Rakuten ® Full Review

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Rakuten affiliate network (formerly LinkShare) is an interesting choice if you are looking to start an affiliate program to boost products’ exposure and sales. Affiliate networking is a proven business model which has been popular for more than a decade now. It works by bringing merchants and individuals looking to make an extra profit together in a marketing collaboration which brings benefits to both parties. Merchants get their company and products exposed via various 3rd party channels such as blogs, social media networks, forums etc. Affiliates earn money by successfully marketing different products or services and ultimately making sales.

Rakuten affiliate network is focused on connecting merchants and affiliates and facilitating their long term collaboration through their network. This is usually very beneficial to those merchants and business owners looking to quickly start-up an affiliate program without spending too much time on marketing it, finding potential affiliates and building up the momentum. Rakuten affiliate network has been voted as the #1 affiliate marketing network consistently for 4 years now.

 

So How Does It Work?

All affiliate networks function in a similar way. They allow advertisers (merchants, business owners etc.) and publishers (individuals, marketers, affiliates) to sign up and join the network. The goal of the network is to make a connection and facilitate a successful business relationship between the two. It works as a kind of marketplace. Advertisers post advertising opportunities. These are products or services merchants are offering. Publishers then browse through the available offers and pick on ones they think they could market well. The goal of the publisher is to take an offer (for example a specific product merchant is selling) and try market it through his own marketing channels. Publisher may be a sports blogger with established online reputation. He would then search for sports equipment or clothing items which he could pitch in discreetly in his regular blog posts. Visitors reading his blog might like some of the items he mentioned; they would click on the link posted and purchase the product on merchant’s site. This would be what we call a successful conversion or simply – a sale. A publisher would earn a commission from this sale depending on the product price.

Affiliate programs are a really good opportunity for merchants to expand their business as they gain access to a potentially huge marketing force. The more publishers (affiliates) join their program the stronger the marketing reach becomes and besides potential sales, this can boost the brand and even provide some SEO related benefits such as higher website ranking due to all the inbound links generated by the publishers.

Reporting feature is also a great benefit of using this network, as it allows more access and control over the data related to your affiliate program. Here is a video illustrating some of the most important reporting features available at Rakuten affiliate network:

 

 

 

Plans and Pricing

Like with some other affiliate networks out there, there is no clear pricing available on the site for advertisers. This is mostly because of the premium and exclusive status of the network and the fact that this company offers a range of other advertising services besides affiliate marketing. We can safely assume that pricing depends on the marketing budget merchants are willing to invest into their promotion. Everything should be negotiable.

If you are a merchant looking to get involved with Rakuten affiliate network, it is highly advisable to fill out the form on their website in order to get in touch with them and discuss what they can do for your company and products promotion.

 

 

How to Get Started?

To get started as an advertiser on the site, you will need to use the contact page (labeled “Let’s Talk” in the header of the site). This is where you will enter all your contact information.

It is also needed to enter information about your business, details such as annual online revenue and unique site visits per month. You will then need to choose via check boxes which services you are interested in. Besides affiliate marketing, Rakuten offers other more traditional forms of marketing such as display ads, paid search and attribution. This is all done via contact form. You should click on the “Submit” button when you are finished. Upon submission, you will be contacted by Rakuten staff member to discuss if your business can be accepted and what are the terms and conditions.

Rakuten affiliate network is known to be selective, so only top advertisers and publishers will be selected. This ensures quality and they promise premium technology to be used in providing accurate tracking, payment and reporting functions. Therefore, you will have to wait for a certain period before your submission is reviewed and you are allowed to join the network.

 

On the other hand, publishers (of affiliates) can use a “become a publisher” link to access the registration page.

On this page they will enter detailed information about them and their business if applicable. Next they will provide personal information and contact details and finally affiliates should provide website info with lots of details about it. This ensures that publishers have a medium where they can place the affiliate links and advertisements on. The minimum payout for a monthly payment is 50 AUD/CAD/EUR/GBP/USD.

 

 

The Benefits

Exposure to a large number of publishers which were all pre selected to join the network. This is the main benefit of joining one of the affiliate networks out there and it helps you kick start your affiliate program and get faster results.
Premium technologies used to guarantee tracking reliability
Rakuten (former LinkShare) is an established name in the affiliate marketing industry
There are expert account managers available to help you achieve your marketing potentials and protect your brand
Access to thousands of publishers
Detailed statistics, reliable payment options and transaction reports

 

 

Downsides

Joining an affiliate network usually means additional fees related to each sale and setting up an account and other services. If you want to avoid any of the variable costs and prefer the pay-once model, check out some of the affiliate software platforms.
No clear pricing and plans information stated on the site
Pre-selection process which might filter out smaller businesses and publishers

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

“How do I join the program as an advertiser?”

Use the “Let’s talk” link found in the website header area to access the contact form. Rakuten team will get back to you with all the details after you have submitted the contact information and business details.

“How can I maximize my affiliate program potential?”

Rakuten provides a team of skilled analysts assisting clients in maximizing their affiliate program results while protecting the brand.

“Who are the publishers, how can I trust them?”

Rakuten affiliate marketing network can be joined only by publishers who meet strict pre-approved requirements. They are also monitored regularly to make sure they are working in your best interest. Publishers also receive training and coaching from the affiliate team.

“How many publishers are on the network?”

There are thousands of publishers on Rakuten affiliate network.

“What is the monthly minimum payout for publishers?”

Publishers must earn a minimum of 50 (USD and other currencies) in commissions to become eligible for monthly payouts.

“Is tracking accurate?”

Yes, Rakuten takes pride in utilizing premium technology in order to guarantee accurate tracking of all sales, commissions and other actions.

“Is Rakuten related to LinkShare?”

Yes, Rakuten affiliate network is formerly known as LinkShare.

“How does Rakuten stack up against competitors?”

Rakuten has been voted as #1 affiliate network for many years in a row.

“How can I get support?”

Support and expert staff assistance is available to merchants while affiliates can use the “publisher help center” to gain access to video tutorials, webinars, FAQs and customer support.

 

 

About The Company

There was a recent merger of LinkShare, Paid Search, MediaForge, DC Stor and Popshops all under Rakuten Marketing to create omnidirectional marketing platform led by Tony Zito CEO. The company headquarters are located in New York City and there are local offices in Australia, Japan, Brazil, UK, France, Germany and Singapore.

 

 

 

Final Recommendation

Rakuten Affiliate marketing is one of the leading affiliate networks out there. The company is formerly known as LinkShare, and it presents a powerful merger in online advertising industry. This affiliate network is completely capable of handling large business projects. In fact, they recommend this service to companies with significant operation scopes looking to make additional profits. If you are a business owner looking to join a premium network and you are ready to invest in marketing, joining Rakuten affiliate network can bring a lot of value as this company provides support by analyst experts who are ready to assist their clients in all their business and marketing needs. This expert help is valuable as smart marketing decisions and campaign optimization can have a significant impact on the overall success of the affiliate program. Joining an affiliate network is usually a good option for those merchants who wish to start an affiliate program but don’t have a lot of time to invest into setting it up, marketing, tracking results etc. In this case, outsourcing those duties and letting a marketing agency (like Rakuten) handle them from their end is a good move both for the success of the marketing program as well as freeing up time for the business owner.

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