Things to Consider When Choosing an Affiliate Network

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Last week we talked about 10 types of affiliate partners and what each has to offer. From that blog post alone, you can get a pretty good idea of just how many are out there and what your options are. From coupon and shopping comparison sites to search affiliates and social media influencers, you’ve got a lot to choose from. So many, in fact, that you might start to wonder how to even begin the process of choosing the right ones to complement you, your business, and your affiliate program. 

There’s no doubt that it can be tedious and overwhelming, especially since it’s never a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. There are many factors to take into consideration and deciding can take a lot of time, money, and energy. That’s why a great alternative to manual handpicking is to work with a middleman that connects you with the right partners that are willing to advertise for your brand. 

Companies that specialize in this work are called affiliate networks. Partnering with one of these organizations can be a quick and easy way to get your products or services advertised by multiple affiliates. Still, that doesn’t mean that we should be hasty when it comes to choosing a network. The same energy that goes into deciding what affiliates to partner with should be put into selecting a network. 

What kind of writer would I be if I left you on that ridiculously vague note, though? That would be straight-up rude. I think we can do a lot better than that. So, to kickstart your process, here’s a list of five things you should take into account when choosing your affiliate network. 

1. Costs to join

This one might be a little apparent, but it’s important enough to include in this list. The first thing to do when getting ready to pick an affiliate network is set aside a budget and determine how much you’re willing to spend on affiliate marketing

Once that’s squared away, something helpful to know is that there are multiple ways you could be charged, depending on the network. The next cost to keep in mind, and probably the most expected, is the monthly fee. Outside of that, each organization will have a single integration fee. And lastly, some networks may have an override fee, which is sometimes a percentage of the affiliate’s commission.

2. Credibility

About as important as the first item, credibility is huge when it comes to selecting a network. It’s always a good idea to run a background check on the networks you’re considering. Why? Well, there are a couple of reasons. Even some of the most popular ones might regularly implement controversial business practices you want to know about. There are also affiliate networks that claim to be big-league but have a client list that may not reflect that. Something else to be careful about is networks that don’t have a public catalog of partners. If a network clears these items and is not in debt, that’s all good news. 

3. What other affiliates think 

Credibility is a great way to gauge whether or not a network will be a good fit, but another solid resource is the opinion of other affiliates. Maybe you already have an affiliate partner or two who has experience with one or more of the networks you’re thinking about. If so, ask them what they do and don’t like about working with them. They’ll probably have some valuable insight, especially regarding their reasons for leaving any particular network. Asking affiliates what their thoughts are could be as casual as a conversation or as formal as an individual interview. No matter how the ask takes place, remember to be open to the feedback that your partners have. Even if it means adapting to their recommendations. 

4. Technological offerings

High-quality tools make all the difference when it comes to connecting with affiliate partners. So, the tools that a network offers you are an important factor in determining their ability to help you make those connections possible. An example could be the technology to track specific statistics. 

Having access to monitoring details, like how many returning customers you have or how many clicks your links are getting, could truly help guide your strategy. It could also point to whether affiliate marketing works for your brand and which affiliates are the most beneficial. Let’s not forget the potential for you to discover new target audiences you might’ve not found otherwise. Tools will vary by network, of course, and some may even have packages to choose from based on what tech would help you most. 

5. Types of advertising partners 

Among the different networks, there will be a variety of partners that hone in on specific verticals, like wellness or fashion. Some may even have a strong international presence. To start pinpointing networks that could complement your brand, make sure to first establish your target audience. Once that’s done, you can use that audience to do a little more research and find out which networks cater best to it. 

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Taking these factors into account will go a long way when you’re trying to find a fitting affiliate network. Instead of hopping on board with one right away, take your time and ask them questions. The questions could be about cost, what affiliate partners they work with, or what tech they have on deck. Don’t be shy about covering every topic you’re unsure of. There’s no reason you should settle for less or waste your money and time on a platform that doesn’t give you what you need. 

You might even want to leverage automated affiliate management, like Purply, to connect you with the right affiliates (no matter which network you go with). Along with this list, Purply is here to help you choose the right network based on your target market, needs, and footprint. Check us out!

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