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The 4 pitfalls of engaging with too many affiliate networks

February 15, 2016 08:52 AM
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More return on investment. More success. More money.

We live in a “bigger is better,” results-focused world. But while it’s easy to get caught up in the end-game grind, it pays to slow down and think through quality over quantity.

One area in which this rings particularly true is affiliate marketing. Here are the four main pitfalls of engaging with too many affiliate networks.

1. The “Grass is Greener” Trap

Many marketers have a “grass is greener” mentality, assuming that if hundreds of brands are using a particular network, it’s better than the one they’re using. Or, they might feel they need to expand to multiple affiliate networks to capture more of the market. That mindset is misguided. Each brand has its own strategy and goals, and it’s important to find a network that aligns with your priorities, rather than choosing one simply because it seems popular.

2. The Slow Budget Leak

Nearly every network charges some type of setup cost and ongoing monthly minimum fees. By engaging with too many affiliate networks, you might be increasing the total cost of your program unnecessarily. The other big concern is resources.Remember that all the work you do in one program will have to be duplicated for another. Uploading creative, approving affiliates, sending newsletters and communication, maintaining tracking, and everything else will have to be duplicated — which also results in lost budget.

3. The Consistency Conundrum

Another potential pitfall comes if each network has different commission rates or benefits, which can lead to confusion. Moreover, it will pull affiliates from one network to another just to get the higher rate. Always have a consistent commission structure if you’re working with multiple networks.

4. The Double-Dipping Debacle

Each network has software in place to eliminate the possibility of two affiliates in the same network taking credit for a single sale. However, what if a customer clicks on one link from a site in one network and then clicks on another link from a site in a second network before her purchase? You’re at risk of paying twice for the same sale if you don’t have some type of tag management technology or process in place for eliminating that risk.

How to Avoid the Trap of Multiple Networks

If you are considering multiple programs, then how can you avoid this trap and select the best network from the start?

In the U.S., the major networks are CJ Affiliate, Rakuten Marketing, Impact Radius, ShareASale, and Ebay Enterprise. They all excel at executing the core functionality that every program requires (tracking, payment, creative management, reporting, etc.). Each one has certain strengths and weaknesses, and they are all priced slightly differently.

Talk to at least two or three networks, and request live demos. It’s important to have a comfort level with the interface and tools before signing a contract, and comparison shopping also gives you the chance to size up pricing and commercial terms among the various networks. Get a commitment — in writing — from the network on exactly what is included or not included in the support level you’re signing up for. Many brands believe the networks “do it all” for them, when the networks often levy additional charges for support after the initial integration.

It’s easy to think that more affiliate networks equal more money, but affiliate marketing is definitively a “less is more” business. By paring down to the networks that are most valuable for your company, you’ll save resources, time, and budget.

House of Kaizen is a digital performance advertising agency with offices in New York City, London and Lagos, Nigeria.

 

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