Merchant Affiliate Programs – What Is the Best Affiliate Network?

You may ask why do I have to pick just one best affiliate network; why not just list your product on multiple affiliate networks in order to gain maximum exposure and gain extra affiliates? You can do this, but then you have to create multiple sales pages all with the same copy on the same domain which the search engines won’t like (see my post on the truth about the duplicate content penalty) and your affiliates would quickly recognize this and abandon you.What Is the Best Affiliate Network

What Is the Best Affiliate Network

The reasoning for this is that if they send the traffic to your sales page with their affiliate link/cookie and that customer doesn’t purchase the product right then but tries to come back a few days later and inadvertently finds one of your OTHER sales pages with a different network, that affiliate obviously won’t get credit for the sale.

This will severely turn off any affiliates who have this realization, but furthermore it just looks extremely awkward having multiple sales pages on the same domain which is why you don’t see it more often.

However, in the case of the merchant affiliate programs which I’ll be covering in this article I will address this as there is an exception which I’ll get to in a moment. Right now, let’s talk about what is the best affiliate network to sell your new product through.

Clickbank Vs. DigiResults

clickbank vs. digiresultsWith the completion of my new informational product, I had to consider which affiliate network I would sell it through.

My first instinct was to go with Clickbank; they’ve been around for years, it’s a reputable brand name, they’re known for informational products, they have a huge marketplace and affiliate base, and they handle every aspect of payment on your behalf. Then I heard about an up and coming affiliate network which was garnering a lot of praise called DigiResults.

The battle lines were drawn, let’s see who came out on top in each of the most important categories.

Product Registration Cost/Transaction Fees

Winner, Digiresults

Obviously there are going to be costs associated with selling your product through an affiliate network because they’re doing a lot of the work such as payment tracking and processing.

Clickbank requires a $49.95 activation fee (lame) for every new product you list in their marketplace, and every new product has to be approved to ensure that you meet their strict guidelines for merchants. Additionally, they take a cut of every sale which you log. The exact cut is $1 + 7.5% of the price of the product, regardless of the price. So with a $100 product, for example, Clickbank will take $8.50 for themselves for the transaction fee.

Digiresults, on the other hand, is completely FREE to list as many products as you like in their marketplace and it’s pretty much hassle free for getting your products listed, as well. Digiresults has to make money, too, so they also take a cut of every sale, but it’s more manageable than Clickbank. For products which are under $10, the fee is $0.25 + 7.5%. The real advantage is for products which sell over $10 (most products) where the rate is $0.50 + 5%. So again with a $100 product, Digiresults will take $5.50 for themselves, $3 less than Clickbank in that scenario.

With lower fees and no product activation fee, Digiresults is much cheaper for merchants, and it’s also nice for testing out a new product to see how it sells without having to commit to dropping down $50 to test it first.

Paying Affiliates

Winner, Digiresults

Another place where Digiresults trumps Clickbank; Digiresults pays the affiliate and merchant instantly via Paypal after a customer purchases the product via the affiliate’s link whereas Clickbank affiliates have to wait up to 2 weeks to get the money from the sales which they make on a day. After logging a sale and Clickbank even locks up part of the affiliate’s commission as collateral to cover any returns/refunds which it issues.

Additionally, Clickbank requires that you make 5 sales between 2 different types of credit cards before you can get paid, and you need to earn 3 checks in the span of 12 weeks before you can switch to direct deposit.

Lastly, while both affiliate networks enable you to choose how much of a commission which you grant to your affiliates, with Clickbank the ceiling hits at 75% whereas with Digiresults you can offer up to 100%, the full price of the product as a commission to your affiliate. Why would you want to offer 100% commissions? I’ll cover that later in this series.


Winner, Digiresults

Refunds are where it gets a bit more complicated. Clickbank handles refunds in full which is nice and stress free. They automatically deduct the commission from both the vender as well as the affiliate in the event of a refund. The criticism a lot of merchants and affiliates have with Clickbank in terms of refunds is that they are much too lenient with refunds.

Digiresults on the other hand places the responsibility of granting a return in you the merchant’s hands. The customer has to contact you the merchant directly to request a refund and if you agree to grant the refund, the direct commission technology of Digiresults automatically deducts the money from both the vendor and affiliate’s Paypal account.

This is one area where Clickbank trumps the Digiresults system. Because affiliates are paid instantly via Paypal with no payment restrictions like Clickbank has (not having to wait to claim commissions), there’s nothing to stop a disreputable affiliate from logging a few sales then closing their Paypal account so that if there are refunds from their customers, they make off with their commission and you’re stuck holding the return bill in full. Admittedly this makes a merchant, particularly a new one like me, a bit uneasy.

That being said, affiliates have to apply to promote your product, so you can drastically cut down on the disreputable affiliates whom you allow to promote your product by requiring them to fill out a brief questionaire via email before you’ll grant them access to your product. Ask them how they’ll promote your product, ask to see their website/websites, etc. Don’t approve anyone who obviously doesn’t respond in the first place or who sends you a questionable answer.

While some affiliates won’t like the extra time it takes to be manually approved to be an affiliate (vs. Clickbank where you can start promoting a product immediately without the owner’s knowledge required), these are likely the same affiliates who would be likely to skip out on you.

Regardless, I recommend that you also write up an official refund policy to post on your site if possible which you can direct your customers to if they complain and they are out of your policy’s juristiction.

Keeping this in mind, Digiresults comes out a bit ahead of Clickbank in this category.

Tax Info

Winner – Split

Digiresults and Clickbank both require affiliates to input their tax information and both have the option of sending your affiliates their tax earnings form at the beginning of the year on your behalf.


Winner – Split

Again both Clickbank and Digiresults have pros and cons when it comes to the marketplace discussion. Clickbank has a sizable marketplace which is ideal for affiliates especially because there are so many choices of products to promote. It’s not as ideal for merchants who can get swallowed up with all of the competition.

Conversely, Digiresults doesn’t have nearly the size nor accessibility of the marketplace which Clickbank has got which can turn off affiliates. It’s a bit vanilla compared to Clickbank in that there aren’t categories but simply a search box and display of the most popular current products to promote. On the upside, at least in terms of size, on DigiResults your product will likely more visible to the affiliates which do use that network because there is decidedly less competition.

Each product has a product, commission percentage, amount the affiliate will make, and the popularity. Clicking on a product in particular ALSO shows a link to the product’s sales page as well as displays the refund rate of that product which is much easier than trying to calculate a product on Clickbank’s refund rate using its various stats. Another point to be made about DigiResults’s marketplace is that it’s predominantly made up of IM and MMO offers, so you could make arguments as to whether that would help or hurt you if you’re existing in a different niche.

Final Decision

Ultimately, I decided to use both to get the maximum affiliate exposure between the two and bearing in mind that I can integrate Clickbank with DigiResults very easily. Note that I can only do this because of DigiResults’ integration ability; you wouldn’t normally be able to do this with most merchant affilaite programs.

One of the biggest marks DigiResults has against it is that it’s still very new and untested, so this way I can make up my own mind after using it myself over a period of time while also using Clickbank, then I’ll give my experiences with it in a month or so.

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