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Picking an affiliate program to promote isn’t as simple as signing up for an account and grabbing the link or banner code and sticking it on your site.
It SHOULD be that simple but there are still things that you should look out for before you decide to promote any affiliate program.
In my five years of dealing with affiliate programs, I’ve come up with some criteria that I use when deciding to promote any affiliate program based on my experiences and advice that was passed on to me.
Here are 7 tips you can use to choose the best affiliate programs to promote whether they’re on an affiliate network or an independent affiliate program.
1. Landing Page Aesthetics
I’ll admit that most advertisers do know what they’re doing and have great looking and good converting landing pages. They’ve designed and tested their landing pages for maximum conversions and make sure that their visitors can find what they’re looking for.
However, there are some that have landing pages that will confuse the hell out of a visitor with bad web design, bad navigation and issues that minimize conversions.
One example is where the advertiser will put Google Adsense ads and/or other banners on a landing page.
This is a bad practice that is not beneficial at all for the advertiser or the affiliate because visitors will be distracted by these ads and may very well end up going off to the competition. The advertiser loses the sale and you just lost a commission as the affiliate who sent traffic.
There are some other things that come under this like pages plagued with bad grammar and numerous spelling mistakes just to name a couple.
The bottom line is always check out the landing page where your affiliate links take you so you can experience what your visitors will have to go through.
If the page looks great, is easy to navigate and you can easily find what you’re supposed to find without distractions then the advertiser has done a great job. If there are issues then you might need to look for another affiliate program.
2. Multiple Payment Options
Since nearly all affiliate networks will give you multiple options for receiving payments, this point is more for independent affiliate programs.
This is a very important aspect of choosing an affiliate program. If you can’t get paid then what is the point.
When I sign up to affiliate programs, I make sure that they have multiple options (at least two) for getting paid. In most cases, they’ll have Paypal and check options which I’m cool with.
At least, they should have the option that allows you to get paid. If you can only receive check payments then an affiliate program that only pays with Paypal isn’t going to be of any use to you.
I was invited to promote a course one time and checked the payment options. They had Paypal as the main payment option but also stated that they can also send check payments, so I signed up.
After I’d reach the payment threshold, I requested payment but was told that they couldn’t pay by check. I was also told that the site was sold and was under new management and they could only pay via Paypal.
Long story short, I ended up sending the payment to my mother’s Paypal account because I couldn’t receive payments to my Paypal account from my location.
If I had known that they only paid with Paypal then I would have never signed up because it was an inconvenience where I could not receive my commission payments.
This is one of the reasons why I prefer working with affiliate networks because they have multiple payment options that include check payments, direct bank deposits and sometimes preloaded debit cards.
3. Positive Feedback
When I say positive feedback, I’m not only talking about positive feedback for the product or service. That’s important too for the sake of your credibility.
Recommend a product that customers have been complaining about and you’re probably going to get your commissions reversed and your readers angry with you. Just be sure to check out feedback on the product if you’re going to promote it or better yet, get your hands on a copy of the product and try it yourself.
I’m also talking about positive feedback on the affiliate program. If you’re on a network then you’re safe but if it’s an independent affiliate program then you need to check.
Back in 2007, I signed up for an independent affiliate program which I later found out that they were also on the CJ.com network. I quickly made some sales for them and waited to get paid.
I ended up emailing them with a request for payment but never got a reply. More emails followed but it seemed like I was talking to myself.
I did a search on Google about the affiliate program and found a thread on a forum with pages and pages of complaints from affiliates who never got paid.
If I had checked this before promoting, I would have avoided this affiliate program. I did get paid much later – 3 years after I earned the commissions.
So always check for feedback on not only the product or service you’re about to promote but feedback on the affiliate program also.
4. Affiliate Support
Also with the point above, it would have helped if I had checked out the affiliate support too. I never got a reply when I emailed them so it seemed they didn’t really care about affiliates.
