How To Choose An Affiliate Program That Will Make You Money
After several years as a professional affiliate, I have come to the point where I have a short checklist of aspects that I go through when deciding on joining an affiliate program, or in fact even persisting with one.
The fact is too many sites merely add an affiliate program on with the hope that the increased expose will lead to more website sales. In these cases it is the affiliate who can lose out badly, as well as the merchant.
No matter what sort of site you have, be it a shopping mall, informational site, blog or specialty product store that features products sold via your affiliation with the merchant, you need to be sure that you are getting the best reward for your efforts. So here are some aspects based on my experience, for potential affiliates of a merchant to consider:
1. Does the merchant?s site have a free call number for telephone sales prominently displayed? If they do then they are probably robbing you of at least 30% of your rightful income. Lots of people, even more so now that broadband internet connections are becoming more commonplace, will pick up the phone. Some fair merchants have a referrer ID that is displayed next to the phone number and this is always asked when a call comes in.
2. Are mainly banner ads offered as the marketing inventory? If it is all they offer then they know nothing about internet marketing. Any form of graphic ad will have a 50% or less click-through rate. Banner ads are at best a free form of branding for the merchant. Most sales come from text based ads. The merchant should offer a range of marketing collateral including simple text ads right the way through to material that can easily be dropped right into a newsletter.
3. What is the site?s conversion rate. Email the site and ask. This question will stop most website owners dead in their tracks because most have no idea. Remember, they are playing a numbers game - more affiliates hopefully means more traffic so potentially even a poorly performing site will show an improved number of sales. Remember - the site that you promote needs to be working for you so you get rewarded. A poorly converting site is doing you no favours.
4. If the website owner does not know the conversion rate, follow your click-through stats carefully. If you are not getting at least a 1% conversion rate dump them and replace with a merchant who can deliver.
5. Is the site easy to navigate, and does all navigation lead to making sales an easy process. Personally I do not like sites that ask customers to register - this is a significant barrier to sales.
6. Does the site owner communicate? Do they promptly return emails - if they don?t get back to you within 24 hours take this as a warning flag - 48 hours then forget them. Also, ask to be kept informed of specials etc so you can promote these.
7. If you have above average programming skills and can integrate databases, ask if you can get data feeds - or a csv file of their products that you can use to populate pages on your site. This is more advanced than average affiliate stuff, so don?t get too hung up on this.
8. Reporting and statistics are critical. You need to know at least click-through and sales on a day by day basis. Ideally you should also know the number of impressions the ad has had (think of your page as real estate, sales per click is one thing, but sales per impression is also important - can say a lot about the position of your ads!). You may wish to make use of third party software like PHPAds or similar that allows you to track. Look at why click-through rates may be poor. It is because you are using banner ads and not text ads, or have you tried moving the location of ads, or trying new contexts. If the conversion rate is good when people arrive, ensure you have maximised the click-through rate.
These are the essential aspects when considering a merchant?s affiliate program. There are others, like commission percentages, but often it is better to have a highly performing merchant at a few percent lower than a poorly performing merchant.
Don?t be fooled by promises of easy money on the affiliates sign-up pages. Be prepared to work for your money. Once you have joined a program, maintain a close watch on performance. Compare and contrast and don?t become one of the 95% of affiliates who are a complete waste of time for the merchant. Making money from affiliate programs is not a set and forget process - it takes work, plenty of it.
About the Author: Matt Eliason has been a professional affiliate marketer and webtrepeneur since 1997. His site is at http://www.plusone.com.au and you can read his blog at http://www.plusone.com.au/diary/ and see one of his affiliate programs at http://www.caricatureking.com