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How to Pick an Affiliate Marketing Network

How to Pick an Affiliate Marketing Network

Mason Lindblad

You’ve probably heard of a lot of companies that offer affiliate programs. Target, REI, Best Buy, and other major retailers all offer affiliate programs and are household names. But affiliate networks may be a bit more mysterious. You’ve likely never heard of companies like Clickbank, CJ Affiliate, and Avantlink, but leveraging these companies can make your affiliate marketing stronger.

What is an Affiliate Network?

An affiliate network is a middleman between companies and affiliate marketers. They provide access to a ton of affiliate programs, so that you don’t need to sign up for all of them individually. This makes it easier to find good affiliate programs and keep all of your finances in one place. Some of them even give you a foot in the door to talk to brands about one-off deals like sponsored posts. The downside is that they might take a small cut of the money, but you have a lot more potential to make money with less hassle. However, commission rates, product types, and cookie durations will most often depend on the particular advertiser, rather than the network.

Where are Your Competitors?

To pick a trustworthy affiliate network, do some competitor research and try to figure out what networks they are working through. Are they finding success in their networks? If it seems like they are, then those may be the networks to go after.

Find out if a Network has a Focus

Some networks focus on a certain category, like beauty or retail. If you want to target a certain category, see if there are any affiliate networks that focus on your niche already. This will make it much easier to sign up for the networks that you need.

What Tracking Data Do You Need?

Every affiliate network has fairly robust tracking software to ensure that you have an accurate picture of how well your affiliate marketing efforts are doing. But if you have specific needs, you may need to do some further research into what exact data is tracked by each network, and how that data is displayed.

Pay Attention to Special Features

Most affiliate programs have some sort of feature that sets them apart. While most of these features are small, they can end up being important to you. For example, the Rakuten network uses a special piece of code for their ads that let the ad rotate through different banners automatically. If one of these special features is something that really seals the deal for you, you might want to consider that program.

Decide if You Need Management

Some affiliate programs offer an additional service for managing you. Affiliate marketing companies employ managers to maintain their affiliate marketers, and they can help you with interpreting data, working in the backend technical details, and solve any other issues you may run into. Different networks may offer different prices for management services.