How To Use Rakuten’s Deal Dispatcher

If you are an advertiser that runs an affiliate program on Rakuten Affiliate Network, then this post is important to read. With Q4 officially under way, it is time to start planning for the key online shopping days leading up to Christmas. Getting your deals/coupons in front of your affiliates will be critical and I will show you how to do that with a step-by-step guide to using RAN’s Deal Dispatcher tool. The Deal Dispatcher is a monthly newsletter sent to subscribing publishers that allows you to advertise special promotions and even publisher promotions (ex. Commission increases, bonuses, etc.).

Step – 1

Log in to your RAN merchant (advertiser) account. Navigate to and hover over “Messaging” in the top navigation and click “Deal Dispatcher”.


Step 2 –

Now, this is where the deals (consumer facing or publisher facing) are entered. There are a few things to keep in mind when planning to use RAN’s Deal Dispatcher:

  1. All deals must be entered before the 15th of the month.
  2. You can pay a flat fee and be placed as a “Featured Promotion” To inquire about this just contact your RAN account rep.

It is a very straight forward process to enter and submit deals. The following information must be included:

  1. Promotion Type – use the drop own menu to select the appropriate promotion. The options include: consumer – coupons, consumer – free shipping, consumer – sales/percentage off, publisher – increased commissions/return days, publisher – new creative/link type, just to name a few.
  2. Destination Link –  It could be the homepage or a product specific landing page. The link must properly correspond with the offer being entered.
  3. Promotion Text – there is a 125 character limit, but be as detailed as possible and make sure the deal is worded so that it cannot be interpreted a different way.
  4. Offer – This is the offer going to be used for publishers (aka – terms). Will you be using the baseline offer or create a completely new offer for this promo?
  5. Stat and End Date – make sure to make the deal valid for at least 30 days so that affiliates who may have missed it can still act.

Once everything is filled out, hit “Submit”. If anything is wrong it will let you know what needs to be fixed.


If you want to see a sample of the Deal Dispatcher you can do so by clicking the “View the most recent Deal Dispatcher” (you must be logged in to your RAN account) link . Below is a screenshot of a recent Deal Dispatcher newsletter.

us-deal-dispatcher-publisher-help-center-rakuten-affiliate-networkThis is just one step in the process to making sure you are optimizing your affiliate program for the upcoming holiday season.

How to Recruit Affiliate on Rakuten Affiliate Network

Some of the affiliate networks allow the affiliate manager to recruit affiliates directly from the merchant interface. This is a good way to find targeted affiliates that are already familiar with the network, it is what we call “low hanging fruit”. Once recruited and aboard, the activation process is simpler for everyone involved because the education sometimes needed is not required. Rakuten Affiliate Network has this capability and it should be utilized by all affiliate managers with program on this network. I am going to provide a step-by-step guide to recruiting affiliates on the Rakuten Affiliate Network.

Step # 1 – Go to “Find New Publishers” Page

After you have logged in to the RAN merchant interface you are going to hover over the “Publishers” tab and click “Find New Publishers”.

Step # 2 – Fill in the Criteria of the Desired Affiliates

RAN offers various ways to locate prospective affiliates. You can enter the publishers name, site ID, URL (this is done from the drop down box highlighted in the image below). Also, the above mentioned ways can only be used if you know the information, so there are other ways to locate affiliates without knowing all their information. The most ideal way is to target a group of affiliates based on their category. For example, you could be looking for pet bloggers, fashion/beauty bloggers, etc. All you do is highlight the category and hit “include”. There are also more advanced ways to locate affiliates and they include: the date the joined RAN, active affiliates (sending traffic), platinum publishers (top performing publishers on the network), customer reach (geographic locations), business model (coupon, content/niche, comparison shopping, etc.), and publisher location.

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Step # 3 – Selecting Affiliates to Send an Offer To

The criteria has been entered and now the list is in front of you. Review the potential affiliate prospect list and begin pushing offers. To push offers to affiliates you want to partner with simply “tick” the box in the left column (you can add all affiliates on the page by “ticking” the box in the gray section.  Once the affiliates are selected, scroll to the bottom of the page and hit “Extend Offer”, then “To Selected”. This will allow you to send an offer to only the affiliates selected.


Step # 4 – Extend the Offer

The process is almost complete. Review the offer(s) shown (there may be more than one, but make sure it is the offer with the correct terms.  Hit “Extend”. That’s it, the process it done. Just rinse and repeat each time you want to recruit affiliates within the Rakuten Affiliate Network.


