affiliate management

What is Affiliate Management?

What is affiliate management and what are the benefits for businesses and affiliates?

Affiliate Management is the act of maintaining internal communication with affiliate partners within an affiliate program. But why would you invest time and money in this? In this article, you’ll read more about the principles behind affiliate management and what it brings to those involved.


The parties in affiliate management

Affiliates or publishers are people that promote products or services sold by another party (i.e., brands or companies): the advertiser. This can be done in various ways like using banners, links, text ads, and social media ads – among many others. Promoting online products to interested customers is a way for affiliates to earn money by simply attracting traffic.

The advertiser is the one who’s selling the product or service, profiting from the traffic the affiliates are sending their way. For them, affiliate marketing is a means for generating business without having to spend money on their own marketing.

An affiliate management system allows advertisers to manage their affiliate partners, from their affiliates’ accounts and registrations, down to the product/service inventory they offer for sale on each partnering website. It can also include tools that integrate trends from the affiliates’ results in the affiliate marketing analytics, which allows the advertiser to be on the lookout for especially promising chances or products to put emphasis on.

One of the most common forms of affiliate management is through the utilization of affiliate networks.


What are affiliate networks?

Affiliate networks are large groups of affiliate programs, associated with numerous different companies. They act as an intermediary between affiliate and advertiser, making it easier for the advertiser to set up and run their affiliate program and attract affiliates to promote their offers.

The networks are responsible for  amongst others:

  • Moderating each (new) affiliate
  • Allowing them to join their network
  • Ensuring that affiliate programs are safe for users and follow the rules set forth by accepting merchants 
  • Keep track of metrics like clicks, sales and commissions earned to report back to both the affiliate marketers/website owners as well as the brand or merchant itself

Their job is, to sum up, much more comprehensive than simply moderating affiliates, but this article will focus on the benefits and negative points of affiliating with a third-party agency versus handling it in-house using an affiliate management system (AMS).

An AMS allows advertisers who do not want to use a third-party service for monitoring to keep the affiliate management in their own hands and offer an affiliate program of their own, to control the process internally.

There are many different affiliate networks out there. Below you can see just a few that are integrated into the wecantrack software. For a complete overview, please take a look at our integrated affiliate networks.

affiliate networks

Examples of popular affiliate networks include: (formerly Commission Junction)

Commission Junction was founded in 1998 by Lex Sisney and Per Pettersen, who sold it in 2003 to ValueClick – changed its name to Conversant in 2014.

Conversant, in turn, was acquired by Alliance Data in 2014 and placed under the holding company Epsilon which Alliance Data bought in 2004 for $300 million. And in 2019, Publicis Groupe acquired Epsilon in a $4.4 billion deal.

Despite several changes in ownership, CJ remains a leading affiliate network for over 3,800 global brands, and their technology powers a partnership between over 167K publishers and brands.

Impact was founded in 2008 by Per Pettersen (co-founder of Commission Junction), Todd Crawford (Vice President of Sales and first employee of Commission Junction), Roger Kjensrud, and Wade Crang. Their goal was to disrupt the affiliate market and deliver unbiased data for marketers.

According to Impact, they are not an affiliate network, although most merchants and affiliates regard them as an affiliate network.

“Unlike a network, we are not the middleman between the advertiser and their partners. Instead, we provide a robust marketplace with a large pool of leading affiliates, niche media partners, and non-traditional publishers.” 

Impact hosts over 2,500 affiliate programs.

FlexOffers (previously known as CardOffers) was founded in 2008 by Alexander Daskaloff (CEO/Owner) and initially only served the credit card affiliate space.

Today FlexOffers works with over 10,000 advertisers, 65+ networks and agencies, and over 75K publisher programs.

“We are a network of networks that serves as a one-stop-shop for those who value convenience.”

Affiliate links, payments, technology, and support services are all handled by one team.

How do you go about tracking affiliate marketing activity and performance?

The groundwork for affiliate marketing was laid by merchants who wanted to have a new type of Internet marketing channel, one that allowed them to track which promotions were generating sales and which ones were not.

Early email marketing software programs, for example, did not allow merchants to fully track which links were clicked on and whether or not any sales were being made after that click. Affiliate networks solve this issue, allowing merchants to track their affiliates’ activities and commissions easily. What’s more: affiliate management platforms like these networks allow both the affiliate and the advertiser to view all their channels in one place, as to easily spot which ones are bringing in the most visitors, conversions, and, of course, money.

Affiliates can be very powerful for a brand or merchant since they typically develop a much more personal attachment to the brand and its products than most other marketing channels would. This makes sense: a blogger that is enthusiastic about your service and therefore is promoting it in their content is a much more loyal, dedicated, and thus effective promoter than, say, impersonal campaigns on social media or in Google.

Affiliate marketing is a way for brands and merchants to generate business without having to spend money on advertising without results. You only pay after the promotion has delivered a certain result, like a sale. This is very different from advertising in search engines, where you need to spend a lot of money just to get people on your site.

Still, tracking the results of your campaigns and efforts remains crucial since it’s the only way to know what does and what doesn’t work, and to prioritize those campaigns and products that are going to bring your company the biggest amount of growth.


So what does an affiliate program do in tracking results?

An affiliate program or network is a system where merchants first sign up with the affiliate network and then will be connected with affiliates who can promote their products or services.

As we mentioned earlier: it is the intermediary between advertiser and publisher.

The affiliate sends traffic to the merchant’s website through a link or banner. They are rewarded on a pre-defined basis, like for each click on one of their links, for each action someone that they referred undertakes, or as a share of the revenue that they ramp up for the advertiser.

The affiliate agreement will typically clarify what a merchant pays a particular affiliate when a sale is made.


How do you find the best affiliates to work with?

