Part III will cover the basics of signing up to affiliate networks and which ones are the best to work with. It will be a simple, but essential chapter to read for those very new to affiliate marketing.
Affiliate networks are essentially the middle men of affiliate marketing. They handle the communication and back-end deals of finding offers and brokering them out to individual affiliates and other affiliate networks. Sometimes offers can be brokered to an affiliate network through another affiliate network – I’ve seen an offer brokered 3 times deep. We’ll talk about brokered offers and generally why you want to avoid them in this and later chapters. Essentially, you will be doing most of your beginner marketing through affiliate networks. As you progress and make more money, going direct will make you more money, but it requires connections that you probably don’t have yet.
Affiliate networks supply offers that pay out per sale, action, lead, call, or in some rare offers, by click. Most offers are available through multiple networks, so if you are working with one offer, it’s considered good practice to split test that offer through every different network it is on. Tools like Offervault and oDigger make this simple.
Here’s the thing: Every affiliate network performs differently for every single person out there. Why? Because affiliate networks have this little thing called a scrub/shave rate. This rate can change from person to person, or affiliate network to affiliate network. Every network out there says they don’t shave/scrub, but you can’t really know until you start copying offer landing pages and testing for yourself. I’ve done this and come to the conclusion that every offer I’ve done this on shaves/scrubs. Hell, even the offer owners do this so you could be getting hit twice.
So, essentially, this all comes down to testing. Which offers on which networks back out best for you. When you are just starting out, you’ll want a good collection of networks you can work with. Head on over to AffiliatePaying and start reading reviews. I would recommend signing up for the first 2-3 pages of networks with strong reviews. That’ll give you about 20 or so good networks you can browse through and play with as you get yourself settled. Most of the networks I work or have worked with are in those top 20, so you’ll be getting in some good ones there.
If you don’t know you’re basic affiliate marketing vocabulary, or how to string together a simple SEO site or still have no clue what an affiliate marketer is, wait before you sign up. Grab some knowledge and have an idea of what you plan to do for your first few affiliate campaigns before getting started. As an unknown name, you might have to go through an interview process to prove you’re not an idiot/scammer looking to fill in their own email submit offers. Replying that your SE0 and SE1 skills are top notch is a sure fire way to make sure you’re approved for denial from several networks.
The best way to apply to any network is to immediately pick up the phone and start calling after you’ve dropped your application. This shows initiative, and networks and managers like this. If you don’t get an immediate answer, send an email and try calling later in the day. The more you “bug” them, the more likely you’ll be approved to run with them.
We talked about affiliate networks brokering offers earlier. If you find and sign up for a network, look through a few of the offer links you plan on running. Run them through WhereGoes or any other redirect tracking plugin you can get for your browser. If you see it redirecting more than a couple times, it could be an offer brokered through multiple networks. See if you can’t backtrace it to see who owns the domains it’d being routed through. If it is more that one other network, and you find its a common occurrence on the links you are testing from that network, avoid them and find out where you can get the offer more direct (through the links in the trace you just received!)
Avoid ditzy, dumb affiliate managers that suggest everything under the moon for offers for you to run. If they start asking for your landing pages and offers only after you are doing well with offers, steer clear or ask with the network owner if that is common practice and why they need it. If they threaten not to pay you for traffic you’ve sent, work somewhere else. There are lots of other reasons why you may not want to work with certain networks, but you’ll know when they come up.