Monetization through affiliate networks isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s getting more popular. In 2020, the challenge is picking the ones your audience will love. How should you choose? And which networks should you look at first?
Affiliate marketing, one of the most popular means of online content monetization, is a form of performance-based online marketing. The affiliate industry saw rapid growth over the past decade, and as the calendar rolls over into the 2020s, affiliate marketing seems to be poised for continued growth.
Surveys indicate that affiliate marketing isn’t dying anytime soon. According to Statista, the industry is expected to eclipse the $8 billion mark by 2022, nearly double the sum in 2015.
Despite this good news about affiliate network monetization for publishers, choosing the right platform can be challenging. There are 100s of options available, focusing on different areas, niches, categories and product formats (physical vs digital).
How to Pick the Right Affiliate Network(s)
The first and most crucial step in picking the right affiliate network is to stop thinking that you are the one doing the choosing. The real decision-makers here are your users – your target audience. Focus on being relevant to your target audience demographics and product niche rather than seek out the most potentially profitable networks.
The initial drive of newcomers to affiliate marketing is to generate income as fast as possible. This isn’t necessarily bad, but can often hurt the profitability of a business by offering too broad a selection of products, or bouncing between niches in a search for higher affiliate margins.
Since an overabundance of affiliate networks is a nightmare to manage and is likely to confuse your audience, you will need to choose a handful (at most). Before you join any affiliate network publisher, be sure of the following;
1. Online reviews – reliability is key
Many people have been scammed by various affiliate programs. Others have gotten products that are quite different from what they ordered online, and sometimes of lesser quality. Therefore, before you join a particular affiliate publishing network, check online reviews. Opt for a reliable platform with a good reputation and excellent products.
2. Competitor publications
Take a look at your competitors. They may have done the footwork for you and discovered the best affiliate networks for your niche.
3. Product selection and variety
You don’t want to offer your audience substandard products. The moment you lose credibility and reputation, you may never get it back. Your audience sees you as an expert in the industry, and they trust you. Your authority is your key to success as a publisher – don’t tarnish it.
Be sure to choose products that resonate with your website niche. For instance, if you own a website about car care, don’t limit yourself to just promoting car care items. It is recommended to promote driving holidays, car insurance, car events, and other related products and services. However, your audience will probably not be as interested in horse care and maintenance.
Revenues and payments
Once you decide on the products you plan to promote, opt for an affiliate network publisher that offers higher commission to their affiliates. You don’t want to put in too much effort and money promoting a product, then get paid peanuts!
The time and effort invested in promoting an item paying you 2 percent commission, is likely to be similar to that you will need to spend marketing a product that can pay you 40 percent or more.
Affiliate Networks Publishers Should Join
Also known as Amazon Associates, the Amazon affiliate program is an easy way to monetize your blog. It is free for bloggers and website owners to become part of the Amazon Affiliate program. You can advertise a broad range of products and can promote virtually anything in Amazon’s stock.
Amazon is one of the giant online retailers globally. In the United States, the platform is responsible for about 40% of all online sales. And you can access a share of the retailer’s profits. You just need a good website and join its affiliate program.
- Commissions of up to 10 percent on qualifying product sales
- All purchases associated with your referred traffic, even if it’s not the item you linked to, add to your affiliate income
- A diverse product selection.
- User-friendly interface.
- Few payout options via check, Amazon gift card, or bank transfer
- The affiliate cookie lasts for 24 hours. If your site users visit the platform and purchase a product after 24 hours you will not be rewarded
The eBay Affiliate Program continues to be one of the most popular options for affiliate marketers. The platform has about 1.4 billion listings at any given time with an emphasis on unique items and specialized categories.
- eBay pays affiliates a share of the sales fees collected. The platform pays 50 percent to 70 percent of the fees they charge sellers.
- New affiliates are likely to make double commissions within the first three months.
- Payments are made via PayPal or Direct Deposit with a withdrawal threshold of $10.
The affiliate cookie lasts for 24 hours only and fees are sometimes delayed as over 50 percent of eBay sales are 7-day auctions.
LeadGid is a popular financial affiliate network in the CIS, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. For over six years, the company has specialized exclusively in financial verticals, a reason they offer a broad range of exclusive offers and unique prices for their trusted affiliates. The company is the leading provider of leads for microfinance organizations and banking institutions.
