CJ Affiliate (previously known as Commission Junction) is one of the largest affiliate networks on the Internet.
It has over 10,000 participating merchants (‘Advertisers’). And it offers a huge range of products you can promote on your website in exchange for commissions.
In this guide to CJ Affiliate I show you:
Are you ready?
Let’s dive in.
What is CJ Affiliate (Commission Junction)?
CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction) is one of the largest online affiliate networks.
It brings together owners of products and people who want to sell those products.
CJ Affiliate is a marketplace where you can find thousands of products to market as an affiliate.
These products include:
But let’s take a step back.
After all, you may be completely new to this and wondering what affiliate marketing is.
In affiliate marketing, the merchant gives you a unique link for each product that you sell. You then place that link on your own website.
The link can be in:
- an ad
- a banner
- an article
Whenever someone clicks on that link and buys a product, you receive a commission. In the case of a product such as a book, the commission will be a one-time payment.
But in the case of a service, such as web-hosting or an SEO tool, the commissions are likely to be recurring. Every month, the affiliate platform adds up what you’ve earned and pays out your commissions.
And if you don’t live in the US or another major economy, don’t worry. CJ Affiliate pays out commissions in over 150 local currencies.
There’s one important difference between Commission Junction and other affiliate platforms.
In CJ Affiliate, you have to be approved by the individual merchants (Advertisers).
More about this in a minute.
So, how do you qualify to be a publisher (i.e. a seller) on CJ Affiliate?
You have to be over 18 years of age and have a website. That’s all.
CJ Affiliate Step-by-Step Setup
Setting up an account on CJ Affiliate is easy and takes no more than 30 seconds.
First, go to Google and type in ‘cjaffiliate signup’ and then click on the site link that says ‘CJ sign up’:
On the next screen, enter your details and check the recaptcha box:
CJ Affiliate will now send you a confirmation email:
Click on the button in the confirmation email:
You’ll then have to provide some details on the form below.
One detail you’ll have to give is the URL of the website where you’ll be publishing your CJ Affiliate link:
Note that at the foot of form, there’s a box you need to check to say that you’ve read and accepted the terms and conditions. This box will be greyed out until you actually open the link and read the document.
On the next screen, enter your email and password and login to your new account:
And that’s it. You’re now a CJ Affiliate Publisher!
But there’s one more thing you need to do.
In the top right corner of your screen you’ll see a message asking you to complete your Network Profile:
This is information that Advertisers use when reviewing your application.
On the next screen, click on the ‘Edit’ button in the top right corner. Then write a short description, explaining:
- who your audience is
- your traffic statistics
- the main promotion methods you use in your business
When you’re done, click ‘Save’. Then click OK on the popup:
Now you’re ready to start applying for individual affiliate products.
What Type of Affiliate Programs Can I Find?
To see which affiliate programs are available, click on ‘Advertisers’ in the top menu:
On the next screen click on the arrow next to ‘Category’. You’ll see a drop-down menu with the different product categories:
Click on the arrow to the left of each category to see the sub-categories. Then select the sub-categories you’re interested in:
Then scroll to the top of the sidebar and click ‘Search’:
On the next screen, you’ll see the results for your search.
A summary in the top right shows the sub-categories in your search. The main area shows details for the affiliate programs that match your sub-categories.
You can also find affiliate programs using the search boxes at the top of the left sidebar:
Enter the name of a product/business:
Or, enter a keyword:
Network Earnings and EPC
One of the metrics you can see in the above screenshot is EPC or Earnings Per Click. EPC is calculated over 100 clicks (the ‘C’ stands for ‘centum’, Latin for a hundred). So when you see an EPC of $161.73 — that’s per 100 clicks.
This is the most important metric for an affiliate marketer. It tells you how much you will earn, on average, per click.
If you’re using paid advertising, this is vital information. It’s a key part of the equation that determines your profit margin:
Profit per click = earnings per click minus cost per click
EPC is shown over 7 days and over 3 months. As a rule, the 3-month EPC is a more reliable indicator than the 7-day EPC. This is because it’s taken from a larger sample size.
To the left of EPC is another metric called ‘Network Earnings’. This is a measure of how well an affiliate program performs in comparison to other programs.
- 5 bars indicates a program that performs better than 95% of other affiliate programs
- 1 bar indicates a program that performs better than 39% of other programs
The more green bars, the higher the conversion rate.
How Do I Find The Best Affiliate Programs On The Network?
