Launching a New Affiliate Marketing Program, Part 1: Tracking Platforms

Editor’s Note: This is “Part 1” of a three-part sequence on launching a new affiliate internet marketing program. “Part 2” and “Part 3” we printed subsequently.
There are 4 steps concerned in launching an associates program. They are: (a) evaluating potential affiliate networks and monitoring platforms, (b) implementing and testing the monitoring code, (c) creating your inventive stock, and (d) selling your newly launched program. I’ll overview the primary two steps on this article. As a service provider launching a new associates program, it is best to have the ability to full these two steps in a month or so.
That will go away the ultimate two steps, which I’ll cowl in subsequent month’s installment.
Evaluating Potential Affiliate Tracking Solutions
There are two kinds of affiliate monitoring options: affiliate networks and impartial monitoring platforms. Both observe the necessities: impressions, clicks, conversions, and gross sales quantity. The important distinction is that affiliate networks have a longtime base of associates which you can instantly recruit from. This is useful for small-to-medium sized retailers and new firms, as a result of it offers them an instantaneous recruiting channel. One strategic choice is perceive in case your opponents run their affiliate applications on that platform. If they do, and their applications are profitable, this might be proof that associates on that platform are related to your individual efforts. Leading affiliate networks embody AvantLink, Commission Junction, Google Affiliate Network, LinkShare, and ShareASale.
AvantLink is one among a number of main affiliate internet marketing networks.
Independent monitoring platforms are totally different, in that there is no such thing as a pre-established base of associates to recruit from. Many bigger and extra seasoned manufacturers look to this answer as a result of they wish to restrict their applications to particular on-line advertising companions. Independent monitoring platforms additionally enable for deeper customization. So if there are particular parameters you’re making an attempt to catch within the checkout course of, reminiscent of buyer account data or coupon codes, you should have better flexibility in passing these parameters by to your reporting. In reality, in case you are operating an associates program on a number of affiliate networks, you possibly can even combination that information into a single monitoring platform, thus lowering the potential of a number of payouts on a single transaction. Examples of impartial monitoring platforms embody Impact Radius and Performance Horizon.
Performance Horizon is one among a number of main affiliate monitoring platforms.
The different issue to contemplate is whether or not or not you’ve the interior assets to handle the cost course of. Can your accounts payable operate deal with probably lots of of latest payees, dealing with month-to-month fee funds and end-of-year tax types? On-time fee funds are a crucial success issue for any associates program. Missed funds, improperly calculated cost quantities, and bounced checks are surefire methods to lose associates, and tank your affiliate internet marketing channel.
If you’ve a world associates program, you additionally have to make cost within the affiliate’s native forex. Canadian associates, for instance, needs to be paid in Canadian {dollars}. All main affiliate networks embody a cost operate. So should you use these networks, you do not want to fret about issuing checks and tax types.
With affiliate networks, you’ll typically preserve an account steadiness. Every time a transaction happens, the related fee will likely be deducted out of your account. If a transaction is reversed — i.e., if a buyer returns an order — the related fee will likely be deposited again into your account. Many impartial monitoring platforms embody a proprietary cost answer, or are built-in with established third-party cost options.
Pricing varies throughout options. To launch your program with an affiliate community, anticipate to pay a one-time integration price together with a “community price,” which is normally a share of what you pay out in commissions. An further price to observe is a attainable price related to contacting associates. Typically, there could also be charges for contacting “non-joined” associates, these that aren’t presently partnered along with your program. There shouldn’t be any price so that you can talk along with your joined associates. Most affiliate networks will acknowledge that correctly managed affiliate applications contain direct communication between retailers and associates. Since networks are additionally paid a share of commissions, it’s of their curiosity to make sure that all of the instruments are in place to correctly observe transactions and promote applications. With impartial monitoring options, there could also be licensing and internet hosting charges in place.
Implementing the Tracking Code
Once you’ve selected a monitoring answer, it’s time for integration. Once that’s full, it is possible for you to to trace a shopper from an affiliate’s web site, by to your individual, after which by a accomplished transaction. Cookie-based monitoring is the commonest method presently, the place associates distribute a monitoring hyperlink that directs visitors to your website. When a shopper clicks by that hyperlink, a cookie is positioned on his or her laptop that identifies the referring affiliate. When a transaction is accomplished, this monitoring answer associates the knowledge on that cookie with the transaction information. For cookie-based monitoring to work, you’ll want to place a monitoring pixel in your order affirmation web page. This pixel will “fireplace” every time the order affirmation web page is delivered, however will solely transmit transaction information to the affiliate community if an affiliate cookie is current.
The disadvantages related to this technique of monitoring are that customers might clear their laptop of cookies, which might break monitoring, and that sure browser settings might forestall cookies from being set within the first place. Another drawback is that, to set the cookie, associates want to make use of a redirect hyperlink as an alternative of a direct hyperlink, so that you wouldn’t obtain any search-engine-optimization profit out of your associates program.
Another type of affiliate monitoring entails server-to-server calls, which is obtainable by most of the impartial monitoring platforms. Since this method doesn’t depend on cookies to trace affiliate transactions, it won’t break if shoppers delete their cookies. Also, it is going to observe transactions by direct hyperlinks to your website, so you’ll get pleasure from search engine optimisation advantages of a number of, direct inbound hyperlinks. This method usually entails an API integration, which can or is probably not possible, relying on how your ecommerce answer is ready up.
In quick, the very best answer varies by retailer. Just as a result of one among your opponents makes use of one answer, doesn’t imply that’s the greatest method for you. Conduct due diligence. Speak with firm representatives earlier than making a choice. Also, typically, you received’t pay for the answer till the mixing is full.
Read “Part 2: Developing Creative” and “Part 3: Promotion.”

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