So, while both groups understand the importance of establishing a good relationship and fostering communication, many times that sentiment gets lost in translation.
People have different preferences on how they like to interact, so the best strategy is for an affiliate program manager to have a variety of methods for communicating with their publishers.
One way affiliate managers often opt to get information to their broad publisher base is via newsletters. While that is great for reaching a lot of publishers at the same time, sending critical information in a newsletter is not a good idea. It will likely get overlooked. Many publishers use a separate email address only for newsletters and don’t check that inbox as frequently.
According to AffiliateBenchmarks 2009, 44.5 percent of publishers receive between 1 and 10 newsletters from affiliate programs. And 4.8 percent say they receive between 80 and 160 newsletters per month. Just over fourteen percent of the respondents say they would prefer only to get a newsletter with there is a significant change to the program.
Email is another way to reach publishers. However, publishers are often bombarded with emails from multiple programs. Still, email was far and away the preferred method of communication for almost every type of communication (affiliate promotions, creative changes, commission changes, consumer offer changes, interesting merchant or program facts, product and service education and training, tracking updates, urgent matters concerning your site, product changes). Coming in a distant second was a network email. Many publishers acknowledge that they don’t always have time to log into their network email.
Many advertisers have also added RSS feeds, data feeds and coupon feeds to ensure that publishers have the most up-to-date offers, product information and creatives. This is very popular with publishers, who like the automation and accuracy of such feeds.
Some of the miscommunication problems between publishers and program managers might be because 38 percent of respondents to the AffStat 2009 survey say they only read the publisher agreements “sometimes”. Forty-six percent say they always read the terms and services agreement, according to the report.
The terms and conditions are key to spelling out all the details of the program and if publishers are not reading them, the chances that they might violate some terms are higher. Many seasoned affiliate managers suggest noting any updates or changes to the terms of service via an email.
Communication is a two-way street and program managers must also make sure that publishers have more than one way to reach them. Publishers often need to speak urgently to affiliate managers about offers, users, tracking, technical difficulties – all are important issues that can interfere with a program’s success. Affiliate managers should be sure that all of their interactions with publisher include the affiliate manager’s email, work phone, fax number (for contracts and W9’s), a physical work address, how to reach you on Twitter or instant messenger. Many affiliate managers also give out their cell phone numbers to certain publishers.
Another way to further good relations is for affiliate managers to set up weekly calls with top publishers to stay on track, address issues and just keep the lines of communication open.
While face to face networking is great, it only happens a few times a year at large affiliate events and conferences. But those are great opportunities for affiliate managers to set up one-on-one meeting with publishers, have group dinners and further bond with their publisher base.
When publishers and advertisers communicate clearly, effectively and regularly, not only can issues be resolved, but opportunities for program growth can be uncovered. It’s all about effective communication.