Many clients we work with wonder if they should add another network to their affiliate program to allow them to reach more affiliates and, in turn, increase sales. While there are certain cases where multiple networks can add value, the majority of the time multiple networks add unnecessary admin work and raise costs without actually generating the boost in sales the client was hoping for.
The main reason companies want to launch on multiple networks is to have access to more affiliates. While a few networks will have some affiliates on them that others don’t, most of the top earning affiliates work with all the major networks. Also, if you do find an affiliate you want to join your program but they aren’t in the network your program is on, they usually have no problem setting up an account on that network. In most cases, it’s more beneficial to focus on recruiting quality affiliates to the program on the current network and work on activating them rather than adding another network to the mix.
Something else to consider when looking at launching on multiple networks is the additional admin work required. The increased work that comes with running an affiliate program on multiple networks can be difficult to manage. Each network will need to be monitored daily to approve or decline affiliates, monitor for fraud, and check sales. Also, separate newsletters will need to be created and sent and banners and text links will need to be updated across all networks. Having multiple networks can also make reporting more time consuming since data has to be consolidated from multiple locations.
Having multiple networks comes with additional costs. Between the integration fees and legal costs from contract negotiations, merchants can spend thousands of dollars just getting launched on a new network. In addition, many networks have monthly minimums and if you aren’t hitting that amount, you could be paying the network extra fees. Also, your accounting department may have to spend additional time keeping track of the network fees and commissions for multiple networks.
With multiple affiliate networks, there is the potential for tracking duplication errors. Since there are pixels set up for multiple networks, you may end up paying multiple affiliates for the same sale if a customer visits more than one affiliate’s website before making their purchase. During set up, you’ll have to make sure tracking pixels only fire under certain conditions. You will also need to put a process in place to check the networks each month to make sure there aren’t duplicate orders for the same order ID, which adds to the admin work of having multiple networks.
When a company starts working with multiple networks, they face an increase in administrative work and expenses that could be better spent growing the program on the current network by optimizing VIP affiliates as well as targeting and recruiting new affiliates. With that being said, there are some instances where launching on a new network may be beneficial. These include utilizing advanced technology only available on certain networks, reaching an international audience, and targeting a specific niche of publishers.
There are some affiliate networks that have advanced technology options not available in all networks. For example, if you are worried about coupon affiliates coming in at the last minute before checkout and “stealing” credit for sales they didn’t refer, some networks have great tools available to create custom commissions for this type of situation. Also, some networks provide an in-depth look into the customer’s purchase process. For example, there are networks with technology that gives merchants insight into the customers’ entire click stream leading up to the sale so they can see if a customer went through social media, email, or one of the other ecommerce channels in addition to the affiliate channel before making their purchase.
Another reason to launch on an additional network is if a company is expanding to an international audience. It can be beneficial to launch an international affiliate program to build up a presence in an international market without the risk that comes with opening an office and having employees within that country. In this case, the best option would be to have a separate network since affiliates from different countries need to be communicated to differently. For instance, you will need to make sure you use the correct currency when letting the affiliates know about discounts, have banners and text links available in different languages, etc. Also, networks that have operations in the country you wish to enter know the market and trends and will help you develop a strategy that works best for your company.
Another time it could be beneficial to launch on another network is to reach a specific category of affiliates. There are some networks that have a large group of publishers that are all targeted to a certain audience, such as outdoors, travel, or fashion. Joining one of these networks can give you exposure to affiliates in your vertical and allow you to use network recruiting tools to get these affiliates to join your program. This reduces time spent weeding out irrelevant affiliates since you know most the affiliates in that network are a fit for your program.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that launching on multiple affiliate networks needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Look at your goals for the specific affiliate program and see if it would be worth the increased admin work and costs to launch another network or if the time and budget would be better spent on growing the program on the existing network.