The principle of affiliation was first developed by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. This technique aims to create a network of sites (called “affiliates”) which through links (located on keywords or static/ animated banner) will provide visibility and attract a targeted traffic to the site “affiliator”. In exchange for the traffic or the made sales, the affililates are paid through the payment of a commission on sales, cost per-click or other. An affiliation system is often used by ecommerce sites, but it can also be applied on content sites, services (subscriptions, sales of eBooks…). On the whole, the affiliation is a powerful tool for viral web marketing. Its effectiveness, not only to increase sales and traffic but also your ranking on search engines, has been proven.
There are various affiliation platforms (…); some are cheaper or more accessible to advertisers than others. The advantage of making use of these platforms is that they already have a large number of affilialtes to which they will submit your affiliate program. Of course you will have to pay for those more affiliates. And if you have a large margin on what you sell, it won’t be a problem; otherwise, it will be a little complicated…
I am going to show you how to build your own affiliate program, independently. And you will be able to manage everything yourself, and you will have your own system as well to track sales, clicks of campaigns, affiliates ….
When I looked for a solution, I chose Post Affiliate Pro 4. My choice seemed to be obvious. Indeed, Post Affiliate Pro 4 has existed for several years and most users are satisfied with it. It’s full. As you will see, it has many features and its price is absolutely correct. Of course anyone could have developed such a program on his own if he had the right skills in programming. But creating a tool with such functionality will certainly cost more than just buying PAP 4 which costs either 199 or 299 dollars (this is not a subscription, you only pay once. Then, there are superior offers, but more expensive…)
The first two offers are roughly the same. The first (supply Xpress) contains the basic features. The second (offer Professional) comes with a large number of plugins that provide additional useful but not essential features. You can say that offer Pro is more interesting to buy, because it’s cheaper than buying the Xpress version and then getting each plugin separately. I’ve chosen the Xpress, but I admit it I’ve hesitated for a while. It’s true that the basic features of Xpress are enough for me for the time being. But it’s also true that the difference was only 100 dollars (73 Euros), which is not huge, depending on your needs and budget.
You will be able to do almost anything with Post Affiliate. But, there is one thing you have to know: it is not possible to create an affiliate platform such as TradeDoubler, Zanorx, Public ideas and company. With Post Affiliate Pro 4, there can only be one administrator; that’s to say that only person can manage all campaigns. So, users can only register as affiliates, but not as advertisers. Although the administrator can manage as many campaigns as they want (for different sites), the monitoring of sales and the administration in general of each company can be managed only by one person. It is possible to create your platform without these limits, but with another offer, “Post Affiliate Network”, for 79 dollars a-month (on your server, or at once for 1899 dollars (on your server).
The different Versions of Post Affiliate Pro 4 Xpress or Pro are enough if you want to create affiliation programs for your own products, even if you have many shops…
A list of some features of Post Affiliate Pro 4:
- An effective monitoring system.
- Different styles of affiliation links (see more below).
- An unlimited number of affiliates.
- A configuration of cookies settings.
- Each affiliate can log into their accounts to track results, get codes and banners…
- Gain on sale, on CPC (cost per click), CPM (counts per one thousand), per lead…
- Public or private campaigns (the possibility to hide some campaigns to certain affiliates).
- Possible recurrent commissions (for subscriptions…).
- Giving a commission to an action (such as registering for a newsletter…)
- Rewards for performance.
- Commission groups (it’s possible for a single campaign to vary the commission according to the number of sales generated by an affiliate for example…)
- Multi-level commissions (for example 40% per sale for the affiliate and 5% for sales sponsored by the affiliate that he generated).
- Sharing of commissions (for example if 2 affiliates are responsible for a sale, they will share the commission).
- Anti-fraud protection.
- Different currencies.
- Lifetime commissions.
- Custom tracking codes.
- Images banners, flash banners, text banners, html banners, banners rotation system, hover banners, peel banners, Zip banners…
- Automatic affiliates payment.
- Reproduction of the site: you have one site, and PAP4 can create a version for each affiliate.
And there are plenty of other features that I have not yet fully used. But it’s interesting to have them just in case…
The advantage of Post Affiliate Pro 4 Xpress Professional version:
- Post Affiliate Pro is easy to install. You just need a hosting and a database. You probably already know if you have one or more sites. If you have already installed Joomla, Prestashop or WordPress, it won’t difficult for you to install Post Affiliate Pro 4. In the worst cases, they have paid extra for installation
- Free support, effective for telephone, email, chat, forum. Although it’s only in English, I’ve personally tried the support. And I was very pleased. They always helped me and answered my twisted questions…
- Too many features (admittedly there is plenty to do…).
- The tracking by Direct Links: here, it’s admittedly quite huge. This tracking system makes it possible for the affiliate to make the affiliation without using the affiliate link. It normally makes links to your products (without added affiliate ID, or other). In fact, the affiliate registers his site for a specific campaign. And Post Affiliate Pro detects all clicks and sales of visitors. I tested and it works perfectly. Anyway this is not rocket science. It looks like the script of google analytics from which comes the visitor, and if the site belongs to an affiliate.
- The graphic appearance is not really, especially on the administration. It gives the impression that you are working on a mac. You can take a look with the online demo version on their site. (Yes that’s gadget, but it’s better than working on a horrible interface…)
- Statistics and reports when needed: you can really see what works, and conduct a full study (ratio of the best affiliates, best url, best banners, clicks, sales…).
- The sales tracking fits almost everywhere (Joomla, Virtuemart, Aweber, Prestashop, Magento, Paypal, Zen cart… la liste est longue, to mention but a few). We’ll have to make some changes on some files. But it’s pretty fast and all steps are given. You have just to follow them. And at worst, the support is here (see the list of possible integrations : integrating Post Affiliate Pro4)
Different types of links for your affiliates:
Standard links (with redirection):
Links with url parameters:
Links with anchors:
Links with mode rewrite:
Direct Link (without parameters):
I use the links with anchors and the direct link. The Direct Link is the best solution as it allows you to place urls “normal”, which is perfect for keeping SEO and affiliation discreet.
And of course the direct link doesn’t work if the affiliate wants to show his links on facebook, twitter, email…
So, I hope that the presentation of Post Affiliate Pro 4 and my humble experience will be useful, and will help you to make your affiliation easily to increase your sales and traffic. Post Affiliate Pro 4 is undoubtedly a great tool. But it’s just a tool. And it’s up to you to talk about your affiliation program, to make effective banners which are effective for the affiliates…