20 min read

Growing An Affiliate Department

When it’s time to really grow your affiliate department, hiring a strong affiliate manager is essential. Unfortunately, there is often much confusion around the responsibilities of the business owner and the affiliate manager. Here we will show you the differences between these roles, what makes a strong affiliate manager, and the essential skills of the ideal candidates.

Video training is also available if you’re a visual learner.


Business Owner / Offer Owner

When we use the word “owner,” we are describing the company or leadership making decisions about where the company is going. The owner takes on the weight of creating a fully functional enterprise rather than the public details on which the affiliates focus. These can include responsibilities such as:


  • Creating high converting offers
  • Creating best-performing and optimized assets
  • Keeping an attractive affiliate compensation package (increased commission, CPA, faster payment structure, etc.)
  • Tracking clear and concise data that is easily accessible
  • Establishing Quotas, KPIs, and Scorecards
  • Providing regular Check-Ins, Training, and Adjustments


The owner must take responsibility for the overall flow of their company to ensure that every step of their enterprise is working to its highest potential. The team needs to feel motivated and up-to-date with the necessary information and data to perform at their best, as a team is only as good as the invested time and training provided.

Very often a business owner will take on the responsibility of building out the affiliate program and forming the initial affiliate relationships. However, this is just one hat of many that the owner has to wear on a daily basis to keep the business running. Once the initial systems are in place, it’s time to bring in a rockstar affiliate manager to scale the affiliate program. This point may be different for every business – read more on “When is the right time to hire an affiliate manager?” article to determine when is the right time for your brand.


Affiliate Manager

In the past, the perfect affiliate manager was considered highly likable, well-known, and an incredible customer service representative. But these days, a great affiliate manager is actually more of a high-ticket salesperson responsible for bringing in new relationships, closing deals, and updating strategy to ensure campaign goals are hit. The person in the affiliate manager’s role must be a hunter that is focused on bringing more deals and affiliate partners. Therefore, the primary responsibilities of the affiliate manager position are:


  • Booking offer deals
  • Hitting the quotas and KPIs that the owner has setup
  • Getting more traffic from their current affiliates
  • Recruiting and closing new affiliate partnerships


Sure, we can throw around terms like clicks, email swaps, and tasks, but they don’t seem real. We’re talking about making 10,000 click deals, with each click worth a dollar, so that’s tens of thousands of dollars in deals a day. They also have to get the deals with written agreements and provide each affiliate with necessary assets to successfully promote your offer. It’s a role with many hats.


They must also have a strong grasp of the marketing, PR, and project management skills: 


  • As a marketer within the affiliate manager role, they need to provide feedback on what is / is not working and how to resolve the problems. Again, it’s a skill to understand the different values within target audiences that they will bring to the affiliate to help them stay connected to the trends happening in the outside world.


  • As a PR person, they will use their knowledge and marketing skills to give the affiliate more exposure to receive more clicks. This can be done through not just emails but also podcasts, livestreams, interviews, and blogs. Connecting to the outside world helps get the clicks to sell the product and stay relevant.


  • The affiliate manager needs a deep understanding of the marketing strategies being used by competing companies to help pitch and sell the affiliate’s brand to someone else. When promoting another brand’s offer to their own list, the affiliate manager needs to skillfully present the benefits of the offer their audience will value the most in order to make it a successful promotion for both. So, as you can see, there is a lot to balance to become a highly successful affiliate manager.


If you’re ready to add an affiliate manager to your team, read “What makes the perfect Affiliate Manager?” article to get the list of specific skills you should be looking for.


Smaller companies may get away with simply hiring an Affiliate Manager to support the Offer Owner. However, as your affiliate revenue grows, you may want to consider adding supporting roles focusing on admin and project management tasks into your affiliate department to allow your Affiliate Manager to focus more of their time on booking more deals and keeping the relationships with top affiliate partners strong and fresh.


Growth Manager and Project Manager

Within the affiliate department, the growth manager and the project manager can be divided, but can often be combined into one role due to the nurturing aspect of their responsibilities. They could be thought of as farmers, taking care and nurturing at every step to ensure the best possible growth from all the work invested. 


First, let’s look at the growth manager. They:


  • Make the deal happen and increase value after the initial close
  • Negotiate recurring revenue with existing relationships
  • Find ways to increase affiliate clicks
  • Consistent and timely follow up with every affiliate partner
  • Running reports on every send
  • Keep things running efficiently and with high energy


So, we can see that the growth manager helps engage with affiliates in each step to increase clicks and bookings along with the clients’ longevity. Thus, nurturing a healthy connection with the projects and the people involved. 


The project manager is focused on:


  • Logistics (tracking links, reports, asset delivery, etc.)
  • Billing
  • Consistent and timely follow up with every affiliate partner
  • Keeping projects and assets delivered on time


The project manager has a more operational role that deals with the technical side of the affiliate department. However, the growth manager is often capable to keep up with these tasks as well. Each role is responsible for keeping in touch with all affiliates and meeting all project deadlines while consistently exceeding the expectation of clients. 


Now that you know a little more about each role in the group, it’s time to grow! Look for people with the right skill sets based on the information in this article and you’re ready to really scale up with confidence.


East 5th Avenue has helped hire and train over 650 rockstar affiliate managers over the past 5 years. We know a thing or two about the recruiting and screening process. If you need help with finding the right affiliate manager for your brand, check out our Recruit & Train Service.

Need Support Creating And Scaling Your Affiliate Program?


Supercharge Your Affiliate Revenue with everything you need to know to grow your partnership marketing channel in a free mini-course Everflow of Partner Connections.


You’ll get 15 lessons and 7 actionable tools designed to meet you at any level (beginner, intermediate and advanced) and help you build a steady affiliate revenue coming month after month, year after year!





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