Best Affiliate Marketing Platforms (2017)

02 Mar Best Affiliate Marketing Platforms (2017)

Affiliate marketing is a very large industry and has become a key source of online income for many thousands of professional bloggers. With more and more online businesses becoming involved in affiliate marketing, more opportunities have arisen for bloggers, like you and I, to make money with their blog.

With a wide variety of businesses who work direct with affiliates, most affiliate marketers will use an affiliate marketing network to search for offers for their blogs. Though these affiliate platforms will take a small cut of any fees generated, they do serve a valuable purpose in the affiliate marketing climate

  1. Aggregating offers from different vendors
  2. Create a directory or search engine for affiliate marketers to find offers
  3. Handle the administrative duties of running an affiliate network

In this post I will go through some of the most popular affiliate marketing platforms.

ShareASale

ShareASale is another one of the large affiliate networks. The Shareashale platform has about 4,000 merchants listed, of which over one thousand of them are exclusive to them.

ShareASale publishes a large amount of data on each of the offers they are running, these include:

  • Earnings per Click
  • Reversal Rates
  • Average Sale Amount
  • Average Commission

 

While these figures aren’t guarantees of payouts you can expect, they’re certainly very helpful in assessing a campaign.

The advantages of ShareASale include:

  • Large Partner Network. The 4,000+ merchants include more than 1,000 that are exclusive.
  • Easy to Compare Offers. When trying to choose from the various offers available, ShareASale make it very easy to evaluate the best ones based on the metrics.
  • Quick Payment Cycle. ShareASale pay out on the 20th of every month, assuming your account balance is more than $50.

 

Disadvantages include:

  • Clunky Reporting Tools.The ShareASale reporting dashboard feels old, and is harder to navigate than other networks.

 

Join Shareasale

 

CJ Affiliate

CJ Affiliate is considered to be the biggest affiliate platforms online; if you have worked in the affiliate marketing space for any amount of time, you’ve probably come across them.

Nearly every major retailer have their affiliate programs on CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction), which makes them as close to a one stop shop as you can get in the affiliate marketing business. Most retailers have multiple ad sizes available for affiliates, which gives you better control of the offers you show on your blog.

With such a wide array of advertisers on the CJ Affiliate platform it makes it relatively easy to compare and segment different offers. Finding the affiliate tracking code to place on your blog is also straightforward; once you’re approved to promote an offer, you can be running lots of different offers on your site in just a few short hours.

To summarise, the advantages of the network are:

  • Large Partner Network.CJ Affiliate has over three thousand advertising partners, many have lots of creative sizes and various affiliate link options.
  • Reliable Payments.They offer a net-20 payment term which means that you’ll get your commission paid out in a timely manner each month.
  • Powerful Reporting Options.The reporting suite from CJ Affiliate is pretty impressive, which is a big advantage for marketers who plan to spend a their time optimizing their sales performance.

Disadvantages of the network include:

  • Steep Learning Curve. While the reporting capabilities are great, they’re also quite difficult for beginners to get to grips with. You’ll need to spend time in the dashboard before you’re comfortable navigating the reporting suite and can then start to take full advantage of the tools on offer.
  • Limited Customer Support.Due to the large number of affiliates and merchants, it’s understandable that customer support is quite limited. But only having a contact form as the main method to get in touch with the support department can be restrictive.

 

Rakuten LinkShare

Rakuten LinkShare is considered to be one of the oldest affiliate partner networks, it is now a fair amount smaller than some of the bigger players in the affiliate industry.

There are a few slick features of Rakuten LinkShare that differentiate this platform from the rest. For example, they have the ability to rotate through the various banners automatically for a product which is a huge advantage when trying to optimize your offers. Instead of having to manually select which ad you want to run on your blog, LinkShare lets multiple versions rotate with only one small piece of code.

LinkShare also allows for more flexible “deep linking” to individual merchant landing pages, this allows for increased customization of the types of campaigns you can run.

The advantages of LinkShare are:

  • Ad Rotation. This may seem like a pretty minor feature, but it can make a significant difference when it comes to optimizing your ads.
  • Deep Linking Options.LinkShare lets you choose the page you want to send your traffic to on their site, giving you more flexibility for promoting different affiliate offers.

Disadvantages include:

  • A Much Smaller Network. LinkShare have around 1,000 partners – this is considerably fewer than the bigger networks like CJ Affiliate or ShareASale.
  • Unpredictable Payments to Affiliates.Rakuten LinkShare only pay out to their affiliates once the commissions are collected from their partners.

 

Amazon Associates

By quite a large margin Amazon has the largest affiliate marketing program out there, with products from more than 1.5 million sellers. Amazon has the most easy-to-use technology of all the affiliate programs I will be reviewing today. Beginners to affiliate marketing with even the most limited technical expertise will have no problems in getting up and running with the Amazon associates program, while more experienced marketers can create custom tools and websites with the APIs and advanced implementations available to them. The great thing about Amazon is that anything from kids toys to laptops can generate sales if they are purchased through any Amazon affiliate link.

