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What Is Viglink?
I'll explain how this system works in more detail below, as well as overview the biggest advantages and disadvantages of using VigLink compared to your own affiliate account. If you have worked with them before, please share your experience in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
How Does VigLink Work?
Simply put, VigLink acts like an intermediate between you and affiliate companies, eliminating the need to signup for multiple programs or build special affiliate links. You just link to the merchant directly, and it does the rest.
Now, those of you with experience in affiliate marketing will no doubt want to ask, why not just signup for the affiliate program yourself? Amazon, for instance, has an excellent affiliate program that's easy to use and can be quite profitable. So why would you want to have a middleman? Indeed, in many cases you're better off working with Amazon Associates directly. I'll explain further in my overview of VigLink pros and cons.
Official VigLink Introduction Video
This is the official video that explains what VigLink is and how it works. it is a great introduction, although it doesn't mention some of the finer details I covered below.
Advantages of Using VigLink
A short comparison of using VigLink vs. working with an affiliate program directly:
- It saves time: depending on the platform, building a new affiliate link can take several minutes. For example, in CJ (formerly Commission Junction) you have to login to the members area, select the merchant you want to work with, select a suitable link from their list, and only then you get to the HTML code that you need to paste on your website. With VigLink you simply link to the store, product, or review directly, and that's it!
- Better-looking links: most people will agree that a direct link to, say, buy.com looks better than an affiliate link like click.trackdomain.com/?affid=as4das4d5d6565d3r&trackingid=145.
- Everyone is accepted: I'm located outside the US, and sometimes affiliate programs reject my application automatically because of that. Furthermore, many programs have various requirements for your site, like high amounts of traffic, or making a certain number of sales every month.
With VigLink, you don't have to worry about any of that. Your website will definitely be accepted (still, please make sure it doesn't break their Terms of Service), and you can work with merchants that previously closed their doors to you. Some merchants still require a separate approval, but they're in the minority.
- PayPal payouts: many other affiliate marketplaces pay you using checks. VigLink members, however, can receive their payouts conveniently to their PayPal accounts.
- It's more simple: not an important thing for pro marketers, but newbies might not want to mess with the HTML code, long affiliate links, tracking pixels, and whatnot. Nothing beats linking to the vendor directly and letting the script do the rest.
- Detailed click analytics: VigLink tracks your outgoing links and provides useful statistics, such as which links are getting clicked, which pages on your website are earning the most, which merchants are the most profitable, and so on. In some cases, it can even show you which products your visitors buy (unfortunately, not all merchants provide this information).
Here's why signing up as an affiliate yourself might be better:
- Ad blocking: similar to the previous point, certain ad blocking browser plugins will disable VigLink, be it their automatic affiliation, or link insertion component.
- VigLink takes 25%: this might be a deal-breaker for some marketers. VigLink takes a cut of 25% (can be smaller for some merchants) from your revenue to cover their expenses. Usually this means that you will earn less. However, in some cases, you might earn slightly more.
Take Amazon for instance. They have a performance-based commission structure where the more products you sell, the higher commission rates they give you (from 4% up to 8.5%). If you don't make many sales yourself, use VigLink and you will earn 8.5% - 25% = 6.375% per sale, which is still higher than the base rate of 4%.
There also are some Insider Merchants, which offer increased rates for VigLink publishers. It might or might not be enough to make up the difference.
- Possibly lower earnings: due to the three reasons mentioned above, your earnings with VigLink might be lower compared to those from your own affiliate account. This depends on a number of factors. Regretfully, I don't have any reliable earnings data to compare.
Real Life Examples on When to Use It
If you're unsure whether VigLink will help you monetize your website better, maybe the following examples will help. Please keep in mind that this is only my opinion.
Do you only link to one merchant from your website or blog, and the said merchant makes creating affiliate links easy (e.g. Amazon)? Stick to it, then - in your case, I see no reason to switch to VigLink.
Do you link to multiple merchants from your website or blog regularly, and find yourself having to login to multiple affiliate platforms (CJ, LinkShare, ShareASale, etc) all the time? Was your application declined by some merchant you really wanted to work with? In that case, I recommend giving VigLink a try.
Do you own a web forum where members regularly post links to electronics, games, movies, or other products? Well, what are you waiting for... you might be sitting on a goldmine!
Signup for VigLink
The official website of the company can be found at (predictably) VigLink.com. If you signup through my referral link, I'll earn 35% of your first year's revenue. Of course, your own earnings won't be affected in any way. Cheers!
Unofficial VigLink FAQ
Some more information about this automatic affiliate system.
Who's behind VigLink? Who owns it?
According to this press release, VigLink is backed by Google Ventures, First Round Capital, Emergence Capital and SoftTech VC. Notable individual investors include LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman and former Google executive and current LinkedIn VP of Product Deep Nishar.
As for their team, you can find the whole list at http://www.viglink.com/about/team/executives.
How is Driving Revenue related to them?
VigLink has acquired Driving Revenue, a company that monetizes outclicks with no changes to consumer experience. As far as I understand, they offered very similar services.
Is there a minimum payout?
There's no minimum payout, but VigLink will pay you after receiving the money from the merchants themselves. This usually takes 60 days.
Is there a list of supported merchants?
There is a "Merchant Explorer" tool in your members area which allows you to search supported merchants as well as check whether a link will be "affiliatized" or not.
Can I trust them? Is VigLink a scam?
It's a multi-million company backed by Google Ventures. I think it's here to stay. If you notice things like missing commissions, just contact support and they'll look into it for you.
Can I use it on sites like HubPages?
What about Flash or AJAX applications?
Why does VigLink add links to my blog posts?
VigLink Insert will search your content for product names (e.g. "iPhone 6") and turn them into affiliate links automatically. This behavior can be easily disabled in your settings (Manage > Settings > VigLink Insert > Off). This will leave you with their nearly-invisible Convert feature, which only affiliatizes already existing links.
Indeed, there's a very similar tool called SkimLinks (disclosure: this is my referral link) that you can try if you don't like VigLink for some reason.