Keys to a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program:

Affiliate Tracking Software vs. Affiliate Networks

By Sarah Jamieson

As a merchant, you need affiliate tracking software to manage your affiliates' referrals, commissions, and payments. This be a program you own, or provided by an affiliate network.

A good affiliate system provides verifiable tracking for both merchant and affiliates.

Affiliate Tracking Software

Affiliates must be able to check the status of their referrals and commissions online at any time. Verifiable data makes your affiliates feel secure.

Ensure your tracking program provides this data to your affiliates:

  • Developments since last commission payment
    • Number of referrals provided by affiliate
    • Units sold plus dollar value of each, minus returns and so on.
    • Each entry unit should include a way to verify the sale:
      • Customer ID, such as the last few digits of the credit card number;
      • The dollar amount of the sale;
      • The date of sale.
    • Percentage and amount of each sale earned by affiliate (initial and residual).
    • Total earnings since last commission payment.
  • Prior data
    • Commission history
    • All payments made
    • Commission amounts since joining the program.

Affiliate Networks

Affiliate networks act as a hub where merchants and affiliates can connect with each other, providing merchants with a pool of potential high-quality affiliates, and affiliates with thousands of programs in one place.

Affiliate networks also handle commission reporting in real time so affiliates can check their earnings whenever they want to, and make payments to affiliates.

Some of the most popular networks are Clickbank (digital products and services), Commission Junction, LinkShare, and ShareASale.

Affiliate Network Pros:

Affiliates can choose from thousands of merchant programs.

Merchants have access to a large number of potential affiliates.

Less chance of merchant fraud.

Affiliate Network Cons:

Merchants have a lot of competition to attract affiliates.

Affiliates "belong" to the network, so if a merchant leaves the program she loses all her affiliates.

Keys to a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program > How an Effective Affiliate Marketing Program Works > Affiliate Tracking Software vs. Affiliate Networks > Affiliate Commissions