Affiliate marketing networks are a critical resource for ecommerce brands engaged in performance marketing strategies like affiliate marketing as they provide access to thousands, sometimes millions, of affiliates, influencers, publishers, and others that can help to drive brand awareness and sales.
Given that recent affiliate marketing statistics show affiliates driving 16 percent of all ecommerce sales worldwide, finding and recruiting top-tier affiliates can be incredibly profitable for ecommerce brands. The easiest way to uncover these kinds of creators is by leveraging the industry’s top affiliate marketing networks.
To help connect merchants with the most profitable affiliate partners possible, today, we will explore how affiliate marketing networks function and which ones brands should be leveraging to increase their network and revenue.
How Do Affiliate Marketing Networks Work?
If your brand is new to the world of affiliate marketing, here is a quick rundown of what you need to know about affiliate marketing networks.
Affiliate marketing networks serve to connect affiliates, influencers, and publishers with ecommerce brands. By building up a pool of participants on both sides of the partnership, these hubs make it easy for affiliates to connect with programs that suit their needs and simple for brands to find affiliates that align with their products, thereby cutting out a lot of leg work for both parties.
Affiliate marketing platforms are incredibly useful for identifying top-performing publishers, quickly growing a brand’s affiliate program, and streamlining the process of working with affiliates, including managing commissions, communication, payouts, and other campaign details.
Additionally, many affiliate marketing networks and platforms are easy to use, thereby allowing brands and affiliates to focus more on selling products than finding profitable partnerships.
The Difference Between Affiliate Marketing Networks, Programs, and Platforms
Before diving into the best affiliate marketing networks for ecommerce brands to utilize, it is important to clarify some terms. First, an affiliate marketing network is a service that connects various brands and affiliates, enabling them to easily discover one another through various means such as marketplaces, search mechanisms, and the like.
Conversely, affiliate marketing programs are those that belong to a single brand.
This is important to be aware of, as some affiliate programs can look like affiliate networks at first glance. For instance, Amazon Associates, the eBay Partner Network, and even the BigCommerce affiliate program can all appear to be affiliate networks to some. However, all of these are programs that are dedicated to their respective companies, not the sellers that use them.
Thus, while affiliates might opt to utilize affiliate marketing networks and programs like those mentioned above, ecommerce brands will want to stick to the different networks and platforms.
Where affiliate marketing platforms are concerned, these are SaaS tools that give brands access to a variety of different features and functionalities which allow for affiliate program and campaign growth, management, and optimization.
For the purposes of this piece, “platform” and “network” can effectively be used interchangeably, as all the services listed below are affiliate marketing platforms which contain a network from which brands can recruit.
Nine of the Top Affiliate Marketing Networks in 2022
With the groundwork laid, here are the best affiliate marketing networks for ecommerce brands to leverage for finding top-tier affiliates and publishers:
Refersion is a first-in-class affiliate and influencer marketing platform that supplies ecommerce brands with the necessary tools for building, managing, automating, and streamlining various aspects of affiliate marketing campaigns and strategies.
Using our platform, brands gain access to an amazing network of 6.6 million affiliates, influencers, publishers, and brand ambassadors from which they can recruit and quickly onboard them to the brand’s program. Additionally, affiliates can also seek out new partnerships and apply to various affiliate programs based on the offers presented.
Depending on a brand’s ability to commit to affiliate marketing, Refersion provides users with a variety of affiliate recruiting solutions, thereby supplying passive, active, and high-growth means of recruiting and scaling an affiliate program.
Alongside our expansive affiliate network, Refersion hands ecommerce brands a multitude of marketing tools for managing affiliate campaigns, tracking affiliate performance and partnerships over time, and even a first-of-its-kind end-to-end payment and tax solution, Refersion Pay.
In addition to all the various recruiting and campaign management features, Refersion makes it incredibly simple to get started, offering a seamless integration process with all major ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Amazon, and others, in addition to more than 2,000 app integrations powered by Zapier.
In sum, Refersion’s premium offerings give brands all the tools needed to customize programs, recruit new affiliates, run campaigns, monitor performance, and achieve ecommerce growth via affiliate marketing.
ShareASale is another of the more popular affiliate marketing networks available to brands and content creators. Acquired by the Awin Group back in 2017, ShareASale features a network of over 241,000 active affiliates who generated over 194 million sales in 2021 alone. This means that no matter what niche an ecommerce brand inhabits, they are sure to find a variety of quality affiliates and publishers to partner with on ShareASale.
As far as the platform is concerned, ShareASale provides brands with a variety of features to help manage and grow affiliate marketing programs. Outside of its affiliate network and recruitment tools, ShareASale enables custom commissions, including percentage or flat-rate structures, robust reporting features including real-time reports on transactions and other important KPIs, affiliate communication tools, cookie-less coupon tracking, APIs for automating everyday tasks, and much more.
One of the highlights of ShareASale is its user-friendly dashboards, which enable ecommerce brands to gain a high-level program performance overview and optimize affiliate partnerships with data-driven insights.
With more than 20 years in the industry, ShareASale is one of the better affiliate marketing networks and platform solutions on the market today.
3. Rakuten Advertising
Another of the top affiliate marketing networks with decades in the industry is Rakuten Advertising, formerly known as Linkshare.
