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What's the most efficient way to learn all-things affiliate marketing?

My co-founder and I are launching a business and its revenue model is partially dependent on affiliate marketing revenues. While we signed up for the key affiliate networks (CJ, LinkShare, ShareASale, etc.), we are wondering if there is a more streamlined way to easily create affiliate links, without signing into our accounts each time (not interested in paying out a percentage with Skimlinks or VigLink)? I'm having difficulty getting straight answers through web searches.

Also, Is there a way to track affiliate marketing dollars if a company is not part of an affiliate network? How can custom coupon codes be tracked and how would one go about doing this? Thanks in advance!

8 Replies

Jordan Finger
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Jordan Finger Entrepreneur
E-commerce, Digital Marketing, Ad-Tech, Customer Acquisition, Mobile Commerce
Hi Liz,

For affiliate tracking check out www.hasoffers.com.
Oliver Deighton
2
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Oliver Deighton Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-Founder & CEO at Nickel
I used to run marketing at VigLink. There really isn't a more streamlined way to create affiliate links than VigLink or Skimlinks. You can code affiliation rules yourself, but other than for Amazon and eBay, those rules often break and the code can become a headache to maintain with more than just a handful of merchants. For the time and energy involved, the 25% you give up to VigLink or Skimlinks is well worth it imho. Keep in mind that for most/many merchants you actually earn more despite the rev share because VL and SL have negotiated superior rates than you have with CJ, etc.
Eoin Matthews
1
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Eoin Matthews Entrepreneur
Cofounder at Point
I used to work at VigLink and previously worked at Rakuten, the parent company of LinkShare. Excepting a few instances (see bottom of this post), you should use VigLink (or similar) for a few reasons:
1. if affiliate is not your sole and primary business, you should use one of these solutions so you can become great at your core business while picking up this revenue
2. it's a pain to manage affiliate relationships especially at the outset -- fast-track that process by using an aggregator.
3. starting out, you will get vanilla rate-card affiliate rates if you go direct. Aggregators will often have premium rates so that you net out better than you would have going direct.
4. By working with an aggregator, you will be approved for a lot of affiliate marketers who would otherwise ignore you as low-traffic startup.
5. Once you are up and running, you can start cherry-picking the best performing marketing relationships and take them direct on preferential terms and cutting out the middle-men (i.e. focus on the important relationships when they are at scale - let the aggregator monetize the rest for you automatically)
6. there's a technical and operational debt you incur by integrating with all the networks directly - you have to be operating at significant scale (in affiliate terms) before you can really justify going direct to any one network.

Unless you are focused on just a very small number of marketers in a specific non-retail category (e.g. you have some insight into how to market more effectively to credit card or insurance shoppers) then you should really think about the aggregator route. If I were to go into the publisher business again promoting merchandise, an aggregator would definitely be part of my initial plans.
Robert Tolmach
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Robert Tolmach Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur and Social Entrepreneur
Have you checked PopShops?
Alex Littlewood
0
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Alex Littlewood Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder & CEO at Motoroso
CJ does an annual conference called CJ University, that's a big one.

Go to IRCE and attend workshops.

There's a site/community called ABestWeb for affiliate marketers.
Alex Littlewood
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Alex Littlewood Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder & CEO at Motoroso
Just got an email about LinkShare Sympsium as well:
https://www.cvent.com/events/rakuten-marketing-symposium-san-francisco-2015/registration-43261bffc97f4b58a692caa43c24a372.aspx

Linkshare is the largest affiliate network, CJ is #2 i think.
Liz Lentis
0
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Liz Lentis Entrepreneur
Marketing & Sales Professional with an Entrepreneurial Drive
Excellent advice! Thank you all so much! Any perspectives on Skimlinks vs. VigLink (or any company I'm missing)?
Adam Alter
0
0
Adam Alter Entrepreneur
Account Executive//Programmatic Evangelist at Google
I'd check out a platform like HasOffers, now known as Tune (http://www.tune.com). You can essentially have your own affiliate platform which sits above others like CJ. CJ will still be useful due to its reach and position in the marketplace.

But using something like HasOffers, you can create custom links, test different landing pages, coupon codes, etc. and track everything through one platform.

So you'd log into hasoffers, then see how much revenue + other stats your links for CJ, ShareASale, internal arbitrage, SEO, and coupon codes have generated.

Feel free to PM me if you have other questions.

AA
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