Top 10 Factors When Choosing An Affiliate Program

Last Update: July 06, 2020

One of the big questions is, "How do I choose an affiliate program?"

As with most things in life, this is fairly subjective and choosing the right affiliate program while crucial can be tricky as well, especially for the newcomer.

Every affiliate wants the best. However, today you have a fairly large number of affiliate programs to choose from. You may find it hard to narrow down the list.

There are many factors to be considered. You may need to do some research and compare different programs before committing. Of course, it takes two to tango, the affiliate program will need to approve your application too

This leaves you, the marketer confused about whether you are doing this right?

I recently applied to many affiliate programs and got 10 approved.

I will share my top ten factors for consideration When choosing an affiliate program. Your top factors may differ from mine and it really boils down to what is important to you.

If you are new, you may want to just use or modify this list and have something to evaluate your selection process.

1. The Product Fit

My first consideration was to answer a simple question.

What kind of products fit my niche best?

There are thousands of products out there to choose from. Sure, we can look at value, quality, demand and other criteria but I needed to get this ONE fact out of the way.

You cannot choose a program that does not have anything to do with your niche as an affiliate marketer.

2. Market Credibility

This second factor may be lower for seasoned marketers but if you are new, this helps associate you (and your website) with a credible or reputable program.

It is always easy to commit to a product that has great market credibility. However, in some emerging niches, you may not have an established programs yet.

Avoid choosing a program with a shady reputation.

Do your homework and conduct a proper market research.

  • Read independent and unbiased reviews by existing affiliates.
  • As an active member of WA, this as good as any affiliate forums or blogs, you can get opinions.
  • You can judge their website and see if it seems genuine and secure or not. The website should be easy enough to browse through and have all the necessary information mentioned clearly, without any tinge of doubt.

3. Commission Rate

    The commission rate offered is probably the most important factor to consider while selecting an affiliate program, especially if money is the sole criteria behind you being an affiliate marketer.

    Commission rates differs quite a bit depending on the types of products and category.

    Digital products typically have the highest commissions while physical products the lowest (Amazon has revised their commissions down), and everyone else somewhere in between. Therefore, a good realistic expectation is anywhere from 1% to 80%.

    Yes, some of you may say 100% since there are product vendors selling rights to resell and keep all the profit. I do not consider that because this then becomes your product, like a licensing scheme instead of affiliate marketing.

    As a simple guideline, The higher the rate of commission, the more you can earn per conversion.

    4. Type of Commission

    There are various types of commissions. The most common is one time commission and recurring commission.

    An affiliate program offering both is an attractive proposition especially if the commission rate is at or above the niche average.

    Just note that some of the most renowned affiliate programs pay commission on new and unique customers only. This practice often leaves the marketers at loss.

    Hence, you should try investing in something that has long-term benefits for you and contributes to this idea of ‘passive income’.

    5. Cookie Life

    Some of you may not notice this but marketing online and getting attributed towards a sale involves Cookie Life.

    Cookie life tracks the referral period. This is the time duration within which the advertiser(affiliate program) compensates affiliates for the referred customer.

    If the program you are considering to promote has the cookie life set at 24 hours and a visitor you refer purchases 24 hours and 5 minutes past the initial referral, you will not earn any commission on that sale.

    Therefore, I believe cookie life is also an important factor to be considered before choosing an affiliate program since it has a direct effect on your income.

    A longer cookie life is preferred to a shorter one, to improve conversion rate.

    6. Competition

    There is and will always be competition. On the internet, and very true for affiliate marketing, all roads lead to Rome.

    This is the reason product vendors uses the Affiliate Program Business Model (some call advertising model). Affiliate Marketers add value by create that road to lead your audience in your niche to Rome (for the affiliate program / advertisers).

    You should compare all the available options and choose the one that best suits you.

    • Critically analyze the prospects and consequences of the program’s customer-facing offer.
    • Be aware of the lesser-known fact that competitive product prices are directly correlated to conversion rates.
    • Your customers are smart and are highly unlikely to buy anything from non-competitive merchants online.

    7. Market Saturation

    This is one very common factor that has often been brought up. Kyle has written several blogs on it.

    Even without Covid-19 work from home orders, affiliate marketing has been gaining a lot of popularity.

    People are actively pursuing it because earning an income from home, at your own time and at a reasonable cost makes it an attractive proposition.

