There are many different third party “affiliate tracking programs” to use to run your affiliate program on, such as: LinkShare, Commission Junction, and ShareASale…probably being the top three. Then there are the multitudes of CPA networks, which operate on various platforms, and you can include your offer or your website in their networks as well.
The main difference between CPA networks and what I call major affiliate networks, like CJ, LinkShare, and ShareAsale, is the publisher transparency issue, in that you don’t necessarily know who the publishers are driving traffic to your offer through CPA networks. Whereas on a major affiliate network, you have all the affiliate contact data and you know exactly who’s driving you traffic and sales, so you can easily go check-up on the producers and monitor it really closely.
The major affiliate networks tend to have more overall numbers of affiliates and partners, because they’ve been doing it for 8 or 10 plus years. Some of the smaller CPA networks just haven’t been around that long so they don’t have the sheer affiliates and publishers that you can partner with. Problem is, most new merchants getting into performance marketing are like baby Einsteins…they are beaming with energy but they are like a clueless baby. Most new Advertisers getting into affiliate marketing are unrealistic about how quickly their affiliate channel can grow. It’s a long-term strategy with short-term gains along the way. If managed properly, your affiliate program should grow monthly over month and year over year, ebbing and flowing with your traditional seasonality.
It can be really tricky picking exactly which affiliate tracking platform you want to go on as a company. I usually recommend choosing one of the “major affiliate networks”, and maybe a couple of “CPA networks” to test out to see how the quality is. Using an internal affiliate tracking platform like HasOffers can be beneficial to working with Affiliates directly. HasOffers is very affordable and it can handle all your internal onsite tracking of your partners, affiliates, and online campaigns.
As an Advertiser, you need monitor very closely what’s going on on these networks, i.e. what kind of sales you are getting, are the numbers are matching up to your back-end numbers, and who is generating the traffic and sales. There has to be some real management internally just to make sure the orders coming in, and the leads coming in, are matching up to what the numbers are reflecting on these other networks, to make sure you aren’t double paying for the same order or lead.
So those are your basic options for affiliate tracking platforms. If you would like to speak to a knowledgeable, experienced person about your affiliate network options, just give us a shout. Thanks!