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A majority of affiliate managers need to feel more recognized, and given more power, by their bosses. 

Eighty percent of you say bosses need a better understanding of (appreciation for) performance-based web marketing's raw power!  And 90% need better tools to do their job...

Jeff Molander
Ok.. I admit to it.  I'm asking loaded questions to affiliate managers... yet in doing so I don't pretend to know what this industry needs or doesn't need. Nor do I pretend to be a research house -- like E-consultancy (I bow to Linus Gregoriadis and his team). 

Over a hundred affiliate managers took time out of summer vacations (doldrums?) to answer my questions. Thanks for doing so! 

Let's waste no time and get right to the response analysis.

1. "I need better recognition and respect internally among my superiors."
Nearly 2/3 of you said you need this, with the other 1/3 being in the enviable position of NOT needing more recognition within your work environment. My take is that in an outsourced program management (OPM) role, one is bound to have a LOT more success with this need. Unfortunately, I don't know how many OPMs took the survey, but I'm betting they played a role in the results data.

2. "I need better tools to do my job."
WOAH! 90% of our community needs better tools. While I was anticipating this I am truly knocked on my bony hind-end when I saw the numbers. Okay, E-consultancy readers and fellow poll-takers... let's hear it.  In fact, I'll also take your offline comments at jeff_at_jeffmolander.com if you'll share them with me. What kind of tools do you need?

3. "I need more autonomy -- to be allowed by the boss to 'get creative' occasionally, try something new."
Again, nearly 2/3 of you need to feel more empowered. Out of this group, almost 20% are feeling desperate -- you need it now! How can affiliate managers work to earn this from their superiors and/or clients? What can we do as an industry to help bring about change that creates better results for everyone involved?

4. "I need more budget to foster creativity."
We here a lot about clients 'running out' of money to fund affiliate marketing from many of the networks and OPM agencies. Is this really true and if so, why? It seems to make very little sense in a performance-driven environment. Why would marketers treat performance-based budgets as they would a banner buy or CPM (eyeballs-based) media buy? Nearly 1/3 of you said this is NOT a problem. There IS hope! But this leaves 2/3 of you saying that, yes, it IS happening.

5. "I need a team environment: less competition and more collaboration with search, email and other channels."
Roughly 1/3 of you said this is needed... but not that much. Yet 43% of you went as far as saying, hey, this is really needed -- a lot. 25% of you said it's not really an issue, which I'm confident it's not... for a good number of people who believe that "internal competition" among all marketing channels is -- and always will be -- a healthy thing. Of course, I disagree but that's another discussion :)

6. "A better compensation structure (not necessarily salary but reward structure)."
What I was getting at here may not have been clearly worded enough. I'm trying to assess if people are happy with how they're bonused at year end. I probably failed but... a majority felt that compensation structure change was needed but not critical. Just over 40% of respondents did, however, say it was an issue that's very needed. I'll leave it to commenters to analyze this response data. What do you think?

7. "I need better understanding from leaders in my company of affiliate marketing as an affordable customer acquisition tool."
A majority of you said you need this "a lot". Nearly 80% of you said that understanding at the highest level was lacking. So what can we do to change that? This gets to professional education in our space which I believe could stand to improve. As I see it, it's been a very AFFILIATE-centric world when it comes to education. What about affiliate managers and executive marketers that they report to? There seems to be a clear void in terms of un-biased (not influenced by corporate sponsor dollars) professional education. Of course, there are public and private movements afoot to bring our industry together around things like certification, standards and plain old education.

8. "I need a place where I can go to learn from respected experts first, party second."
Probably my most devious of questions :). Sure, I have my feelings about conferences and professional education opportunities in our world, but this isn't about me. I'll leave you with this: there was a bit of contention here over this question. Not everyone seems to agree and it was one of the few questions that demonstrated division.

My analysis? There are some hard core party animals in our industry ;)

Consider yourselves teased... I'll release that data in the days ahead. I'll also touch on remaining answers to related questions:

"Do you need a trusted, 'go-to' resource on performance-based marketing of all flavors that's up-to-date."


"I want fewer whiners and negativity in our business — more doers, risk-takers and brotherhood."

Until then what say you, fair readers?

Jeff Molander

Published 23 July, 2008 by Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is a professional speaker, publisher and accomplished entrepreneur having co-founded what is today the Google Affiliate Network. He can be reached at jeff@jeffmolander.com. He is a regular contributor to Econsultancy. 

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