If you can’t reach someone who is a dedicated affiliate manager, then this can be a red flag.
Most times, particularly with programs on Clickbank, the product owner does affiliate support as well. Bigger companies have their own affiliate program manager who you can contact and ask questions.
This can be helpful if you run into any difficulties with the program (didn’t get paid for example), or you need ideas for promotions. Affiliate managers will also link you up with creatives and other info not readily available to other affiliates and can only be accessed by asking.
One great example of excellent affiliate support is the affiliate program for WP Engine, where when you sign up as an affiliate, you get a dedicated account manager who checks in from time to time to see if you have any questions or if they can help with anything.
I’ve written about WP Engine on another article that has my top criteria for choosing affiliate programs.
Make sure that you can reach some type of affiliate support by email, Skype or phone or any combination of these options. It can be really helpful.
5. Has Multiple Creatives
In a lot of cases an affiliate link alone my be all you need to successfully promote a product.
Sometimes an affiliate program will provide you with lots of other creatives or promotional material such as:
- deep links
- email copy
- pdfs to give away
When this happens you know that they care about your success and this is good for both parties. When an affiliate does well, the advertiser does well too.
One thing to keep in mind with multiple creatives is that there are other affiliates who will be using the same stuff so you should use them as a guide and not just use them as-is.
Its just not going to look good if you’re sending out the same emails as hundreds of other affiliates; SEO is not going to work if you’re posting the same articles and so on.
6. Training & Tips
If a program has affiliate training then this is also a great indication that the advertiser cares about your success.
There are many programs that will send you email tips and training so that you can be more knowledgeable about the product or service they provide and in tune with current affiliate practices.
I generally love these affiliate programs because sometimes you learn new things that you can apply to other programs you promote.
Some are quite unique. I’m signed up to some affiliate programs and here are some of the things that I get in some of the training newsletters.
- article nuggets (ideas for articles with insight on why it works)
- best selling and upcoming releases (from a site that gets major tv exposure)
- video content you can use in your promotions
Some affiliate networks also provide training for affiliate but I prefer training and tips from the advertiser you’re promoting. Networks like Linkshare and Shareasale automatically let advertisers email you once you’re signed up to promote their program and this can be quite valuable. Wealthy Affiliate has a great training “bootcamp” that goes in depth on building a site to promote their service as an affiliate.
7. Adequate Commissions Per Sale
Finally, I look for programs that pay out enough commissions per sale for me to see a good return.
This is especially important if you start a site that you’ll have to work on to rank in the search engines and get traffic. Until you get a good ranking then you’re probably not going to get that many sales.
As a rule of thumb, I try to stick with affiliate programs that pay at least $20 per sale (especially if it’s something from Clickbank).
Some sites like Amazon and other physical product sites will pay you anywhere between 4% and 10% per sale. I used to not like this but you can easily find a product that is priced just right so that you can get anywhere from $10 – $20 minimum per sale. The good thing about Amazon is that they convert well on volume and you can usually make a lot more per customer with that 4%.
One time I promoted a compilation album through a music site that paid about $2.00+ per sale. I only really did this because I had written an article about the compilation and it was getting thousands of visitors within minutes of being indexed.
I ended up making over $1400 that year from the article selling that compilation album so it was well worth it to take the 10% or $2.00 that the advertiser was offering. Otherwise there was no other relevant alternative that I could have used.
Another thing to consider is using affiliate programs that pay on recurring billing. Membership sites use this payment model instead of giving you a one time payment and there are lots of recurring billing programs on Clickbank. Even if the commission is say $10/month, it adds up over time as long as the customer keeps paying their membership and as you refer more sales.
More about Choosing the Best Affiliate Programs
These are just some of the things you can look for when choosing to promote any affiliate program. Some are more important than others so just because a program doesn’t have training for example means its no good.
Some programs will have all of these and that is the type of program that I really love promoting.
Is there anything else I should have mentioned about finding the best affiliate programs? Tell me in the comments.