Affiliate management is not as difficult or expensive as you might think. Affiliate recruitment and promotion are much more convenient than hiring a marketer or promoter on your own team; the major difference being that you’re dealing with people who work from home and don’t require an interview, benefits packages, etc.

When you’re using an affiliate network to manage your affiliates, they act as an intermediary and take care of the process of finding people to promote your offers for you.

That is why many brands and merchants choose to outsource affiliate recruitment and promotion to a third-party affiliate network or agency. The upside of this is that the management fees are going to be far less than if you decide to manage it yourself, plus why not take advantage of their experience and reach? These networks typically have many publishers already lined up to start promoting your offers, which will spare you the time and effort to find them yourself.


Are there different affiliate networks for different types of brands and merchants?

Yes, there are affiliate networks that cater to specific types of products or services. For example, there are affiliate programs designed just for fashion, travel, or SAAS affiliate programs, while other networks can take care of everything from pet bedding to diaper deals. If you find yourself in the affiliate marketing game, make sure you choose a company that specializes in what you are trying to promote.


What criteria do you use to determine whether or not an affiliate is a good fit for your business?

For brands and merchants, it’s very important to find affiliates that have a proven track record of high conversion rates. Some affiliate networks allow their clients’ brands and merchants to choose their own affiliates based on the conversion rate, which means the brand or merchant is able to see who generates the most revenue before signing up with them.

If you don’t know, ask your affiliate network to provide you with some details and statistics about their affiliates.


How will you keep up with affiliate activity?

The best way to keep track of the performance of your efforts is to find an affiliate network that offers reporting tools. These tools enable brands and merchants to track their affiliates’ clicks, sales, and commissions. Often even in real time!

Most networks alert both the affiliate and the brand or merchant when there is a problem with an affiliate account, such as a password change or broken links.


Tips for creating attractive, effective affiliate marketing programs that will attract more affiliates?

Even if you’re leveraging an affiliate network, you are going to want to grow your “army of affiliates” that are promoting your offers and products. Here are some tips to help you attract more people that are willing to promote your deals:


  • Make sure your affiliate program is easy to understand: what do you want people to promote for you?
  • Provide clear guidelines on what the affiliates are able to promote, where they can promote it, and how they should go about promoting it. You might also consider providing promotional materials they can use
  • Affiliates like receiving feedback so make sure you’re always available if they need any help or have questions
  • You must be able to keep up with the program and any affiliate requests, otherwise your brand or merchant might lose their trust
  • If you’re interested in recruiting top affiliates then you should offer the best commission rates possible. Make it as alluring as you possibly can for them to promote your stuff!
  • Provide easy tools for tracking and promoting all of your affiliate listings

Why is it important to have a unique affiliate link for each product you’re promoting in the affiliate marketing program?

Each affiliate link you have should be unique so that a different tracking cookie is created for your affiliates. This allows them to keep track of their sales and commissions. It also helps you to determine which product is performing well and should therefore receive more of your efforts.

Having a unique URL will stand out from the other affiliate links on your site which will also help to increase conversions since the affiliates won’t get confused about where they’re sending their traffic.


How do you determine what affiliate commission rates you should pay?

When it comes to deciding on affiliate commission rates, it’s important to remember that the commission rate is largely dependent on what you are actually promoting.

If you’re promoting a line of children’s clothing then 1% would be completely reasonable while if you were selling cars then 1% might not be enough for your affiliates. Also, software or subscription services tend to have higher commissions, since they have much higher profit margins, to begin with.


Best Affiliate Management Softwares

To use consumers as their own personal marketers for their goods and services, an increasing number of companies are implementing affiliate management solutions. This occurs at a time when customer purchase decisions are more influenced by public opinion.

Through affiliate programs, customers who use a business’s goods or services can receive compensation for making recommendations that result in a sale (on their websites or on other platforms). The performance of these associates or partners can be monitored by merchants or vendors (also known as advertisers). According to the most recent figures, affiliate marketing accounts for 16% of current e-commerce revenues.

Which affiliate management tool is the best to use? Your search for the best affiliate management software will be aided by our top 6 list below:

#1. Refersion

Refersion has been around since 2014. Over 60,000 merchants use their software to process 614,000+ orders daily and manage 6.6+ million affiliates – over $366 million has been paid in affiliate commissions from $2+ billion in revenue.

#2. Rewardful

Rewardful was founded in 2017 by Kyle Fox and Brady Cassidy to offer SaaS companies an easy way to set up affiliate and referral programs. Today it has over 200K affiliates that help tens of thousands of merchants to grow their businesses.

#3. PartnerStack

With over 80,000 active partners, PartnerStack is the #1 platform dedicated to B2B SaaS. Since 2015, they have helped 400+ B2B SaaS companies to turn partnerships into valuable acquisition channels.

#4. Kartra

Kartra is a product by Genesis Digital that went live in April 2018. It does not only contain affiliate management software but is an all-in-one ecommerce platform.


#5. LinkMink

LinkMink was founded in 2018 by Ky Palmer and Philip Alexander to serve Saas companies that want to grow their revenue by adding an affiliate program.


#6. FirstPromoter

FirstPromoter was founded in 2017 by Cioaca Virgil and was the first referral-tracking tool built exclusively for SaaS and subscription companies. The software supports 190 currencies and can do conversions in 170 – exchange rates are updated daily, and you can apply a custom exchange fee.


Affiliate management can seem daunting, but it’s a critical piece of any successful digital marketing strategy. By partnering with the right affiliate network or agency, you can outsource much of the recruitment and promotion to experts who know what they’re doing.

And don’t forget – affiliates can be incredibly powerful allies for brands and merchants, so make sure to take advantage of everything they have to offer. Ready to launch your affiliate program?

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