best affiliate marketing platforms

5 Best Affiliate Marketing Platforms

Are you looking to monetize your website, YouTube channel or Social Media page using affiliate marketing? Have you been wondering what channel you can use to get the most in terms of revenue? If yes, then you have come to the right place. Hi, my name is Francisco and I am the owner of Planet Marketing, a Digital Marketing Agency. My company specializes in Facebook Ads, Google Ads and Remarketing. I have been around for quite some time now and am well placed to give you all the information that you are looking for. Not only am I an affiliate for other companies, but I also run my own affiliate program in-house. In this article, I am going to;

  1. Introduce you to Affiliate Marketing
  2. Review the 5 most popular affiliate marketing platforms that can be found out there.

Introduction to Affiliate Marketing

Best affiliate marketing platforms
Affiliates sell goods and services on behalf of brands

Affiliate marketing is many things to many people. In this section, I will try to demystify it for the benefit of my readers;

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Go to the internet today, and you will be forgiven for thinking that affiliate marketing is all about the affiliate. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many entities involved in affiliate marketing. But what is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

Affiliate marketing can be thought of as a mutually beneficial interaction between brands and affiliates, whose aim is to sell products belonging to the brand. The affiliate gets paid a commission per sale.

How affiliate marketing works: An Example

Before showing you the best affiliate marketing platforms that can be found out there, I will give a brief outline of how affiliate marketing works. I won’t go in-depth in this article, however. If you really want to know more, feel free to check out the article in the provided link. I go crazy about affiliate marketing in that one! All that I can do here is give you an example that will help illustrate issues;

Planet Marketing, a Digital Marketing Agency, has come up with a product that is designed to help people get started with Facebook Ads. The product is in the form of a setup plan that is sold via the Planet Marketing website. But, how is the course going to be sold? Of course, there are many alternatives that are open in this regard. There is Facebook Ads, Google Ads and Advertising on the Planet Marketing Website. There is also Affiliate Marketing. The thing to know here is that all these channels are not mutually exclusive. It doesn’t mean that if you do Google Ads, you can no longer do Affiliate Marketing.

Planet Marketing decides that it’s going to engage the services of people throughout the world to help sell the Facebook Ads Setup Plan. It, therefore, launches an affiliate marketing program. Three options are available here. First of all, Planet Marketing can run an affiliate marketing program in house. Secondly, the company can do affiliate marketing through one of the many affiliate marketing platforms that are out there. Finally, Planet Marketing can use both methods to reach out to affiliates.

Components in Affiliate Marketing

That’s basically how affiliate marketing works. Based on the above case study, which is a description of our own affiliate marketing program, by the way, it is clear that affiliate marketing is comprised of the following components;

1. The brand

Affiliate marketing is, first of all, about the brand. The brand is sometimes referred to as the merchant or the vendor. It’s the company that has come up with a product or service that it wants to bring to the general populace using a network of affiliates. Let me repeat that most of the articles that you will find on the internet do not really give credit to the brand when talking about affiliate marketing. That’s not really surprising. The articles are usually written by affiliates, and it’s natural enough for them to focus on themselves. The brand is important, however. Without it, affiliate marketing would not take place because there would be no product to talk about.

2. The Product or Service

It’s easy, when talking about affiliate marketing, to forget about the product or service. However, something has to be marketed to make the entire process work. Moreover, the product or service needs to be salable. While it’s possible to sell a dud in the short term, that kind of approach is not going to be profitable in the long run. Not when it has become so easy for people to go online to leave a review.

So, as a brand that is interested in affiliate marketing, you, first of all, need to come up with something that can be sold. That’s where affiliate marketing actually begins! The following are some of the products that can be sold through affiliate marketing. Note that the list is not exhaustive. There is actually no end to the things that you can sell through affiliate marketing;

  • Digital Marketing products, such as courses.
  • Electronic goods
  • Clothes.
  • Legal aid plans.
  • Web hosting plans
  • Clothes

3. The Affiliate

The affiliate is the star in affiliate marketing. He or she is the person who has built a network that can be used to push goods and services to consumers. Affiliates are usually tech savvy people who know how to navigate their way around the World Wide Web. They have various tools at their disposal and they use these to reach out to as many people as is possible. The following are some of the channels that are used by affiliates;