A step-by-step guide to recruiting affiliates through RAN is complete, but there is one important item I want to emphasize when recruiting on networks; after the offer is sent always follow up directly with a personal email letting them know an offer was sent and reviewing the terms of the affiliate program. The personal touch will go a long way.

Creating an Affiliate Offer in Rakuten Affiliate Network

You are launching your affiliate program on Rakuten Affiliate Network and the set-up process is just about complete with the exception of one item, the affiliate offer (baseline offer). The offer is perhaps the most important part of the program. It houses the program details (e.g. payouts, cookie life, and terms of service). I will be providing a step-by-step guide to creating and publishing offers for your affiliate program on the Rakuten Affiliate Network.

Step 1 – Go to Create Offer Page

Once logged in to your RAN account move over to the “Offers” tab and select “Create Offer”


Step # 2 – Begin Creating the Default Offer

This is the first step in actually creating it. Name the offer (if you plan to have multiple offers add a V1 or add commission percentage to the name so it can be differentiated), add a start an end date, select if it will be private or public, and cookie length. Once those pieces of information have been added click “Next”.


Step # 3 – Add Commission Details

This section is where you will add the payout details for the affiliates. There are four different options, but you must select the one that best fits your business. The most common is “% per sale”. After the percentage is added tiers can be added like if there are 25 sales in a given month from a specific affiliate then the percentage will be X%. Click “Next” when ready for the following step.


Step # 4 – Adding Terms and Conditions

This is a vital step and needs to be as detailed as possible. RAN provides generic terms and conditions, but I recommend creating your own that include exactly what affiliates can and cannot do and the penalties if they fail to comply. This is where the PPC rules will be added, coupon policy, FTC statement, and any other rules you want the affiliates to follow. Click “Next”.


Step # 5 –Review Created Offer

Almost complete! Now, review the offer to ensure accuracy. Once reviewed and verified you can either hold the offer or launch it. By hitting launch, it will go live immediately and holding it will save it and when ready it can be launched.


When the offer is officially launched go to the main navigation and hover over “Offers” and click “Offers”. It will take you to a page to view all current live offers, any hidden offers, expired offers, or upcoming offers. Here you can also edit the offers, and change the designated default offer to the one of your choosing.

*Note- In order to extend private offers of the baseline to affiliates through the RAN interface a copy (mirror) of the baseline offer needs to be created or else offers cannot be extended using the baseline offer. However, if custom offers are made they can be extended without creating a “mirror” offer. 

Setting up offers is not difficult, but it is a task that need to be completed with precision. Once you set up one the rest are easy (if you decide to have multiple).

How to Pull Year in Review Reporting in ShareASale

In the past I have written posts about the different types of reports available in the merchant interface of a few affiliate networks, but today I would like to talk about a report in ShareASale that is extremely important in many ways. ShareASale offers a dynamic interface that allows merchants to access a plethora of information to help (or continue) to grow their affiliate program, but the one report that I eluded to above the “Year in Review” report.

The “Year in Review” report is good to use for checking MoM and YoY trends, analyzing what challenges were experienced in a given month, successes, and it can also be helpful for testing different strategies. It is also good to use instead of the “Affiliate Timespan” reports.  For example, if a merchant wants to test different landing pages to improve conversion rate in June, they can review the data in the “Year in Review” report in July and compare it to May and make any necessary changes the following month. Want to know how to access this vital report and understands its contents? Of course you do. I will outline the step-by-step process to go through to get you hands on this report.

Step # 1 – Navigate to the “Year in Review” Report

Once logged into the merchant ShareASale interface you will navigate to “Reports”, then “More Reports”, then finally “Year in Review”.

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Step # 2 – Setting Parameters for Report

This part is the most important. You want to make sure you pull the data you want to analyze in detail. First, select the start date (if you want 2016 data to date input 7/31/2016). Next, you have the option to include all 12 months or a select few. With this you can also include/exclude specific affiliates by using the affiliate filter option (if you want ALL data, just keep it as is). Once the parameters have been set, hit “Refresh Report”. This will then pull up all the data requested and can now be reviewed.

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Step # 3 – Reviewing Data

This is the fun part. The amount of data returned is perfect for making business decisions. Provided is gross sales, commissions (excluding SaS fees), hits (clicks), net sales, reversals, number of sales, affiliates in the program, and active affiliates. There is an option to see year-over-year or month-over-month data for all the data lines. Review the trends and strategize for the future, this is why this report is valuable to any affiliate manager.

