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Tips & Guides — 23 Jul 2020

How to Build an Affiliate Network

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Create an Affiliate Network

If you’ve been in affiliate marketing industry for a while: whether you’ve been a publisher or you’ve been working in other network or agency, – I bet you considered creating your own partnerships network at least once. If you’re seriously looking up at such an opportunity to grow your professional and managerial competencies, as well as strengthen financial position, we introduce the ultimate 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:

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Create an Affiliate Network

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  • 1 Why Start an Affiliate Network?
  • 2 What is an Affiliate Network?
  • 3 How do Affiliate Networks Work?

Why Should You Start an Affiliate Network?

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. You are right, there are plenty of partnership networks, but according to a survey done by Rakuten (one of the biggest affiliate networks), 94% of publishers work with 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 own affiliate program point of view? All affiliate networks are about offers, bringing new customers for online businesses, treating 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.

What is an Affiliate Network?

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.

How Do Affiliate Networks Work?

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.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Create an Affiliate Network

The first thing required for basic operations of an affiliate network is to have established connections with brands or advertisers from one side, and publishers and affiliates from the other side. 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 get the commission for publishers’s results. 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 sitting and collecting 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.

7-step Guide to Start an Affiliate Network from Scratch

These steps might significantly ease your path in the affiliate network ecosystem:

  • 1. Find the Best Available Advertisers
  • 2. Choose the Right Software Solution
  • 3. Get Secured from Ad Fraud
  • 4. Attract Trusted & Experienced Affiliates
  • 5. Create an Appealing Reward System
  • 6. Track Performance Results
  • 7. Get Sustainable Profits

Let’s jump in, shall we?

Step 1. Find the Best Available Advertisers

Before starting to look for compelling affiliate 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 digital marketing vertical for you.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Create an Affiliate Network

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.

Step 2. Choose the Right Affiliate Software Solution

The success of your affiliate network depends on the technical part not less than on attracting affiliates and advertisers. Even if you work with only one publisher and one advertiser, you still have to track the traffic flow, conversions, and make payouts. But what if there are dozens, hundreds, thousands of partners? It becomes much harder for you to manage all the offers, creatives and publishers in the most efficient way. Thus, it’s necessary to have a reliable tool such as affiliate software solution for that.

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.

Step 3. Get Your Affiliate Network Secured from Ad Fraud

Another significant stage before launching an affiliate network is providing advertisers with real-time 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 instruments of your chosen software solution come in handy. For example, Affise provides affiliate managers with reliable tools which automate fraud prevention and security.

Step 4. Attract Trusted & Experienced Affiliates

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 bring sales to advertisers. For example, you can host webinars and provide case studies to get the attention of the community. Only then you can move to the next step, which is to find affiliates.

Today you can simplify the recruitment of new publishers with the help of affiliates databases or dedicated services that bring together various media partners and advertisers, such as Affise Reach.

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 affiliate offer. Work on a decent description for each physical product or service.

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:

  • rewards from each affiliate sale (commission);
  • length of cookies (days, months);
  • the first, the last or all referring affiliates will get the commission;
  • prohibited traffic sources, violations, and terminations;
  • flexible payment method;
  • brand guidelines (creatives).

You can read more insights about how to find and attract reliable affiliates in our recent blog post.

Step 5. Create an Appealing Reward System

One of the biggest misconceptions that affiliates are there only because of the affiliate commissions. 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 rates 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.

Step 6. Track Performance & Results

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 provides both advertisers and publishers with a configurable and convenient in usage dashboards. You can monitor which publishers are showing higher conversion rate as well as what campaigns are performing better. Also, you will need to have access to rich analytics for data-driven decision-making.

Step 7. Get Sustainable Profits from Your Affiliate Network

Before you can sit back and watch how your affiliate network brings you passive income, you still have to think about 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 strategy 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 plugins. By using Affise, you will get a reliable affiliate software solution for your network and an opportunity to stand out from competitors.

Try Affise today! Submit for a free trial and
check out all platform’s functionality by yourself!

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Edgar is a Content Marketer obsessed with analytics & performance statistics. Edgar loves leveling up professionally and search for new effective ways to deliver quality content. After that, he’ll take every opportunity to take on exciting adventures with his GF.

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