When you are launching a new affiliate program, a huge decision that impacts the success of your program is choosing an affiliate network. You need to make sure the network you choose best aligns with your program goals. There are 5 main aspects to consider when evaluating an affiliate network. You need to look at competitors, technology, support, pricing, and affiliate base.
Before launching a new affiliate program, it is important to run a competitive analysis to make sure your brand is well positioned in the affiliate space compared to similar companies. You should look at what networks your competitors are on, what commission rate they are offering, and how they are promoting themselves to affiliates. If several competitors are on the same network, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right network for your brand, but it gives you a good starting point for which networks to research further.
Another important aspect to look at is the technology and tools that each network provides. Before you do this, you need to have a clear idea of the types of affiliate sales that you deem most valuable and how you would like to commission affiliates on those sales. Then, you can decide if you need to launch on a network that has advanced tracking and commissioning capabilities. For example, some networks have the ability to commission differently based on new vs. returning customers, first click, device type, product, etc. If coupon code leakage is an issue, some networks have promo code suppression to block specific codes from the affiliate channel and other networks have commissioning options to mitigate late entry coupon behavior. Another feature that is gaining more popularity is promo code tracking which allows campaigns through Podcasts, Instagram, print ads, etc. to be tracked through the affiliate network.
Another thing to look at when evaluating a network is the level of support their team provides. This is especially important in the tech integration phase when you are adding the network pixel to your site. If there are tech issues, you want a network that is very responsive and will help to resolve the problem quickly. There also will be platform questions or inquiries from affiliates that you will need help from the network on as you are managing the program. It is important to find out up front if you will have a direct contact at the network and what the response time will be.
When evaluating the pricing of different networks, a good place to start is to have a forecast for the revenue you expect your affiliate program to generate. Then you will have an idea of how network costs fit within your budget. The first fee to consider is the integration fee. Many networks have integration fees upwards of $1,500. For ongoing fees, most networks charge a percentage of commissions or percentage of revenue while others charge a flat rate per month. Many networks also have monthly minimums where you will get charged for the difference if your program doesn’t reach the monthly minimum in network fees. If you don’t expect your program to generate a high volume, it would be good to look at a network with a low monthly minimum so you aren’t paying additional fees.
Sometimes it makes sense to choose an affiliate network based on the types of affiliates you will be targeting for recruitment. Some networks specialize in specific verticals such as outdoor, fashion, or travel. If you plan to target customers in a specific country, you may need to launch on a network with a large presence in that country. It is also important to make sure the key affiliates you want to join your program work on the network you launch on or are willing to set up an account on that network. Also, it is important to know how networks vet affiliates that join their network. Some networks manually review each affiliate that joins the network so they may have a smaller total number of affiliates on their network, but they are higher quality.
While choosing an affiliate network is a big decision to make, hopefully this article helps you narrow down your options. The JEBCommerce team is here to assist you with choosing the right network to launch your affiliate program on. Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like any advice!