Affiliate networks provide a means for internet marketers to promote a wide range of products from a variety of companies through one platform. Among the most well-known networks are:
- Click Bank
- Amazon Associates
- Commission Junction
- JV Zoo
How the networks really work
The networks serve as a storehouse of different products for affiliates to market and promote. When you join a network, you are assigned a link to use in your promotions. When someone clicks on that link to make a purchase, you get paid a commission.
One of the neat things about networks is that as an affiliate, you gain access to the marketing tools for every product the network offers (links, banner ads, coupon codes). As an affiliate, you have the freedom to decide which products you want to focus your marketing efforts on.
No shortage of affiliate programs
Make no mistake, it’s clear that affiliate marketing is big business. There are thousands of existing networks out there and for good reason. According to recent estimates, affiliate programs will generate anywhere between $4 to $6 billion annually.
It’s been proven that the quality affiliate programs generate significant increases in brand awareness and customer traffic to participating websites for online sales. There’s little or no investment needed to start an affiliate program, so it’s a good — and profitable — situation for affiliates and merchants.
Here are some areas to consider when you’re ready to join a network
There are differences in the quality of affiliate networks, so it makes sense to consider what those differences are. Taking the time to find out the pluses and minuses could save you a lot of frustration in the long term.
- Reputation — You would do well to have a laundry list of questions that need to be answered. For example: Who’s running the show? Are the folks reputable? Any reports of affiliates being scammed? Do they pay on time? To what extent do the products being offered have customer appeal?
- Your interest in the products — Do yourself a favor and join a network that offers products that you’re interested in promoting. Don’t forget to check on how much demand there is for the product. If there’s not much demand, you’re not going to benefit financially.
- Money — Commission percentages vary by network. Some are higher, some are lower. Make sure that the commission percentage is something you can live with. Also, get a clear understanding of when you’ll be paid and by what means (PayPal, check, etc.) More than likely, there’s a minimum payout and you need to know what that is. With a minimum payout, you have to achieve a specified sales total before you can get paid. It’s a bad situation to be in if you’ve made the sales, but can’t collect your commissions.
- Support – This is crucial. It’s a major plus if the network and participating affiliates are active in providing timely support when needed. This sounds like a no-brainer, but there should be multiple ways that you can contact customer support. The really good networks give tips on how to increase sales volume and they provide the right tools to help you track sales, too.
- Cookies can make a huge difference – This is a lot more important than you might think. Cookies are the attached codes to promotional items given by other affiliates. Be on the look-out for cookies with the longer durations, which dictates whether or not you get paid. Let me explain. A cookie that has a duration of 30 days means that the customer has 30 days to go back to the site with your affiliate link and make a purchase, so you can get paid. If that same person waited more than 30 days to make a purchase, you will not be paid.
My final thoughts
These guidelines for joining affiliate networks also apply to all of the various affiliate programs in the marketplace. Most companies have their own individual programs, which means that in order to be an affiliate, you have to sign-up separately for each company. That’s not the case for networks, where everything is under one umbrella.
I always welcome input from readers. It helps me to better understand how I can best serve you. Please share your comments and/or opinions with me.
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