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Does your affiliate program want more active affiliates? Simply analyze the active affiliates column and craft a strategy to engage more affiliates and roll it out via newsletters and/or a blog post. That is just one example of what can be done with this report.

It is a fact that numbers drive decisions and strategies, so now affiliate managers and other marketing team members have access to quality data that can aid in growth and prosperity.

Adding Banners in Rakuten Affiliate Network

Continuing the series of articles on the Rakuten Affiliate Network interface, today will be centered around adding banners. We are back discussing links, but more specifically, how to add banners to the account for affiliates to use. A step-by-step guide will be outlined to complete the task of uploading banners in your Rakuten Affiliate Network account.

Step # 1 – Click the “Links” button in the main navigation

In a similar way to adding text links, you will click the “links” button in the main navigation. You will be shown all the different types of links available, then click “banners”.

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Step # 2 – Add New Banners

You have the option to add banners manually or import them via a csv file. Click the “add new banners” button. If there are any banners currently in your inventory you have the ability edit them here too.

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Step # 3 – Add New Banners (Con’t)

This is part where you add the details of the banners. You have the option to host the banners on your server or have RAN (Rakuten Affiliate Network) host them, the choice is yours, but fees may apply if RAN hosts them. First, choose the banner file you want to load, name the banners (e.g. Labor Day Sale – 250×250), landing page URL (could be homepage or a specific dedicated page to the sale), size of the banner, start and end date, and who the banner will be assigned to. You can assign the banner to all affiliates, a group, or individual affiliates (just like text links).

If there are multiple banners to upload simply hit the button “add another”. It will add another box where you place the details of the banner, just like you did with the first one. You do that until all the banners have been input and hit save. You will then be directed to the entire live inventory of banners to view and edit if necessary.

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Another quick guide to navigating the Rakuten Affiliate Network interface is complete. Providing creatives to affiliates is a must do task, but also must be done correctly. If you are having trouble with what sizes to create please ask me in the comment section and I will provide a list of popular banner sizes.

Creating Text Links in Rakuten Affiliate Network

Are you a merchant with a program on Rakuten Affiliate Network? Do you have questions about the interface and not sure how or where to ask your questions? Over the next few months I will be publishing posts centered on the Rakuten Affiliate Network interface and giving merchants a better understanding of how to effectively complete their daily tasks within it. The first in the series is how to create text links. This may sound like a simple task, but believe me merchants do not properly set up text links and it hurts the effectiveness of the affiliate program.

Step 1 – Click the “Links” tab

Once logged into the merchant interface you will click the “Links” tab, where it will bring you to a page where all the different link options will be presented. In this case you will click the “Text Links” button.

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Step 2 – Add New Text Links

All you do in this next step is click “Add New Text Links”. If you do have current text links live you can edit them here by using the search function shown in the screenshot.

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Step 3 – Create the Text Link

Here is the part where you create the text links. Put in the link text (i.e. Save 10% on all orders), landing page URL, name (can be the same as the link text), category, start date, end date, and assignment to publishers (the link can be assigned to all or a select group of affiliates).

Note: If your deals/coupons have coupon codes associated with them then the code should be included in the “Link Text” portion of the set up. The text link should look something like this: Save 10% on all orders – Use code SAVE10. Since there is no specific place to put the code like there is in CJ Affiliate and ShareASale you want to put it in the text of the link.

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There it is a simple tutorial on how to create text links in Rakuten Affiliate Network. Please remember to be as detailed as possible when creating the links. There should be no confusion on the offer or message with affiliates.

How to Submit a Support Ticket in ShareASale

There are many tasks an affiliate manager needs to complete on a daily basis and their time is precious. When a problem comes up or there is an issue that cannot be solved, where do  ShareASale affiliate managers go? ShareASale has one of the (if not THE) best support centers among the major networks. They reply quickly and offer detailed solutions to the issue being faced and are extremely willing to help in any way possible. Here is a step-by-step guide to submitting a support ticket within the merchant interface.

Step # 1 – Click the Help Link


Once logged in to the ShareASale merchant interface you will navigate to the top left corner of the page and click the help link. The link will direct you to “Help Center” where you can begin the process of submitting a ticket, but also view old support tickets and view FAQ’s that may help answer your question before submitting a ticket.

Step # 2 – Submit a Ticket

Click the “Submit a Ticket” link and it will take you to the page where you  start creating the ticket.


Step # 3 – Complete the Support Ticket

The “Priority” drop down box should be left at “Normal”  and the subject should be as descriptive as possible (what the issue is).