  • Blogs: Most affiliates own blogs. I have already mentioned that I carry out affiliate marketing through my website; planetmarketing.com. To be precise, I sell a lot of products for various companies using the blog section of my site. There can be no end to the kind of goods and services that you can sell through you site. However, most affiliates who are just setting out make the mistake of being too broad. As an example, my site, Planet Marketing, is about digital marketing. Most people who read my site are looking for Digital Marketing solutions. Now, I have build an audience around this topic. And most of them are loyal. They have been with me for years. But, what are they going to think if I start talking about politics or sports? Are they going to stick around? No! If I do that, there is a BIG chance that I will lose part of my audience. That is why it’s important, as a blogger, to be focused. Truth is, you are never going to be able to sell everything that’s out there. And people are likely to stick  around if you talk about one topic. The thing about affiliate marketing is that you need a lot of traffic to your site to make a few sales. That’s just how it works! You need to be able to produce content that people want to read. Not only that, but you need to do your writing with Search Engines in mind.
  • Your first port of call is Keyword Research. Keyword Research allows you to zero in on what your target audience is saying. What keywords are they using when carrying out relevant queries? How competitive are these keywords? Are there already other people who have been targeting these keywords? Is the competition so much that you cannot hope to compete? If so, you can check out long tail keywords as a way of making the breakthrough that you are looking for. After you have carried out keyword research for your blog, you can then produce well written, relevant content. Not only do your readers expect you to produce articles that are well researched and relevant, but search engines will penalize you if you do otherwise.
  • YouTube channels: Affiliate marketing can also be done via YouTube. The great thing about YouTube is that you do not have to kill yourself trying to produce world class videos. YouTube is YouTube, and anything goes, within the legal limits, of course. There are thousands of videos on the platform that were taken with home cameras. Yet they receive millions of views on a daily basis. Do things right, and you may just build your YouTube audience to such an extent that it would be possible to monetize it using affiliate marketing.
  • Social Media: For better or for worse, we all spend a lot of our time on social media. So, maybe Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram have turned us into Zombies, but that’s just great from the point of view of affiliate marketing. If you have thousands of followers, as an example, you can turn them into capital by endorsing products and services and getting them to buy or sign up. The trick, however, lies in getting an audience that is big enough to make everything worthwhile. True, you can do affiliate marketing even if you only have a hundred followers, but that model is probably not going to be sustainable in the long run. What you need are a thousand fawning fans. And if you can get millions? Well, you can begin planning for a life lived lazing it around on the beach…!
  • Email: If your mailing list is extensive enough, you can also turn it into capital using affiliate marketing. However, you do have to make sure that you are only trying to sell to the right kind of people. Otherwise a lot of people are simply going to unsubscribe. People out there have developed what may be termed digital banner blindness. They see ads and other marketing stuff so many times that they have learnt to tune out. If you send them an email that contains stuff that they do not really care about, they are simply going to throw it into the recycle bin without even opening it up.

4. The Customer

The customer, it is sad to say, is another neglected entity in affiliate marketing. But there can be no affiliate marketing without the customer. He is the destination for the product. The thing to note is that the customer, in today’s world, has become a lot more complicated. You cannot hope to convince him or her to buy something if it’s not in their interest. Aiding this is the fact that customers now rely heavily on the advise that they get from other people via online reviews. Today, up to 90% of people say they will not buy a product without first looking up online reviews. So, the customer is important. As a brand, you need to produce goods and services that answer to his or her needs.

Does the customer benefit from affiliate marketing?

Most people think that the customer is a passive actor in affiliate marketing. That may be true only inasmuch as he or she does not realize that he is part of a chain comprising of the product, the brand, the affiliate and the affiliate network. However, the customer actually benefits from affiliate marketing. To begin with, the competitive world in which we live makes price a HUGE selling point for brands. So the customer can benefit in terms of a reduced price.

