Are you getting the best from your network?

With such a broad selection of affiliate networks available today are you getting the best results from yours?

With such a broad selection of affiliate networks available today are you getting the best results from yours?

As a performance based form of marketing the affiliate channel relies on driving results. An affiliate network is vital to any programme so it is therefore exceedingly important to pick the one that's right for your goals, as well as being a critical tool in driving results.

The main purpose of an affiliate network is to act as a mediator between the affiliate and merchant. The basic functionalities that a network should offer merchants include; market intelligence, reporting systems, tracking, a strong affiliate base with geographical reach for your brand and good communication platforms.

There is such a vast array of affiliate networks working in the UK today and all of them offer different features and approaches. Therefore, many large brands are now in the habit of reviewing their affiliate network provider every two to three years to ensure they are getting the best service available.

As the market continually adapts and consumer behaviour continually changes, the affiliate channel is exceptionally good at evolving to reflect these.

"There doesn't seem to be a day go by in performance marketing without the release of some new technical innovation, or a different way of doing business coming to light. No other sector offers such a myriad of specialisms all clustered beneath one umbrella - from search… to content… to mobile…."- Sean Sewell - Econsultancy -26/04/13

Affiliates are continually developing innovative means to drive growth for the merchants they work with, but is your network keeping up with this? Outlined below are some key factors to consider when reviewing your affiliate network:

Are you getting the best value for money?

Price is always a huge contributing factor to any decision (and should always play a key part) however, it is important to ensure this is not the main element to the decision process - a poor network could cost you more in the long run.

Do they have the best publisher base for you?

Identify what affiliates work with the network and make sure they are relevant to your brand. It is also good practice to consider what other merchants the network works with which will help you to understand the network's experience and relevance to your vertical.

Is their tracking working well for you and future proof?

Tracking is absolutely essential for an affiliate programme, so a network must provide a robust tracking system that is up to date and adaptable to suit the changing technological world. The tracking should also offer full visibility of activity on your programme and ensure publishers are fairly rewarded for the sales they are driving.

What sorts of tools are available?

Analyse what suite of tools each network offers along with their reporting systems, are they in-depth enough? Do they offer tools that assist with promotion such as sending out a newsletter, brand compliance and methods to minimise fraud.

How does their reputation fair in the industry?

A network with a strong reputation is crucial to both merchants and affiliates (if a network does not have a strong reputation, it will not attract the best affiliates). It's important that a network offers market leading expertise within a range of verticals. Some networks might be suited to particular verticals, and with experience comes knowledge. Think about their global and international reach as well, particularly if you are multinational.

Do they offer you good support?

It is extremely important to assess their support structure which should utilise; account management, a rounded strategy, business compliance and technology support. Ultimately affiliate marketing is a relationship building industry, so the better support structure the network has in place, the better results you will receive.