Selecting Affiliate Programs That Work for
By Thomas Wall
Wednesday, November 10, 2004; 6:10pm EST
Affiliate programs are a great means of earning some handy cash;
but not all affiliate programs are profitable. Some will only take
up your time and energy and some others may even spoil your website
reputation. This is why you got to carefully select your affiliate
marketing programs and make sure that they work for you same as your
work for them. Given below are a few points that will help you make
better decision in choosing an affiliate program that works for you
rather than working only for the affiliate merchant.
Points to take into consideration before selecting an affiliate
1.) Your website and your visitors
If you already have a website, make sure to go for affiliate
programs that jell with your website theme. If your website is about
cars then promoting cycle related products is going to have very
less or no impact.
Secondly finding and scrutinizing your visitors and your target
market is a good idea. In any affiliate program, your visitor is the
one who is going to get you returns. So primarily get to know your
visitors. Analyze your visitor behavior using your website
statistics before deciding on which affiliate program to go for.
Your objective should be to find out what your visitors are looking
for and then promote products of their interest which also match
with your existing products or services (if any).
2.) Affiliate merchant�s website
Most affiliates don�t give much importance to the affiliate
merchant�s website, forgetting the fact that here�s where the actual
sales conversion is to take place. It�s very important that the
affiliate merchant�s website is designed to sell. So check and make
sure that the merchant�s website is free from unwanted banner
advertisements/pop-ups and focus on the affiliate product.
Other important things to check out are the sales copy, privacy
policy, product guarantees, after sales service and special
discounts/offers available with the product/service. Your main aim
must be to find out if the product/service features would actually
prompt the referred visitor to make a purchase.
Some affiliate merchants promote more than one product/service on a
webpage which can dilute the conversion rate. It is best to go for
affiliate programs that focus on a single product/service per
3.) Quality of goods/services
Just imagine how you would feel, if you were referred by a website
to a product that turned out to be of inferior quality? Your
visitors will feel the same way about your website if you promote
inferior or overly priced goods/services. Always make sure to know
about the product/service you are planning to promote. Check for
testimonials and references from existing customers to find out
about the quality of goods. If possible you can even plan on using
them yourself to be on the safer side. In addition, also make sure
to compare similar products available over the internet for features
There are many products that have trial periods or return policies
associated with them. Products having return policies can increase
the conversion rate but may also lead to debiting in case of a
chargeback. Promoting products sold on a trial period basis requires
cookie detection to track sales at the end of the period which is
very unreliable. So it�s better to confirm with the affiliate
merchant the tracking method used or the affiliate payment scheme,
in case the products have trial periods.
4.) Reputation of the affiliate merchant
The reputation of the affiliate merchant is important because the
odds are against you. There are chances that some affiliate
merchants may not payout or make deductions to your actual payments.
So make sure to find out using references about the affiliate
merchant�s history of making proper payments.
Already existing affiliates of the affiliate merchant are your best
source of information. In addition be sure to read their business
literature to get an idea about their history of past and present
5.) Commission scheme of the affiliate program
There are many different types of commission schemes that affiliate
programs use to reward their affiliates. Some of the most popular
ones are pay per click, pay per lead and pay per sale schemes. Some
others even offer two tiered and multi tiered commission schemes.
Some commission schemes can even be a mix and match of the above.
In case of a pay per click/hit scheme the minimum commission that
you can expect is $0.5 to $0.10 per click. For pay per sale a good
commission rate would be 15% to 50%. Some companies even offer
lifetime commissions, but as most of them are based on cookie
identification, they may not work out well.
With the competition increasing almost all merchants have started
offering two tiered commissions, some even offer multi tiered ones.
Joining these schemes can give you a chance to get paid for the
direct sales you make and also for the sales made by affiliates
referred by you.
6.) Tracking software used
Tracking software is used by the affiliate merchant to track
individual affiliate sales. An affiliate merchant can make use of
in-house tracking software, join an affiliate network or use
services of an ASP in order to track leads.
In case the affiliate merchant makes use of independent tracking
software or ASP services, make sure to find out if the software is
reliable and has the ability to track all kinds of sales. If the
software uses cookie tracking, find out the duration of the cookie.
Although using cookies to track affiliates does not always work fine
as the cookies can be deleted by the buyer.
Most affiliate merchants today make use of affiliate network
services. Affiliate network services are the safest when it comes to
making payments on time, conflict resolution and accurate tracking.
Affiliate Networks are also great sources to find good affiliate
programs and can help you get payments from different merchants
through a single cheque. So make sure to register at some good
networks. Some reputed affiliate network services are commission
junction, LinkShare, Clickxgalore, and ClickTrade.
7.) Terms and conditions for payment
You do all the hard work as an affiliate and hence you should make
sure that you get paid for it. There are chances that the affiliate
merchant might have some unwanted rules and regulations in his
affiliate agreement; so in-case you don�t like to get a bitter shock
in the aftermath, be sure to check out the terms and conditions with
utmost care. Some things that you got to look out for in the terms
and conditions are as follows,
a.) Payment frequency/Payout rate
Make sure that the affiliate merchant makes payments at the end of
every month or with- in a few days afterward. Anything above 2
months for making payments is not advisable. Also find out the mode
of making payments. Payment gateways are safer and faster as
compared to cheques.
b.) Payment for future sales
Many visitors won�t buy products on their first visit. They might
come back though after some time to make the purchase. Make sure
that the affiliate merchant pays you for future sales made by a
customer referred by you. Although the chances that you get credit
for future sales is low due to cookie deletion possibilities, but it
is better to have options open.
c.) Minimum Balance Amount for payout
Most affiliate merchants and affiliate networks have a minimum
amount for payout. An affiliate would require reaching that amount
to get a payment. Find out the minimum balance and estimate if the
target is easily achievable for the given product/service.
d.) Roll over/carry over terms
Roll-overs or carry-overs are related to the minimum balance. If the
affiliate fails to achieve the minimum balance within a month (or
the set payment date), the payment keeps rolling on. Although this
is not a problem, some merchant�s may have a fixed rollover period
after which the payments will not be issued. Joining such programs
is not recommended.
e.) Conditions for Charge-backs on product return
Some merchants have a product return policy which allows the buyer
to get full refund in-case he is dissatisfied with the product. The
period within which the buyer should return the product to get a
refund is called the chargeback period. Make sure to take note of
the chargeback period of the merchant and also find out how much of
your commission will be debited if this happens. Although products
having a return policy will have a better conversion rate they can
also lead to the affiliate�s cash getting debited or completely
In addition to the payment terms some other conditions that you got
to check out are the �condition of exclusivity� (which could mean
the affiliate cannot promote any other product except the affiliate
product/service or that he should not promote competitor
products/services) and conflict resolution method of the merchant.
8.) Additional facilities offered
In addition to simply offering banner ads most good affiliate
merchants offer other facilities like, real time sales statistics
and tracking information, free training on how to promote the
products/services, newsletters, affiliate help lines and even
website improvement programs. Some affiliate merchants even offer
their affiliates a say in their decision making process.
Many good affiliate merchants also have a policy of rewarding better
performing affiliates with incentives, over and above the
commissions. Joining such programs can really be a rewarding
To succeed in the affiliate marketing game requires knowledge of
promoting goods/services not only through your website but also
using other online promotion means like email marketing, online
advertisements etc. So, make it a point to do lots of reading and
information gathering before plunging into the arena. There are many
websites that offer quality resources and information on affiliate
programs. Some good ones to refer are http://www.bizbrim.com,
affiliate-programs-guide.com and affiliatesdirectory.com.
About the Author
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