- A tracking platform (HasOffers) that gives you 99.9% tracking accuracy
- Custom affiliate profile that lets affiliates generate reports and analyze their performance
- Technologically-advanced API solutions
- The product categories are few
- The LeadGid affiliate program is available to a few countries compared to Amazon and eBay
4. CJ Affiliate
Formerly known as Commercial Junction, CJ Partners is a reputable network that brings thousands of different merchants under a single roof. Some of the giant companies using CJ include GoPro, Lowes, Grammarly, Overstock, IHG (Hotels), Office Depot, and more.
CJ offers a broad range of physical and digital product niches. The average commission rate and cookie period depend on the particular merchant you sign up with. The minimum payout is $100 for a check and $50 for Direct Deposit.
- A broad range of merchants to choose from
- Reliable and timely monthly payments
- CJ’s reporting suite is impressive. This is an advantage for marketers who intend to optimize their sales performance.
Though the reporting abilities are impressive, they are quite challenging for beginners. Therefore, you will need to put up with the steep learning curve before you start feeling comfortable navigating the reporting dashboard.
This is the ‘OG’ of affiliate networks and has been around for many years. The brand suffered a big bow in 2012 after being linked to poor-quality products. However, ClickBank has revamped its review process and launched a better and user-friendly dashboard.
Previously, the platform focused mainly on marketing different types of courses. Currently, they have expanded their offering significantly to include both physical and digital products. The maximum commission rate is 75 percent, and their cookie duration depends on the specific product you’re promoting.
- Weekly payouts with various payout options
- The company enforces a 60-day money-back guarantee on its products
- It is a joint venture program that allows for better earnings
- Though the refund policy drives conversions, it could impact your revenue negatively
- The initial payments are made by check
- The platform provides a limited range of physical products
The platform has approximately 4,500 merchants listed with more than a thousand of them exclusive to ShareASale. It is an excellent option for both physical and digital products. The average commission and cookie period depend on the particular merchant you choose. Remember, you are required to individually apply to merchants and get approved by the specific merchant before you can offer their products on your publication.
- More than 4,500 merchants for physical and digital products
- More than 1,000 exclusive merchants who work only with ShareASale
- The platform has been around for many years
- ShareASale has a bookmarklet that lets you generate custom affiliate links easily
· The dashboard is a little clunky.
AliExpress connects China-based businesses with buyers globally. Wholesalers and manufacturers have their listings on this eCommerce platform. AliExpress was launched in 2010 and is an international eCommerce platform that offers a broad range of product categories and supports 16 languages. AliExpress Portals commissions range from 3% to 9% and the cookie remains on user devices for 30 days.
- The platform has AliPlugin, a tool to easily create affiliate links
- Your AliExpress Portal allows you to generate tracing IDs for your affiliate links
- The affiliates are provided with banners and dynamic ads
- The products displayed are selected depending on your user’s browsing behavior on the shopping platform
- No commission for sales of “hot products”
- The commission is capped at $50, even if someone purchased a product worth thousands of dollars via your affiliate link
FlexOffers claims to pay their affiliates faster than other affiliate publisher networks in the industry. The platform connects bloggers, content writers, and other publishers with advertisers and brands. They provide thousands of affiliate programs to choose from, and the programs are divided into dozens of categories. This makes it easier for you to find your preferred program.
- You can earn up to 50 percent of any earnings from affiliates referred by you
- There are more than 15,000 affiliate programs to choose from
· International affiliates can only get paid via PayPal
9. Rakuten Marketing
Rakuten Marketing is among the oldest affiliate networks. It allows publishers to partner with leading and emerging brands across different industries. That means you can provide visitors with personalized advertising experience and links to specific products that they care about.
- The platform provides educational tools for affiliates
- The Ad rotation feature makes it easy to optimize ads
- It has deep linking options
- Unpredictable payments to affiliates
- It has a small network of about 1000 partners
This is a CPA network that offers a comprehensive list of physical and digital products. It stands out from its peers as it provides a second-tier affiliate marketing program that lets you earn 5% of all your second-tier affiliates sell within their first year. Remember, Peerfly‘s commission rate depends on the merchant, and the cookie duration depends on the product.
- Outstanding UX/UI
- Stringent vetting standards ensures that there are no scams
- Easy to use dashboard
- Payments are made three times a month via PayPal, Bitcoin. Amazon gift card, Payoneer, or Bank wire transfer
- The platform has a limited number of products
- The minimum payout is $50
The affiliate marketing industry essentially birthed what is called today “influencer marketing”. As the attention focuses on the publisher rather than product, you have the power to set trends and expand your following. All while getting a commission on the sale of products you’re willing to put your publisher brand name behind.
Eyal Katz is head of marketing at Pangeo. Eyal also likes long walks on the beach at sunset, having a cocktail with friends, and listening to Swedish Death Metal