Today, I’d like to share some of my best tips on how to evaluate an affiliate program. Before you join any affiliate program, you must do your due diligence. Not all affiliate programs are worth your time.
Some affiliate programs are crap and are easy to spot. Others look good at first, but once you take a closer look under the hood you quickly discover the affiliate program isn’t as good as you thought it was.
I’ve been in the affiliate marketing business for about 12-years now, most of that full-time. I’ve evaluated hundreds of different affiliate programs. What you will find below are the things I BELIEVE you should evaluate before you join any affiliate program.
How to Evaluate an Affiliate Program
These items are listed in no particular order.
# 1: Company’s Reputation
Reputation is everything. I think so anyway.
Does the affiliate company have a good reputation online? What types of reviews can you find about them online? Do they pay their affiliates on time every month?
How are they ranked with the Better Business Bureau? How are they ranked on the different scam websites? How long have they been in business? Who’s running the program? What is that person’s reputation?
These are all questions you should ask yourself when you evaluate an affiliate program. You want to find a program that has been in business for a while, with trusted owners, and ethical business practices.
# 2: The Product or Service
Is the product or service a REAL VALUE for the person buying it? Does it do what it says it will do? Does it come with a strong money-back guarantee?
Is there a legitimate demand for the product? Would you buy the product to use yourself, even if you weren’t an affiliate?
The product doesn’t have to be the cheapest, or even the best, but it must provide VALUE. It must be priced competitively and do what it says it will do.
Affiliate marketers should do their research on the product’s reputation, especially if they’re just starting. The higher the brand recognition, the easier it is to sell a service or product. If customers trust the company, then your job is half-done.
Go through the testimonials of past clients, both from the company’s website and from third-party sources. What kind of emotions do these products generate? Are the testimonials positive or negative? These reviews are a good barometer of the product’s quality and recognition.
# 3: Recurring Commissions
This is how most affiliate programs make money. They pay you for the initial sale, but they get to keep the customer, and they don’t pay you on any future purchases that customer makes. You want to promote an affiliate program where you get paid on ALL future purchases the person you referred makes.
This gives you residual income! Many companies will gladly pay you 30 to 50 percent commissions on the initial sale, because they realize how expensive it is to find a new customer. Once they get the customer, they thank you for your time, and cut you off from future commissions.
Recurring commissions are vital. I try to only promote affiliate programs with residual and recurring commissions (other than Amazon). I like not having to start over at zero every single month.
This is one of the reasons I personally love network marketing so much. Not only do I get paid on my own referrals, but I also get paid on THEIR referrals, infinite levels deep. Personally, I’d rather have one percent of 100 people’s sales than 100 percent of my own sales.
Check out my network marketing business. I’m currently one of the top recruiters and top reps.
# 4: Commission Percentages
If you’re promoting affiliate programs where you make 3 to 10 percent per sale, you are wasting your time (in most cases anyway). You want to promote affiliate programs that pay out at least 30 to 50 percent, if not more. And, you want affiliate programs where you can earn at least $20 to $100 per sale.
It’s hard work making sales, but it isn’t any harder to sell a $500 product than a $20 product. It’s also not any harder to sell a product you get paid 50 percent commissions on versus a product you only get paid 20 percent commissions on. Food for thought.
It may be tempting to overlook high price products, in the misconception they are harder to promote. If you are looking to create $5,000 in affiliate revenue (the sales you make, not your commission) you could sell 500 x $10 products, or 50 x $100 products or 5 x $1,000 products. If you believe in your chosen product and know it solves a problem many people are experiencing, then go for the higher ticket product.
# 5: Available Affiliate Resources
What type of resources does the affiliate program have for its affiliates? Are there banner ads, text ads, and email copy you can use? Do they have a forum where you can ask questions and network with other affiliates? The more resources they offer you the better.
# 6: Tracking Cookie
Tracking cookies are very important. In case you don’t know what they are, here is a good definition I found online (the source is cited below it).
Tracking Cookies are a specific type of cookie that is distributed, shared, and read across two or more unrelated Web sites for the purpose of gathering information or potentially to present customized data to you. Not all cookies are tracking cookies.
