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Launching an Affiliate Program: Self Hosted Platform vs CPA Networks

So you have decided to launch your own affiliate marketing program?

Certainly, you are on the way to get a huge boost in sales if done rightly! Remember that an affiliate program requires parallel investment of time and money, and may not work if you do not execute it rightly. So, the crux is, running an affiliate program rightly!

You can set up the affiliate program on your own private platform as well as can benefit from some of the many available affiliate and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) networks, i.e. Commission Junction, LinkShare, and ShareASale etc.

Having a self hosted affiliate network has some competitive advantages over the third parties, but you cannot ignore the importance of third party affiliate networks due to the fact that they have an audience beyond your imagination! On the other hand, setting up your own affiliate program will require a lot of development work, and substantial efforts to promote the program.

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Choice seems difficult, but if you see the technicalities and run your affiliate program according to a planned strategy, things become very clear.


Let’s see when to chose your self hosted plan and when existing networks:

*- Joining existing networks is the wisest idea probably because they have huge list of Affiliate Marketers already.

*- Affiliate Marketers will trust these networks more than your self hosted program.

*- Setting up your products and details on existing networks is comparatively less time taking and easier than than of your own website.

*- By getting accepted on these high-activity networks, you get lot of free marketing for which you may have to spend a good amount of money in case of self hosted platform.

*- Total cost of Affiliate Program (technology+marketing+tracking & management) will be within budget with existing networks, while in case of setting up your own platform you may need to incur lot of additional investments on technology and management.

*- On the downside of existing networks, Affiliate & CPA networks have specific acceptance criteria, for instance Commission Junction requires you to be in business for at least one year and have minimum online sales of $50,000 per month.

*- One more downside can be the payment processing fees held by CPA networks, but a careful calculation of total costs can better help you find the difference.

*- If you have a product or service that your existing customers can promote against a reward and without much hassle, you may have a small scale affiliate program of your own, but if this is something that requires dedicated people to promote it, you should look for active affiliate marketers on big platforms.

The Bottom Line:

I hope the above clarification is enough for any decision maker to decide whether to develop your own Affiliate Program Platform or to join an existing network!

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