Rakuten Affiliate Network is one of the leading and popular affiliate networks. Initially known as LinkShare (since 1996), in 2005 the network was purchased by Rakuten (Rakuten LinkShare). In 2014 the network was re-branded and became Rakuten Affiliate Network. Headquartered in Tokyo, the network operates globally continuously expanding its array of advertisers and affiliates. As of now, the network has more than 10 offices in different parts of the world and operates in 200+ countries. In 2018 Rakuten Affiliate Network was ranked #1 in the list of "Best Cost-Per-Sale (CPS) Affiliate Networks" by mThink. The network is ranked the “best for service levels and innovation”.
The platform connects brands and marketers from all over the globe. With more than 20 years of expertise in the industry, Rakuten is renowned for its professional approach and partnership with the leading international brands.
Affiliate networks continuously gain power in the marketing industry. Platforms designed to unite advertisers and publishers in a single place turned into powerful marketing tools and sources of income for both merchants and publishers. This is a “win-win” collaboration: merchants expose and sell their products, and publishers (webmasters and marketers) promote products via various traffic channels and earn a commission. Publishers are interested in the successful promotion of a product/service to earn more commissions, while advertisers push up sales and recognition of the brand. Networks, in their turn, benefit from efficient partnerships between merchants and marketers earning their commission. Yes, it’s sort of a digital marketplace.
Turning back to Rakuten, this huge affiliate network has programs for literally all verticals: technology, health, and beauty, travel, e-commerce, entertainment, etc.
The road to success with Rakuten takes several steps. Well, the first steps could be done before applying to the Rakuten affiliate program. Let us say, you create your website/blog, use SEO to promote it and get regular traffic and a loyal audience (don’t forget about your social media community). You develop personal business plans, targets, consider available tools and resources. Ok, this preparatory stage isn’t obligatory in the affiliate industry as you can focus on traffic arbitrage rather than generating organic traffic via a personal website.
First of all, get familiar with ‘requirements and recommendations for new publishers’ (you can check it up here). Next, apply to join Rakuten Advertising Affiliate Network. Upon approval (usually, it takes up to two days), you should set up your affiliate account. Then, you scroll through affiliate offers and choose an advertiser and the offer. Ok, you’re in! Now you choose promotional materials (affiliate links, banners, widgets, pop-ups or pop-unders, etc.) for the offer that will match your traffic source. Promote the offer! Don’t forget to track your traffic and earnings. Based on the results, adjust the ad strategy to generate more traffic and become Rakuten Platinum Publisher.
Go to Rakuten sign up page. Fill in the application form. You should provide Company Info, including country, legal entity type, business name, address, and phone numbers.
Next, you enter your name, username, password, and e-mail. Select a security question and enter the answer. You select a preferable language; currently, Rakuten provides five language options: English, French, German, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese.
Well, in the case of Rakuten you need an active blog/ website or a customized social media page (URL) to finish the sign-up process. So, you have to provide the domain details and your traffic numbers (number of unique visitors per month and number of page views per month).
Then you select up to three (primary, secondary, and tertiary categories) verticals that match your business. The next step is choosing your customer demographics (you can select more than one age range):
Almost there! Now, set up the payment threshold. Note, the threshold mustn’t be lower than the minimum payment for your country. Normally, the minimum is 50 GBR, USD, EUR, CAD, and AUD. Done. The only thing left to do is to validate your e-mail address. Ok, it is a standard procedure. Usually, applications are reviewed within 5 days. Well, joining the network takes time but it is well worth the effort.
Among advertisers: Guess, Walmart, Lego, Dell, Sephora, Apple Store, Office Depot, Microsoft, NVidia, etc. There are more than 1 000 brands you can choose from. It is fair to say that some other affiliate networks provide many more programs. Not all of them can boast such an impressive list of established and recognizable brands.
Ok, click ‘Programs’, select ‘Categories’. Here you’ll find multiple detailed verticals to choose from:
There is another option to search for affiliate offers to promote – running a keyword search. Once you’ve selected an offer, click ‘Apply’. Some brands use automatic approval; however, there are still picky advertisers with manual approval for affiliates.
By the way, you have a chance to make money via the “Paid placement” option from brands; in this case ‘paid placement’ means that the brand/company rents a banner space on your website.
Next, you’ll need to look through affiliate links provided by an advertiser. Go to your ‘Advertisers’ – ‘View Links’. Normally, you can find product links, text links, banners, and images (in some cases even widgets). Click ‘Get Link’ for the selected option – your affiliate code in HTML will be generated.
