ShareASale is a well known affiliate network and the affiliate home of many major brands. For established sites with a good amount of traffic it is a solid alternative or supplement to Amazon’s affiliate program.
For new marketers it will be harder as the approval process is per brand/merchant and the conversions will be lower than with Amazon. But you can still do very well with ShareASale as the commission rates tend to be higher than Amazon’s. Let’s dive in …
ShareASale Affiliate Marketplace
Types of products: Broad range of merchants including major brands
Where to join: ShareASale new affiliate registration
Commission structure: Merchant Specific
Cookie length: Merchant Specific
Payment Methods: Check, direct deposit, Payoneer
Payment Terms: Net 30, $50 minimum, paid on the 20th of each month
ShareASale enjoys a certain amount of first mover status as an affiliate network. They were founded in 2000 and are one of the first online affiliate marketing networks. With over 20 years of history they have amassed a portfolio of over 4000 merchants for you to find niche-relevant products. In fact around 25% of the merchants are exclusively on ShareASale.
With so many merchants and brands they represent a very broad set of products and services. There will surely be some offerings that are perfect for your niche. Most of the affiliate programs are for physical products but there are also a number of high-paying services like hosting and VPNs.
How to Join the ShareASale Network
Registering as an affiliate is straight-forward and have the typical registration steps:
#1 Create a username and password
#2 Add your primary affiliate website. This is important as it will be checked. Be sure to have disclosures, about us, privacy etc. pages. Adult content, gambling and other sensitive sites will not be accepted.
#3 Provide your email address. It is always best to have an email of firstname.lastname@example.org. Not Gmail, Yahoo etc. which look amateurish.
#4 Enter your contact details and preferred payment method.
#5 Agree to their terms and conditions and you are done. An email confirmation will be sent which has a link you must select to show
The entire process should just take 10-15 minutes. ShareASale is quick to approve sites and usually it is the next day or two.
Now you are approved as a ShareASale affiliate — congratulations. Some merchants auto-approve affiliates but most will individually need to approve you for their program.
Available Brands and Merchants
As mentioned above there are over 4000 merchants to choose from. Try to find ones that align perfectly with your content and audience. Having affiliate links for unrelated products is a waste of time and effort and will not convert to sales.
ShareASale has some big national brands these include companies like:
- WP Engine
Generally though, the best programs will be from smaller companies. The big brands can be very selective and are extremely concerned about protecting their image. They only want to deal with sites with very high traffic numbers whose audience is squarely in their brand’s sweet-spot. A better option is to look for smaller, perfect-fit for your site products. These companies want your business and are anxious to have access to your visitors.
Once you are accepted into the ShareASale network you need to find merchants, create links and track your sales and earnings. This is all done in the ShareASale dashboard.
There are a number of terms that you will need to understand to make the most effective use of ShareASale. These include:
PowerRank: The workings of this metric are proprietary and not disclosed. It is intended to show the most successful affiliate programs. As defined by ShareASale it is:
“This search category shows affiliates our top performing brands on the network. With the change of seasons and merchant additions to the network, this list does periodically change, so check it out every once in a while to see which brands are doing well! “
EPC: Earnings per Click is used by most affiliate networks like ShareASale. It represents the average Affiliate earnings for 100 clicks for all affiliates in the program. Your EPC may be higher or lower depending on how good your content and site is optimized. It is most useful in comparing affiliate programs rather than predicting how much you will make. e programs against one another.
Average Sale: The average sale just as it sounds is the typical amount the customer purchases. It is important to focus on higher average sale merchants unless you have a very high traffic site.
Conversion Rate: A very useful metric to help understand the percent of people who when sent to the merchants offer will actually make a purchase. It can be a good indicator of the quality of the offer. But again, your site and the content will impact this greatly. If your visitor arrives from Google search via an informational keyword that will typically convert worse than if they arrive from a transactional keyword. Search intent is very important for conversions.