Within the body of the ticket it is imperative to explain the issue/problem that is being experienced so that the ShareASale Support team can provide recommendations/solutions as quickly as possible. If there are any documents needed to support the issue they can be attached as well. This is ideal if you have screenshots of the issue in question. Once you have completed the ticket message, click “Submit” and the ticket will be queued up within ShareASale and should be answered within a few hours.


The support inquiries can be a simple as how to create a text link or as complex as setting up tracking for new and existing customers. No matter the issue or problem ShareASale will be there to help and guide you through it. They have people in dedicated roles to ensure proper handling and results. If you want to save some time for minor issues you can call their support team on the phone too.

A Guide to Affiliate Program Competitive Intelligence Research

When introducing an affiliate program to your marketing mix it is essential to treat it the same as your other channels (i.e. search, paid search, email, retargeting, etc.) because it is just as important, and in some cases the most important piece to a company’s marketing mix.  Why do I say that? Simple, I have seen many occasions where a company will just throw an affiliate program up on a network without doing any competitive research and they hope for the best. An affiliate program can be a very profitable avenue if set up and managed correctly. Conducting a comprehensive competitive intelligence review is vital and should be done when starting (it should also be done periodically once the program is live)a new affiliate program so that you are competitive and attract the desired affiliates. There are eight (8) main components to a competitive intelligence report and they include: competitor’s name, affiliate platform, CPA, incentives, cookie life, action locking period, ranking, and EPC. I will go over each component in detail to ensure you capture all the necessary information.

#1 – Competitor’s Name

This may seem pretty obvious, but you may discover that they operate under multiple names or have multiple affiliate programs, so getting their name and the URL’s they use for any and all affiliate programs.

#2 – Affiliate Platform

Once you gather the competitors name (s) the next step is to see what platforms or affiliate networks they currently run their affiliate programs on. They may run their program on a major network (CJ Affiliate, ShareASale, Rakuten LinkShare, etc.), but they may also run it on a private software (CAKE, Post Affiliate Pro, HasOffers). A major affiliate network may not be the best place for every merchant, so finding where your competition operates helps in making a platform decision.

#3 – CPA (Cost Per Action)

This is an important component of the intelligence gathering. As a merchant you want to make sure your CPA (or Cost per Lead) is competitive with the competition because affiliates take payout into consideration when promoting merchants and if you are totally off line with the competition it is less likely you will have high quality affiliates promoting your product/service. With that being said, determining the CPA must also make sense financially, not just because the competition is doing it.  Remember if you are on a major network they take a percentage of every sale too, so keep that in the back of your mind when determining payouts.

#4 – Incentives Offered

Does your competition offer incentives to affiliates? If so, take note of them and try and incorporate them into the affiliate strategy. For example, a merchant is offering a $50 first sale bonus, or a tiered commission structure (default is 10%, but based on sales it can increase to 15%). The examples mentioned will also help in determining the CPA for the program, but also helps to increase affiliate activation once approved.

#5 – Cookie Life

Affiliates like to see a longer cookie life, but in reality a majority of affiliate sales occur within the first couple days. If the competition has a 30 day cookie the best bet is to have your cookie length at least 30 days, but can be higher. For an activation tip you can offer select affiliates a cookie life increase if they perform a certain action (i.e. 2 sales in the next 7 days and their cookie will be bumped two-fold ).

#6 – Action Locking Period

This is important for the fact that product returns happen and merchants want to protect themselves from paying commissions on returned merchandise.  ShareASale’ s default locking period is the 20th of the following month in which the transaction took place, where CJ Affiliate’s default is the 10th of the month. However, the locking period can be customized to a merchants return policy. If a private label platform is chosen then the merchant selects the day transactions lock and payments are made.

#7 – Program Ranking

Checking how your competition ranks on a particular networks will show you the amount of success they are having (or not) and if they have an affiliate base that will be substantial in promoting your products/services. As examples, CJ Affiliate uses a 1 – 5 bar system. 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, whereas ShareASale ranks their top 100 merchants.

#8 – EPC (Earnings per 100 Clicks)

This metric is important because it shows merchants if affiliates are actually making money promoting the competitors’ products/services. Merchants with a high EPC shows that affiliates are making money and its offers are effective. On the other hand, merchants with low or no EPC numbers show the offers and program are not performing well and affiliates are not making money. These numbers will help aid in the decision of what platform to choose. One network may have high EPC numbers, and the other may have lower numbers, which means the network with the high numbers has affiliates that cater to that specific market and should be considered.

