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Affiliate marketing stands as a cornerstone in the digital economy, offering brands a powerful channel for expansion and revenue generation. And the role of the affiliate manager requires mastering a diverse set of skills to be successful in the industry.

We spoke with Joshua Kennedy, the Founder of Imagine Marketing, about the core responsibilities and essential skills that define success for modern affiliate managers. We're sharing them with you so you feel equipped to navigate this dynamic field with authority and precision.

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Who is Joshua Kennedy?

Joshua Kennedy is the visionary founder of Imagine Marketing, a company he launched amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With over six years in affiliate marketing, Kennedy has become a leading figure in the field, particularly focused on health and wellness brands. Kennedy transitioned his career from content creation to affiliate marketing, and leveraged his skills to excel in data analysis and partnership development to create a successful company.

But Kennedy's method goes beyond analytics. He believes in the power of imagination to drive success, making him an ideal consultant for those looking to enhance their affiliate marketing strategies.

His mastery over the confluence of SEO, analytics, and affiliate marketing shines as a beacon of wisdom for digital navigators seeking to carve their path to success.

The Core Responsibilities of Affiliate Managers

1. Client relationship management

The bedrock of effective affiliate management lies in the ability to foster and maintain robust relationships with clients. Whether dealing with brands or merchants, understanding their objectives, consistently communicating, setting clear expectations, and providing unwavering support are critical for mutual satisfaction and success.

2. Affiliate recruitment and onboarding

A pivotal aspect of an affiliate manager's role is to scout and secure the right affiliate partners. This task demands a keen eye for potential, adept networking capabilities, and persuasive communication skills to articulate the value of joining your program.

3. Performance monitoring and optimization

Continuous analysis of campaign performance is crucial. Metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI serve as your compass, guiding strategy adjustments to ensure peak performance. This analytical approach enables the identification of opportunities for optimization, driving better results.

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4. Creative Campaign Development

In a competitive landscape, creativity sets you apart. Crafting campaigns that resonate with both brands and affiliates requires innovative thinking, striking visuals, and compelling messaging. It's about creating value and engagement, making your offerings stand out.

5. Technical Proficiency

The digital age demands fluency in technology. Affiliate managers must navigate various platforms and tools with ease, from marketing software to analytics dashboards. This proficiency not only aids in effective campaign tracking but also ensures you can troubleshoot and refine processes for enhanced performance.

6. Negotiation and Contract Management

Effective negotiation skills are instrumental in forging agreements that benefit all parties. Crafting fair, compliant, and advantageous contracts is a nuanced art, one that balances firmness with flexibility, protecting your interests while fostering collaborative partnerships.

5 Essential Skills Modern Affiliate Managers Must Have

1. Be effective communicators

The cornerstone of successful relationships with both clients and affiliates, communication skills are indispensable. Affiliate managers need to be adept at expressing ideas, engaging in active listening, and addressing queries or concerns promptly.

2. Be able to thoughtfully analyze data

For affiliate managers, the capacity to sift through data to unearth valuable insights is key to fine-tuning affiliate strategies and enhancing performance. They must be at ease with numerical data, capable of identifying trends, and committed to making decisions based on solid evidence.

3. Have an innovative mindset

In the crowded field of affiliate marketing, creativity can be a differentiator. Innovative thinking empowers affiliate managers to devise unique and compelling campaign strategies that grab the attention of clients and affiliates alike.

4. Be a problem solver

Affiliate managers frequently face challenges such as discrepancies in tracking, compliance issues, or disputes. Proficiency in problem-solving allows them to discern the underlying problems, explore potential solutions, and implement effective resolutions swiftly.

5. Be effective at time management

Juggling various tasks and deadlines demands excellent time management skills. By prioritizing activities, delegating responsibilities appropriately, and maintaining organization, affiliate managers can manage their workload effectively and achieve consistent results.

Affiliate Management Strategy

How can program migration and strategic client relationships boost affiliate marketing?