The way to find the best affiliate programs on CJ Affiliate is to use the filters in the top right corner. Set the filter to ‘Network Earnings – High to Low’ and ‘3 mo. EPC – High to Low’.
Check the results and then change it to 3-month EPC – High to Low’:
The programs that score highest for these two metrics will be the best earners in any given category. You can’t filter for these two metrics at the same time, so you’ll have to apply one filter first and then the other.
In this example, I clicked the sub-category ‘productivity tools’. I set the filter to ‘Network Earnings – High to Low’:
And these are the results:
Now change the filter to ‘3 Month EPC’:
Scroll down past the first four listings. These are new programs and don’t have enough data yet.
As a rule, you want high Network Earnings and high EPC:
But if you have to choose between the two, go for high EPC.
Because this is the metric that determines your profit margin.
To join an affiliate program, click on the green button on the far right:
Some affiliate programs on Commission Junction are set up to approve you automatically. But other programs do a manual review.
Here’s an example. When I click to join HostGator, I get a message showing that this is a program that conducts a manual review:
During the review, the Advertiser checks your website. They want to know that your audience and business model matches their product.
The review process takes up to 2 weeks, but you’ll often get a response within a few days.
How To Use CJ Affiliate To Create An Income
Embedding affiliate links within articles is the most effective way of getting sales.
Why does this strategy work so well?
When you publish high-value content over a period of time, you build a relationship with your readers. That creates trust. And visitors are much more likely to buy affiliate products from someone they trust.
But that relationship of trust is a precious commodity. You need to protect it.
The worst thing you can do as an affiliate marketer is recommend dodgy products — a one-way ticket to kill that great reputation you’ve built!
There’s also another reason why blogging is an effective affiliate marketing technique.
When you include an affiliate link in a blog post, it has context. And when an affiliate link is in context, it doesn’t come off as ‘salesy’.
People don’t like being sold to. But they do like recommendations. Especially from someone who has used the product and whose opinion they trust.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you write an article on how to create sales funnels using email sequences. And let’s say that in that article you show your readers how to do it in ConvertKit. That’s the kind of context that will produce an affiliate sale.
Because your readers don’t feel they are being sold to. And because it’s a genuine recommendation based on personal experience.
There’s yet another reason why blogging works well in getting sales from affiliate links.
When people type a query into Google, it means they have a problem. A problem that needs a solution. And that means people who find your blog post through Google are targeted prospects. They know what they want, and they are much more likely to buy.
The key here is to solve their problem and mention a related product. Chances are they’ll buy that product.
And that’s an affiliate sale for you!
Related Content: Why you shouldn’t waste your time with eBay Partner Network
Another effective way of promoting your affiliate link is paid ads.
The best form of paid advertising for affiliate marketing is Pay Per Click (PPC). This is where you don’t pay for impressions (i.e. when a person sees your ad) but only when they click on your ad.
The beauty of PPC advertising is that you know how much each click is costing you. When you combine that with your earnings per click (EPC), you know exactly what your profit margin is.
And that means you can keep fine-tuning your ad campaigns to maximise profits.
Good platforms for PPC advertising are Google AdWords or Facebook Ads. But check the terms of your CJ Affiliate Advertiser first. See if they allow paid advertising, and if so, what conditions they have.
- For information on how to use Google AdWords in affiliate marketing, see: The Ultimate Guide to PPC Affiliate Marketing
- For information on how to use Facebook ads to promote affiliate programs see: The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ads for Affiliate Marketing
Promoting affiliate products on social media can also be very effective. But as with paid advertising, check your Advertiser’s terms and conditions first. See if they allow social media marketing and if so, what restrictions they have. Whether you’re running a social media management business, advertising for clients or doing affiliate promotions as a sole marketer, you gotta check your advertising rules with the company that owns the product or service.
There are three things to remember when marketing affiliate products on social media:
- Focus on creating high-quality content — A good test is this: would you still post it even without the affiliate link? As with all internet marketing, you must add value to the reader.
- Use images — Social media posts with images get much higher engagement than text-only posts.
- Use a URL shortener — Affiliate links are usually long and ugly. So use a service such as bitly to create a shorter and more attractive link.
Commission Junction: Standout Features
Deep linking is when an Advertiser provides links to individual products. It’s also called direct linking. The opposite of deep linking is when an Advertiser provides one generic link to a home page.
Why are deep links so important?
When a link takes a visitor to a home page, they still have to click around to find the specific product they want.
Sometimes the visitor may have to navigate two or three links from the home page to find what they are looking for.
