One of the most important tasks in setting up an affiliate online business is finding a legitimate and reliable affiliate online program. How do you know where to look and what to look for in selecting an internet marketing program?
Here are some things to consider.
Is the business reputable?
Is the merchant or owner a reputable business? Here you have to do some research. Use an affiliate network service like Clickbank and Commission Junction where merchants are vetted and information is easy to check out. Do a Google or Yahoo Search to see sponsored listing for the product or service you are considering. The larger the results the better it is for you. Check out some of the product sites and see what you find. Patterns and trends will emerge and you will see who’s hot and who’s not.
Is there an affiliate agreement? There better be one and you had better read it thoroughly to find out the terms. Is it easy to join? Is it easy to drop if things don’t work out? Is there a fee to join? If there is, there better be a very good reason for it.
How you will be paid is one of the most important questions to have answered. Different affiliate programs have different commission structures and different payout rates. This will affect which products you will promote. Some affiliate network services will sort information for you by payout per lead or payout per sale. This allows you to compare programs and determine which one is more likely to mean a better revenue stream for you. Obviously you want to start with the companies that pay the highest payout per lead or payout per sale. But there are circumstances when high volume sales of a low priced product can mean higher revenue for you.
You will also want to know whether you can get lifetime commissions that are a commission for each and every product your customer buys from that merchant. Are there residual commissions? These are commissions you get every time your customer renews the subscription or purchase of a product.
Some programs will pay you not only for the product sales you generate but also for referring new affiliates to the merchant. This is called a 2-tier program. While this is a nice way to supplement your income, your focus in starting out should be on product sales.
When and How do I get Paid?
Payments will vary from program to program. Some programs give the option to pay by check or through a third party provider such as PayPal, Clickbank or Paydotcom. The recommended choice is to get paid by check if you can and then opt for the third party options. The reason is that with check payment you collect a full commission. With third party payments you will pay a service fee and that will get taken out of your commission.
Different programs pay on different time periods; they can be weekly, biweekly, monthly and quarterly. That is something that is spelled out in the affiliate agreement.
A cookie is some code a computer carries that identifies it during a visit to a web site. They are harmless text files and pose no threat to your computer in any way. When you refer a lead to a merchant, a cookie on that lead’s computer will identify that person as your referral and you will get a commission. That’s great. But there is a very important thing to look for. How long is the cookie coded to last? Merchants can code cookies to last one day, one month, one quarter, one year or even a lifetime. You want to get lifetime or at least year long cookies because the standard number of contacts a lead typically makes before deciding to purchase is seven. So the longer the cookie lasts the better your chances of getting paid. If a purchase is made after your cookie has expired, you are out of the commission you worked hard to generate.
Marketing Tools and Customer Service
A good affiliate program will offer marketing tools and training on how to use them. They will also offer an affiliate center where you can check your stats and get your promotional tools and links to sell your product.
Customer service means good and timely communication with you and your customer base. How long does it take for the merchant to respond to any question? A good affiliate program will get back to a request within 24-48 hours. Often there will be an FAQ section you should check out before you send in your question.
One item to check out is the conversion rate the merchant gets with their sales page. The standard conversion on the low end is 1.5-2%. Some of the Super Affiliates can achieve 6% up to 20% on some of their offerings. You want to ask and see what you find out. One indication is the quality of the sales page. Is it well written? How does it present the product or service? Are the testimonials believable? Can you check them out? Does the sales page reflect a professional and high quality standard?
What to Look out for
Some programs will have sales minimums before you get paid. You have to be careful here. For a low payout, that will mean you will need high volume and that is not always possible. You will have to do the math and see if the numbers make sense to you.
Also be careful to see if there are other links, ads or Google Adsense postings on the sales page or web site to which you are sending your leads. You really don’t want to have your lead click away from your product or service because of competing ads on the landing page you are sending them to. So check out to see if there are any distractions or reasons for your lead to go elsewhere when they land where you send them.
Finding the right internet marketing program for an associate affiliate is an important part of the business development process. Obviously you want to do your market research, traffic testing and conversion testing as you go about choosing a product. But once you have an idea of what product or service you want to market, then you are ready to start researching and selecting the right online affiliate program for you. Online affiliate marketing can be a very satisfying and rewarding business if you take the time, put in the effort and stay focused along the way. Follow the steps above and you should be well on your way to success.
May Your Travels be Prosperous.