Figuring out the best ways to monetize your blog or website can be challenging. Many online marketers choose affiliate marketing as part or all of their strategy, and for good reason. It allows companies to offer hand-picked goods and services that are relevant to their audience without having to design, produce, or ship anything themselves.
If you’re looking for affiliate marketing programs, you’ll no doubt come across Rakuten Advertising. It’s one of the largest and most well known in the space, with a global network of advertisers and affiliate publishers.
Here’s what you need to know about partnering with Rakuten to help monetize your blog, website or social media efforts.
What is Rakuten?
Founded in 1997, Rakuten has grown to be the largest ecommerce company in the world. It has a number of businesses including travel (Voyagin), digital content through Kobo, financial services (digital wallet, credit cards and insurance) and a very popular rebate app.
Rakuten Advertising, the advertising arm of Rakuten Group, offers a variety of digital marketing solutions to advertisers and publishers including display advertising, search marketing, influencer marketing and affiliate marketing.
In this article we’ll focus on Rakuten Advertising, and more specifically, its affiliate marketing network.
How Does Rakuten Work?
Like other performance marketing networks, Rakuten brings together advertisers who have something to sell, and publishers (like bloggers or website owners) or influencers who want to find offers to promote to their audience so they can make money.
Publishers will create unique links using Rakuten’s technology and when a specific action is taken the affiliate can earn a commission. Marketers typically get paid on a CPA basis, which means “cost per action.”
As a publisher, you can get coupons and offers to share with your audience with your unique tracking link. You can also use deep linking to create text or image links to products you want to promote. (Deep links direct your audience to a specific page URL on an advertiser's site rather than to the advertiser's homepage, so they can get more information or make a purchase faster). You can promote offers on web pages or social media, as long as you follow the guidelines for publisher partners.
How is Rakuten Different From Other Affiliate Networks?
Rakuten Advertising is well-known as a top affiliate network. It is one of the most well-known and largest affiliate marketing networks in the world. It’s been around for more than 25 years, has 150+ partners and offers advanced affiliate marketing technology. Customer support is available through chat 24/7. Email support is also available.
Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a personal finance website that educates people about money, side hustles, and travel. He’s been using Rakuten for a couple of years now to run offers on his website. “Rakuten’s platform is cleaner than some of the other affiliate programs that I'm a member of,” he says. “Their dashboard is clear and easy to navigate.”
What Affiliate Programs are Available with Rakuten?
There are lots of affiliate programs available through Rakuten. Following the categories under which you’ll find offers:
Business & career
Clothing & accessories
Computer & electronics
Food & drink
Games & toys
Gifts & flowers
Health & beauty
Hobbies & collectibles
Home & living
Internet & online
Sports & fitness
Within each category there are many different offers, and if you’ve signed up as a publisher, you’ll also see tabs in your dashboard for new advertisers, premium advertisers, your advertisers, and even private offers.
In other words, there are a lot of offers within the Rakuten affiliate program. But what’s important as a digital marketer is to find offers relevant to your audience. That means you’ll need to take time to sort through available offers, apply to get accepted to offer them, and then get your own unique referral links so you can get paid for your referrals.
As you’re looking for offers, think about how much time and effort you want to put into promoting them. Some advertisers will drop affiliates if they don’t get results. Cultivating a strong partnership with fewer companies with high-quality, targeted offers may get better results than signing up for too many products and not being able to devote time to promoting them.
Butler says that while Rakuten’s offers are “fine,” he wishes they had more relevant offers for his audience. “They don't have as many as CJ,” he says.
What are the Sign Up Requirements for Rakuten?
If you want to work with Rakuten Advertising and its partners as an affiliate, you will first apply to join Rakuten, and then you will apply to specific advertisers with offers you want to promote. Each advertiser may have its own requirements, and you may not be eligible for each offer you want to promote.
Rakuten’s guidelines include the following requirements.
You must have a website with your own domain name, or if you will be selling on social media, your own page on that platform.
You must read and agree to the Publisher Membership Agreement and Network Policies including the FTC Endorsement Rule.
Your site must provide unique, high quality content that provides value for visitors.
How Do I Sign Up for Rakuten?
Start at Rakuten’s marketing affiliate page at Rakutenadvertising.com/affiliate and click on the button that says “Become a Publisher. “
First you’ll provide information about your company:
Legal entity type (such as individual or LLC)
Business name (if you have one)
Tax verification form (W-9 in US)
Then you’ll provide information about your account:
Security verification question
Fill out details about your primary website:
Website name and URL
Primary business model (e.g. content or coupons/deals)
Unique visitors per month,
Page views per month
Short description of website,
Primary category (e.g. insurance or health and wellness)
Audience gender and ages
Next you’ll select a payment threshold with a minimum of 50 AUD/CAD/EUR/GBP/USD.
You must review and agree to the Membership Agreement, and the Affiliate Network and Downloadable Software Application Policies. You’ll also check a box to verify that you are at least 18 years old.
Once you submit your application, check your email account for an email from Rakuten. You’ll need to click on a link to verify your email address.
After you sign up, you’ll see a welcome screen welcoming you to the publisher dashboard.
Rakuten will encourage you to complete your account profile to help you connect with advertisers. And as mentioned before, you’ll then find information about available offers on the Programs tab. You’ll need to apply for the specific ones you want to offer.
Once you are approved for specific programs, you’ll be able to get your custom referral links, banners and other creatives so you can start sharing those programs with your audience and, hopefully, get paid.
You’ll also find a link in that welcome screen to articles and tutorials to help you get started.
Finally, you’ll want to set up your payment information so when your marketing efforts are successful you can get paid.
What are Rakuten’s Payment Methods?
You can choose your payment method in the payment settings of your account. Rakuten currently offers three payment option:
It notes that some networks require your account to be set up for Direct Deposit or PayPal before payments can be sent. Again, the minimum threshold to get paid is $50 (US) or 50 AUD/CAD/EUR/GBP which means you must have that amount in your account before you can get paid.
Rakuten’s standard terms for advertisers require payment to the network 30 days after the invoice date. Affiliates will typically get paid in the month after that, though actual payment times may vary depending on factors like cancellations or returns.
Rakuten gives this 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 the network by December 30th. Publishers would then be issued payments by Rakuten in the following week.”
Rakuten Advertising Bottom Line
Affiliate marketing can be a good way to help monetize content influencer activities. If you are serious about affiliate marketing and have your own website or social media URL, it’s worth checking out Rakuten.
Many affiliate marketers work with multiple networks, and whether this one will be the best affiliate marketing network for your business will depend on your audience and what they want to buy through your recommendations and advertising efforts. With many offers to choose from, Rakuten Advertising can be part of your monetization strategy.