Affiliate networks out there provide different payment systems (on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly basis). As for Rakuten, all affiliate payments are net 60. Yes, you got it right. You get your commissions only 60 days after they’re approved. At least, you’re informed and ready for this now. Commissions are paid via PayPal, direct deposit, or check. Here is the detailed explanation from Rakuten Advertising on how Rakuten payment system works and how affiliates are paid.
“The process set up to ensure weekly payments… and it can take a few months to get your first payment. … Rakuten Advertising Affiliate Network issues four publisher payments per month on behalf of the advertisers…. standard payment terms require advertisers to review and close invoices by the end of the calendar month. Payment is due to Rakuten Advertising Affiliate Network 30 days after the invoice date. For example, commissions earned during the month of October (which are invoiced in early November) would be authorized by the advertiser by November 30th with payment due to Rakuten Affiliate Network by December 30th. Publishers would then be issued payments by Rakuten Affiliate Network in the following week.”
Quite often Rakuten reviewers don’t focus on the information provided by the network (or they read only the first sentence) and bring confusion (and tons of complaints on industry-related forums) by mentioning weekly payments. It doesn’t represent the facts. Keep in mind 60 days
Promotional materials include links, customized deep linking, flex links, search boxes, banners, and rotating banners. Rakuten affiliate network is known for its tech-integrated ads. You may use ready-to-use promo-materials or customize them to match your platform.
In 2016 Rakuten introduced two new features that affiliates might find very useful to automate affiliate campaigns and increase their earnings: Automate and Curate.
Curate feature allows you to “search for products across all approved brands”. Now you can create a product widget and place it in any area on your website/blog. Many bloggers note that having such a widget yields a good return.
@FahdSheraz shares with his YouTube subscribers the details on how he earned $500 via Rakuten Affiliate Network. Unfortunately, the screens are not clear here but you can watch his full review following the link. He opted for Udemy offer and succeeded to sell a course that brought him some income. Well, traditionally he doesn’t reveal the details of his campaign, but shows stats and reports:
Not bad for the beginner in affiliate marketing, huh?
Ok, you’ve decided on working via an affiliate network. The next question that pops up in your head is how to choose the best network. Hand on heart, there is no definite answer. Why? Well, most trustworthy affiliate networks have their advantages and disadvantages. What is more, some networks (and Rakuten is among them) impose requirements to affiliates in terms of having a stable website/blog and traffic volume numbers. So, beginners or marketers without their platforms can be rejected. Not to get desperate - it’s fine! Many affiliate networks accept marketers with no blogs/websites and terrific volumes of traffic with great conversion rates.
With many affiliate networks to choose from, you may get confused because generating traffic to a specific affiliate offer requires time, effort, and in some cases financial investments. Naturally, you want to be rewarded with high commissions. So, why Rakuten is a good affiliate network for you? First of all, it is one of the undoubted leaders in the affiliate industry. “Leading advertisers and publishers from almost every vertical market have chosen Rakuten affiliate network to help increase their online revenue.” True. Rakuten indeed stands out with its market experience, network quality, integrity, and technologies. Brands like Starbucks and Clinique collaborate with Rakuten to promote their products. If you’re a passionate coffee lover, you can drink one of your Starbucks favorite coffee options and earn money by promoting the brand.
One aspect that is worth noting is Rakuten educational program. The network is not only interested in earning money together with publishers, but it actually helps publishers earn more by providing educational webinars, documentation, video tutorials along newsletters with tools, insights, and promotions.
Moreover, Rakuten ensures innovative link technologies, including API Developer Portal, DRM (Dynamic Rich Media), Product Catalog data feeds, Flex Links for widgets, video and flash content, Publisher Help Center with instruments and information.
Offervault, “the go-to source for affiliate marketers”, is a superb platform to choose an offer and a network. Some merchants collaborate with several affiliate networks, which charge different commission rates for their services, so you can select the most beneficial conditions for you. Give it a try; I’m sure you’ll like it.
Poll: Do you participate in marketing forums (a member, an active participant, a reader)? Yes/No
Below you’ll find the table of comparison between three affiliate networks, Rakuten, ShareASale, and CJ Affiliate. However, there are other great reliable affiliate networks that you may join: Awin, MaxBounty, ClickBank, TopOffers, and many others.
Let’s straighten out a tangle of three leading affiliate networks in a simplified table.
|Affiliate Network||Rakuten||ShareASale||CJ Affiliate||Notes|
|Number of merchants||1 400+||4 500||3 000||ShareASale is the most populated network. However, CJ Affiliate and Rakuten partner with globally recognizable brands that are not represented on any other networks|
|Ads, banners/rotating banners, deep linking (with Automate feature), data feed, widgets||Ads, banners, pop-ups, widgets, dynamic||Ads, banners, widgets, deep-linking automation||Rakuten stands out offering rotating banners. Again, Rakuten and CJ offer deep-linking automation options.|
|Payouts||PayPal, check, and direct deposit in 25 currencies||Direct deposit and check||Direct deposit, check and Payoneer||
CJ Affiliate and ShareASale have scheduled payments (at least $50 in account).
