Affiliate marketing is often one of the most efficient marketing channels for a business due to the buying model working on a CPA basis, which minimises risk and maximises efficiency. But it is important to ensure that you have the correct tracking solution in place to underpin a well-run, effective programme, and one that meets your business needs.
Top tips for evaluating a tracking solution
There are several key elements that need to be considered when evaluating affiliate tracking solutions (and by affiliate tracking solutions we are not talking about affiliate networks):
1) Experience – what experience does the provider have in relation to your business sector? Some solutions will be more focused on retail programmes whereas others will be more finance focused. It is important to determine the extent of their experience as this will likely dictate ease of set up and any required help surrounding troubleshooting. Requesting sector specific case studies is also useful to evaluate providers and ultimately sell in the solution to stakeholders.
2) Commercials – it is important to find out whether the provider works based on a tech fee or an affiliate override. You should also establish whether the tech fee or override fluctuates based on the commissions your affiliate programme is driving, e.g. if your commission drops below a certain threshold does the tech fee increase? If this is the case is the programme commercially viable to run with this provider?
3) Support –what tech support does the provider offer? The frequency of this support and the geographical base of the support team is an important consideration. For example, if you are a UK based company but the support team is based in Australia, this could pose issues when instant support is required. Understanding the extent of the support provided is another useful consideration, e.g. is it just tech support or does it span affiliate recruitment and compliance monitoring?
4) Technology / Functionality – what you need to be considering in terms of the technology and its functionality will depend on your requirements, however below are some useful questions / considerations to get you started:
- Does the tech allow you to tailor pay-outs to affiliates without requiring a third-party integration with the likes of Payoneer?
- Is there a compliance monitoring tool built into the tech or would a third-party integration be required such as Brand Verity?
- If third party integrations are required it is important to consider their costs alongside the provider’s costs, and how this would impact your CPA.
- Can pay-outs be tailored by traffic source, affiliates and group?
- Can differing products have different CPAs?oIf you currently track all your paid for media via one ad server, e.g. DoubleClick, does the tracking solution allow you to implement these third-party links to ensure you are de-duping all paid media activity?
- It is always beneficial to request a demo of the dashboard to provide insight into how you would set up the activity, how easy it is to pull reports and how compatible the dashboard is with the members of your team that will be utilising it on a day to day basis.
How do the key providers compare?
Each provider has a slightly different offering, so we have outlined their key features below:
- Cake can split pay-outs to affiliates based on touch points to conversion, i.e. where they featured within the overall conversion journey.They can integrate tracking from the major ad servers, e.g. DoubleClick, to allow for all paid for media to be de-duped.
- A designated account manager is assigned to each account and there is some form of support 24 hours a day.
- Payments to affiliates can be made with any currency.
- Data is updated in real-time due to their software being hosted on the cloud.
- They have relationships with 1 million affiliates globally.
- Their tech incorporates a blacklist of known bot traffic and you can set up alerts to monitor any potentially fraudulent activity.
- Offers and payments can be made by product, offering sophisticated payment options.
- Affiliates can easily be uploaded to the platform via a CSV file, to maximise time efficiencies.
- A strong mobile app offering, which is a key focus of their business model.
- The platform has the ability to deny specific traffic based on URLs and this traffic is then redirected somewhere else, allowing for exclusions based on product criteria.
- A pure tech solution with 24-hour support 5 days a week purely on a tech basis.
- Affiliate invoices can be created within the platform.
- Fraudulent measures are in place to reject sales and maximise programme efficiency.
- They offer one centralised platform which can be branded.
- Ability to upload T&Cs and programme terms.
- Dedicated support (an account manager and access to a customer success team).
- They also have 40,000 publishers on their network that you can tap into if you wish. Each of these affiliates goes through an 8-stage approval process as their focus is on quality.
- Granular and customisable reporting provided via an easy to use dashboard.
- They offer the ability to integrate with additional providers e.g. Brand Verity from a compliance perspective.
- There is the ability to integrate with tracking from ad servers.
- They offer assistance with affiliate recruitment via their dashboard (5IQ).
- Payments to affiliates can be run through the dashboard with no third-party integration required.
- Offer a central hub with real time analytics.
- A third-party integration via Linkdex allows them to offer an affiliate recruitment service.
- Dedicated support with a customer services and client services lead.
- Two stage T&Cs process to ensure affiliates comply (1 from Performance Horizon and 1 from the advertiser).
- Unlimited data points can be tracked (outside of the main KPI), providing an holistic view of an affiliate’s contribution.
- Affiliate payments can be run daily if required, increasing loyalty of the affiliate.
- Flexible commissions can be included within the interface.
- Can integrate with tracking from ad servers.
Other providers that also offer a tracking solution are detailed below:
If you have any questions around affiliate marketing or are looking for assistance then please get in contact: firstname.lastname@example.org