In its simplest form, affiliate marketing is a channel where brands pay a publisher to promote their products. For example, Nike will partner with BuzzFeed to promote their new running shoes - Buzzfeed will then include Nike running shoes in their upcoming “Best Running Shoes Under $100.” If a customer reads about Nike’s running shoe in said article and makes a purchase, Nike will pay Buzzfeed a percentage of that sale since that purchase was a direct result of BuzzFeed’s promotion.
If you have an e-commerce presence, chances are the affiliate channel is a great fit for you due to the low risk associated with the CPA model. Brands are no longer paying thousands of dollars hoping for a positive return on investment; with an affiliate program, you only pay a publisher who drove a sale for you.
The affiliate ecosystem is a simple one - you have your brand, your publishers/affiliates, and your networks. All of an affiliate’s promotional efforts are tracked in an affiliate network. In addition to tracking all transactions, networks are also where brands pay their publishers for sales.
Some of the main networks are Commission Junction, Impact Radius, PepperJam, ShareASale, Rakuten, Avantlink, Partnerize, and many more.
You should launch your affiliate program in a network based on the strengths of that network and what you are specifically looking for from the affiliate channel. For example, are you looking for an easy and intuitive recruitment tool, influencer-heavy publisher roster, access to the best publishers in your vertical, most affordable? These are all questions that need to be answered before choosing the right network for your brand.
Most partnerships are on a CPA only structure but there are some affiliates who charge a large flat fee for integration or content coverage plus a CPA. It is important to navigate flat fees in the affiliate channel with caution because if you partner with the wrong affiliate, you may not see a return on investment. This is why hiring PartnerForward removes the risk/headache since we do the heavy lifting and negotiating on your behalf based on years of experience optimizing with these same affiliates across all verticals.
The biggest no no of affiliate marketing is creating a program heavily weighted towards one side of the funnel or category of publisher. Publisher types include content, cashback, shopping, tech, group benefit, etc. For a sustainable, scaleable, and successful affiliate program, you need to integrate all types of affiliates from closed employee benefit groups to mass media.
Hiring an affiliate agency makes sense for any brand that is looking to grow their affiliate channel because we can do it quicker, easier, and more efficiently than someone just entering the space with no contacts or experience. Don’t know where to start or if you can build out a robust affiliate roster? As the old saying goes “you don’t know what you don’t know” so let us guide you on which network to launch in, which partners you need in your program, what your 6 month roadmap looks like, etc.
PartnerForward is a subsidiary of 55Haitao Group which has been in the industry since 2009 and owns at least 7 different affiliate properties. Why is this important? This is important because we offer all brands under management immediate integration with our 7 properties. In addition to that, we provide other exciting perks, something that no other agency offers. If our Haitao leverage wasn’t enough, it is near impossible to find a team with the amount of expertise our team has for the same price - we have over 50 combined years in the space. By being in the industry and attending hundreds of conferences, no one has the relationships with publishers or experience that we do.