performance marketing.
I wonder if this is an effort to drum up new business or in response to client demand. I know, in the case of eAccountable, we weren’t looking to add services to expand our client base (although, that has been a nice perk). It was a desire to meet requests from long-time existing clients who trusted us, had great success working with us, and wanted us to handle more of their digital business..
But trust me; you can’t just decide to become a full-service digital agency. Changing your website and saying you offer services beyond affiliate marketing without an infrastructure and a rock-solid plan is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
It takes planning, execution and and clear processes in place to handle multiple online marketing disciplines.. It also takes resources – time, money and likely additional personnel with expertise is in each of these marketing areas. Simply asking the program managers to do more work in areas outside of their skills, isn’t going to pan out. You wouldn’t want your auto mechanic to remove your gallbladder.
Collaboration and communication are also key. Since the overall strategy for a client needs to be holistic, all members working on the account need to effectively communicate to ensure the maximum result for the client. It also means establishing clear lines of reporting so as not to confuse the client by giving them 5 different people to deal with.
All of these things take time and money. This is not an overnight endeavour. I wish the best of luck to my colleagues going this route. Just know, it easy to make promises, hard to follow through and create value for all involved.