There is a reason why many major merchants prefer to utilize affiliate marketing networks instead of setting up their own infrastructure. Just as the administrative burden can become overwhelming for publishers with multiple relationships in place, it can be too time consuming for merchants as well. Maintaining direct affiliate relationships involves building out an infrastructure to track referrals, calculate commissions, and process payments. While that may sound like a relatively straightforward process, it can become a major investment with plenty of potential complications and liability issues.

Let’s say you have a promotions page where you’re promoting a product via affiliate links. If you currently get 5,000 visits/month at a 2% conversion rate, you have 100 referrals. To get to 200 referrals, you can either focus on getting 5,000 more visitors, or simply increasing the conversion rate to 4%. Which sounds easier? Instead of spending months building domain authority with blogging and guest posts to get more organic traffic, you just have to increase the conversion rate by 2%. This can include landing page optimization, testing your calls-to-action, and having a conversion rate optimization strategy in place. By testing and optimizing your site, you’ll get far better results with much less effort. 
Keep your company’s business goal should also be top of mind. If your goal is attracting new customers, then maybe affiliates driving that type of traffic might be offered a better rate. And you may want to look at having different commission rates for different types of affiliate s- such as coupon affiliates, PPC affiliates, and super affiliates. Each of these groups has different strengths and will need to be addressed separately. You can also offer split commissions, whereby the commission is divided among multiple affiliates that participated in the process.
The vast majority of affiliate marketing relationships will be established either through a network or through the generic, impersonal interfaces of the companies who have established their own platforms. While the opportunity to generate additional revenue exists if networks are cut out of the picture, the substantial benefits they offer, including administrative responsibilities, makes them a pretty vital part of the affiliate marketing ecosystem.
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Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. The two forms of marketing are differentiated, however, in how they drive sales, where affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations, while referral marketing relies more on trust and personal relationships.[citation needed]

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