Your own affiliate program

Why not consider your own affiliate programme? You would be the merchant (as Amazon was in the example)

Benefits of affiliate marketing, as a merchant.

  • everything is tracked and so each stage can be checked by the merchant and the affiliate; this means that both parties are accountable. You pay for performance. If there is no action, there is no cost to you. The action could be a sale, a click-through to your site, or some market information, such as a completed survey.
  • your costs are fixed. You specify what results you require, and the payment is fixed. 
  • access to many different industries, new segments and markets both nationally and internationally means that merchants gain access to channels quickly. Market expansion is a key reason to use affiliate marketing.
  • marketing to new channels, especially international markets tends to be time-consuming and fairly risky; affiliate marketing is less risky than comparable modes of entry into new channels and overseas markets. Affiliate marketing is lower risk, because you do not pay if it does not work.
  • Affiliates use their own skills and resources to market your products and services.

Set up your own affiliate program

If you decide to set up your own affiliate network, then there are a number of things you need to take into account.  There will be some costs involved for your small business to manage the affiliate program, for the platform itself i.e. software and digital marketing, and for creative costs for design, look and feel.  Essentially you have two choices, to join an existing affiliate network or to install some specialized software In-house.

Using a current affiliate network is quick and simple.

The affiliate network is based upon intermediaries that drive merchants to your program.  They will already have a series of merchants who would join your program and you can build a small critical mass of online distributors.  Software is included and you do not need to install it on your own servers; It is all done online and you simply join the program.  There will be costs involved in setting up the programme, and of course fees and commissions will be payable to merchants, as well as the online affiliate network company.

However, whilst you have control over your potential merchants, you may spend a lot of time reviewing them.  If you Do not, then anybody could be using your logo and promoting your products on their website and you lose some control over your brand.  Also, if affiliate marketing becomes popular for your business, software can be somewhat limiting in relation to what else is available in the market today. For comparison, potential affiliate networks include:

  • CJ Affiliate
  • ShareASale
  • LinkShare
  • Clickbank
  • Clicksure

As your business grows, or if you foresee that affiliate marketing will be central to your digital strategy, specialized affiliate marketing software might be a better option.  This gives you more creative freedom, and the opportunity to design your program so that it feeds your business perfectly.  The software is generally more functional.

Specialized software gives more control

Specialized software does not give you access to a current successful network.  It means that you start on your own from scratch. The software is largely online. It is also generally more expensive, so you will need to budget for your software provider.  However, if affiliate marketing becomes popular for your business, then you will not be paying out commissions to the software provider, and therefore this solution may be more cost effective. For comparison, potential in-house providers include Cake, HasOffers and Affiliate Pro.

Published by

Tim Friesner

Marketing Teacher designs and delivers online marketing courses, training and resources for marketing learners, teachers and professionals.