Shopping around is crucial when looking for a new product or service – be it a car, television or even a new doctor. You want the very best that’s suited to your needs. Searching for an affiliate network is no different — in fact, it’s a critical function of a successful marketing program. The task of finding a knowledgeable network can be a little bit trickier – a team who knows you, your competitors, and the industry.  Here are a few tips for your search: 

Leadership that is Involved

An affiliate programme with experienced leadership, team members who are long established with five or more years is first on the list. These individuals know the industry and best practices backward and forward, and will be able to determine the right campaign for you and run it flawlessly.

Experienced leadership will be with your company every step of the way over long periods of time. Companies with a long tenure of their own (large department stores, for example, often have an average tenure of ten years) will certainly notice the difference as account managers and leadership with similar longevity ensures continuity.  Don’t be afraid to ask how long they’ve been working in the affiliate marketing business. Does your network’s leadership meet with you, talk about your program to understand how you want to grow, share the company strategy, or ask for input from you to help build a better network together?

Thought leadership is equally important. Ask what the network has done to advance the industry, or what sort of research they can provide on best practices or affiliate innovation. The best networks have leaders that are looking ahead instead of resting of their past merits.

Benchmarks Equal Success

Proven success rates in the past likely mean success for you too. Some of the small or newer networks may not be able to provide benchmarks on past performance, nor have the ability to effectively measure successes for new customers. The more data a network can provide, the more successful their clients will be.

Programmes with legacy clients show longevity and clear year-on-year growth. When choosing a network, research to see if they are outperforming industry growth averages or just maintaining status quo. 

Look Beyond Flashy New Products

Choosing a vendor is not about who has the ‘latest and greatest’ technology, but who has the most stable technology. While innovation is essential to the success of any business, it shouldn’t take precedence over the stability or core functions of your affiliate network.

It’s about trusting the right people to make the technology work, not the other way around. Start with a robust, but agile platform as a solid foundation and differentiate from there with the help of in-house experience. The team should act as an extension of you own. Make sure they understand your brand and the compliance rules in place so they can help protect your integrity and find the best partners for your program.

A Team that has ‘Seen It All’

Choose a team with experience in crisis management that will make a massive problem feel like a minor wrinkle. In mid-November “Bannergate,”cost publishers and advertisers thousands, if not millions in mid-November, as Google’s DoubleClick ad server took down ads for more than 55,185 websites, equivalent to 315 ad network outages.

When it comes to migrations, clients may worry; this is the time you want people who have ‘seen it all’ to be on your team. Tech consultants with specific migration experience assuage these fears. When looking into migrating to a new network, ask what safeguards and processes they have in place. Do they have a proven track record of success in migrating clients? Have those clients seen increased revenue since the migration?

In the end, it all comes down to experience. With worldwide e-commerce sales predicted to grow to more than $400 billion in the next several years, anyone can see why choosing the right affiliate program is crucial. If you want success, you’ll need to look for the network that can guarantee it through proven success of their own, an experienced team, and robust technology to back it up.