Should You Join Direct Affiliate Program or Affiliate Marketplace?

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Last year when I wrote an article on whether Hostgator was cheating their affiliates, it created a lot of buzz, with more than 150+ social shares. Today AlannaB commented by saying the following:

“I’ve been using Hostgator for my site hosting for a few years now and have never had any problems. When I started a new site, I wanted to join Hostgator’s affiliate program. I was just reading the T&C’s where it says that you only get paid if your balance is at least $100 at the end of 180 days.

Meaning that if you have less in your account, you don’t get paid! That’s why it’s so important to read the fine print! So I started looking to see if Hostgator’s affiliate program was worth the trouble.

Thanks for taking the time to clue us in on what happened to you. I have a CJ account so I think I’ll use that route instead.”

Direct affiliate or affiliate marketplace
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AlannaB’s comments brought to mind an interesting question: Which is more beneficial to join- a direct affiliate program offered by a vendor, or an affiliate program offered by the affiliate marketplace?

Many larger online companies such as Hostgator and GoDaddy have affiliate programs in multiple places. This helps them to recruit more affiliates, which in turn helps them to get free marketing.

As a blogger and an affiliate marketer, it is important for you to decide which affiliate platform would benefit you the most.

In this guide, I will share information that will help you to decide which is the right platform for you to connect with an affiliate program.

Note: Only a few companies offer in-house affiliate programs and affiliate programs via a 3rd party marketplace. It is important to note that these companies have the brand value which can generate great revenue for you.

Joining Direct Affiliate Program vs. Affiliate Marketplace

1. Minimum payout:

This is one of the main factors you need to consider before opting for a direct affiliate program. If the minimum payout is high, it may take longer for you to get your first payout. When you sign up for the marketplace, however, the minimum payout is the total of all other affiliate programs you are promoting. If you have a low traffic site or you generate only a few affiliate sales, it makes more sense to join an affiliate program via the marketplace rather than directly.

2. Tracking system & ease of using the affiliate software:

This is another important factor you need to consider. Hostgator has one of the most popular affiliate programs, but their in-house affiliate software is not something they can be proud of.

I have written about this before on this blog, and many affiliates complaint about the same issue. In cases such as these it is advisable to join an affiliate program via the affiliate marketplace rather than via a direct affiliate program.

How do I know that?

I joined Hostgator’s affiliate program via ImpactRadius, and I could see that all the sales are tracked, and there is no charge-back or invalid sign up so far. Here is a screenshot of my ImpactRadius dashboard:

impactRadius Affiliate Marketplace
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This was far better than the conversions I was getting on their in-house affiliate program. But, instead of ranting about the imperfect software used by any company, your goal as an affiliate should be to find the best alternative.

3. Payment method:

This is another significant factor to be considered, as many companies still offer payment by check. We are living in the digital world, after all, but I suppose we can’t complain too much when one of our affiliate programs pays us via check.

However, there are multiple problems with payout via check. Indeed, at times you may never receive the check, and then the check must be re-issued. I have had this very problem with Aweber’s affiliate program, which is surprising considering the fact that their affiliate program is only in-house. There is not much we can do about such matters in cases like this, but when you have an option, it is clearly better to sign up with the affiliate marketplace.

4. Commission on single sign-up & volume:

This is another very important factor that you need to consider when you are deciding where to sign up for an affiliate program.  Many affiliate programs increase your commissions, based on the number of sales you are generating.

In a majority of cases, this feature is available only in the in-house affiliate program, and not in the 3rd party affiliate marketplace. Tip#4 qualifies when you are dealing with a huge volume of sales.

Bonus Tip: If you are generating a considerable amount of sales, you can always negotiate your commission amount with the affiliate manager.

These are major factors that you should take into consideration prior to making your decision.

As always, it is recommended that you learn from the experience of other affiliate marketers, and if that is not possible or sufficient, then you must believe in your own judgment.

To get started with Affiliate marketing, grab our Affiliate marketing eBook:

Let me know if there are any other important factors that I have missed from your perspective.

How do you decide which affiliate program to join?

If you find this guide useful, do share it on your favorite social bookmarking and sharing sites.

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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

8 thoughts on “Should You Join Direct Affiliate Program or Affiliate Marketplace?”

  1. This is a very useful article Harsh. I think time has changed in blogging world as well and things are getting more easier for bloggers.
    With the launch of Cuelinks, Viglinks it is really become very easy to find niche specific affiliate programs and track them as well.
    In coming days I believe more such platform with make things more easy.

    1. Santanu,
      How is your experience with cuelinks. I have some time noticed that their tracking system is not that effective. They tend to use their own main affiliate code instead of sub-affiliates like us.

      It might happen that some sales instead of booking in our code get booked in their code.

      1. Hi Rahul,

        My experience with cuelinks is not at all good. Actually I will say the Indian affiliate is not so good for me. I have created a coupon website and then tried mainly with Cuelinks and the initial results are very good. I was able to make 23,000 in last 3-4 months.

        But majority of the commission is rejected saying some reasons. I will prepare a complete review article very soon. More than 60% of my commission got rejected.

  2. Shashank Gupta

    I have had opposite experience with some affiliate marketplace. Their tracking and payout systems forced me to abandon them and instead join the direct affiliate program.

    Host Gator might be a exception, generally larger brands offer good deal under the direct affiliate program. However I do agree that if the traffic volume is lesser affiliate marketplace makes more sens, with their lower payout thresholds.

  3. Thanks for the info SML. Most of the Affiliate Marketplace Minimum Payout would be high if we go to direct affiliate there itself we may find some issues. so better check before joining any program.

  4. sandeep kumar

    Such a very informative information about affiliate marketing . i does not know about that if there minimum balance was not reached in specfic time period earned commission will be lost.

  5. i cant understand which is better affiliate program or affiliate marketplace as for my opinion should advice to join affliate marketplace because in marketplace you should not be needed to find any any merchant so i should advice affiuliate marketplace

    1. @Abhay
      In majority of the cases joining an affiliate marketplace is good & in some cases direct affiliate program, which varies for all the brand.

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