How to Choose a Lead Generation Affiliate Marketing Network

A new OPM has emailed me:

I may start working soon with a large company that deals with generating leads in a specific vertical in the medical field.  This would be my first time managing a lead gen affiliate program.  I’ve done some research into this, but I wanted to ask your opinion on what network you think would be best for a company dealing in lead gen?  Would Commission Junction or LinkShare network be the best option for this advertiser?

Regardless of whether you’re looking to generate leads or sales, my reply would be the same: since you’re ultimately looking for consumers interested in your products or services,  you want to go with a network that already has strong affiliate producers in your vertical. A basic competitive intelligence analysis of what your immediate competition is doing in the affiliate marketing field would be a good first move.

Then, once you’ve identified the affiliate networks on which your direct competitors run their affiliate programs, analyze both the performance of those programs (EPC, program ranking(s), conversion and reversal rates, where available) and their structure (payouts, performance incentives, cookie life, etc).

At the end of the day, seriously consider the affiliate network where your competition harvests the fruit. If their affiliate program demonstrates success on the network, then there are affiliates on that network that make them successful.

Of course, there will be many other factors and variables to consider, but the above approach should give you at least some idea on what to do here.

Finally, make sure you also read my following articles (directly related to this subject):

4 thoughts on “How to Choose a Lead Generation Affiliate Marketing Network”

  1. I would add to always have a backup affiliate network if the one you are currently using only has one or two offers in your vertical as well. I have been burned before because I signed up with a network for the one offer they had in my niche and then they stopped offering it and I was stuck. Great advice as always though.

    1. Jon, is this an advice for affiliates? Also, it seems that you’re referring to “cap” offers that are frequently being run on CPA networks.

  2. If you need lead gen then go with a CPA Aff network not a CPS Aff network. CJ, Google Aff Network, LinkShare, ShareASale are all primarily CPS networks and as an affiliate who drives a lot of volume on lead gen campaigns I can tell you that I almost never look at CPS networks for lead gen campaigns because they usually don’t have any good ones. And they don’t have any good lead gen offers because CPS Aff Networks usually rely on merchants to manage their own aff programs. 90% of merchants don’t know how to do it and get burned by fraud and pull their offers. No good lead gen offers = no good affiliates. Go with a CPA network. This is where all the good lead gen offers usually are and therefore all the high volume affiliates too.

    1. Max, I’d have to disagree. I have had good experience starting precisely a health-related affiliate program on CJ (btw, a number of CPA networks applied to act as affiliates there). Yes, CPA networks may be worth the consideration (in light of what you’ve mentioned above), but I’d advise advertisers/merchants to (i) not disregard the traditional networks (as the ones mentioned in Max’s comment), and (ii) be very careful as to what CPA network you partner with, and what terms you agree to, and how you monitor the quality of those leads.

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