ShareASale charges a $25 fee if you have less than $25 in your account.
Rakuten pays to affiliates only after advertisers have paid to the network, so usually it is Net60
|Reporting||In-depth, real-time reporting. Easy-to-use dashboard, customizable reports||In-depth, real-time reporting||In-depth, real-time reporting||Rakuten's reporting system stands out with its customizable reports that allow you to see specific data. ShareASale’s dashboard looks a bit clumsy. CJ’s dashboard is not easy to understand, particularly for beginners|
|Customer support||E-mail, contact form and phone number (some countries - toll-free)||Help desk for affiliates, e-mail||Communication only via a contact form||ShareASale is known for its limited personal support. CJ Affiliates respond sometimes with delays. Rakuten works on improving its customer support. Again, Rakuten educational center (materials, webinars) for affiliates gained many positive reviews from affiliates|
Besides the affiliate programs, Rakuten offers another way of earning money – cashback! Being a marketer or a webmaster you don’t stop being a regular individual who shops online. As we all know pretty well, online shopping saves loads of time and effort. Hem, in 2020 we mostly shop online because of COVID-19 and global lockdowns. So, Rakuten provides us with an opportunity to benefit from cashback offers. Kinda, Rakuten pays you for online shopping. How does it work? So easy!
First of all, you sign up with Rakuten (this time not as an affiliate marketer, but as an individual). Second, you go to Rakuten's website and select the online shop by clicking on the icon. Purchasing any products from the chosen online store you get a cashback, usually it varies from 3% and up to 10% (you may catch deals with 15% and more). Maybe the numbers don’t look very impressive, but small amounts add up over time. Just think: you purchase the products you need and get some money back.
For those who don’t know yet: Rakuten is one of the oldest cashback platforms and it is legitimate. Currently, the platform unites cashback offers from over 2500 online stores, including Nike, Walmart, Amazon, RayBan, H&M, Asics, etc.
OMG! Lancome! (Sorry, can’t control the emotions while making screenshots for the post).
Well, the best thing is that you see all offers from numerous brands in a single place. There are also daily deals and some coupon codes that save you even more money. Just look:
No doubts, you like it! Now, it works as simple as this:
Attention! It’s important that you access the store via Rakuten, otherwise you don’t earn the expected cash-back.
By the way, Google Chrome has the Rakuten Extension for Chrome, which you can download and receive notifications anytime your favorite online stores make cashback offers via Rakuten. The extension notifies you about available online coupons too. Real gone!
So, if you do most of your shopping online, you’ll earn a decent amount back to your account. Hint: booking flights and vacation packages can add up indeed very fast!
Earning cash back sounds great, but there are two more tips on how to make even more money with Rakuten:
1. Rakuten offers a really attractive referral program. You invite your friends to join Rakuten using an affiliate link which you get through your account on Rakuten, and you earn a $25 cash bonus when your referral spends at least $25 shopping via Rakuten cashback programs. Well, the referral will also get some cash, a $10 welcome bonus after spending the first $25 via Rakuten. So, grab your referral link and invite your friends via your blog, Facebook, or Instagram.
2. Double Cash Back Offers! Rakuten runs special offers that allow you to earn twice more cashback. Do not miss the chance and check the Rakuten Double Cash Back tab before you go to a specific online store.
Now that you know the details, go to the Rakuten website and sign up. It works!
I know you’re tired but we’re almost there.
Let’s tally up: the choice of an affiliate network depends on the features you need in the first place. In today’s review, I’ve tried to reveal the pros and cons of collaborating with the Rakuten network and compare it with other leading networks. In any case, from the table above it’s clear that Rakuten is one of the indisputable leaders in the affiliate marketing industry. The network is an important and heavy-weighted player in the market.
Some globally recognizable brands cooperate with the Rakuten network exclusively. Solid reputation (Rakuten is ranked #1 affiliate network for 8 years in a row) and an excellent customizable reporting system play into the hands of marketers who look for a reliable affiliate network. However, being fastidious with merchants, the Rakuten network is very picky with affiliates as well. As mentioned above, marketers have to provide many business details and have to wait for a couple of days for the final decision. Against all odds, many beginners joined the network and make money via the Rakuten affiliate network.