The major drawback of the Amazon affiliate network is the commission structure. Their commissions start out as low as 4% for smaller affiliates, yet they can be as high as 9% for high traffic affiliates. Also as most of the products which are sold on Amazon are physical goods, you will have very few options to refer sales that generate a recurring monthly income.

If you are interested about starting your own Amazon affiliate site then check out my free Amazon guide today.

Advantages include:

  • Easy to Use. Amazon’s interface is user friendly, for both beginners and experienced affiliates.
  • Very Flexible. Millions of items can be bought via Amazon, giving your ads and links a much wider appeal to your visitors.

Disadvantages can include:

  • Low Commission Rates. Commissions starting out from 4% which mean that you will need to generate a higher volume of sales in order to make your online business more sustainable.
  • Long Payment Cycles. Amazon’s affiliate payment terms mean you won’t get your money for more than 60 days after a sale has occured.

 

In Summary

There are no hard and fast rules against using several different affiliate networks all at the same time on your site, and I would suggest that you do so for best practice. Although it can add a bit of extra work running multiple accounts, this method will allow you to compare the many features of the different affiliate platforms directly.

It’s also worth pointing out that many large merchants will make the use of various affiliate marketing platforms to sell their products, therefore having accounts with different networks can be useful in finding the best performing offers. If you want to keep it simple by just working with a single network, then ShareASale or even CJ Affiliate is probably your best option.

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Jamie

My name is Jamie Spencer and I have spent the past 5 years building money making blogs. After growing tired of the 9-5, commuting and never seeing my family I decided that I wanted to make some changes and launched my first blog. Since then I have launched lots of successful niche blogs and after selling my survivalist blog I decided to teach other people how to do the same.
13 Comments
  • Tom Jackson
    Posted at 07:22h, 27 April Reply

    Thanks for sharing useful stuff. This is my first visit to your blog which seems to be attractive & willing to learn in a simple manner, keep going

  • Abdul Majeed Siddiqui
    Posted at 20:08h, 26 May Reply

    First of all, your website design is fabulous. Nice to find that amazon associated working as great affiliate networks. Thanks for sharing such a great post. Keep it up. I’ve bookmarked your site :D

  • Shege
    Posted at 01:55h, 19 September Reply

    Thanks for this post. I’ve learnt something new today. I’ve heard about CJ and Shareasale so I’d give them a try. Amazon seems to pay off well if you have a relatively high traffic website.

  • Jason
    Posted at 04:17h, 03 November Reply

    AVOID using the RedHotPie Affiliate program, They take all your traffic and referrals and DO NOT PAY YOU A CENT

  • Thibault
    Posted at 11:21h, 16 November Reply

    Hi Jamie, do you know affiliate network that offers a decent commission on jewelry? I’m currently promoting BlueNile, Biamotti and Zales, managing them is rather complicated (each has it’s own program) and apart from Biamotti, all the others have a rather low commission (around 5%).

    • Jamie
      Posted at 13:06h, 16 November Reply

      Unfortunately for you , that particular niche has never been a big payer when it comes to commissions. Also these products are high ticket prices, so volumes will be small.
      You’d probably make more money promoting folding bikes over engagement rings.

  • Ivan
    Posted at 07:33h, 01 December Reply

    Hi Jamie. As a merchant, we are working with Shareasale, CJ, Tradetracker and so on.
    Is there any other network you will recommand for expand?

  • MUKESH MAJUMDER
    Posted at 18:45h, 27 December Reply

    Nice one.. yes, CJ affiliate is the best one. few days ago I registered on Cj affiliate, it has some awesome Ads for different ads company, you can use any Ads according to your desires…

  • Joramir
    Posted at 21:51h, 10 January Reply

    I did launch my affiliate marketing site and I was having trouble making sales unto it. I do hope that after applying what you said will make my site better. Many thanks to you for sharing those tips.

    • Jamie
      Posted at 14:25h, 11 January Reply

      Good luck Joramir – with affiliate marketing there’s no over night results – consistency is key. Keep working at it

  • Natalie P
    Posted at 23:02h, 18 January Reply

    For me I would choose a program with Recurring commission. You can build a real passive income. Its the best way to go! One suggestion is contact companies who sell services and ask if you can sell their service for them. Sometimes popular affiliate programs like these have just way too many people trying to sell their service. I personally went to sitecare.ca and asked them if I could sell their service and I couldn’t be happier! So find a service you believe in and go for it!

  • DNN
    Posted at 22:01h, 29 January Reply

    Affiliate marketing has now invaded Hollywood? We know it invaded US politics in Washington as some politicians (current and retired) are silent affiliate marketers or in MLM. Maybe we can look forward to hearing in the next few years about more celebrities going from actors and actresses to home-based affiliate marketers. Wouldn’t that be something?

  • Dgdewet
    Posted at 14:48h, 06 February Reply

    Hopefully I can get sales now on my affiliate blog. I haven’t made any sales on it yet, but will try what you said. Many Thanks

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