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Merchant-Friendly Affiliate Networks

Posted on 8.16.2009

As a merchant, utilizing an affiliate network can increase revenue and extend your brand awareness farther and faster than many merchants could do so on their own. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start or what to ask when filtering through the many affiliate networks available. Below are a few tips to guarantee a partnership with a trustworthy, credible network that fits your marketing goals. 

Impressions Are Everything
Just as when you meet someone in person, you conclude your first impressions of a website within seconds. Going to the website of an affiliate network you’re considering can tell you a lot about how they understand the Web. For example, an aesthetically appealing design that doesn't overwhelm visitors, features clear navigation at the top for quick information and support contributes to a general feeling of confidence. Because an affiliate network does business online, their website should reflect they understand the Web in design and functionality.

The Company They Keep
The next step is looking for accreditations. Do they promote industry affiliations on their site to showcase they are recognized by associations and those active in the community. For example, do they showcase seals for Better Business Bureau (BBB), Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Online Publishers Association (OPA). Do they attend tradeshows? Are they published in trade journals? Do they actively advertise? While there isn’t regulation online, partnering with an affiliate network that gets involved with its industry gives them some level of credibility.

Quantity, Quality and Everything in Between
What’s the size of their publisher and advertising networks? Publishers partner with affiliate networks that can provide them with a large number of advertisers – and advertisers that pay them. The more advertisers in a network, the more competitive the payouts are for publishers. Advertisers will partner with affiliate networks that can provide them with a large number of publishers to guarantee they get a broad reach. But quality of that reach is also important. Advertisers want to make sure their products are being promoted by affiliates with large traffic numbers and credibility themselves. Choosing an affiliate network that only has one of these two factors can be detrimental to the success of your affiliate marketing.

Let Me Hear You!
What level of communication and support is available? Being able to get in contact with your affiliate network management guarantees you can solve problems when they arise, ask questions when needed, and make any changes when necessary. Consider an affiliate network that provides you with a personal project manager to assist you with any and all kinds of support. Business on the Web is constantly changing so it’s important to partner with an affiliate network that will be there when you want them.

Affiliate Networks
Below are a sampling of four affiliate networks that operate under the traditional affiliate network business model of cost per action. However, it’s important to note there are companies that provide services on a cost per lead basis such as NetLine, which may fit your goals.

Commission Junction: Commission Junction has three different plans for merchants to choose from with basic functionality to advanced. Its website has detailed information about plans, FAQs, the company, as well as how to contact for support. Commission Junction is accredited by the Better Business Bureau.

ShareASale: ShareASale doesn’t offer plans but rather operates as a performance marketing network meaning there are set fees and the merchant establishes commission rates. Affiliate and Merchant information is separate on its website for quick navigation to applicable information. ShareSale operates the ABestWeb forum for assistance.

Pepperjam: Pepperjam is also a performance marketing network. It handles reporting and affiliate payments. E-commerce merchants are ideal advertisers for Pepperjam’s affiliate network. Contact information about the company is provided on its website, as well as detailed information about advertisers and publishers.

RevenueLoop: RevenueLoop has a set up fee and service fee which changes depending on the monthly volume. The fees include billing, tracking and customer service. It includes detailed support information on its site.

To view more affiliate networks, read Website Magazine’s Top 50 Affiliate Networks from the May 2009 issue.

What affiliate networks do you use and why? Comment below.

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