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Thursday December 18, 2014

 

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Promoting Merchants as an Affiliate

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing networks and independent programs should be treated as tracking and payment mechanisms only. A given merchant or promotion will often be available through different programs, and the only difference is proper tracking, payment and support. Conventional wisdom does not always apply. Some systems simply track better for no known reason. Some of the networks are inherently better or worse than the rest with regard to reliability, payment and support. I'll cover the bases here for the larger networks, as well as independent program options.




Networks

Commission Junction has long been our favorite affiliate network. Aggregated payments, excellent tracking, and customer service response from a (usually) live, intelligent human. Highly recommended.

LinkShare has been one of the top networks for years. However, I can not recommend them. I have had serious problems with their tracking, many various late and never-received payments, and virtually no communication when you contact Linkshare. I understand that this company has been involved in shady practices with promotion of parasites. In our office, we generally speak of LS as "LinkSnare". Obviously, NOT recommended. Related thread about Linkshare at WmW. Post #s 5 and 8 effectively sum up what many affiliates think about this company.

ShareASale is a somewhat smaller network, but has grown in size and respect the past couple of years. They have over a thousand merchant partners, aggregated payments, and excellent customer service. This network has lower fees than the larger networks, so the merchant can pass additional commissions on to the affiliate. Recommended.

Performics is also one of the main contenders. Though they have a poor interface (it is a real pain just to get links) and customer services leaves a bit to be desired (they have a different support email for each merchant), many successful affiliates still work with them on a consistent basis. Good conversions seem to keep their affiliates happy. Affiliates will put up with some problems when we get the good checks on time.

 

Independent Affiliate Programs

Independent affiliate programs, aka "indies" should definitely not be overlooked. An Indie program can outperform a network program in many situations. Lower overhead costs for running the program, less chance of commissions being stolen by parasites, and better communication are just a few reasons independent setups can produce more revenue than similar network programs. There are a huge number of good independent programs out there to work with. Trying to list them all is beyond our scope here, and would not necessarily be helpful on a given keyword topic.

The best way to find indie programs is to search for them. Use keywords like "your primary keyword affiliate program" or "keywords partner program", etc. You can also follow trade journals or industry analyst publications if available for your topics, for ideas of companies to work with. It may be worth pursuing a partnership with a company who does not currently have an affiliate solution in place, just realize you may end up spending more time educating the merchant than it would be worth to run the trial promotion.

Many merchants run programs through one or more networks as well as their own independent offering. Check commissions and cookie durations and availability of support of each. I also recommend trying the different tracking mechanisms, as some work better than others no matter what the vital specifics are. Remember, it's the bottom line that counts, not the name of tracking application.

 
 

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