LinkShare and ClickBank Affiliate Networks: Site-Building Challenge, Day 14 – Affiliate Programs.comToday we’re going to cover two affiliate networks you’ll definitely want to consider working with, LinkShare and ClickBank. We’ll summarize the types of offers you can find there and discuss what kind of affiliate site might profit most from each network.

While there are many affiliates who feel strongly about both of these networks, at the end of day, you’ll need to select merchants and offers that are right for your website and business.

What you need to know about LinkShare

LinkShare, much like the Google Affiliate Network, provides offers from Fortune 500 brands such as J.C. Penney, American Express, Disney and Avon.  In addition, they offer programs with Internet big-box retailer Buy.com, Sierra Trading Post and 1-800-Flowers.com … and hundreds of others.

There’s enough of a variety of advertisers and offers through LinkShare that most affiliates would have a tough time not finding something that’s right for their niche. Categories such as children’s clothing and toys, wireless and department stores are particularly strong at LinkShare. As you can see from the image of LinkShare’s categories below, they have a lot of variety to offer.

LinkShare and ClickBank Affiliate Networks: Site-Building Challenge, Day 14 – Affiliate Programs.com

Unlike ShareASale, there isn’t much transparency in LinkShare’s rankings. While the site mentions that there are criteria for selecting its “Premium Advertisers,” it’s not clear what comprises those criteria.

LinkShare’s cookie length, or the window of time in which you can earn a referral, are variable. Depending on the merchant, the majority of cookies will last approximately 30-60 days.

How to get the most from LinkShare

You’ll get the most out of a large network like LinkShare if you focus.

Make sure your site addresses exactly the kind of needs people have when they’re about to buy a product. For instance, if your niche is home theater electronics, you could do a review site and write about specific brands and model numbers. (LinkShare’s relationship with Buy.com makes it easy.)

If you cast your net too widely, incorporating links from American Express travel along with links from The Children’s Place, it’s likely that what you’re offering as an affiliate won’t really address the needs of the people who come to your site.

Overall, LinkShare is a solid affiliate network with a reputation for treating affiliates fairly. If you’re looking to add products from larger brand-name retailers, it’s a network you’ll want to explore.

What you need to know about ClickBank

Compared to the sleek and polished corporate brands at LinkShare, ClickBank looks like a Wild West saloon filled with entrepreneurs shooting into the air for your attention.

Founded in 1998, ClickBank has more than 100,000 active affiliates and offers more than 50,000 digital products. It is a major affiliate network. Many affiliates sign up for ClickBank and sell their first products through the network.

A big advantage to ClickBank is that it’s exceptionally easy to sign up as an affiliate. Unlike the other networks that require applications to merchant programs, there is no approval process. All you need to do is sign up, choose a product, and integrate it on your site.

However, a potential disadvantage to ClickBank is the quality of the products. Unlike many of the other affiliate programs where you’ll already know something about the products and services you’re offering, ClickBank’s digital products are usually not available elsewhere. And they are created by a variety of publishers. This means that you’re going to want to buy a product and get to know it before you post it on your site.

Essentially, product quality is on a case-by-case basis at ClickBank. While there are some terrific products, some products are less than stellar and should be avoided.

When you’re looking for a ClickBank product to sell, focus on the “gravity” of a product. The gravity is a score that takes into account how many different affiliates have sold in this product over the past 8 weeks. The higher the gravity, the better.

LinkShare and ClickBank Affiliate Networks: Site-Building Challenge, Day 14 – Affiliate Programs.com

Look for products with gravity of 30 or above. And in addition to the gravity, check these other statistics:
•    $/sale: The amount an affiliate earns for each sale of a product.
•    Future $: If this is a recurring billing product, this is the average amount an affiliate will make after the initial purchase.
•    Total $/sale: If this is a one-time purchase, this number equals $/sale. For recurring billing, it equals the average total of the initial sale plus all rebills, divided by the number of initial sales.
•    %/sale: Commission rate
•    %refd: The percentage of sales referred by affiliates.

All this information gives you an overview of the products — how much you’re likely to make and how competitive it is.

How to do well with ClickBank

As you look through the ClickBank marketplace, you’ll find that some types of products do exceptionally well. Products related to Internet marketing and weight loss are evergreen niches. In addition, most of the products on ClickBank are specifically designed to help readers solve a problem: get a new girlfriend, lose weight, cure acne, or start an affiliate business.

If your niche is directly related to something that solves one of these problems (or another problem with solutions available through ClickBank) you are poised to do very well with these products. Many buyers who want to cure acne, lose weight or get a girlfriend are fed up. (That’s why they’re searching the web for information about their problem!) If you can convince them the product you’re promoting will help them find a solution, you stand to earn money from ClickBank.

In conclusion, if you’re looking to get started with your affiliate site right away and you’d like a network who can help you move quickly, ClickBank is a great place to start.

However, before you jump full throttle into advertising a product from ClickBank, make sure you’re evaluating it for quality. While you can trust the brand-name products of LinkShare, the inconsistency of ClickBank products makes testing them an important part of your site-building process.

Action Items

•    Sign up for LinkShare
•    Apply to a few programs that are relevant to your niche
•    Sign up for ClickBank
•    Evaluate products for quality and identify those that might be worthwhile promoting

Tomorrow we’ll begin a discussion of a few specific kinds of affiliate programs you can join. Do you have experience working with LinkShare or ClickBank? If so, please leave your feedback in the comments!