Affiliate Program VS Affiliate Software VS Affiliate Network
There are many people (especially business merchants) who are new to online business, and they have been using affiliate network, affiliate software, and affiliate program terms interchangeably. But these are different terms and this article will throw some light into it.
Affiliate Program is a marketing platform or arrangement, where a sponsoring website provides rewards to participating websites for sending referrals, customers or leads.
The sponsoring website is known as Merchant or Advertiser. A participating website is called Affiliate or Publisher. The reward involved is usually a small amount of money, known as the commission. Commissions are paid to affiliates when a specific action is taken by referrals or customers. Common actions include form submit (pay-per-lead) and buying a product (pay-per-sale).
Today, merchants who are looking to get started with affiliate marketing have two choices on their hands. They can join one of the affiliate networks or use affiliate software to set up and organize an affiliate program on their own.
Affiliate Software (aka Affiliate Program Software) is web software you use to setup affiliate program and manage other aspects of affiliate program such as managing affiliates, tracking sales, creating promotions & paying commissions. As a merchant, you need to install Affiliate Software on your web server. Once setup, affiliate software offers an admin panel to you for managing all affiliate program.
Merchants usually need to hire a tech-savvy affiliate manager when setting up and managing affiliate program using affiliate software.
There is a one-time fee that merchant has to pay to get the license of affiliate software. There is no transaction fee per sale and no recurring monthly minimum fee.
Affiliate Network is also an affiliate software for setting up & managing affiliate program but it is hosted on a cloud. Affiliate network also offers a marketplace where you can easily find potential affiliates for your business as well as you can see other affiliate programs by merchants.
When you join an affiliate network as a merchant, you get access to admin panel and merchant interface. From merchant interface, you can manage affiliates, upload product feeds, define commission structure & policies, upload creatives, newsletter and all other aspects of an affiliate program.
To join an affiliate network, the merchant has to pay a one-time setup fee (or joining fee), and there is small transaction fee per sale and recurring monthly minimum fee. So the cost of running an affiliate program on an affiliate network can be costly for some small businesses.
Let’s Understand with Examples
Fanatics.com is an eCommerce website selling sports apparels, jerseys, and fan gear. They also have two affiliate programs hosted on two affiliate networks.
You can see their affiliate program page link in the website footer so affiliates can easily find their affiliate program details.
When you click on the link you will see that Fanatic.com has set up their affiliate programs on two different affiliate networks- ShareAsale and Avantlink.
If you click the join now button on the page, you will reach their public link to their affiliate program signup page on ShareAsale.
On another note, Post Affiliate Pro (also available as SAAS), iDevAffiliate and Omnistar are popular affiliate program software for setting up affiliate programs. As a merchant, you need to purchase the software license and then you can install the affiliate software on your own server.
I hope you find this topic helpful. if you have any questions, you can use the comment section below.