With today’s highly competitive market, establishing a strong brand for businesses proves to be a necessity for survival more than ever. This doesn’t only apply for those brick-and-mortar businesses that produce consumable or durable goods; it also applies to affiliate marketers who are competing on the online platform.
A Short Recap on Branding
A brand is neither a logo nor a witty tagline; a brand is simply your promise to your customers. If we apply the concept of brand to you as a metaphor, it will be determined by what you’re all about – who you are, what your goals are, and how you want to be perceived by people. This then creates that point of difference. If done right, it will result in a certain level of uniqueness that will differentiate you from your competitors.
What does it mean for affiliate marketing?
As an affiliate marketer, you’d surely want more traffic for your affiliate site whether they come naturally or through referrals. Search engines then become a major element in your niche since these are the tools that your end users utilize to get in touch with you.
Luckily, or unluckily for some, search engines are getting smarter and smarter. Google, for example, aims to boost user search experience with the algorithm update called “Penguin”, which downgrades the ranks of sites that use black hat SEO tactics and provide poor user experience. Aside from rich and relevant content, the new algorithm includes branding as one of their criteria for ranking sites.
Why does branding affect search rankings?
So many websites employ overly-aggressive tactics to rank higher in the search results without really fulfilling its end of the bargain. They give irrelevant content to their end users. Google then unleashed its Panda update, and later the Penguin update, to weed out content farms and overly optimized sites to give end users more relevant search results.
In contrast to some shady websites, branded sites tend to be the ones that provide legitimate content. Google’s new algorithm has ways of gauging authenticated popularity, and the use of social signals, rich snippets, authorship tags, and Google+ all play a big role in building your rank. Hence, expanding the affiliate programs you participate in betters your chance of gaining traffic, conversions, and ultimately sales because getting other partners to work with you means you’re credible.
How do I expand my affiliate program?
As mentioned above, branding plays a significant role in your search rankings and expanding your affiliate program would help build your brand. But what does it mean to expand your affiliate program? In a nutshell, it means working with reputable merchant sites by referring their goods and services to your site’s visitors.
Working with several reputable merchant sites would not only better your ranking at search results; it also establishes you as a legitimate affiliate since gaining the confidence of an established merchant site is an indicator that you’re a trustworthy entity to do business with.
Luckily, there are tons of affiliate networks you can participate in which could help you find reputable merchants in your chosen niche. Here are some of the best ones according to the Mthink 2013 list where 10,000 affiliate marketing professionals participated in the survey, including advertisers, publishers, and agencies.
1. Rakuten Linkshare
The Mthink top ranker provides e-commerce sites with a wide spectrum of services such as Search Marketing (SEM), Lead Generation, and Affiliate Marketing. Among the roster of their prominent clients are Fortune 500, J.C Penney, 1-800-Flowers.com, American Express, and Avon Products.
2. Commission Junction U.S
Next on the list is Commission Junction U.S that provides services like network access, recruiting & optimization, lead generation, and pay-per-call for both advertisers and publishers,. The U.S.-based agency provides services to a broad audience working on different niches, from airlines to banking, to legal and retail. Some of their clients include Boden, Costumer Express, Home Depot, and H&R Block.
3. Amazon Affiliate Program
It’s no surprise that Amazon would rank high on this list since it is widely known that the wholesale giant offers an extensive variety of products, meaning that there’s bound to be something that would fit perfectly for your niche. Amazon works on a “pay-per sale” model with their affiliates.
Moving four places up from 2012’s list is ClickBank which features digital products as it offers 75% commissions on its products. It follows a weekly payment basis and allows direct deposits to its affiliates. They’ve been rocking the Internet since 1998 and helped thousands of people gain financial control since then.
ShareASale generates a lot of trust from publishers and advertisers alike. Among the organizations they have previously worked with are VM Innovation, Affiliate Summit, and Fat Wallet. They also host more than 3,900 affiliates programs under 40 different categories..
AvantLink was once among Inc’s annual 500 Companies List ranking at 171st and has climbed up to this year’s survey by one spot from last year’s number seven to number six. It offers more than 50 different categories for its affiliates to sell like apparel, outdoor and recreation equipment, and cooking supplies.
7. Revenue Wire
Google Affiliate Network has officially retired, which means Revenue Wire will inevitably take over its spot. Revenue Wire is an e-commerce platform that operates on a global scale. They specialize on helping small- and medium-sized businesses grow their presence online through optimizing transaction procedures and through their performance marketing channels.
8. One Network Direct
One Network Direct has established itself as a reputable affiliate network, increasing its total product count to over 400,000 titles since the addition of their Direct Stream product catalog. It offers services such as commerce integrated marketing, global distribution, and partner management.
9. Pepper Jam Network
Pepper Jam Network is also known as eBay Enterprise Affiliate Network, and it employs exclusive publisher distribution, developments in technology, as well as strategic planning to render the best pay-for-performance results. The marketing solutions and affiliate network has risen four places from last year’s list.
10. Link Connector
Link Connector has previously worked with Wild Wolf Webmasters and JJPlace.com. They provide tools to reveal frauds, and apply a pay-per-sale system for their merchants.
Partnering with an established merchant site as an affiliate brings many benefits to both parties, since the latter can earn without spending huge capital on goods while the former gets to maximize their profit margins because of the extra hand affiliates give in selling the products. As your brand establishes itself as the ‘go-to’ destination in your niche, higher traffic and conversion rates are expected to follow.