When does it make sense to use an automated Affiliate Sales Platform?


I am working with a client on the launch of their company. Yeah!

They would like to use ClickBank as a platform for selling membership in their online resource center. We would be supporting this sale through a variety of marketing and advertising. In addition the client is hoping that they will pick up affiliates through the ClickBank platform to promote their product.

After a review of the type of product/service that are sold through ClickBank there seems to be lots of market synergy with my clients' market segment. As a total cost of goods it is expensive as a credit card processor, but with the added value of affiliate tracking, and posting into an established vendor network it seems attractive.

I am see that there are many other options:

Who has experience with these for a start-up company? How effective are they? What options should be considered? What variables should be reviewed?

(As an added benefit if anyone has used one of these platforms with Joomla -- that would be critical for me to know as well.)

Ecommerce Affiliate

asked Apr 15 '11 at 05:01
Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points

3 Answers


How effective are they? It completely depends on your product, the market-to-publisher match, and most importantly your hard work to make them effective. They can be very effective (see: Amazon), but most people underestimate the work to make them effective.

What should you consider? The costs, and the required level of commitment. Affiliate programs are expensive both in terms of the fees you pay, and the maintenance needed by a human. Without that active, engaged human component however, they will not work.

This is because the vast majority of affiliates (publishers) are not going to do anything for you. The secret to successful affiliate marketing is to find, and cultivate the right publishers. The affiliate platform is simply a tool to help you exchange with them, but affiliate programs are not "set it, and forget it." Finding and cultivating these affiliates is work, and involves research, marketing to the affiliates, working out special deals with them, and making them money by having an offering that converts well.

When done well, it can be very effective, but if I were to give any advice, it's to make sure you don't underestimate the costs and challenges of doing it effectively.

So to answer you initial question: it makes sense to do it when you've got something that can very effectively be promoted online (i.e. you've already figured out how to convert traffic very, very well - without this, the good publishers won't be interested), when there's a strong group of potential publishers who match your market, and when you can afford to do it given the above.

answered Apr 15 '11 at 05:31
Carson McComas
1,023 points


I think in any online transaction scenario there are four main points you should consider before moving forward, or deciding upon an vendor.

  1. Know the Fees: In addition to credit
    card processing, there are many fees
    that can be tagged on for services
    the vendor may provide. Storage,
    reporting, accounting, even a per
    use fee for confirmation emails sent
    to your client/affiliate. Basically,
    every option you choose (and some
    you don't) may have an associated
    fee. These fees can add up to over
    40% of cost of sale!
  2. Location, Location, Location: Just
    as you
    wouldn't open a Men's Warehouse on
    Venice Beach you need to scout out
    potential sales platforms locations
    or malls. Each vendor has a unique
    suite of pre-formatted forms and
    pages that will present a certain
    image to your affiliate. Look
    through these and make sure you can
    select one that fits the theme of
    your site. Is it all business? Then
    you wouldn't like a "fun" set of
    forms with "comic Sans" fonts and
    vivid colors. This is the FINAL LOOK
    your affiliate will have of "your"
    website so be as picky as you were
    when it was designed!
  3. What relationship do you want to
    have with your affiliates?
    : Do you
    want click and go, or do you want
    to build a relationship with email
    exchange and links to social media
    etc? Many platforms are focused on
    the transaction much more than the
    relationship, so go in knowing the
    relationship you want to build and
    be prepared to pay extra for that
    email generation, link back, and
    marketing throughput.
  4. Finally, Build a strategy of
    If this site and
    transaction is your only strategy
    for gaining these affiliates then
    YOU WILL FAIL. If you are even
    considering that then stop right
    here and save your money. You must
    have a multi-tiered approach to
    acquiring new client/affiliates.
    Drive potential business to the
    website using SEM (Sales Engine
    Marketing) AND SEO (Sales Engine
    Organic), enhance reputation through
    social media, evaluate and improve
    your sites through independent
    research. And for god's sake use a
    CRM to capture all your website
    leads and begin creating and
    utilizing the metrics that will make
    your sales more profitable and your
    business more powerful!
answered Apr 30 '11 at 03:22
Craig Robertson
311 points


If all you're doing is basically a membership referral, then I would say rather than using a reseller/affiliate type program, it might be better to go with a viral route with person to person referrals. The automated systems make much more sense if you're a drop-shipping company where your business success depends on volume rather than a membership system where your existing customers will be happy to advertise for you in exchange for decreasing their costs.

I'm going to roll my own referral system for a SaaS business that I'm working on where the person who refers me business will get a discount based on what the person they referred buys. I've not worked out the exact percentage, but if the referrer refers enough business, then they could get their services for free.

Because they're earning a discount off their own services rather than actual cash that I have to pay, then the costs to me will never exceed the relatively low referral percentage. That's basically the same as a permanent coupon that anybody can take advantage of and I can plan for in structuring my fees.

To be perfectly honest I've not used any of those platforms that you linked, but I would strongly recommend that you consider the viral referral route if not as your primary marketing tool then at least as an addition to your marketing strategy.

answered Apr 27 '11 at 07:06
Kort Pleco
891 points

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