And this is where a lot of potential sales are lost. Visitors can’t find what they’re looking for and so they give up. About 25% of potential affiliate sales are lost in this way.
When you take the visitor straight to the product page (deep linking), your chances of getting a sale increase.
Deep linking is so important that some marketers won’t even join programs that don’t allow it.
So how do you do deep-linking on CJ Affiliate?
First of all, go to Links in the top menu and then Link Tools:
Then drag the ‘CJ Deep Link Generator’ to the bookmarks toolbar in your browser:
Now, you can navigate to any page on an Advertiser’s website and get a deep link to that specific page:
The Reporting tab in CJ Affiliate is where you find the basic analytics for your account. Here you can find analytics that provide a birds-eye view of performance:
You can see how your programs are performing, sorted by:
- Advertiser by website
- Advertiser Rank
The graph at the foot of this page charts performance by
- Sales amount
- Earnings per click
and five other variables.
As you can see, the analytics in the Reporting tab are impressive, to say the least.
But wait till you see the Insights tab!
The Insights tab was introduced to CJ Affiliate in October 2018:
Insights allow you to see trends across time and across different programs. This is information that’s not detectable, or difficult to see in the Reporting tab:
Here are two examples of things you can do in Insights that are difficult to do in Reporting:
- Find a trend that shows that a specific affiliate link performs better on a particular day of the week
- Compare your top-performing links
Placement Opportunities is a feature that Commission Junction added recently.
It allows Publishers (i.e. you) to offer Advertisers an inventory of ad space on their website.
As a Publisher, this is a great way to negotiate a higher commission for each affiliate sale.
Creating a Placement Opportunity is simple and takes less than 60 seconds.
Click on Placements in the top menu and then click ‘Create’:
The website then takes you through some steps where you specify:
- where on your website you want the ads to appear.
- the timeframe for the placement
- the commission increase that you want
When finished, your placement offer looks like this:
Commission Junction Downsides
There’s one aspect of CJ Affiliate that some people may not like.
Joining CJ Affiliate doesn’t automatically qualify you to promote the affiliate products. You must apply to each advertiser or merchant to join their program.
There’s a delay while you wait for your application to be reviewed and there’s no guarantee you’ll be accepted.
This is quite different to other affiliate platforms. Once you’ve joined Clickbank, for example, you can start promoting all their affiliate products.
Apart from that, it’s hard to find downsides with CJ Affiliate (Commission Junction).
The network that CJ Affiliate is most often compared with is LinkShare (Rakuten). But CJ Affiliate offers a much bigger range of products than LinkShare, as the following graphic shows:
The only category where LinkShare offers more choice than CJ Affiliate is Lifestyle.
As I mentioned earlier, the analytics and reporting in CJ Affiliate is very detailed. It’s truly impressive!
But for some people, especially beginners, that could be a downside. There’s quite a learning curve involved in understanding how to use the metrics in CJ Affiliate.
Another possible downside is customer support. The sheer size of the network means that customer support is stretched thin. Also, there’s no email support, only chat and telephone.
Finally, CJ Affiliate doesn’t offer payouts through PayPal and that may be a downside for some people.
Who CJ Affiliate Is Most Suited To
Commission Junction is a great platform for anyone wanting to earn an affiliate income. It’s a particularly good choice if you want to promote the products and services of big-name brands.
But the analytics in CJ are advanced and very detailed. Complete beginners may find this aspect of CJ Affiliate daunting.
For beginners, Rakuten Marketing’s user interface is easier to understand.
The approval process in CJ Affiliate may also be off-putting for beginners.
Finally, CJ Affiliate is only suitable for people who have a functioning website. If you don’t have an online presence, there are other platforms that don’t require that you have a website. Clickbank is one of those (although we don’t recommend it).
CJ Affiliate is one of the best affiliate marketing platforms out there.
The advantages of CJ Affiliate include:
- Thousands of affiliate products to choose from
- Advanced analytics and reporting
- Big-name brands that are easy to sell
CJ Affiliate is a robust affiliate marketing platform with over 20 year’s experience. It gives you state-of-the-art technology to maximize your returns.
This is an affiliate network that’s definitely worth looking at.
Rob specialises in helping new bloggers launch kick-ass websites and generate traffic from Google. He regularly posts high-quality, actionable strategies on SEO and traffic generation on his website, Rob Powell Biz Blog. Rob’s work has been featured in a laundry list of high-profile sites — Bustle, Ninja Outreach and Fit Small Business, to name a few.