What’s the catch? None, really. Cash back apps act as affiliates for many online merchants, which means that whenever you make a purchase through one of the apps, they get a small commission — but then, they give you a portion of that commission as “cash back”. For example, if I buy a pair of Nike shoes through the Ebates app (or website) and spend $75, Ebates may get a $10 commission but then they’ll pass $7 back to me. It’s basically a way to get sale prices on stuff that isn’t on sale!
The truth is much more complicated. It’s true that affiliate programs can be sources of phantom revenue and off-brand promotion. But managed properly, they can also make up 5-15 percent of online revenue and have an ROI among the highest of any online channel. CMOs are realizing that affiliate marketing can be an important part of their arsenal and are integrating the channel into their overall marketing strategies.
Know when (and when not) to use Viglinks and Skimlinks. If you applied to an affiliate program but were denied, you might be able to still be an affiliate for that advertiser through a secondary affiliate program like VigLink or Skimlinks. Basically, they themselves are affiliates and will split their affiliate commission with you if you put their affiliate link in your content for an advertiser. Obviously, the commission rate is lower for you in this case, so if you ever are accepted into the advertiser’s affiliate program directly, immediately switch from using VigLink / Skimlinks affiliate links to your own.
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