Tracking cookies are not harmful like malware, worms, or viruses, but they can be a privacy concern. As an example, if you go to a Web site that hosts online advertising from a third-party vendor, the third-party vendor can place a cookie on your computer. If another Web site also has advertisements from the third-party vendor, then that vendor knows you have visited both Web sites. Nothing malicious has occurred, but the advertising company can determine indirectly all the sites you have been to if they have cookies present on those sites. ~ Source
You want an affiliate program with a minimum 30 or 60-day tracking cookie, so if the person you sent to the website through your affiliate link comes back and makes a purchase in the next 30 to 60-days, you still get credit for it.
# 7: Number of Affiliates
How many affiliates are promoting the affiliate program? Is it saturated? Do a search on Google and see how many different “reviews” you can find for the affiliate program you are promoting, and each product. Ask the affiliate manager how many affiliates there are. This will give you some perspective.
# 8: Customer Service
How is the company’s customer service? Is it good for both customers and affiliates? Is there a good phone number you can call with your questions? Do they offer 24-hour customer support? Do they respond to messages and emails quickly? If the customer service sucks, tread lightly.
Working with a vendor that offers good support can make the difference between a good or poor experience. Problems can occur, and knowing you have support from the vendor when required gives peace of mind. Support can be offered in several way depending on the size of the vendor, from a dedicated account manager to live chat or email support.
# 9: Sales Funnel
Does the affiliate company use an auto-responder to collect leads on the sales page you are promoting (your affiliate link)? If they do, are the leads that opt-in through your affiliate link tracked to you? If so, for how long?
What a lot of companies do is use affiliates to send traffic to their website, to build their email list, but the affiliate company keeps all of the leads. If the company you are considering does this, please look for a different affiliate company to work with.
# 10: Sales Letter
Is the sales letter effective? Does it make you want to BUY the product? Are there lots of testimonials of happy customers? Does the page look professional or does the website look like it was built in the 1980’s? Is it mobile friendly?
# 11: Payout Threshold
What is the payout threshold to get paid? What some affiliate companies do is set a high payout threshold, of say $500, knowing you will never make that much money. This lets them keep your money! Ideally, you want an affiliate program with a payout threshold of less than $20. The smaller the number the better.
If a marketer has been working hard but was unable to reach that threshold, they feel like they’ve been cheated as they won’t get paid for the promotions they’ve done.
The thing is, it’s the marketer’s fault because they never checked the minimum payout for the affiliate program they signed up for.
Always check for the payout threshold.
Source: Shout Me Loud
# 12: How Often Do You Get Paid?
How often does the affiliate program pay its affiliates? Daily, weekly, monthly or immediately after you make the sale? What are the payment methods? I like affiliate programs that pay at least once per month. Weekly is even better.
In conclusion, these are 12 of my best tips on how to evaluate an affiliate program. I hope you will follow my advice and take your time picking the right affiliate program for you.
What are your thoughts on how to evaluate an affiliate program? What do you suggest? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.
Suggested Reading & Resources
- Affiliate Marketing Tips
- Do You Need a Website to Do Affiliate Marketing?
- Affiliate Marketing Niches
- Best Places to Advertise Online
- How to Get Free Website Traffic
2 thoughts on “How to Evaluate an Affiliate Program”
I recalled the affiliate programs I signed up for. I wish I had read this blog sooner. I faced a lot of issues and wasted a lot of time on nothing. Anyway, I can use these tips to make a better decision in the future.
One of the main things that I wish I had known earlier is the payment threshold. However, it’s really great that Chuck decided to offer these tips so that everyone, including myself, can be cautious when trying affiliate marketing.
There’s an important point that none of us should overlook, which is due diligence.
Thank you so much!
Choosing the right affiliate program is so important. I see so many people promoting affiliate programs where they only earn a couple dollars per sale. It is almost impossible to create a significant income doing that unless you have a HUGE following. I would also tell people, before you pick something to promote and sell, take the time to determine WHO you are going to sell it to, and how you are going to sell it, BEFORE you pick the affiliate program.