ShareASale — Affiliate Network That Cares About Affiliates

Yesterday as I was adding new coupons for a ShareASale-based affiliate program I have noticed a little (but a very significant) addition to one of the fields you can fill out when adding a coupon/deal to the network. They now have a field for special commission to be applied on coupon/deal transactions. The fine print (and an important rule) may have been up there for some time, but I certainly don’t remember seeing it a couple of years ago. Under the special commission field it says (highlighting mine):

So “this commission amount cannot be less than your advertised global commission rate for public offers” and “for private offers, it must not be lower than your designated commission rate for that specific affiliate.” Very important rule!

I couldn’t help but recall Todd Farmer’s “ShareASale is My Network of Choice” post. For affiliates it is extremely important to have such an understanding mediator between them and the merchants.

It isn’t unusual for merchants (including some of the largest online brands) to offer lower commission rates on coupons (or to coupon affiliates). I like what I see ShareASale doing above. If the merchant doesn’t want to offer coupons through affiliates, that’s fine. Institute such a policy, and have your affiliate manager police it. If, however, you do choose to use the affiliate channel to distribute coupons, factor in the commission affiliates will receive into the discount you’re offering, and still pay the full affiliate commission. Kudos to ShareASale for supporting affiliates there.

15 thoughts on “ShareASale — Affiliate Network That Cares About Affiliates”

  1. Geno – why wouldn’t it be OK for an advertiser to offer a special coupon to an affiliate (ex. 40% off) but with a reduced commission (ex. 6% instead of 10%)? In my made up example, the advertiser couldn’t offer a 40% coupon to an affiliate unless they reduced the commission amount. The affiliate gets a great offer for their visitors and the advertiser maintains their margins.

    1. In situations when datafeed-oriented or content-producing affiliates also use coupons to enhance conversion, why should they get a lower commission? I hear what you’re saying, Todd, but from an affiliate perspective, and using your example, it would probably be better to offer 20% off instead and full commission… Or maybe not (if conversions compensate the difference in commission)… What do you think?

  2. That was my point. The affiliate gets a higher converting offer (better coupon) and provides more value to its visitors. I have talked to a lot of coupon type affiliates and most would prefer a really good offer and be willing to take a lower commission in some cases. Even if the better offer didn’t necessarily offset the lower commission, that affiliate has provided something to the visitor that may make them return in the future (i.e. become more loyal) or click on other offers that affiliate is promoting.

  3. As a coupon affiliate, I like what ShareASale is doing to protect affiliates; however, I think the flexibility that Todd mentioned can be an even more powerful option for coupon affiliates. A privately negotiated coupon/commission rate has the potential to significantly increase conversion rates and that is one of the few ways I as an affiliate can move the needle once a visitor has left my site. Over the years I have traded a lower commission rate for a higher coupon when possible. Usually the trade means more overall revenue; however, as Todd noted, even when it doesn’t I would often do so to better serve our shoppers and build our brand through something exclusive.

    One problem that can emerge with custom coupons at lower commission rates is when the coupon code is scraped or goes viral. In those cases it ends up on other affiliate sites where they benefit from both the superior coupon code and the superior commission rate. The only good solution I see for this problem would be for the coupon code to act as the affiliate ID and track back to me. That exclusive coupon tracking arrangement ends the incentive to scrape while encouraging normal sharing and promotion. It also protects the advertiser’s bottom line because they can continue to pay the lower agreed-upon commission rates when that higher coupon code is used.

  4. Flexibility is great and private offers that involve lower commission can definitely be beneficial depending on the setup and negotiation.

    The tool Geno mentioned is definitely a “mass” type of product where we didn’t think it was fair for a Merchant to advertise X% commission in their program and then undercut down to a Y% without it being negotiated individually.

    Mike – a custom coupon can definitely be tagged an individual affiliate and we have a few folks doing that … let me know if you need help on how to get it accomplished.

  5. Very good feedback, gentlemen. Thank you, both Mike and Brian, for chiming in.

    To Mike‘s exclusive coupon question: does any affiliate network in the US do this yet? I know had it set up in the UK. But does anyone have a solution for this in the States yet?

    1. Yes, Brian, I’ve seen that. I should’ve phrased my question clearer. I am wondering if any affiliate networks are making this available as a tool for all merchants to use (and not as a case-by-case solution). Any plans on rolling it out for all merchants any time soon?

      If it already is available, please let me know where I can find more info on setting custom coupons up. Or is it the make “Private for:” function that takes care of that, attributing exclusive coupons to the affiliates they were originally intended for regardless of who uses them?

  6. Personally, I think it is best handled as a case-by-case since it is really something that needs to be worked on closely by all parties to make sure that it works.

    Anyone looking to do this on ShareASale can open a support ticket from within their account and they’ll help you.

    1. I’m glad Brian chimed into this conversation (first time in the history of my blog?) I do not believe any other major affiliate network’s CEO (apart from maybe AvantLink) is participating in the life and concerns of the community as actively as Brian is.

      Definitely illustrative of the post’s title (which could very well end with “that cares”)

  7. “Custom coupon can definitely be tagged an individual affiliate and we have a few folks doing that …” time to open a support ticket on SAS 🙂

    I wasn’t aware that it was possible until today, ask and you shall receive indeed.

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