Affiliate Marketing: Choosing an Affiliate Network

For some companies, affiliate marketing is a great way to increase sales and online visibility at a very reasonable price in comparison to traditional avenues where you pay strictly for impressions, which, as we all know, don’t necessarily contribute to your bottom line.  While signing up for an affiliate program and having hundreds, perhaps thousands of affiliates start pushing your brand may sound easy, there is actually quite a bit of work involved and a number of Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind, which will have a direct impact on the success or failure of your efforts.

To begin with, you will have to align your business with the best affiliates possible.  For merchants with little to know experience in affiliate marketing, a good place to start would be an affiliate network, which can introduce your offerings to an existing group of network affiliates and help immediately to drive traffic.

Even choosing the best affiliate network in itself can be a challenge.  Some of the largest affiliate networks charge a set up fee just for getting started, while others require a deposit to ensure payment on commissions earned by their affiliates.  No matter which network you decide to go with, they all have some type of charge associated with them; whether it is a minimum monthly amount, or percentage of sales/affiliate’s commissions.

Some other things to consider…

If your program/offerings aren’t a success, the network won’t be making much money either.  For this reason, the best networks can sometimes be a little tricky to get started with.  It’s a good sign for the network you are interested in if an affiliate manager is willing to take the time to work with you on your program.  You may event want to consider working with multiple affiliate networks at first as sort of a trial run.  This way you can begin to compare and contrast the positives and negatives of differing networks and choose which one works best for you.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that the number of affiliates a network has isn’t as important as the quality.  Like most everything else, the majority of your sales will come from a minority of your affiliates.

In terms of support and service, networks cover both extremes and can be completely full service or all self service.  Depending on your ability or preference, this is something to consider.  Do you need helpful recommendations for improving your website? What about web banners, advertisements and other offerings your affiliates will need in order to promote your business?  The more involved in the process you are, the better ROI you can expect from your programs.  It’s also a good idea to stay on top of your companies’ promotion since it’s your brand/reputation at stake and not that of the affiliate.  If your affiliates are using spam, or seem to be tricking people into be redirected to your site, it is you who will suffer.

The bottom line:

While we’ve all seen the advertisements for how easy it is to get rich quick with affiliate marketing, a successful program actually takes a lot of time, effort and resources; however, if done correctly the payoff to joining an affiliate marketing network can be huge!

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