January 20, 2022

Understand the Value of an Affiliate Network

Affiliate marketing is kind of like flying a fighter jet. It can be a lot of fun to race across the sky, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

In the same way that a pilot has to keep track of their airspeed, altitude, weather conditions and fuel levels all at the same time, managing relationships with dozens, if not hundreds of different affiliates, is a complex task entailing relationship building, account management and data collection.

If all of that feels like a lot, that’s ok. That’s why affiliate networks exist.

Affiliate networks are collections of thousands of different affiliates overseen by a single organization, that can track sales, recruit and screen new affiliates and manage commissions.

And while they all generally provide the same service, they’re not all of the same quality. Before you associate your brand with any network (and pay them a share of your sales) you should evaluate a few key characteristics to make sure that they’ll work well for you.

1. Data Tracking

If you’ve spent any time reading this blog, then you already know that we prioritize high-quality data over just about everything. That’s why an essential feature of any good affiliate network is an excellent data reporting system.

A good network should gather all of the essential sales data from your entire collection of affiliates, organize it and give you customized reports on all of your essential sales data.

Being able to analyze and act on your most important KPIs is the lifeblood of any successful affiliate campaign and a network that doesn’t provide easy access to high-quality information won’t be worth your money.

Making sure that any affiliate network you work with has easy-to-use reporting systems is the first step to making sure they’ll be a good partner for your brand.

2. Customize Your Affiliates

Most major networks will have thousands of different affiliates for you to work with, but only a fraction of those will actually be a good fit for your business. That’s why a well-designed network doesn’t just collect affiliates, it organizes them.

First, that means it should be easy to divide their network into the vertical that best fits your product.

Additionally, affiliates fall into many different types of categories, from influencers to content producers to coupon sites, each of which provides different value propositions and can help you reach different goals.

Make sure that your affiliate network lets you effectively sort both by vertical and affiliate type so that you can customize your network to best suit your needs.

3. Pay Outs

One of the most valuable services an affiliate network provides is accounting. On any sale, there are three parties that need to get paid: you, your affiliate and the network which will usually take a small commission of the sale.

Of course, this performance-based pay is at the big beating heart of why affiliate marketing works, but tracking sales and commissions across a network of potentially hundreds of different affiliates can be a complex task.

A good network makes this easy, by tracking sales and then making sure that every party gets the money that they’re entitled to.

This is also a key checkpoint to know if you’re working with a high-quality network. A good one makes it easy for your affiliates to get paid. If a network is slow with this task or makes it hard for your affiliates to collect their commissions, then they won’t be motivated and your sales could suffer as a result.

In case you haven’t picked up on our theme yet, it’s that a good affiliate network should make your life easier. Data should be easy to collect, affiliates should be easy to find and everyone should get paid quickly and fairly. If that all comes together in the right way, you’ll feel like Maverick soaring high over the Indian Ocean, but if not, you’ll be grounded before you even get off the runway.

Are you getting started in affiliate marketing or looking to improve your current program?

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