Affiliate marketing networks: Shareasale & Awin
With 15% of all digital media advertising revenue attributed to affiliate marketing, more and more retailers are choosing to market their products on channels like Shareasale and Affiliate Window (Awin).
Awin’s partners exceed 200 000 in over 180 countries. In 2018, Awin generated over £11.3 billion for their clients.
Shareasale hosts over 3000 affiliate programs spanning 40 different categories.
What is an affiliate network?
There are two parties involved in an affiliate network: merchants and affiliates. Merchants are retailers who upload product catalogs to the network; affiliates are independent bloggers, content creators or influencers who drive traffic on the merchants’ behalf in exchange for a commission fee. Merchants sign up, import their products and approach affiliates they believe can generate the desired traffic to their online stores. Affiliates can, in turn, browse merchants’ product packages to find those they feel their audiences will respond well to, after which they can market those products in any manner of their choosing.
Affiliates can post about merchants’ products on their websites, blogs or social media, as well as create their own PPC, SEO, RSS, email or Google AdWords campaigns. Essentially, the affiliates are given complete control over the marketing tactics, and will only receive commission if they succeed in generating traffic or conversions for merchants.
Affiliate programs are a collection of products created by merchants and often include promotional materials, information on commission and relevant details on the products.
Advantages for merchants
- Flexible, performance-based, cost-effective payment structure
Merchants decide the commission rates for affiliates, which can differ for each product or program. Affiliates can earn based on clicks, leads, traffic or conversions, meaning merchants only pay for results.
- Access to publishers/affiliates
Affiliate networks vets their applicants to ensure only the best are approved as affiliates.
Affiliates like bloggers and social media influencers often appeal to niche markets merchants may not have considered, and with the financial incentives in place, affiliates will do their utmost to drive as much traffic for merchants as possible. This means new business, new audiences and greater exposure. Successful bloggers are usually skilled at ranking organically in search engines, which means improved search-ability for merchants’ websites by extension.
- Detailed reporting and real-time tracking
Merchants are notified the moment a banner is clicked, a sale is made or a commission is generated. Reports are program-specific and include earnings per click, reversal rates, average sale amount and average commission.
- Payments processed through the network
Merchants need not handle affiliate payments themselves, as the networks take responsibility for processing all outstanding commissions.
- Training and best practice resources
Both Awin and ShareASale offer a host of resources for their affiliates and merchants. Shareasale provides monthly merchant training webinars and Awin has a series of best practice guides for advertisers on their website.
- Clickstream attribution reporting:
This allows you to see clicks made leading up to a purchase, helping merchants understand the customer journey effectively.
- Segmentation of pre-approved affiliates
All affiliates are screened for approval. ShareASale also segments affiliates by performance and promotion methods so merchants can easily source affiliates they trust with their business.
- Affiliate recruitment tool
The recruitment tool is immensely helpful for getting affiliates on board. The tool allows merchants to search for affiliates by categories they actively operate in i.e. Fitness; Beauty; Niche Content and so on. You can also search for affiliates by URL if there is a specific publisher you wish to recruit.
Signing up as a Shareasale merchant costs a $550 once-off fee but don’t let that discourage you. With the added benefit of Shareasale handing all payments to affiliates, as well as the performance-based payment structure, you may be able to offset Shareasale’s fees fairly soon. Merchants are also charged incremental fees as a percentage of revenue, which you can read more about here.
- Cross-device tracking
This allows merchants to reward publishers for multi-device journey transactions and gives the most accurate picture of how customers interact with affiliates’ channels.
- Voucher attribution
Merchants can provide affiliates with exclusive voucher codes and track code usage, even if there is no affiliate cookie present.
- Payment on influence
Awin allows commission based on ‘influence’. This allows affiliates to earn commission if they drive initial clicks, get the customer through the research phase, but do not obtain the final click. Awin also offers commission based on basket value.
Becoming a merchant on Awin is free. You will pay a $5 sign-up fee which will be refunded on approval of your application. You can upload your products to Awin using ShoppingFeeder. Simply sign up for a ShoppingFeeder account and register as an Awin advertiser.