    As a result, some niches have grown too crowded, leaving very little room for new entrants. There will be well-established players in the field and tough competition.

    In these niches, you need to have something really interesting and unique to offer.

    You can always try looking for something that is not overcrowded. There are many less saturated niches, limited only by your imagination.

    In business start-up, every new venture starts as a niche. In affiliate marketing, a niche is about market segmentation.

    Do not discount the possibility that your chosen niche could be a budding field and holds amazing opportunities.

    8. Method of Payment

    There are two key considerations when it comes to payments.

    Mode of Payment

    The 2 most common mode of payment are:

    • Bank Accounts
    • PayPal

    PayPal is becoming more accessible in more countries and is preferred to bank accounts. There are some programs that still send commission checks but that may be slower.

      Frequency of Payment

      Whether the payments are settled monthly or weekly may be a factor that is important to some.

      If you are short of funds and urgently need it, you may want to look for an affiliate program that settles all the pending payments quickly!

      9. Leaks

      One less talked about but common issue In affiliate marketing is traffic leaks.

      Traffic leak is defined as a diversion or distraction that leads to your referral to leave the merchant’s site.

      The results are you end up losing out on a part of your commission.

      You may want to examine the merchant’s landing page carefully and be certain about any presence of any potential leaks.

      In case, you encounter any leaks, you should inform the merchant immediately and request them to do something about it.

      You do not want all your effort to go to waste especially when you traffic is converting and buying.

      10. General Terms and Conditions

      As in any agreement, do read the terms and conditions.

      All affiliate programs have core program policies, general policies, terms and conditions specific.

      Sometimes, you may be having a problem with a particular condition of the company. This may be a deal breaker for you, but others may absolutely be okay with it.

      Hence, it is crucial that you carefully read the terms and conditions before getting in.

      Approachability may also be an important factor for you. Most programs today communicate electronically and many do not have people answering calls.

      A truly professional merchant would be available readily and satisfy you with a convincing response within an acceptable time frame.

      What factors are important to you?

      It may be different from my 10 factors but you need to know in order to evaluate.

      As long as you feel good about whom you are in partnership with, someone who is as professional and committed as you are, then you will avoid any disappointments in the future.

      Wish you a fantastic start to the week!

        Join the Discussion
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        Recent messages
        lucbizz Premium
        This is very informative. The leak part I did not fully grasp, can you explain that one a bit more for me?
        What I would add as tip is when the product is part of an affiliate marketing network( f.e. CJ) what are their terms for applying, CJ charges $10 admin fee when you do not sell within the first 6 months (not unusual for starters)
        Thanks for sharing, Stanley :-)
        Stanleycmng Premium
        Thanks for sharing, Luc.

        Leak is when the sales funnel, intentionally or unintentionally does not attribute the sale to you by redirecting the commission link.

        - Front-end commission goes to you from your link
        - the next sale or upgrade offer does not carry your link, therefore you are not getting the commission.
        lucbizz Premium
        Thanks very much for explaining to me ,Stanley. But that pops up another question (oops) : How do you know this is the case before you sign up?
        Stanleycmng Premium
        Sometimes you don’t. But after you sign up, you will have access to the sales page and links. On Some affiliate networks, the are some links to view the product pages.
        lucbizz Premium
        Thanks again, Stanley :-)
        John2handy Premium
        Great list Mr. Stanley.
        Plus always look at the cancellation / refund percentage rate. It's a really good indicator of at least the honesty of their sales pitch. There will always be a few money back dishonest buyers, but if that rate gets higher than 6% - 8%, you probably have a dishonest seller. If it is a digital product, for example, they really have nothing to loose by using your money for a few months and then giving it back. "No questions asked"
        Stanleycmng Premium
        Great point raised on cancellation and refund rate. Some will hold the commissions for a cooling off period before paying.
        Aparna155 Premium
        Wonderful direction. Thanks.
        Stanleycmng Premium
        Appreaciate your comments, Aparna.
        doug48 Premium
        as always Stanley, you have out done yourself .Well done sir
        Stanleycmng Premium
        Thanks, Doug.
        NeilWachter Premium
        Thanks for the insight, Stanley. Very informative. I also was not aware of leaks.
        Stanleycmng Premium
        You are welcome, Neil.