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Quality Affiliate Programs, Anyone?

Posted on April 17, 2002

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Quality Affiliate Programs, Anyone?
By Dom Vonarburg

More and more webmasters and business owners are using affiliate programs as a way to earn extra income online. However, not all affiliate programs are created equal. Some will send you nice checks every month where others will essentially rob you. This article will help you tell them apart.

The reason affiliate programs are so popular is because they are very easy to set up. Most of the time, all you have to do is fill out a simple sign-up form and paste a few lines of html code into your site.

But because it is so easy everybody does it, and too often without questioning the program. Here are 8 important factors you should consider before joining any affiliate program:

1) The Fit

First and foremost, the product or service of the affiliate program must fit the audience of your site. A close match will always yield better performance.

2) The Commission

Of course the commission needs to be reasonable. The commission is the percentage of the price of the product that you will receive for initiating the sale. A reasonable commission starts at 20%, but can go as high as 50%. In addition, some affiliate programs will also pay you a second tier commission, that's the commission you make on sales initiated not by you directly, but by someone you referred to the affiliate program.

3) The Product Price

It's wonderful to find a program that gives you a 50% commission, but if the product is too expensive, no one will buy it. Similarly, if the price is very low, many people will buy it, but your 50% commission will be very small as well. Your goal is to find a very useful product with a fair price.

4) The Product Quality

Here too, if the quality and usefulness of the product are low, few people will be interested. In addition, the refund rate will be higher for such product. But more importantly, you don't want to associate your business with low quality.

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5) Referral Duration

This is probably the most important and all too often overlooked aspect of an affiliate program. After you've referred a visitor to a site, how long does the site continue to "remember" you as the referrer of that visitor? Believe it or not, some affiliate programs won't remember you at all. This means that if the visitor you referred did not buy directly on their first visit to the site, you will never get a commission for that referral, even if that visitor went back to the site later that day to purchase the product. A good affiliate program should at least remember you for 60 days. The "remembering" is done by setting a cookie on the visitor's computer when they click on the product ad on your site. Beware of affiliate programs that don't mention anything about this cookie and its duration.

6) Recurring Commission

Taking the referral duration a step further, some affiliate programs will even remember you not only for the first product you sold to a given visitor, but also for every product they will buy from them in the future, including upgrades, etc. This aspect is especially attractive for affiliate programs that sell services with a subscription model. For example with a monthly subscription-based service you earn the commission each month. This can quickly add up over time.

7) The Statistics

Most affiliate programs will give you reports on your sales activity. Some will send you a monthly report, others will give you a URL to view your statistics in real-time at any time. I much prefer the latter. Real-time statistics allow you to see early on how the affiliate program is performing on your site. They also allow you to tweak your promotion (e.g. use different promotion material) on a daily basis and get the most out of the program. Personally, I am always suspicious of affiliate programs that don't provide any real-time stats.

8) The Payments

Last but not least, you want to make sure the payments are made often enough, preferably once a month. Some affiliate programs will only pay you every 3 or 6 months.

There you go. I suggest you print or save this article somewhere. Next time you are thinking of joining an affiliate program, take a moment to evaluate its quality by going through these 8 criteria. If it passes the test, then you probably have a winner. Otherwise don't waste your time, move on to a better program.

Article by Dom Vonarburg
Founder of Add Me!


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