With a network of over 150,000 publishers worldwide, ecommerce brands can find plenty of premium affiliate partners through this network. This is particularly true given that the network only houses around 1,000 different merchants. However, those present within its network tend to be titans of industry, such as:
- Best Buy
- New Balance
Where the platform is concerned, ecommerce brands can expect many of the more standard features provided by top-tier affiliate marketing platforms, such as affiliate attribution and tracking, payment processing options, affiliate marketing tools, and more.
Additionally, those who opt to engage with Rakuten Advertising will receive top-notch support from a dedicated account manager.
FlexOffers is an award-winning affiliate marketing network that brings more than 75,000 publishers and 12,000 affiliate programs under a single roof, letting compatible affiliates and brands find each other with ease. FlexOffers caters to brands of all sizes, with some of its biggest names featuring the likes of Wayfair, Samsung, and others.
As far as the FlexOffers platform goes, this affiliate marketing solution offers users tracking reports on a variety of metrics (including real-time campaign performance reports), ad management tools, product & offer feeds, and other frequently found campaign management features.
Additionally, FlexOffers is commonly hailed as one of the more affordable affiliate marketing networks, thereby making it worthy of consideration for brands on a tight budget.
Another affiliate marketing network that has been around in one form or another for the past two decades is Pepperjam. While much less widely known than some of the aforementioned options, Pepperjam is the preferred affiliate marketing network for small and big brands alike, including Puma, Nordstrom, and other recognizable names. However, Pepperjam is a considerably smaller network than most of the others listed thus far.
Nonetheless, Pepperjam’s platform provides those within its network with an incredibly clean and intuitive interface to manage all their dealings within Pepperjam. Through this system, affiliates can easily find new programs to potentially join using a variety of filters and parameters. Meanwhile, ecommerce brands gain access to a variety of top-notch integrations, tracking and reporting features, fraud protection, communication tools, and other great features for helping to manage and grow an affiliate program.
6. CJ Affiliate
Formerly known as Commission Junction, CJ is another of the bigger affiliate marketing networks featured on this list.
CJ brings together 170,000 high-performing affiliates and over two thousand different ecommerce brands that cover a wide range of niches together into one of the most extensive affiliate marketing networks online. Some of the brands that can currently be found using CJ include:
- Office Depot
However, like most of the other affiliate marketing networks mentioned above, the presence of these big names does not mean that is all that can be found here, as there are scores of smaller brands within CJ’s network as well.
While not quite as old as platforms like Rakuten or Pepperjam, Impact still has nearly 15 years in the affiliate marketing industry. However, that has not stopped Impact from becoming one of the most popular affiliate marketing networks online and partnering with big-name brands such as Levi’s, Microsoft, Walmart, Uber, and others.
Using Impact, ecommerce brands can discover and recruit from a massive global network of content creators, affiliates, influencers, and publishers to help promote a brand’s products to relevant, targeted audiences.
Impact’s platform features are on the more advanced side, supplying brands with a variety of marketing and optimization tools for growing their affiliate programs, including program analytics and reporting, performance forecasting features, competitive insights, fraud protection and monitoring, a multitude of integrations, and so much more.
That said, because of the advanced toolset that Impact provides, it is going to be one of the pricier options on this list.
Awin is a massively popular affiliate marketing network that houses more than 240,000 affiliates and over 20,000 different brands around the world, including Under Armour, AliExpress, and others.
Additionally, it is worth noting that while Awin is the parent company of ShareASale, the two operate independently from one another. That said, brands that are looking to target audiences based in the United States might do better with ShareASale as Awin tends to cater more toward global markets.
That aside, Awin’s platform supplies brands with loads of powerful features. Outside of more standard affiliate and campaign management tools such as tracking and reporting features, Awin also arms users with the Awin Mastertag, a proprietary feature that helps to minimize integration times.
Awin also features commission flexibility, cross-device tracking, payment options, and tons of other valuable tools.
Of all the affiliate marketing networks on this list, MoreNiche is, well, more niche. Launched in 2002, MoreNiche is an affiliate marketing network that focuses exclusively on health and beauty verticals, such as:
- Fitness products
- Male vitality
That said, while this affiliate marketing network only caters to a small subsection of ecommerce brands, this can increase the quality of affiliate partnerships made within the network.
As far as MoreNiche’s features go, the platform provides brands with tools such as ongoing campaign optimization, promotional resources, robust affiliate support, and high-quality tracking capabilities which allow brands to achieve cross-device sales, track by alternative methods when cookies are disabled, gain access to real-time statistics, and other important campaign performance insights.
Choosing the Best Affiliate Marketing Networks for Your Brand
As it stands, there are a variety of excellent affiliate marketing networks and platforms for brands to leverage. Each has its own set of strengths and unique features, and elements that will make them suitable for brands of different sizes, focuses, and levels of maturity.
That said, what all these platforms have in common is that they are all incredibly useful for helping ecommerce brands access, discover, and recruit various kinds of affiliates and publishers to help ramp up brand awareness and revenue.
On that note, if your brand is ready to dramatically grow its affiliate program and generate significantly more sales, reach out to Refersion to see how we can kick your affiliate program performance into hyperdrive with our various affiliate recruiting solutions and optimization tools.