Finding Merchants to Promote
Even though you are approved for ShareASale most merchants require manual approval for their specific program. Typically the bigger the brand the harder it is to get approved.
This is a good place to use the ShareASale power rank. I tend to only use merchants in the top 100. However, so is every other affiliate. If there is a product that is a perfect fit for your content or audience it may be very effective to use a less competitive program. Just be sure to review the conversion rate metric when looking at these lesser known merchants.
There are two general types of programs:
- Pay Per Lead — You receive a small commission for every lead that you send to the merchant. Think of this like Google Adsense in terms of revenue opportunity. This is best for high traffic sites or those using ads or other channels to send a lot of traffic to the offer. You do need to check the terms of the program to see what kind of traffic they will accept. You typically can’t use the merchant’s brand or product name in your ad program for instance. Also many will not allow email campaigns.
- Pay Per Sale — This is the typical affiliate program like Amazon’s. You get paid only when a sale is made from a customer that purchases after following your link. With these programs it is important to understand the cookie metrics. How many days later can the referred customer purchase (cookie length). What is the policy regarding a visitor following two affiliate links? Some programs pay the first affiliate that sends the referral, others the last.
A Nice feature is that you can search ShareASale for different types of affiliate programs. There are so many merchants at ShareASale it is nice to be able to search and filter out the programs by type. These include:
- Pay-Per-Sale — These are the most common programs. You earn when a referred visitor purchases.
- EPC — You can search by EPC > a defined amount
- Commission Rate — Search by rate > a specific amount
- Pay-per-Lead — Typically a form, download, trial or similar action by your customer.
- Pay-per-click — You are paid when the customer clicks on a link. This is often taking your visitor to a landing page of the merchant.
- New Programs — These are great as there will be less competition.
- Green programs — Environmental causes
- Two-tier — Find programs where you can earn from your sub-affiliates
Creating your Affiliate Links
After being approved by a merchant, you will have access to your unique affiliate links as well as banners and other ads. It is often best to send your visitor to a specific page on the website vs. the product home page.
You always want to direct your visitor to the most relevant page on the merchants site. This is called deep linking. You will find all of this in the links portion of your dashboard.
There are a few options for linking. You can simply go to the Get A Link/Banner section in your dashboard. This will allow you to get basic links typically to the products landing page. You also can get banner ads to place on your site or in promotions. But you can also get more advanced linking and promotional items. These include:
- Bookmarklet — This allows you to be browsing on the merchants site and get a deep-link to the page you are visiting. It is a browser extension.
- Custom Link Tool — Another deep-linking tool that will create a shortened affiliate link to any page at the merchants site.
- Make-A-Page — Create galleries of multiple products
- Product Showcase — Make your own banner ads with affiliate links
How Well Does ShareASale Convert
This of course is the bottom line. Can you convert your visitors to commissions with ShareASale? The answer is yes but with some caveats. Unlike Amazon you will not be getting unrelated sales. When you send a visitor to Amazon often they end up shopping and impulse buying. This earns you commissions though at Amazon’s very low rates. With ShareASale you need to be more focused. They either purchase the item you sent them to or not. This means you want to have very targeted referrals.
With ShareASale I find it is best to make them part of a larger campaign. A single article or two is going to be less effective than a multi-channel, in-depth approach. For instance you can start focusing on holiday shopping and have a best gifts for people of your niche. You could have an email and social media campaign along with reviews, listicles, etc. Or perhaps a focus on fashion for your demographic.
You need to do the selling first there are no add-on unrelated sales. With Amazon you just want to get traffic to them. They are a closing machine and have a huge amount of trust. With SHareASale you need to send warm leads to the offers. Visitors that you have educated about the product and created a buying desire. You should strongly consider deep linking and have very focused content and send the visitor to a very specific page that relates to your content — not to the product landing page. ShareASale is a strong platform with greta merchants — just be focused.