What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is basically about sharing success. Third party affiliates promote your products, which earns them a commission. You in turn gain more sales from your affiliate network, as well as brand recognition.

An affiliate network is usually made up of individuals or organisations that have a large audience already, to whom they can market your products or services to. You simply need to track the sales that your affiliates generate, and pay them a percentage of this sale, or a flat rate of commission.

How Do You Build an Affiliate Network?

You may assume that because there are already so many affiliate networks out there, there’s no point building your own from scratch. But a survey undertaken by Forrester on behalf of Rakuten Marketing, , one of the largest affiliate networks around, shows that 94% of publishers use two or more affiliate programs. There’s always space in the market for new affiliate programs, you simply need to find the right niche. 

Find the Right Affiliates

Before you get started building your affiliate network though, it’s important to understand the types of affiliates there are to connect with. Some partners will definitely be better suited for your brand than others. LinkTrust, an affiliate marketing software company, have stated that there are three main types of affiliate: influencers, publishers and solo marketers, and “Typically, the best affiliates will garner a certain audience that will be interested in your product.”

Each of these three categories of affiliate works in a different way - influencers have a large social media audience to whom they can talk about your product, publishers will market your product through the written word, and solo marketers rely on traffic through advertisements. 

Find the Right Opportunity

After you’ve found the type of affiliates that would work best for your business, you need to create what is essentially a win-win situation for you and your affiliates. Affiliate marketing as a whole is beneficial for both the company and their affiliate network. The affiliates earn a commission for their work, while the business gets brand recognition and hopefully an increase in sales. 

So you shouldn’t have to try too hard in making affiliate marketing an attractive prospect. It’s more about making your brand stand out to those interested in promoting it. They probably won’t want to join your affiliate network if they don’t genuinely believe in the brand. 

You also need to ensure that you’re paying a quality commission rate. Do a little research into what prices are typical in your industry - commission can vary greatly depending on the sector. For instance, fashion tends to offer much higher commission rates than things like video games. 

Overall, building an affiliate network is about having clear expectations. Discuss exactly what you're looking for with potential affiliates, to ensure that you’re on the same page. Building a strong program may take some work, but as long as you’re willing to invest the time to network and recruit partners that share your ideals, you can’t go wrong. 

Affiliate Marketing Companies

If you’re looking to build your own affiliate network, a good place to start is by looking at some of the top affiliate marketing companies. We’ve gone through five of the best affiliate programs below, to help you get some inspiration!

Affiliaxe

One of the best things about Affiliaxe is that they work in a whole lot of verticals - no matter what industry you work in, or products you’re promoting, there will be affiliates with relevant experience and the right audience. The platform is also very easy to navigate, and the company offers plenty of personalised support for both affiliates and businesses. 

Amazon Associates

With Amazon, there are literally millions of products you can promote, and their marketplace takes care of most of the sales process. As an affiliate for Amazon Associates, your goal is to bring in clients from external traffic sources. 

ClickBank

ClickBank reaches around 200 million people worldwide, and allows affiliates to promote digital products from 20 different categories, with approximately six million items available. This affiliate program offers high commission rates - sometimes as much as 75%, and products are often sold on a recurring basis.

DFO Global

DFO Global is aimed at affiliates who are serious about results, offering outstanding data analytics and personalised account managers. The network allows affiliates to access a wide range of e-commerce products in a safe and brand-protected environment, and offers high commissions in reward. 

eBay Partner Network

Similar to Amazon Associates, the eBay Partner Network allows affiliates to promote a huge array of products and get a commission for every purchase made via your link. eBay’s affiliates can advertise and promote products via social media, blogs, websites, or even though podcasts or videos. 

When it comes to getting new ideas about affiliate marketing, you may also wish to look at a few individual affiliate marketers. Perhaps the best known of these is Pat Flynn. In 2008, when he lost his job, Pat Flynn decided to immerse himself in the world of affiliate marketing, developing his blog in order to monetise his site. Using Google AdSense, he slowly began to make a profit from website clicks. 

In November 2008, Pat Flynn made around $8,000 through affiliate marketing. By 2013, he was making more than $50,000 a year through that source of income alone. He has since published several books on affiliate marketing techniques, and has his own podcast where he talks about just about every aspect of business marketing. 

We hope that these affiliate marketing companies and the example of Pat Flynn will help you find inspiration for your own endeavours, and your affiliate network will flourish and grow!