Customers benefit when affiliates negotiate discounts on their behalf
Customers benefit when affiliates negotiate discounts on their behalf

Not only that, but affiliates usually negotiate discounts on behalf of their customers. They do this is order to stay ahead of the pack. It’s actually what we do at Planet Marketing. Just to give one example, Planet Marketing is an affiliate of Shopper Approved, a company that specializes in online reviews. I have managed to negotiate a discount on behalf of my customers with Shopper Approved. As a result, you can sign up at a fraction of the actual cost. It’s a huge discount. So, my customers benefit from the discount and I benefit because I can offer Shopper Approved’s services at a discount. So, people are much more likely to want to sign up using my links.

5. Affiliate Networks

Affiliate networks are what we are focusing on in this article. Affiliate networks constitute the 5th element in affiliate marketing. Most affiliates, to be frank, do not like affiliate networks. That’s because they are perceived to be intermediaries who get paid while providing no real value to the affiliate. The affiliate sweats for every dollar, and he or she does not like it when someone interposes themselves into the mix.

However, the truth of the matter is that Affiliate networks are crucial in affiliate marketing. Imagine a world in which we didn’t have these companies. All affiliates would then need to move from one company to the other while looking for the ones that are suitable for them to sell. Not only that, but the companies themselves would have an even harder time trying to find the right kind of people to sell their goods and services.

Affiliates networks solve these problems by acting as intermediaries between the affiliate and the brand. They are the reason why so many brands are able to find affiliates. Indeed, there are brands that offer their services solely through affiliate networks. Some, however, will have affiliate programs both in-house and with affiliate networks. Most of the web hosting companies that are out there adopt this dual model.

How do affiliates get paid?

The following is how affiliates get paid;

  • On a once off basis: The first model of payment for affiliates is the once off model. What happens is that when you sell a product or a service, you receive an agreed to amount as commission. Once that is done, that’s it! You will not get anything else unless you sign up more people. Of the companies with which I am affiliated, web hosting companies adopt this model. If you sign up people, as an example, you will get once off payments that range from $100.
  • Recurring payments: This is the model that I, as an affiliate, love. Instead of being given a once off payment per sale, you actually receive a recurring amount for the lifetime of the customer. This amount is an agreed to percentage of the sale. Remember the example that I have just been giving about Shopper Approved? Well, the company actually offers the recurring income model. Today, I continue to receive money from customers whom I convinced to sign up with Shopper Approved years ago!

5 Best Affiliate Marketing Platforms

Now that you have a full understanding of what affiliate marketing is, I am going, in this section, to show some of the best affiliate marketing platforms that can be found out there. As mentioned at the top, affiliate marketing largely relies on affiliate networks. These networks serve as the hubs on which brands can find suitable affiliates to sell their products and services. The following, in any case, are the 5 best affiliate marketing platforms that can be found out there;

Amazon Associates

The Amazon Associates Affiliate Program
The Amazon Associates Affiliate Program

Amazon Associates is one of the best known affiliate marketing platforms that can be found out there. If you are looking for an affiliate marketing platform where you can sell almost anything, then you will not go wrong with Amazon Associates. The great thing about it is that Amazon has a wide range of products from which you can choose the ones that you wish to market.

One of the things that people are not aware of is that you get paid even if someone buys something on Amazon other than the item that you were referring. Let’s say you have written a killer article about the latest laptop. Someone lands on your page and they click on the Amazon link that you have prominently displayed there. The link goes to the page selling the laptop. Now, when the person gets there, they decide that the laptop is not as good as you were describing anyway. So, they start browsing for other products. And lo-and behold, they come across an e-ink reader that they didn’t even know before that moment that they wanted. And they buy that e-ink reader. The good news is that should this happen, Amazon will pay you a commission for the e-ink reader. The only thing is that the sale has to happen within a day of the initial referral.

How much can you get per sale?

Amazon gives affiliates varying amounts for sales. These amounts range from 0 to 10% of the total amount for a product.

How to make is work with Amazon Associates?

The trick, when it comes to the Amazon Associates affiliate marketing platform, lies in cornering your niche and sticking to your guns. I guess this is a piece of advice that applies to all affiliate marketing. I have already mentioned that you have no hope in hell of selling everything that’s being sold out there. You are most likely to have success if you find a particular corner on which you can specialize. Once you have done that, then you should be good to go. Write the hell out of that product or service, and Google will regard you as an authority. As a result, your web pages will rise in prominence in Search Results.

