This is vastly important, and can make or break your affiliate program, so let’s take a step back and look at what you should ask yourself before starting.
Are you running the program for a well-known brand?
If your brand is well-known you have a big advantage. Having brand power should help your bartering chances with the network. If your logo improves their client list then they’ll happily lower their fees for you.
It will also make recruiting affiliates much easier. Affiliates will give prime spots on their sites to big brands as these will generate more commission for them based on brand awareness alone.
How much time can you spare for your program?
If you have the man-hours set aside for managing your program then this can save you money. Generally, the cheaper the network’s monthly fee the more work you have to do yourself.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the cheaper networks should be overlooked though, as you’ll see further on in this post.
How much money can you spare for your program?
The best thing about affiliate programs is, for the most part, that you only pay out money when you make money. So it’s a win/win situation right?
Wrong. The network normally charges a set-up fee as well as a monthly service fee. If these are costing you more than the revenue you’re producing from the program then you’re in trouble.
Set-up fees can be more than £5,000 or less than £250. Monthly fees can range from less than £50 to more than £1,500. Keep in mind you get what you pay for. This is the reason you should consider the last question carefully. Don’t forget there will (almost) always be a commission override as well, which is normally 30%.
You must consider all the costs, set-up, monthly fees, commissions, and commission overrides and see how they fit with your model.
So which network is best for me?
There are loads to choose from, just weigh up your options.
If you’ve got a huge brand that does £1,000’s of online revenue every week then one of the bigger networks will be for you.
The big networks will often have a vertical market they are strong in, for example Tradedoubler for retail, and OMG for finance. Ask the network to profile their existing clients and ask them what experience they’ve had with programs similar to yours.
If you’ve got the time to spend promoting your program, and recruiting affiliates etc, then try a more do-it-yourself network with cheaper fees. When I say do-it-yourself, I mean you may pay less for a lower level of account management, and as such you have to do more of the leg work yourself.
If you’re still not sure which network is for you, then the best thing to do is to ask affiliates/merchants on the A4U forum. They will give you answers from experiences they have had.