agency, affiliate marketing, social media marketing, retail,

5 Thing To Ask An Agency Before Hiring Them

You might be in a position right now, where you need to get additional resources from an agency to help you launch, scale and grow your affiliate program.

There are 2 options ahead of you:

  1. Hire internal resources – I can tell you already though finding good performance marketing managers is tricky as the experience required to do this job is still fairly new in the marketplace. There’s also the additional cost of managing and supporting these resources as part of your business HR function to contend with.

But if you don’t want to waste time or money training new recruits and you want to fast-track your success in performance and affiliate marketing, your next best option is to

  1. Hire an experienced OPM/Affiliate Marketing specialist Agency

Why do I say this?

The thing most people don’t understand about Affiliate Marketing is that this is a specialist skill, just like SEO or Paid Media – you need to know what you’re doing to avoid costly mistakes, poor strategy and bad user experiences (for your partners).

Many brands are still hiring generic digital agencies who don’t niche down and focus on Affiliate and Performance, this general approach can of course work when you’re at the beginning stages of your program launch journey and you can leverage other skills within the agency too.

However, when you want to scale and get your program performing, you’ll want to get an expert agency in place that is constantly looking at the forefront of what’s happening in this particular channel or digital medium to leverage their expertise to grow your program faster.

So, how do you choose the right OPM/Agency?

What should you ask them during the interviewing process?

That’s what I’m sharing with you today.

I’ve compiled a list of 5 questions that you SHOULD ask any agency before hiring them to run your affiliate program.

These questions are foolproof. They’ll filter through the agency’s expertise and help you make an informed decision about who the right candidate could be to help your program scale and grow!

  1. What expertise can you leverage working with them?

This one is all about discovering the agency’s experience and team expertise. For example, what kinds of programs have they run before, what vertical knowledge do they have, and how experienced are the AM teams that will be working on your account and service to your partners, day to day?

The last thing you want to do is get an agency that subcontracts the work out to inexperienced AMs who don’t understand or have experience managing your program and partnerships. Believe me, this happens.

So get granular about who you’re working with and who will be representing you once the deal is signed. From this question, you can learn how long they’ve been established and their teams expertise levels and how that complements your own internal resource and expertise which will help you judge how well you could work together in the longer term.

You can also discover what they believe makes them unique as an agency and their methodology in terms of managing your partner relationships. How you can tap into this expertise is also part of the big-picture framework you need to consider.

An agency should add value, provide resources, and help you grow faster than you would if you did it on your own.

Connectivity and presence in the industry are key. It also is the price differential that you’ll see from a generic agency vs a niche one. So, really think about what you want to achieve in a partnership and why you want to leverage and pay a 3rd party to support your business goals.

You can learn a lot about an agency and its service models by asking this one simple question.

  1. How will the day-to-day working process work between you and them?

Now you’re talking teamwork. Can they deliver the depth of services you might require? From outreach to discovery and loyalty-building campaigns with partners – how good are they at understanding partner requirements and acting on them?

How will they work in collaboration with your team, business objectives, commercial negotiating skills and connectivity with wider marketing teams?

How are they contributing to the Affiliate Community that will be working with you and how do they build internal and external relationships with networks, publishers and traffic sources? Are they going to be able to deliver results?

You can learn how they’ll manage day-to-day tasks, resourcing and ticketing management and how well they’ll communicate the relevant data/contacts/insights to you.

This is where you can decipher how often you’ll plan to meet, how much time they will need from you to execute the brief you give them and to understand value and volume-driving activity and adjust/align to brand objectives.

  1. How will you understand our business needs? 

Here you’re asking the agency to prove they understand your needs, and how they need to support you to meet them, so It’s time to learn about their day-to-day requirements and how you can support them to deliver your objectives.

This is not a set-and-forget kind of partnership.

Your agency has to be working alongside your other internal marketing teams, so is the chemistry right? Would they get on with your people? Would they be able to adapt to your processes and make the partnership as seamless as possible for day-to-day management?

What will the agency need from you to succeed?

Can you provide them with that?

How will they measure success and delivery against your overall plan?

With this question, you can learn how each agency delivers its role and aligns with its clients, a flexible approach to working is what you’re gunning for here as things will work very differently from the way that you’ve been doing them and you might need to adapt your processes to theirs to gain better results.

  1. How is your support team structured?

Work out their full support team. Are you buying a junior account manager to manage the admin of your affiliate program, or are you buying into a high-level strategy play that will help you scale and grow fast, by leveraging the relationships the agency can bring to the table?

This question often also impacts price. So bear that in mind, an agency charging £2,000 a month is unlikely to be offering a high level of service and or insight, and may just be doing the day-to-day management of admin tasks and incoming applications. They won’t be able to do outbound recruitment, influencers, partnerships and other growth tactics that a higher price point would need.

Be specific about what you are getting in your Account Manager service, and ensure it meets the needs of your program to scale and grow efficiently.

This question will uncover their staff-to-program ratio, how deep they can go into program analytics, to scale and the resources and the structure of the team that handles your account management day to day.  Not only this, but it will also let you into how the agency support team recruit new affiliate partners for your program – if they even do! Or if they only rely on what’s coming in day to day and work the incoming funnel leads only.

  1. What is manually driven and what is automated in the agency program management service? 

This one speaks for itself – you’ll learn what will be automated in your program and what will not be.

It’s important that you are happy with what’s being done by a human and what is delivered by AI and Automation processes. How will your affiliates feel about this? Would they prefer to still be able to contact a human relationship manager to talk about their campaigns? What does your business culture match in terms of AI solutions?

You want your program to be represented exactly as you would represent yourself if you were managing your program internally, so making it clear to the agency what you expect at the start is key.

You can also ask about the tools the agency plans to use to manage your program and whether or not they cover fraud, compliance or custom reporting.

Hiring an external agency to run your affiliate program for you doesn’t have to be hard or nerve-wracking.

In short, if you ask these 5 probing questions you will get a very good sense of who will be the right fit for you to launch and scale your program initiatives and support your partnerships to the highest level.

Going into the process armed with these questions will ensure that you don’t miss out on anything crucial to the success of your affiliate program.

Give these questions a go next time you’re interviewing agencies and let me know how they worked for you.

If you need help with your affiliate program, you’re welcome to give our agency a call to see if we’ll be the right fit to partner with and deliver your goals. We offer a FREE 15 min consultancy session which you can book right HERE.

If you are interested in more affiliate and social media marketing insights, take a look at our blog for all the latest news and advice. Or for a more personalised approach, book a free call with a member of our team.

Or, for the very best advice from industry peers, register to gain access to our Amplify Action Day. Taking place in January 2023 doesn’t mean you’ve missed it. Amplify aims to bring you the latest affiliate, performance, and partner marketing insights from across the globe and it’s all available to stream from our website.

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