Tips & Guides — 23 Jul 2020
How to Build an Affiliate Network
Do you want to make ever-growing profits with affiliate marketing?
We suggest taking into consideration the option of creating your own affiliate network. We introduce the 7-step guide that would explain how to build a profitable affiliate network from scratch. But first, let us answer some basic questions about affiliate networks in general:
The main reason behind the general intention to create your own affiliate network is to grow your profits in affiliate marketing business even more.
You can be a successful merchant or affiliate marketer with high and stable earnings. Still, sooner or later, working hard in this industry leads you to opportunity when you can expand your business framework. One such step forward is to build an affiliate network.
Owning an affiliate network allows you to have a legion of affiliates behind you. Just imagine how much money you can make with it!
You might be thinking right now: It’s too late to start an affiliate network, there are thousands of them out there. Yes, there are plenty of partnership networks, but according to a survey done by Rakuten (one of the biggest affiliate networks), 94% of publishers use more than one CPA network. You just need to find the right niche for your start.
There is another reason why you might want to start your affiliate network. Didn’t you ever feel that you can do everything better from the affiliate program point of view? All affiliate networks are about offers, getting the highest rates, and treating your affiliates right and helping them succeed. Perhaps you know the right recipe for an affiliate network thriving.
So, there are enough reasons to create an affiliate network and plenty of space to take the spot in the industry.
Affiliate networks defined as an intermediary between publishers and advertisers. This partnership creates a win-win situation for every involved party.
CPA networks allow affiliates to find and take part in the best affiliate programs quickly. On the other side, affiliate networks provide a wide range of promotional channels for brands and advertisers. Besides, you don’t have to advertise your affiliate program directly. Brands get access to affiliates participating in the network.
A little history here. Affiliate networks took their beginnings in 1998 when Commission Junction was created. After that, the CJ affiliate network & ClickBank started the first major affiliate network together. Since then, many new affiliate networks have been built, among which the largest right now are: CJ; Rakuten; Awin; Amazon; ShareASale; eBay.
The first thing required for the existence and basic operations of an affiliate network is to have established connections with brands or advertisers and publishers ready to become affiliates. When both of them sign up to the network, advertisers can add their affiliate programs, and affiliates get access to them.
Networks, in turn, are managing affiliate programs, tracking affiliates’ progress, and engaged in payments and other rewards for publishers. Affiliate networks make their profit on the difference between revenue from advertisers and payout to affiliates.
Anyway, the main goal of good networks is not just to sit and collect profits; they need to expertly manage accounts to create new partnerships, and help to develop optimized and long-term affiliate programs. That is why the successful operation of partner networks primarily depends on the software solution that they deсide to use. We will get there farther in this article. For now, let’s get to the steps you need to make in order to build a successful affiliate network.
These steps might significantly ease your path in the affiliate network ecosystem:
Let’s jump in, shall we?
Before starting to look for compelling offers, you must choose the best niche for your affiliate network!
Big brands and advertisers probably already have long term contracts with their affiliate networks. It’s highly unlikely that they will want to change current partners to unknown startups. So, at the beginning of your journey, it’s essential to choose the most suitable affiliate marketing vertical for you.
Also, you should remember that if you select too many directions at once, then it’s very likely that you will eventually succeed nowhere. Choose a maximum of the few niches to work with.
After you decide on an affiliate vertical of your choice, you must find advertisers for the first partnerships. At the same time, it’s highly important to lure a set of high-quality affiliates. It’s very unlikely that publishers with vast experience will join you from the very start for offers from small advertisers. That’s why it’s so crucial to find your niche and strengthen your position in it.
There is one important detail in affiliate marketing that can help you to understand what is hidden under clear rules on the surface. Affiliates are mainly interested only in fulfilling the terms of the offer and receiving the commissions for that. To achieve this goal, they will be ready to use any available methods. However, it’s also a major demand of advertisers to control placements of their ads and the way their product is promoted.
This is where the affiliate network comes into play with its account management, technology, and tracking of affiliate actions and results. The network is responsible for good relations between advertisers and publishers, as well as for the reputation protection of brands. Accordingly, for this work, it’s necessary to have a reliable tool such as affiliate software solution.
The platform of your choice must focus on performance & finance management, automation, and do much more than just a click tracking. There are numerous requirements to consider when choosing an affiliate marketing software solution. The platform should be convenient both for a brand and for affiliates and have space for customization.
Still, one crucial question remains. How much does it cost? Answer to this will fall into two main categories: SaaS platform or an in-house solution. The first option, SaaS platform, is faster and cheaper. Advantages of the in-house platform in transparency and security.
We must say that the second option’s arguments are no longer relevant due to the modern days’ security and privacy regulations. There is no way that tech providers will exist unless they perfectly fall under data security and privacy requirements. So, we recommend thinking about the SaaS platform for building an affiliate network from scratch.
Another significant stage before launching an affiliate network is providing advertisers with protection from ad fraud. You must guarantee your clients’ safety and deserve their trust.
In no case, the importance of ad fraud should be understated. In 2018 digital marketers lost from online fraud around $560 billion. We prepared the White Paper, which shows in detail what kinds of ad fraud marketers encounter and how it can be damaging.
Knowing the most common fraud types and measures to prevent it are must-haves to create your affiliate network. But that won’t be enough. This is where the automation and set of tools of your chosen software solution come in handy. For example, Affise provides its clients with secure tools which automate fraud prevention and security.
In the first place, you have to prove that you are an excellent promoter yourself. You must show you have enough experience, and you know how to make advertisers sales. For example, you can host webinars to get the attention of the community. Only then you can move to the next step, which is to find affiliates.
A great deal in attracting partner promoters will depend, again, on the platform you use. Provide detailed and easy-to-understand statistics. Neat interface – comfort for your affiliates. Set the category for each offer. Work on a decent description for each offer.
Also, your affiliate program landing page should contain the main points that will primarily interest affiliates. Don’t forget to check the existence of this info in the descriptions of affiliate programs:
You can read more insights about how to find and attract reliable affiliates in our recent blog post.
One of the biggest misconceptions that affiliate marketing is only about the commission. Payouts are awesome, but they are not enough to keep partners in your network for a long time. And you want affiliates to stick around you for years.
The best way to gain the loyalty of affiliates is a long-term incentive system. For example, your partners can qualify for more money each month after having a certain amount of new accounts brought to your network through a special ID. That way, they will see how much closer they are with each month to winning the grand prize, which could be a dream car.
In addition to the commission of an advertising program and payouts methods, which are very important too, such an incentive system will allow you to build a strong relationship with affiliates for years.
With the start of affiliate marketing programs comes the vital phase when you keep track of their results and overall performance. It’s a natural desire for every marketer to receive comprehensive statistics and be able to get the required data easily. The network must have the best features and tools for tracking & reporting in its arsenal.
Affiliate networks like Adstart Media provide you with a configurable and convenient in usage dashboards. You can monitor which publishers are the most successful as well as what campaigns are performing well. Also, you will need to have access to rich analytics for data-driven decision-making.
Before you can set back and watch your affiliate network bring you money, you still have to make sure of some things. Advertising campaigns get sustainable profits when they are properly optimized and automated. It all comes with an all-in-one management platform such as Affise. This allows you to easily optimize your affiliate marketing rather than combine different reports and analyze them, saving you valuable time.
Automate your advertising campaigns testing, KPI settings, data transfer. Get access to proper targeting, smart caps, smart links, BI analytics, and much more analytical and optimization tools. By using Affise, you will get a reliable affiliate software solution for your network and an opportunity to stand out from competitors.
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