In the discussion between Joshua Kennedy and Dustin Howes, the episode touches on less recognized, but critical elements of affiliate management, such as the importance of continually educating yourself and fostering relationships within the industry.

As any affiliate marketer knows, the backbone of a prosperous affiliate program is a market-viable product and brand. Kennedy underscored the importance of a compelling brand story, quality website, and clear brand mission as all can help attract affiliates and support affiliate marketing success.

He also mentioned the need to keep an ear to the ground to see what marketing trends are on the rise and how you can use them to drive more traffic and sales. But, sometimes, it can be beneficial for a brand to hone in on one particular strategy.

For instance, Kennedy shared the success narrative of GotBag, crediting their focus on affiliate marketing and minimal distraction by other channels as a key factor in their success. This highlights the importance of channel specialization.

Wrapping up the affiliate management strategy episode

At the close of the episode Kennedy extends an invitation to listeners to engage with his multifaceted personal brand. His comedic and musical pursuits are not only a testament to his creativity but also highlight the power of personal branding in today's market. By bridging analytical acumen with creative flair, Kennedy embodies the quintessential qualities necessary for making a mark in the affiliate marketing world.

The podcast episode with Joshua Kennedy offers a symphony of insights for marketers looking to master the dynamic field of affiliate marketing. Through this comprehensive exchange, listeners are equipped with actionable wisdom to chart their course towards marketing brilliance.

Affiliate manager consultant

Dustin Howes


Dustin Howes is a partnership nerd spreading the good word about performance marketing. He is the chief coach at and is dedicated to helping companies grow their performance marketing channels. He also provides affiliate manager training and private consultations, helping companies find the right solution for their budget.

Find out more about Dustin here.

Episode timestamp

0:28Joshua Kennedy joins as guest, discussing the modern Affiliate Management Strategy's role and responsibilities.
1:55Discussion shifts to the relevance of different marketing disciplines for an effective Affiliate Management Strategy.
3:29Kennedy shares the origin story of Imagine Marketing, focusing on the significance of the name in shaping their Affiliate Management Strategy.
4:57Dustin and Kennedy discuss the challenges of SEO competition in branding and Affiliate Management Strategy.
5:29Kennedy elaborates on Imagine Marketing's focus on Affiliate Management Strategy, especially in health and wellness verticals.
8:50Kennedy recounts his transition from content marketing to Affiliate Marketing Strategy and the success in the CBD industry.
10:28The conversation turns to the modernization of affiliate management strategy, emphasizing the importance of diverse publisher partnerships and data analysis skills.
13:47Kennedy recommends resources for Upskilling in Affiliate Management Strategy, highlighting the role of curiosity and self-learning.
15:59Discussion shifts to challenges within affiliate management strategy agencies, focusing on the need for leadership support and a broader understanding of client needs.
18:12Dustin and Kennedy stress the importance of aligning affiliate management strategy with client goals and preferences.
19:59The conversation concludes with an emphasis on understanding client strategies and aligning affiliate management strategy approaches accordingly.
20:14Emphasizing client goals is crucial for effective implementation of affiliate management strategy.
22:17Discussing the value of platform migration for enhanced affiliate management strategy.
24:45Advising caution in migrating affiliate programs, considering platform functionality and cost.
26:10Targeting brands based on industry experience and case study for affiliate management strategy.
28:04Highlighting innovative opportunities in affiliate management strategies.
32:42Discussing the integration of affiliate programs with other marketing channels for untested brands.
35:05Sharing insights on incorporating untested brands into affiliate management strategies.
37:31Suggesting methods for identifying potential e-commerce clients for affiliate management strategy.
40:13Providing strategies for partnering with mass media publishers on a performance basis in affiliate management strategies.
44:59Sharing the significance of a handwritten note from a client early in the career.
46:26Inviting connections on LinkedIn, website visits, and social media engagement for further discussions.