What is the best affiliate network for me? The amount that the affiliate networks are willing to disclose to you will depend on your skills as a negotiator and also the potential size of your business for the affiliate networks.
Approach all of the big networks – Tradedoubler, Buyat, Linkshare, Commission Junction, fazowo Affiliate Future and Clickbank, explain that you are going to be setting up an affiliate marketing program and that you want as much information as possible on why you should go with them.
How many affiliates drove a sale for them last month?
So that you can compare their size and reach with others
How many affiliates are promoting merchants in your industry?
So that you can see their reach in your vertical
How much revenue did they drive for your entire industry last month?
To judge the level of bottom line success in your vertical. You should also look (if possible) at the % breakdown of the revenue by affiliate e.g. what % of revenue is made up by the top 5 affiliates? Is there a lot of long tail/small affiliate opportunity?
How many new affiliates did they recruit last month?
To judge how actively they are growing and how proactive they are.
How many new merchants did they recruit last month?
Ditto, are they an arrogant and lazy network?
How many merchants from your industry are with them? (good to go with the bulk as there will be a good affiiate base ready to promote you if they are already promoting your competitors).
Who are the biggest 5 affiliates working with them?
Who are the biggest 5 affiliates with them for your industry?
How much commission will they charge on sales?
Can they run multiple commission rates?
Can they do lead generation on a fee per lead basis?
What does their management fee include? How much support and help can you expect from them with affiliate recruitment/reporting/problem shooting/industry updates?
What technology do they offer that is unique to them?
If you can get a fair bit of detail on all of these questions then you should be in a good position to approach the negotiating stage and play them off against each other. Obviously the amount of leverage you have and how far you can go will largely depend on the size of your business and what kind of revenue you will bring the affiliate networks. Make the networks excited about your marketing and growth plans. Explain your past performance and what your plans are for the next year – if they see you as an expanding and growing brand then they will stretch further to meet your needs.
By the time you have got to this stage you will have your preferences, go with the data, the best deal and your gut feel. If you like and get on with the people on a genuine level and trust that they will take your business seriously and will spend time promoting you then go with them, but only if the commercials and their business proposition stack up too. Getting visibility with the key affiliates for your market Once you have your account set up and you are ready to go the first thing to do is to put together a target list of affiliates that you want promoting you. Rank the affiliates on the list by potential and then work with the networks on getting the best real estate possible on the affiliates sites.
Get the affiliate network to give you a list of every affiliate who has driven a sale for any competitor of yours (that is in their network) within the past 6 months. Ask the affiliate network to rank the affiliates in order of revenue driven (obviously without the sensitive data) if they mess up and give you the sensitive data (unlikely) then all the better. Put together a promotional plan for the first 3 months and make sure that your offers blow the competition out of the water. Affiliates are businesses in their own right so are just interested in promoting the merchant who can earn them the most cash, so if you give them a better % commission and your conversion rate is as good as your competitors or better then you will quickly win them over. Check out the top affiliates EPC (earnings per click). You then need to work out how you can give them the opportunity to earn over this with you – basically calculate: (site conversion rate x (commission rate per sale X Average order size).
Ensure that the affiliate network have agreed to give you featured merchant status for the first month and that you are featured all over their website/blog/twitter/facebook etc and emails.