What does a good affiliate network look like? One that fits your potential customer’s wants and your business’ needs with affiliate marketing functionality that benefit you both.
A good affiliate network can help your business scale its operations without costing you time and money. It is there to guide you through each step of the funnel, with basic features such as tracking and payment processing. Here are some of the things you need to look at when choosing an affiliate network.
With the right network, you’ll easily get thousands of referrals from your content, whether you’re an influencer, blogger, expert or startup.
Performance and Reputation
When choosing an affiliate network to join, not all come equal. In the good old days, you would pick an affiliate network, find a bunch of products to promote and make some money.
In today’s online marketing landscape, things are a bit more complicated. Most affiliate networks are so saturated with advertisers and affiliates that it is very difficult to get accepted into any of them.
On top of that, most affiliate networks are constantly changing their commission rates, terms and conditions, payment frequencies and more. It’s really hard to keep up with all these changes. But if you don’t know about them, you run the risk of losing your commissions and getting kicked out of the affiliate program.
The first thing to look for in an affiliate network is its reputation. If people are talking badly on social media or on a forum like WarriorForum.com or other industry blogs, then you should see how the company responds to it and if they are quick to shut those things down.
The performance of affiliate networks is measured by the number of leads, registrations, sales or other actions generated. It’s also judged by the quality of that traffic.
For example, a conversion rate of 50% could mean there are a lot of unqualified leads being generated.
When evaluating an affiliate marketplace, you should look at the networks’ performance over time and compare it to similar networks.
High performing networks are usually more selective about who they allow into their affiliate marketing programs, which means they can provide better results for your successful affiliate marketing campaign.
The next thing is how well known they are in the market. If they have been operating for decades then that gives a lot of confidence that they will probably be around for many years to come.
On the contrary, age may hinder the growth of that network, in which case a younger affiliate marketing platform may be best. Take ClickBank for example. They’ve been around for quite some time and are well known in the industry, but their age seems to hinder their ability to adjust to the changing climate (given the state of their inventory).
ShareASale, on the otherhand, has been around for quite some time, too, but still maintains a
Still, age-old networks perform well simply because they’ve been doing it for so long. Explore your options and research the performance of all the networks you come across in forums and boards.
Check if the network uses its own technology to display ads or if it relies on third-party solutions like Google AdWords.
A network that uses its own technology is more likely to have better ad delivery and tracking capabilities because it can control everything from start to finish. A third-party solution may be cheaper but it limits the network’s ability to optimize ad serving, ensure quality traffic and improve conversion rates.
PPS or PPL
Pay Per Sale (PPS) is when an advertiser pays a commission based on the sale of goods or services. An advertiser will only pay when a sale has been completed.
Pay Per Lead (PPL) is when an advertiser pays a commission for leads generated from your website. The advertiser will pay for each qualifying action or sale that originates from your site.
It’s important to note that some affiliate programs are PPS and others are PPL, and sometimes they can be both. Make sure you know what type of program you’re getting into before you sign up for an affiliate network.
Affiliate networks are aggregators of merchants’ affiliate programs. The networks’ role is to facilitate a relationship between the two parties and drive more sales for the e-commerce entrepreneur.
As an affiliate marketer, you are trying to make money from a specific merchant’s program (or from multiple programs), so it helps to have as much information about the network and the merchants as possible.
An affiliate network is not supposed to be a black box that you just throw traffic at and expect money back. The truth is, even the best affiliate networks can sometimes have issues with their merchants or their technology. When this happens, it’s crucial to have good support that responds quickly to your requests.
A recent experience we’ve had with ClickBank, in particular, is a lack of transparency when it comes to declines and shut downs when starting up a new account. Reaching out to customer assistance was far from fruitful (in a timely manner, anyway).
Make sure the affiliate platform you choose is available to support you.
Variety of Affiliate Programs
The more programs an affiliate network has, the better chance of finding something that’s a good fit for your site. Many types of affiliate networks specialize in particular topics such as travel, finance, or retail, but there are some general networks with lots of products and services, such as CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction).
The number of products and services available through the network is one of the most important things to consider. Ideally, you want to work with a network that has the products your target audience wants so you can offer them choices. It’s also important to make sure a network’s inventory is up-to-date so you’re not promoting products that are no longer on the market.
Affiliate Program Variety
Some networks offer just one, while others have dozens or even hundreds of affiliate partner programs. A larger selection gives you more options when choosing partnerships, but it also means more administration work as you manage multiple accounts. Decide how many programs would be ideal for your site and seek out networks with similar numbers.
While the quantity of merchants might be appealing, you have to make sure that the quality is there as well. You don’t want to waste your time promoting merchants who won’t convert very well or who don’t offer very good products or services. Stay especially cognizant of quality in terms of alignment with your audience.
NOTE: Even if an affiliate marketplace has been around for decades, it doesn’t mean their product offerings are top-notch or plentiful. On our recent run through ClickBank, we found their inventory was lacking—full of low-quality products that would make a hard sell even in a niche market.
Commission, and Payouts
For every successful affiliate campaign, there are 100 potential affiliates who aren’t making a dime.
Fortunately, there are some tricks to determine which affiliate networks are worth your time and which ones should be avoided.
The average commission rate is 30 percent, but that can vary widely depending on the company and the product. Some companies pay as little as 2 percent, while others will pay as much as 80 percent. However, higher affiliate commissions don’t necessarily mean better products or more sales — they might just be reflecting a higher cut of the company’s marketing budget.
Some affiliate networks pay out monthly, while others pay out quarterly or even annually. If you’re hoping to earn enough money to make it worth your while to keep track of your links and manage multiple accounts, choose a network with more frequent payments.
The length of the cookie is how long you can get credit for a sale after someone clicks on your affiliate link. It is important to know, but it’s more important to make sure the network uses a strong tracking system.
If you’re an affiliate marketer, you’ll understand why cookie length is important, but if you’re an affiliate marketing beginner, here are a few reasons:
If someone clicks an affiliate link and then comes back two weeks later and buys something, the affiliate marketer should get credit for that sale. A longer cookie means a longer window in which the person can come back and buy.
If someone clicks an affiliate link, then purchases something from another website or app (say, Netflix) within that 24-hour period (or whatever the duration of the cookie is), and then later buys something from the same merchant (Amazon) after clicking your affiliate link again, you’ll be credited with that sale as well. You won’t get double credit for that one sale because Amazon will see that Netflix was where they came from originally. But if they never clicked your affiliate link again after their initial visit, you wouldn’t have gotten credit for that sale either.
Tracking and Reporting
This is how you’ll know how much money your affiliates are sending your way. Some networks will have real-time statistics on the performance of each of your affiliates. Others will have reports that are automatically generated on at least a daily basis. If you’re selling physical products, make sure that your network can track sales by individual affiliate to make sure they get paid what they’re owed.
This also feeds into the right affiliate network providing strong affiliate management and affiliate marketing software. You can manage affiliate sales better and even set/monitor your own marketing campaigns (email marketing strategies, social media marketing efforts, digital marketing, content marketing, etc.). It would be best to have tracking and reporting APIs/integrations that connect to your affiliate site or landing page (WordPress, Shopify, etc.) so you can monitor all marketing activity.
To Be a Top Affiliate Marketer, You Need a Payment Processor to Match.
DirectPayNet is a merchant services provider that connects high-risk merchants, like affiliate marketers, to payment processors who back their online business. With us, you’ll have a referral program that generates hundreds of thousands in passive income.