Affiliate marketing management is tricky. If you own an online store in Germany and type in “Affiliate programs in Germany”, I can promise you that you will find a lot to choose from. After working with more than 15 different affiliate programs that covers 30 different markets, I have made up my mind: you should always only use one affiliate program per market.
By the way: this is an article for advertisers [those who sell a product or a service] and not for publishers [those who own a website/blog/social media page].
What are the disadvantages of having several affiliate programs?
Every time I start a new affiliate website within a niche, I contact the biggest e-commerce player in that niche and ask: “Where can I find your affiliate program in order to promote your products?”. I have several times gotten the answer: “You can find us at Shareasale, AWIN, Linkshare, CJ and Clickbank!”…where I simply think:
“Why? Why are you doing this to yourself?”.
The customer journey has become more complex over the last years. That means that you will see more and more touch points from a customer before he/she will finalize the purchase.
Let me give you an example.
Tommy finds your products on Google Ads, clicks onto your website, but decides not to buy anything for now. He chooses to read more about your online store before purchasing and finds a review site – where he clicks the ad. The review site uses Commission Junction links to gain affiliate commission. Once he decided to buy, he finds a “Discount button” in the cart page. He checks Google for any discounts, and find one on RetailMeNot. RMN uses Linkshare to track sales, and he will both have a CJ and a Linkshare cookie when he finalizes the sale.
This is what you have paid for Tommys purchase:
1. SEM/PPC cost to Google.
2. Affiliate commission to CJ for the review site.
3. Affiliate commission to Linkshare for the discount code website.
If the “review site” and RetailMeNot had been working through the same network, the cookie would be overwritten by RMN and the commission would be given to the publisher that had the last click.
But why is this really a problem?
2. Normal conversion rate, but high invalidation rate.
A general rule in the “affiliate world” is that you are allowed to in-validate sales if they are double-tracked. In other words: if two publishers from two different networks claim commission for the same sale, you are allowed to invalidate one of them. So why is that a problem?
Because the publishers will hate you. The more sales you invalidate, the less money publishers will get for their efforts of promoting your store.
3. Time management.
Option 1: One report, one backend, one invoice every month.
Option 2: Two reports, two backends, two invoices and a lot of angry publishers that you have to deal with.
What do you choose?
If you have been working as an affiliate marketing manager or got questions in regards to this matter, feel free to reach out to me in the comment section below. I am more than happy to get into a discussion about this topic.