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4 Merchant-Friendly Affiliate Networks

Posted on 8.31.2013

Internet retailers who are actively considering the launch of an affiliate or performance marketing program to help promote their products, be they informational or tangible, know they need to choose a network that can deliver the sales and conversions (and insights) it needs to manage real-world business and its bottom line.

Too often however, merchants desperate for better results can be sold by slick salesman, who promise to lasso the virtual moon but end up delivering nothing more than traffic that converts at an abysmal level. While smaller/startup affiliate networks can drive quality traffic and a high rate of conversions, the best bet for merchants is to leverage one of the more established networks, using second-tier and third-tier networks as strategic opportunities to support existing performance/affiliate campaigns.

There are many considerations that merchants will need to make when it comes to the affiliate network they will use to drive traffic and conversions. Those selling products will need to ensure that robust tracking features are present, different publisher models are supported (PPC, SEO, email, loyalty, content,  price comparison, etc.) and a variety of link options are available (widgets, banners, text links, etc.). They will also need reporting features that match an enterprise's demand for analytics, and perhaps even the integration of datafeeds or the availability of an API. It should also be easy to use of course, with exceptional customer support. Too few of the hundreds upon hundreds of networks cater to advertisers and affiliates with the same energy so understanding where the network's priorities reside will go a long way in helping you decide which network is right for your enterprise.

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of affiliate networks. With the closing of the Google Affiliate Network, the following are four that for well over a decade have provided both merchants and publishers (affiliates) with a best of digital breed service. They are certainly not the only ones, but you'll be hard pressed to find networks which match the results that can be obtained from their use.

Commission Junction: Part of ValueClick, Commission Junction is a global player in the affiliate marketing space with offices in the U.S. and Europe. The network offers broad reach, robust technology and exceptional support.

ShareaSale: Founded in 2000, ShareaSale is one of the largest affiliate networks and caters to small and mid-size merchants. ShareaSale has a strong reputation in the affiliate marketing community, making it a favorite among merchants and publishers alike.

LinkShare: Now part of the Rakuten Marketing Group, LinkShare has long boasted one of the largest affiliate networks and caters to many prominent companies including J.C. Penny, American Express and Avon. 

Clickbank: Less for traditional merchants than product-minded information publishers, Clickbank has long been a high-profile affiliate network, with good commission rates, a strong suite of features and numerous advertisers.

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