Creating and managing an affiliate program takes deep competitive intelligence in order to be successful. The eight components of a competitive intelligence report should be compiled and reviewed intensively and then based on the data create an attractive, yet competitive affiliate program that has the chance to be successful for years to come.

Creating Publisher Groups in CJ Affiliate Network

Do you have trouble communicating with your affiliates? Do you have messages for different types of affiliates? Are you unsure of how to send different messages to different affiliates? If you answered yes to any of the three questions I am here to help. I have seen it numerous times when we take over management of affiliate programs for clients and their affiliate database is a complete mess, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are a merchant with your affiliate program on CJ Affiliate I am going to show you how to create groups for your affiliates and how to put them in the appropriate group(s). After you read this article you will have one of the most organized affiliate databases out there.

Step # 1 – Go to “Groups” tab

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After you are logged in to your CJ Affiliate account click the “Publishers” tab and then click the “Groups” tab. This will take you to the page where you will create groups to place your affiliates in.

Step # 2 – Create Affiliate Group

There will be groups already created, but they were done so by CJ Affiliate. To create a new group click the “Create Publisher Group” button to the far right of the screen. A pop-up box will appear next.

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Step # 3 – Name your new publisher group

This is where you name the group. You want to be as clear as possible so in the future you know exactly who is in the group. Once you complete inputting the name click “Save”. Your new group has been created and the next step is filling it with affiliates.

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Step # 4 – Add affiliate to a group

Go to your affiliate list (through “Publishers” – Manage by Program Terms”) and check affiliates that you want to include in your newly created group and then click “Add to Group”.

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After you click “Add to Group” a pop-up window will appear and you will select the group to place the affiliate in from the drop down box. After the group is selected click “Add” and then you are finished.

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That is it. Instead of sending all your affiliates the same message, this functionality allows you to now segment message to specific affiliates. You may have a bonus opportunity for content affiliates, but do not want coupon/deal affiliates to see this, so having groups set up will allow you to send to the audience you want.

Setting Up Affiliate Bonus Campaigns in ShareASale

Are you looking to jump start your affiliate program? Is it new or just not producing the results you want? You are not alone; there are many affiliate programs (new and established) that are looking for ways to increase sales through their affiliate program. It takes a lot of hard work to grow an affiliate program, but if you are a ShareASale merchant they make it easy for you to arm affiliates with the tools they need to be successful.  A popular way to get traction with an affiliate program is offer bonus promotional campaigns. ShareASale offers a simplistic way to set up bonuses (recurring or one-time) with affiliates so you can concentrate on continuing to grow the program. Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up bonus promotional campaigns in ShareASale

Step #1 – Navigate to the Bonus Promotional Campaigns Page

After you logged in to the ShareASale merchant interface, go to “Tools” then go to “More” and click “Setup Bonus Campaigns”. It will take you to –

Step #2 – Define Your Rules for Bonus Payments

As I mentioned previously, this is a very simple process, but you have to make sure you are careful and review your choices. The first half of the page is where you want to name the rule (so you can identify it), what the threshold is (amount of commissions in a month, sales or clicks), whether it will be a flat dollar amount of a percentage, recurring bonus or one-time, what affiliates are to be included.  This is what makes this tool great, you can include or exclude whoever you want. If you do not want to include coupon affiliates in the bonus, simply do not add them.  A quick tip: if paying bonuses by group or types of affiliates make sure you have groups set up so you do not have to go in and manually remove/add affiliates.

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Step #2 (cont.) – Define Your Rules for Bonus Payments

Continuing down the page and finishing up the set up process, next choose the date you wish to start (and end) the campaign. This is important because the bonuses will only be paid within the period you select and it cannot go back in time and credit affiliates. If you do wish to go back and credit affiliates you can “Post a Manual Transaction”, but that is a topic for a different day.  You can restrict affiliates based on their join date (when they were approved in the program) or you can simply select their affiliate ID from the box and they will be excluded. There are multiple ways to customize this tool to ensure you have the best bonus campaign available with who you want to participate.

Once all the fields are complete, hit the “Set Commission Rules” box and it will be saved and activated on the date you input as the start date.

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Activating affiliates in your affiliate program is a must (new or existing program). With ShareASale’ s “Bonus Promotional Campaigns” tool it allows you to fully customize an activation campaign based on the metrics you choose, and they best part of it is that ShareASale handles everything. With all the time you will save you now can focus on recruiting new affiliates and growing the program to new levels.