For e-commerce businesses, affiliate partners are a great way to find new customers, as well as earn some extra money from other websites. By owning an online company, your competition has turned from being localised on the high street to worldwide – which is why e-commerce marketing needs new tactics.
Affiliate marketing is when you team up with an ‘affiliate’ who will help you to promote your business, incentivised by a commission payment every time that they get a referral or you get a sale. You can also use it to promote another business or product on your website, likewise earning money for the business that you send to the other company.
E-commerce business owners have been reaping the benefits of affiliate marketing almost since the beginning of e-commerce, and there are now a number of affiliate companies available for e-commerce, and affiliate networks are widespread.
In essence, affiliate partnerships can be a win win situation for many businesses. Whilst widening the reach of your business and products – letting a whole new audience see you, you can also earn some extra money by doing the same for other businesses.
Choosing Affiliate Partners
If you are looking to promote your business or products through e-commerce affiliate companies, or likewise, earn some money by promoting other products or businesses, it is useful to know the pros and cons of the affiliate companies which are the most popular in the online world. Not every option is the right one for every e-commerce business, so that is where we are here to help.Shareasale
– This is one of the best affiliate marketing websites. You can join either as a merchant or as an affiliate who promotes merchants. Having been in the affiliate network business for 16 years, they know the deal and have the experience to make the whole process as smooth as possible. They have their own software which means that everything works without a hitch.
- Pros – Reliable payment for affiliates, low monthly fees for merchants, payment methods include cheque or direct deposit, high commission rates, high ethical standards, strong any-fraud barriers.
- Cons – Reporting tools require time to learn and adapt to, no PayPal payment options, search and sorting for merchants not as good as other companies, user interface not as intuitive as others.
CJ Affiliate by Conversant – Previously called Commission Junction, the company has been around for 15 years. CJ Affiliate by Conversant has more big name businesses, such as Apple and Boden, but your website needs to be approved by the merchant before you can start advertising. It is free to sign up. You have a web-based email to communicate between merchants and affiliates. The software used by CJ Affiliate by Conversant notifies advertisers when links aren’t working, and provides lists of advertiser’s incentives for affiliates as well as providing real time performance and transaction reporting.
- Pros – Merchants have the flexibility to choose affiliates, reliable monthly payments through direct debit or cheque, quick, easy and free to sign up, mobile ads available, very good reporting features, flexible affiliate linking and banner sizes available, ability to manage multiple affiliate websites which are all owned by one affiliate publisher, intuitive search tools.
- Cons – Customer support only via phone or web form – no email, no PayPal option, commission rates often lower than other platforms.
Rakuten LinkShare – Has been around since 1996 and is smaller than the ‘big two’. Formerly known as ‘LinkShare’, Rakuten LinkShare has about 1000 merchants, compared to the 3000 – 3500 which the other two have. However, they still have some well-known brands, they have an intuitive interface as well as a feature which allows you to easily create rotating ad banners.
- Pros – Ease of creating rotating ad banners, excellent deep linking tool – meaning that you can get potential customers easily to specific products, sister site – Popshops can help you with a range of plug-ins to help you do your job better and improve the customer experience, real time reporting, easy to use dashboard, help centre with training tools and tutorial videos.
- Cons – Payment times not as reliable – sporadic payment dates, etc., customer service not always 100%, fewer advertisers, reporting features not as good as other competitors, few online service merchants.
Amazon.com Associates – Amazon is one on the internet’s most famous marketplaces, and is the largest online retailer. This means that of all affiliate companies, it can be amongst the most reliable when it comes to usable systems and payments. Amazon’s product range spans across many areas, meaning that if you specialise in a certain area, you are more likely to be able to find products appropriate to your area, easier than other competitors.
- Pros – Compared to others, Amazon.com Associates is reliable and trustworthy when it comes to payments, a well-known name means that people are more likely to buy from them, commissions of up to 10%, huge product range, easy to join, easy to manage, tracking of earnings, payment and conversion rates easy to understand.
- Cons – Very popular, meaning more competition for affiliates, commission rates are variable – depending on the product, although reliable, payments can take up to 45 days to come through which can be difficult for cash flow.
You can, of course choose not to use one of these affiliate networks and find your own affiliates or merchants. These affiliate companies take out a lot of the leg work in finding affiliate partnerships, with the system already set up and thousands of affiliates and merchants that you don’t know.
Whether or not you use an affiliate network, it is easy to see that partnering up in business – regardless of whether you are a merchant or an affiliate, can prove to be very lucrative for your business. As a merchant your outreach can more than double, and although you might not earn the same amount of profit on a sale, you are still making a sale, and paving the way for a direct sale the next time.
As an affiliate, you can begin to forge stronger relationships with other businesses, bloggers or marketing – especially in your field, which along with the commission that you are earning now, can be useful in the future.
If you have any questions about e-commerce, buying and selling online, building effective websites and other online services, get in touch with Studioworx either via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), telephone (+44 (0)1482 659362) or the website (http://www.studioworx.co.uk).