Top 5 Things To Look For When Picking An Affiliate Program To Join

Jun. 5, 2015
by Matt Wallace

Newly educated from Chris Freville’s internet marketing course, (Chris Freville is one of the Big Boys and known well in the affiliate marketing space) I thought I was armed and ready to take on the affiliate marketing world. Humph.

I knew which niche I wanted to go into.

And thanks to Chris, I had a basic understanding of what to look for when I went storming onto Clickbank, locked and loaded to make some very fortunate vendor a lot of money. In case you missed it, that’s said tongue in cheek.

Because I never did make any money in that niche. Or for that very fortunate vendor.

Why did I fail?

Well, to be fair to myself, I was horribly wet behind the ears. But I also chose the wrong vendors (yes, I was going to make a whole lot of vendors rich, not just one). I failed not because the vendors I chose were not succeeding, but rather because:

  • They were doing tremendously well (without my help) and because they were well known in the affiliate marketing space, the competition was fierce. With my limited experience and wet ears, my website could never hope to rank even close to my competitors who had been promoting those products for years and had already built up a successful online business.
  • I chose a niche that was saturated. Don’t get me wrong. Had I had the experience and more knowledge, I could have done very well. But I was just not there yet. I could not compete with the top affiliates in a saturated niche.

Let’s hope you can benefit from my mistakes.

don't fail at affiliate marketing

Learn from the affiliate marketing newbie mistakes I made.

Perhaps I can make your ears a little less wet and help you achieve success faster, by choosing the right affiliate product to promote. But before you make your choice, you need to understand this first:

Contrary to much popular belief, a great piece of advice I got from business expert Dani Johnson, is that you don’t have to be passionate about a niche to make money from it. My passion was health, but I never ever made money from it, online or offline.

My advice therefore, is to go about finding your niche in a slightly different way. Decide on the target audience you wish to serve and understand it thoroughly. You can get more information about that from this article by Chris Ducker.

Now, once you have a clear picture in your mind – and on paper – about who your target audience is, brainstorm niche ideas that center around addressing your target audience’s problems or desires.

For instance, how many smokers have you known who have tried to give up their nasty habit and failed? The reason they often fail is because smoking has such an emotional element to it, and emotions are exceptionally powerful. To boot, there are not many ways to stop smoking that don’t involve the pain of “letting go”. Smokers who need to “let go” of their ciggie friends experience immense trauma.

Now, smokers only have a few options to stick it to their ciggie friends:

  • They can go cold turkey. Eek.
  • They can use patches. Sigh.
  • They can chew nicotine infused gum. Shame.

Or, they can wean themselves by holding on to the nicotine but losing all the harmful chemicals from cigarettes, by using an electronic cigarette. By the way, if you would like to help smokers go “green”, MigCigs offer a great affiliate program.

When you know how to address your target audience’s problems, it’s time to check the top 5 things to look out for when choosing which affiliate program to join.

affiliate commission

How much commission you as an affiliate will make depends on many aspects.

  1. Affiliate program reputation

Don’t make the mistake of doing a “best affiliate marketing program” search on the web. It will come up with all sorts of programs, the problem being that you may not realize who is simply punting affiliate products for commission, or which information is truly legitimate.

In this vein, your best bet is probably to scrounge around Clickbank if you are looking for digital products to promote, and CJ (formerly Commission Junction) for tangible products.

This video by Quicksprout will show you what to look for on Clickbank, and here’s a detailed article about what to look for on CJ.

The kind of information you will find out from the video and article will provide a good overall picture of an affiliate program’s reputation. If the product is shoddy, it’s not likely their affiliates will stick, and therefore not likely to make too much money.

Feel free to promote new products – you actually stand a better chance of success by promoting new products, but then you have to know what to look for.

As an affiliate, your job is to direct traffic to the vendor’s sales page. Once you’ve done that, you need to be able to trust that their sales page works hard to convert traffic to sales. The sales page is one of the most important parts of the whole process.

  1. Quality of the products or services

If you are serious about building a solid and credible affiliate marketing business, I would strongly advise you to purchase the digital product you wish to promote. This gives you an edge over other affiliate marketers who can’t be bothered to go so far as to do their homework. How can you properly and effectively promote a digital product whose content you know nothing about? You can’t.

As for tangible products, check the quality of the actual product as well as its packaging. A little trickier than buying a digital product, it will be worth your while, especially if you are writing reviews about it.

If it’s a service you wish to promote, do your research. Join the vendor’s opt-in list to find out the quality of communication and whether their emails add value for their sign-ups. Act as a potential client and contact their support office, or leave a message on their web’s contact form.

  1. Affiliate marketing tools
affiliate tools

Tools provided by the vendor make your life as an affiliate marketer a lot easier

Imagine your job was to sell photocopiers.

Let’s say you make a list of companies to call as a telemarketing project. Your efforts lead to a few companies setting up appointments to meet you.

But…the company you work for has not provided you with pamphlets. Or business cards. You have no tools to use to convince prospective clients to select the photocopiers it’s your business to sell.

If you wanted to continue selling these specific photocopiers, you would need to create your own pamphlets and business cards to give to prospective clients. Hm. More work. Great.

As an affiliate, you depend on the vendor providing you with the tools you need to make the sales. If they don’t, you can kiss your commission goodbye.

The absolute essential tools a vendor needs to supply are:

  • An attractive, engaging website (if its products they are selling)
  • A high converting sales page (no matter what they are promoting)
  • Excellent support for their customers
  • An easy checkout process
  • Depending on your angle, you may need banners of varying sizes

Some vendors provide extra tools, like:

  • Their main keywords
  • Examples of ad wording
  • Helpful and educative “how-to’s”
  • Email swipes (email templates you can use for your email list
  • E-books you can use for your email list

The more tools they provide you with, the less work you have to do to make sales. And of course, time is money, isn’t it?

  1. Competitive commissions

Now to the crux of the matter: your commission.

What is the percentage you get paid? You’ll find that the commission offered on most physical products is a lot less than digital products, and this is because in comparison to physical products, digital products are not expensive to create.

Most vendors offer 50 – 75% commission on their digital products.

MigCigs offers up to 30% commission on the product pay per sale model, whereas some companies pay out only 10%.

It would be foolish though, to base your selection decision solely on the amount of the commission, and how many days it takes after the sale for the commission to be paid out.

One very important aspect of commission is the cookie duration. Most customers don’t make a purchase the first time they visit a website. You want to be reassured that if a prospective customer visited the vendor’s website this month, and returned next month, you will still get the commission. The longer the cookie duration, the more chance you have of making a sale.

A common cookie duration is 60 days. At MigCigs, we are proud to offer our affiliates a lifetime cookie duration!

Another aspect you need to consider is whether the vendor offers specials and bonuses, because this all helps make your life easier.

  1. Affiliate support

Depending on how you plan to make sales, you may need a more customized approach than the common banner provides. Not many affiliate programs offer a customized approach, but the top ones will. If you need something they don’t currently offer their affiliates, like a weirdly sized banner for instance, how willing are they to get it made for you?

Affiliate programs that have been in place a while or are stable and recognize the value affiliates bring, may have a dedicated Affiliate Manager to offer support.

You should be able to identify whether they offer affiliate support of some sort by checking their website or affiliate sign-up page.

Some won’t even offer a contact number for their affiliates though. In that case, it is up to you whether you can work with what they’ve already provided, or not. And if you have a problem, don’t expect help.

Example of a great affiliate program

At MigCigs, affiliates are very important to us. We go all-out to do the best we can to help them. We’d love to have you on-board! Check out what we offer affiliates here.

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