But establishing direct affiliate marketing relationships is extremely challenging for a number of reasons, which we’ll get into below. While there are certain instances when a direct relationship makes sense, most affiliates will be better off accepting that networks are part of the equation and focusing on finding the right merchants and maximizing referrals.
Answering these four questions will funnel down to the rates that work best for your business, at least to start. It’s good practice to evaluate your rates at least quarterly to make sure that they’re not only still competitive, but make fiscal sense for your bottom line. Additionally, having these four answers will help you if you find yourself negotiating new rates with your affiliates.
For sites looking to monetize their existing traffic through affiliate marketing, a major determinant of success is picking the right offers to run. The difference in earnings from a bad offer and a good one can be enormous. Unfortunately, finding the “right” offer isn’t exactly easy; if you’re using an affiliate marketing network such as Commission Junction (now part of Conversant), SharesASale, or LinkShare, you will have literally thousands of affiliate offers available to you.
The two primary players in any affiliate marketing arrangement are the content-creating affiliate and the product-selling merchant. But as affiliate marketers know, networks such as Commission Junction and LinkShare are key components of the “ecosystem” as well. Just as many sites that monetize via display advertising attempt to establish direct relationships with advertisers and cut out ad networks, successful affiliate marketers may wonder about eliminating networks and working directly with their merchants.
ClickBank allows you to join for free, and the approval process is virtually automatic, so it’s a great choice for people entering the affiliated game for the first time. ClickBank has a ton of information, including FAQs, walk-throughs, and videos available, so the barrier to entry is quite low. There’s also a (paid) program called ClickBank University with courses and assistance from experienced marketers.
(c) You will be solely responsible for providing personnel to assist Amazon customers with making purchases through the Local Associates Program. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, you will design a reasonable training program designed to (1) educate your employees about Local Associates Program offerings, (2) use your expertise to assist Amazon customers with evaluating and making purchasing decisions regarding Local Associates Products, and (3) optimize customer experiences with the Local Associates Program. Further, you will implement the training program for all store managers and associates at each Local Associates Facility. With respect to any Amazon customer data received by you or your personnel in connection with purchases of Local Associates Products, you will ensure the security and prompt destruction of such customer data.
(e)You will not (and you will not seek to) purchase, register or otherwise use any Amazon Mark (as defined in the Trademark Guidelines) or variations or misspellings of any of those words (e.g., “ammazon,” “amaozn,” and “kindel,”) for use in any Search Engine . In addition to any other rights or remedies available to us, upon our request you will cause any Search Engine designated by us to exclude Proprietary Terms (defined below) from keywords used to display your advertising content in association with search results (e.g., request exclusion by negative keyword bidding), assuming the Search Engine offers such exclusion capabilities.
What the chart above doesn’t show is the role of the affiliate marketing network (e.g., Commission Junction or LinkShare). From the publisher’s point of view, the affiliate network is involved very early on in the process, generally supplying the ad creative and affiliate links used to refer traffic. They’re also involved at the last (and most important) step in the process: a portion of the commission earned by the affiliate goes to the network who matches them up with merchants and handles the various administrative functions.
(b) Amazon Marks Limited License. Amazon grants to you a non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sublicensable, non-assignable, revocable right and license to display, publish, and reproduce Amazon Marks that Amazon may provide to you from time to time in connection with Local Associates Program solely for the purpose of marketing Local Associates Products. Amazon reserves all right, title, and interest in and to its Intellectual Property Rights and no title to or ownership of any of Amazon’s Intellectual Property Rights (including with respect to Amazon Marks) is transferred or licensed in connection with this Local Associates Policy. “Intellectual Property Right” means any patent, copyright, trademark, or trade secret right and any other intellectual property or proprietary right in any jurisdiction, including any and all applications, registration and rights of registration, reissues, divisions, continuations, substitutes, renewals, and extensions in respect thereto, and any causes of action related to any violation, infringement or misappropriation thereof. Upon the termination of your participation in the Local Associates Program by Amazon or you, you will immediately cease and discontinue all further use of the Amazon Marks, any and all licenses you have with respect to the Amazon Marks will automatically terminate. You will promptly (within 7 calendar days) stop using and remove or destroy all Amazon Marks and any other materials provided or made available by or on behalf of Amazon to you under this Local Associates Policy.
Though the glory days may be behind us, affiliate marketing remains a multi-billion dollar industry and a primary source of income for thousands of successful online entrepreneurs. As the number of merchants embracing affiliate marketing strategies has increased, new opportunities have been created for Web publishers able to build an audience and effectively promote affiliate offers.
As with many aspects of Web monetization, the exact strategies will vary from site to site. There’s no universally superior affiliate marketing offer or merchant. There are, however, some general guidelines on factors to consider when evaluating potential affiliate marketing offers. We’ll dive into several of these below. We’re using screenshots from ShareASale throughout this article to illustrate the process, but the tasks and terms will be generally similar across the major affiliate marketing networks.
Understand the basics of how affiliate marketing works. Many online retailers who sell products or services offer affiliate programs. If you decide to sign up for a company’s affiliate program, you get a tracking link to put on your blog. When visitors click on that link, the link stores a cookie in their browser that remains for a set period of time, such as 60 days. If the visitor purchases a product from that merchant site within the time period, you earn a sales commission.
Products are now put in a category. The commission will be based on the category each product has been placed in whether or not the category is correct. For instance, I had a sale for a child riding toy tractor. Instead of it being in toys category which would have only earned me 3%, it was actually placed in lawn and garden category which I then actually earned 8% instead.
So, the maximum of what you can pay out in commission to the rep that brought in this new client, and break even, is $240. Of course, you’d never pay this much. Almost all merchants pay a commission that’s based on a percentage of the sale, not the LTV. But knowing your ceiling is the first step in calculating the payouts you can afford to set with your affiliate partners.
In some cases, the purchaser arrives at a page where the affiliate cookie gets set, then leaves and makes a purchase via the PPC channel sometime before the affiliate cookie expires. Other times, the purchaser may click a PPC link, fail to make a purchase, but later purchase via an affiliate link. In both scenarios, the affiliate marketing channel played a part in the sale, but the role was different.
While these models have diminished in mature e-commerce and online advertising markets they are still prevalent in some more nascent industries. China is one example where Affiliate Marketing does not overtly resemble the same model in the West. With many affiliates being paid a flat "Cost Per Day" with some networks offering Cost Per Click or CPM.