Welcome back to our guide to affiliate marketing blog series! In our first post, we offered a brief overview of the major players in affiliate marketing and the benefits your business can reap by joining in the growing trend. If you’d like a recap, you can find it here. Next, we took a closer look at current trends and how you can find the right affiliates for your brand, which you can find here. Today, we’ll provide an overview of the popular affiliate platforms, how to manage an affiliate program successfully, and the direction in which affiliate marketing is heading.
Popular Affiliate Platforms
Affiliate platforms provide a simple and effective way to build, manage, and scale your affiliate program. In addition to providing unique tracking links for your affiliates, they also include features to onboard new partners, follow their performance in real-time, and host marketing assets to help them successfully promote your products or services.
Affiliate platforms offer flexibility in how you set up your commission structure, whether you want to set up your commission structure as a fixed cost per action, percentage of the sales, or a combination of both. In addition to managing the commission structure, most affiliate networks will handle the payment of partner commissions, eliminating the headache for your finance team of paying invoices each month for each partner. One of the most significant benefits of using an affiliate network is the visibility into real-time affiliate partner performance reporting. This reporting provides invaluable insights into what types of partners and content resonates best with consumers and will help you make informed decisions when updating your program structure and creating new campaign creatives.
Over 20 different companies on the market offer affiliate management platforms, and each have their unique value that they can bring to your program. We will now cover the benefits of a few of the most popular platforms.
Share-A-Sale is one of the most popular affiliate networks on the market and hosts over 4,000 merchant programs for brands big and small. Share-A-Sale holds 55.7% of the market share. They offer a one-stop-shop for affiliate partners to sign up for merchant programs, generate unique share links, and track their performance metrics. Share-A-Sale hosts affiliate programs for both physical and digital brands from a wide variety of industries.
Awin, previously known as Affiliate Window, is another popular affiliate network platform that hosts over 15,000 merchant programs. Of the brands that host their affiliate network on Awin, some of the biggest are Etsy, Under Armer, and HP. They also host many smaller niche brands.
CJ Affiliate, formerly known as Commission Junction, is slightly smaller with over 3,000 merchant affiliate programs. Some of the household brands that use CJ Affiliate include Olympia Sports, IHG (Hotels), and Priceline.
Technology is an integral part of affiliate program management. Utilizing technology from one of the affiliate platforms we discussed above will help you track and measure your partners’ performance pay them for their contributions.
Aspects of Affiliate Program Management
Setting up an affiliate marketing program is relatively simple; however, there are a few aspects of your program that will make or break its long-term success. To effectively manage your affiliate program, you have to take a holistic approach to ensure you’re coving all the bases. The main aspects of affiliate management are program strategy, partner recruitment, activation, development, and program operations.
Affiliate recruitment and enablement are the lifeline of your affiliate program. Still, it requires time and specialized talent to build relationships and the right tools in place to create an effective affiliate recruitment strategy. If you want your program to continue to grow, it’s essential to keep affiliate recruitment and relationship management at the forefront of your affiliate strategy. It’s crucial to understand and communicate the value your affiliate program brings to each type of partner you have in your program to keep them engaged and producing.
Each partner who joins your program will get a link to share your product with a unique ID in it. If a consumer buys your product or service through an affiliate link, the sale will be attributed to the affiliate whose link it is. Each affiliate link also has a cookie window or duration you can set within your affiliate platform. When an affiliate link is used, a cookie is stored on the consumers’ computer and tracks if any purchases are made during the cookie window.
It’s essential to track the progress of each of your partners as well as your program overall. A few areas of your partner program you should follow are unique link shares, clicks, and commissions rewarded. These metrics will help you make informed decisions on what direction to take your program in the future.
Monitor Affiliate Advertising
Not only is it essential to monitor your affiliate partner’s marketing campaigns to make sure they remain in line with your companies' brand, but also to make sure your affiliates aren’t competing for the same keywords, trademarks, and copyrights as your internal marketing team. Additionally, if an affiliate partner is having great success with their content, you can take these learnings to improve your marketing strategy.
While we all would like our affiliate programs to grow exponentially, there are a few risks with fast growth that are important to keep an eye on. If you notice an affiliate that usually generates 10 leads per day is suddenly driving 1,000 leads, it’s crucial to look into it to make sure they are genuine leads. You should check your affiliate program leads daily to make sure there aren’t any fraudulent orders, for example, a large number of orders purchased from the same IP address. Another risk to keep an eye out for is cookie stuffing. Cookie Stuffing is when a third-party illegitimately drops multiple affiliate partner cookies on a user’s browser to claim the commission for sales that happen on that browser.
Affiliate Trends/ Future
In the next few years, technological enhancements will continue to improve and impact the affiliate marketing world, making it more efficient and effective. One trend to keep an eye on is the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the affiliate marketing sector. This technology can improve the way affiliate marketers monitor their program performance and seamlessly communicate with hundreds of publishers. Another trend we anticipate will continue to gain momentum is optimizing campaigns for voice search. Mobile phone assistants such as Siri and Alexa have added new complexity to internet searches. To stay relevant and competitive, affiliate marketers will have to put a greater focus on optimizing their campaign messaging for voice searches.
NEW - Verb’s Affiliate Program
We are excited to announce that Verb’s affiliate program is officially launching on November 1st, 2020. When you join Verb’s affiliate program, you will be given a unique share link and marketing assets to promote verbLIVE to your audience, as well as a partner platform to track your earnings and manage your campaigns.
Our affiliates will earn rewards for each referral that signs up for a verbLIVE account. We will also be awarding additional rewards for hitting referral milestones. If you are interested in spreading the word about verbLIVE, join our program as an early access partner and earn up to 100% commission for every new sign-up!
Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of our affiliate marketing blog series, and hopefully feel a lot more confident in your ability to build and scale your own affiliate program. Affiliate marketing is a flexible approach to growing your brand that is cost-effective, easy to manage, and positively impacts your business. Do you think you’re ready to take your first steps into implementing an affiliate marketing program? Reach out if you need help, or if you’re looking to join our new verbLIVE affiliate program!