Amazon Associates Advantages

  • Wide selection of goods to market.
  • You get credit for sales other than the product that you are promoting.
  • They will pay you out even if you have $10 in sales.

Disadvantages

  • If someone comes back after 24 hours and buys something that you have referred, you will not get paid.
  • Commissions can be low on some categories.
  • You need separate accounts for different countries.
  • You account will be discontinued if you do not get3 sales within 180 days. What this means is that you should only join when you are sure about your traffic and its sustainability. If you are only getting a few visitors every day, then you should probably stay away from Amazon Associates.

2. Commission Junction

CJ Affiliates
Affiliate Marketing Platforms: CJ Affiliates

Commission Junction is probably the biggest affiliate marketing networks that can be found out there. If you are an affiliate, this is a company that you are likely to have heard about. Commission Junction brings thousands of affiliates and merchants together. Joining is easy enough, and you can search for and get links from appropriate companies from your Dashboard.

Advantages

  • Commission Junction is big, meaning you will be able to find whatever the company that you are looking for on the platform.
  • Joining is easy.

Disadvantages

  • Commission Junction is a little clunky. Maybe it’s my computer, but I find that getting in the Dashboard takes a lot of time as the thing processes along.
  • You need to do some learning before getting fully familiar with Commission Junction.
  • Like Amazon Associates, you will be kicked out if you do not make sales within a given time frame.

3. ClickBank

Clickbank
Affiliate marketing platforms: Clickbank is good for digital products

ClickBank is another affiliate platform that can be used by both businesses and affiliates. In fact, My own affiliate marketing program is listed on ClickBank. One of the major distinctions for ClickBank is that they offer a lot of digital products. An example would be my Facebook Ads Marketing course. I am not saying, however, that ClickBank does not do physical products. They do, but they mainly specialize in digital marketing products. Another distinctive thing about ClickBank is that they carter mostly for small businesses.

Advantages

  • If you would like to market digital products, they you should go for ClickBank.
  • They are great for those that are looking to corner specific niches.
  • Their commissions are high.
  • Payout’s begin at $10. That’s great. Most of the other Affiliate Networks, such as Commission Junction, will only pay you when you have sold goods and services worth $100.
  • You get paid per week if that’s what you want.

Disadvantages

  • Some of the merchants who are on there are of questionable integrity. They sell low quality goods, and you will need to be careful to make sure that you are not selling your readers a dud.
  • ClickBank has a very generous refunds program. What this means is that you are always in danger of losing money after making sales.

4. ShareASale

shareasale
Affiliate Marketing Platforms: ShareASale is HUGE!

It would be a travesty to talk about affiliate marketing platforms without mentioning ShareASale. The company is one of the most popular affiliate networks that can be found out there. It has over 4500 merchants. What that means in reality is that you are going to be able to find someone within your niche that you can promote. Joining any of these companies can be done from the Dashboard. However, each company needs to approve your request for membership.

What kind of goods can be sold on ShareASale

ShareASale will do for both digital and physical products. If you are looking for merchants that offer web hosting services (digital), you will be able to easily find them on ShareASale. You can also find other businesses that offer actual, physical products.

Advantages

  • Plenty of options in terms of who to promote.
  • The platform carters for both physical and digital products.
  • Over a thousand merchants who can only be found on ShareASale.

Disadvantages

  • They have a not-so-user friendly Dashboard. However, you will get used to it in no time.
  • It’s not automatic that merchants will approve you.

5. FlexOffers

Now, if you are looking for a really big pool of merchants, then you wont go wrong with FlexOffers. In fact, they add up to 50 new merchants every day to their program! That’s amazing! It also means you will always be able to find new products and services to promote on the platform.

Pros

  • Publishers get assigned their own dedicated account manager.
  • They have a big collection of merchants. So, whatever content you are looking to produce, you can be sure that you will have the option to throw in one or two relevant affiliate links.

Cons

  • It can be overwhelming to find the best option among the huge selection of merchants.
  • They only pay people who are not in the US though PayPal. They will only agree to pay you through Wire Transfer if you earnings exceed $5000.

So, there you have it! Those are the best affiliate marketing platforms that can be found out there. Also remember that you can run your own program in-house. If you have any comment, please get in touch with us through the section below.

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