Ella Mak, The Head of AdCombo Affiliate Department, talks about workflow and more!28.10.2022Reading Time: 8 minutes
We’re launching an article series where we’ll be talking about the internal processes of AdCombo!
Want to know what’s going on backstage at the company? How do departments work? And get to know each other better?
The time has come!
Our first article is about AdCombo’s affiliate department. The Head of the department, Ella Mak, will reveal some secrets.
Who are affiliate managers?
The profession of affiliate manager includes a whole complex of different specializations: analyst, sales specialist, support person, and sometimes even psychologist. At the same time, a manager should have good communication, analytical, and selling skills.
What do AMs do?
First and foremost, managers should always follow the trends and be aware of all the news. Here, active communication becomes the key to success. It is necessary to understand inner niche flows, and then transfer relevant knowledge to their affiliates.
It is worth noticing that not only communication matters, but tact and keeping business secrets. If a manager shares some information, it should not hurt the other partners. After all, each manager has a pool of assigned publishers.
What happens when a manager quits?
In our department, layoffs are rare. In most cases, they are related to the vertical ambitions of our employees, because we have a high motivation of all kinds in AdCombo.
If a manager leaves, of course, he or she will take the publisher base to another network. The question is whether the traffic will be redirected or not. It depends on quality of offers and the competent replacement of a manager.
The affiliate department has different options on how to build its work after the manager’s leaving. Most of the time, publishers are already acquainted with other AdCombo managers and name the manager with whom they feel more comfortable to continue the affiliate experience.
Also, we can select the manager according to various factors. From time zone to psychological compatibility. This requires a clear awareness about our employees: their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the peculiarities of personal communication.
Anyway, the approach is very individual. We have a versatile team where everyone can find a close-minded affiliate manager with whom they can have the same vibe.
When a manager is on vacation or sick leave, how is their workload distributed?
When a manager takes a break, it is always a difficult period. Firstly, some publishers wait for their managers to come back. They don’t launch new ad campaigns and stop old ones.
Secondly, the manager’s salary decreases because they work according to the KPI system.
Now, the situation has improved, as there are more affiliate teams that do not have a strong personal attachment to the manager. Temporary replacements are smoother, but still on a strict schedule because it puts a very high load on the department.
How does the selection of new employees take place?
Hiring a new person for the affiliate department is a complex process.
First, our HR gets acquainted with a CV and then makes a primary selection of candidates. Then the applicant should take a socionics test (this gives a clear understanding of the communicative features of a person, his/her psycho-type, and ambitions).
This is followed by an interview with a team leader. The list of questions is already standardized. All answers are analyzed on a scale. According to the result, candidates are compared.
And, of course, knowledge of at least two foreign languages is obligatory.
Why is AdCombo the best in the niche?
We are the best because we have an incredible team of professionals. Our basic principle is to work within long-term relationships. The partners understand that we will be together for more than a year or two.
Also among the employees, there is a very high level of involvement in the work and everyone helps each other.
Of course, we have some shortcomings: affiliate management, like affiliate marketing, is the management of chaos: often something does not go according to plan, but we always try to find the best solutions.
What are the shortcomings of your department?
You always have to strive for the best. We still have some work to do, and we are aware of it.
For example, we need to improve communication between the affiliate department and offer advertisers.
Also, there is a difficulty: no possibility to introduce strict control over the work of employees, so any complaints have to be checked manually.
From a business side, there is a lack of experiments. For example, this year I had planned a restructuring in the department, but unfortunately, so far we suspended this activity.
You have to be able to recognize shortcomings and work on them. Only this way can you grow.
What happens at conferences, and why are they needed? Why is it not the main thing to hunt the publishers there?
The conference is a point of contact with existing or potential clients for the company. Therefore, participation is a privilege and reward, but also hard work.
In general, the main events are taking place outside the booth. Networking in special areas, pre-parties, after-parties, and other events can be much more useful for business than what is happening at the booth. Mostly outside of it, you can build direct B2B contact. Because of this B2B contact, we have agency accounts on native networks (like Mgid and Taboola), presets to set up postbacks, APIs with trackers, and a special section with bonuses from partners.
As the Head of the department, I don’t support apparent hunting, as I think it’s inefficient. The main task for a manager at the conference is to build a partnership. It is important to show your competence, to help somehow, to solve a problem, and to share the necessary information about running traffic.
Is participation in niche events important? What do public speeches give? How to form a personal brand?
