5 Must-Have Traits of Your Next Retail Affiliate or Partner Marketing Manager

Great affiliate and partner marketing leaders are in high demand, especially this time of year when retailers are seeking new talent to kickstart business. With the holiday craziness behind us, there’s no better time to bring in fresh blood. It’s always exciting to be able to dedicate new resources to one of your most lucrative channels. But don’t let the excitement blind you.

Taking the time to seek out what is important will do wonders for your team, employee retention, and your bottom line. I’ve been asked what the single most important thing to look for is, and while I think it’s impossible to narrow it down to a single quality, these are five traits that I think are integral for success.

Retail Experience

Running marketing programs, whether affiliate or any other, can feel akin to driving on the Autobahn in Germany: The landscape changes quickly, and the competition remains fierce. The team heading up affiliate and partnerships is constantly challenged to find new customers and drive incremental growth, while considering how to reach consumers across all of their devices seamlessly.

Bringing someone in who understands the nuances of retail product promotion and the path to purchase is a smart move. They don’t need to have decades under their belts, but someone with an understanding of how to leverage your retail brand across all types of partnership can help them go from zero to 80 quickly.

Belief in the Channel

As a starting point, you shouldn’t need to convince someone of the value of this channel. Retail investment in affiliate and partner marketing continues to grow year-over-year for good reason. That said, at some organizations there is still senior resistance to partnerships because they can seem complex and tough to understand.

Your ideal partner leader knows what this category can do and has the courage and tact to speak to power. To kindle passion and win over skeptics. Aggressive growth in partnership comes from aggressive people taking aggressive action to sell their ideas internally and put them into practice quickly.

There are several industry events held around the globe each year where you can find people passionate about affiliate and partner marketing. Now, I’m not suggesting you troll these events looking to poach from other retailers. You just never know where you might find the channel believer who also happens to love what your brand stands for, and that could be the start of something big.

Data-Driven and Analytical Mindset

Every area of retail marketing requires a data-driven mindset. This includes the affiliate and partner channel. Your newest hire will be challenged to understand massive amounts of data, from product level to promotion to which affiliates or partners are driving the most value. As technology has advanced over the past few years, so has the ability of affiliate teams to track which partners a driving to specific KPIs. Affiliate managers are able to see real-time data on all clicks along the purchase path, and they can determine the right partner for a specific objective.

For example, when you need to clear out inventory, certain partners might best serve high volume deal-seekers. Another example would be determining if a special program for one top partner would do more for sales than recruiting your next thousand. Being able to quickly access to data and optimize accordingly is a key part of the skillset.

Ability to Quickly Execute on Strategy

The ability to apply data strategically goes hand in hand with interpreting it. This team member is going to tasked with making strategic program recommendations that are aligned with brand goals and initiatives. They must also possess the ability to quickly execute on those strategies.

Your brand needs to stand out from the crowd with innovative promotions and partnerships. Most retailers work with a wide array of partner types, and therefore it takes the right blend of strategic thinking and creativity to get to optimal performance. If you find someone who can skillfully drive programs with cashback and discount sites, while thinking of outside-the-box brand-to-brand partnerships, snatch them up before your competition does.

International Adaptability

We live in a borderless digital economy and many retailers are exploring global expansion. The rise of ecommerce and digital payments have removed some of the complexity around become an international retailer.  Hire someone with the capacity to think beyond borders, and understand how to leverage local partners as a way to enter new markets. This requires not only being able to adapt programs to specific cultural nuances, but also being able to understand how to integrate new global opportunities with current programs.

While you’ll likely evolve to have teams in your largest global markets, it’s important that affiliate and partner marketing managers able to get the ball rolling. This will include being able to adapt to regional regulations, currencies, and payment methods. Someone who has some international experience will add a great deal of value as you set out to be a global retailer.

Admittedly, hiring someone with all of these traits may seem like a lofty goal. Think about the qualities that are most important to your brand. You might favor someone with deep product knowledge or existing partner relationships over one of the traits mentioned above.  While these are viewed as must-haves, you should always consider your specific retail needs and organizational structure.

Greg Augenstein is Chief Customer Operations Officer at Partnerize


Leave a Reply