Selecting Affiliate Programs That
Work for You
by Stephen Brennan
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
Points to take into consideration before selecting
an affiliate program
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 merchants website
Most affiliates dont give much importance to the
affiliate merchants website, forgetting the fact
that heres where the actual sales conversion is
to take place. Its very important that the affiliate
merchants website is designed to sell. So check
and make sure that the merchants 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,
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 webpage.
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 and rates.
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 its 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 merchants 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 operations.
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 dont 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 wont 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
merchants 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 affiliates cash getting debited
or completely taken back.
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 experience.
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
About the Author
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