Events are vital to understanding what’s going on in the niche. Public speaking allows you to increase interest to the company. For example, when you are sharing useful and interesting things. We had a public speech about Speakol, a cool source for the MENA region that almost nobody knows about. After the presentation, there were successful cases!
About the personal brand. I can’t tell you how to create it, because when I came to AdCombo, it seemed to me that almost no one cared about personal brands. I worked the way I know how. I’m an extrovert and I like to share information, do networking, and talk to people. It helps a lot in building partnerships.
Is Ella Mak a personal brand? I suppose it is. Although for the past six months, I have not had the internal resources to post something on a regular basis.
Is having a personal blog a privilege or a 21st-century necessity?
I only follow accounts on Insta. It is very noticeable when content is published only for sales.
I am more interested in watching people’s personal stories, this evokes a greater response than purely commercial posts.
How to unite the team and organize a reliable team? How to maintain relationships at remote work?
To begin with, it is very important to correctly select people for your team. As mentioned before, the selection of personality types and communicative qualities plays a significant role.
It is also worth noting the transparency within the department. For example, all the employees know each other’s salaries. Managers understand how much their colleagues earn based on the KPIs results. There are no excesses. The calculation is based on standardized formulas that department employees know and see. In addition, the entire team is involved in decision-making.
Personal communication is also crucial. We gather together as a team outside of work, play board games, socialize and improve personal contacts with each other. We try to communicate not only about business matters.
As the Head of the department, I try to keep the spirit of the team, to cheer up and energize my aff managers. It’s also important to keep track of communication between colleagues. If a toxic employee comes to the team, you should bid farewell to him/her asap.
It’s cool when you can give additional tasks besides the direct management of publishers. For example, event organization. This can awake personal potential and be very inspiring for an employee.
From our interesting practices, we can mention meetings organization (this can be done remotely), where we discuss what new things we would like to try in our work.
And to support work and communication remotely, you need a good tasker and minimize communication in private chats, if possible, so that miscommunication doesn’t happen. In addition, the necessary thing is the status meetings. Trust in your employees is vital, you can’t work without it. It’s good that our managers are highly motivated in their work. It especially helps when they work remotely.
How do you motivate your employees to get results?
In general, the main and very good motivation is financial. Being constantly online at weekends and holidays is not that easy, and not everyone can accept it. But thanks to the KPI system, the employee understands that his salary depends on his actions, and this motivates her/him to get more involved in his work.
If we talk about non-financial motivation, you need an individual approach. For example, for some people, it is essential to praise their achievements. This should be done, so the employees will feel more psychological comfort, and they will feel satisfaction from the work done.
How can you control the work of your department?
Of course, you can’t go without control. The trouble is that any control is very easy to bypass. All reports can be fabricated, time trackers can be cheated with special apps. Therefore, we cannot talk about a unified control system yet.
Is it necessary to delegate tasks?
Approximately 99% of operational tasks can and should be delegated. Some of them have to be controlled, but the control process can be delegated to a team leader.
Even if I know I can do a task better, I still try to delegate it. Firstly, you can’t do everything yourself. Secondly, it allows employees to learn. Later on, they apply the skills they’ve learned to cope with the problem. This is very important in terms of personal growth.
There are also things that cannot be delegated. For example, the introduction of new processes within the department. Or other global management processes. But no one should perform them except the Head of the department.
How do you cope with stress?
The best way to cope with stress is a hobby. Sports help me a lot: yoga, Pilates, and jogging.
In general, any hobby helps to distract from reality and reduce stress levels.
Now, it is vital not to lose yourself. And what exactly will help to do this is a personal decision.
If we talk about high levels of stress in the team, it is very important to maintain contact, communicate, hold meetings and support your employees.
It’s always difficult to start. As a person who stands at the origins of the company and knows all the difficulties, what advice can you give to other people? For example, those who are just planning: to become an affiliate / build an affiliate team / start public speaking / create affiliate media, etc.?
For me, the answer here is to start doing. As the famous company slogan goes, “Just do it!”™
You have to remember that people who are already successful are often no better than anyone else. The only difference is that they have already begun their way, while you haven’t yet.
It’s easier to start if you’ve already decided to take the first step: sign up for a conference, sign up for an affiliate course, and so on.
And don’t be afraid of failure. Looking at successful examples, it’s important not to forget that successful people also made the first steps, and almost no one saw them. Here it helps to ignore the opinion of others, to end your fears, and start doing what you want to do.
We thank Ella for such a comprehensive interview!
If you still have questions, we are waiting for them in the comments!
In the next article, we’ll get acquainted with AdCombo managers themselves.