10 tips for choosing affiliate marketing programs that will work for you

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Whether you use affiliate marketing to add an extra funding stream to your website or it’s your main source of income, finding the best programs to promote is crucial for success. With so much to choose from, this may initially seem a daunting task but with a little guidance, selecting quality affiliate programs shouldn’t be as challenging as you think.

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Here are our top 10 tips for discovering the best affiliate programs to work with. 

Be your own client

Sell what you love and it stops being a job. Choose products that you believe in and try them out in advance (if feasible.) If you come across a product you know nothing about but it fits your profile, learn as much as you can about it. Read about the product, use it, become familiar with it. Of course, you might not feel passionate about every product, but great product knowledge will help fill that gap.

Fits within your niche

This may seem obvious, but it’s such an important point worth stressing. Finding products that are related to your blog is essential to success. You can, however, think out of the box and be creative. For example, if you write a blog about car care, there’s no need to limit yourself to just selling car care products. You could also promote car insurance, driving holidays, car events… anything related.

Program competitors

If you’re already having success on an a specific affiliate program, take a look at some of that brand’s competitors to see if they also have affiliate programs to join. Providing your audience with additional products in a similar category or even from direct competitors will increase your chances for a conversion. Even though your blog covers a variety of products, your customer base might be more inclined to buy from a specific category of featured items. Lean into that knowledge and search for retailers or merchandise in the same vein.

Desired by your target audience

Following on from the first point, whatever affiliate programs you promote must be desired by your target audience. The first step is understanding exactly who your target audience is. Hopefully you have already actioned this before you started your blog, but it is worth revisiting to clarify this point.

There are several ways to do this, but it starts by creating a customer profile. Be very specific here and make the person you are selling to as real as possible. If you have a customer base already, use this to determine who is currently buying your products.

Once you have defined your target audience, do some research. If you want the affiliate marketing programs you choose to sell well, make sure to dedicate some time to completing this next step as well as possible. Again, there are various methods to achieve this, one of which is to ask your target audience what they are looking for. You can use emails, surveys or blog posts for commentary.

If you don’t have a big following already, study your competition and see what is popular. Also, get onto social media and see what problems your audience is facing. If you can find a program that solves these problems, then you have a potential winner on your hands.

Commission levels and earnings per click

By now you should have a good idea of the type of products you are looking to promote. Now it is time to search for programs that will make you a good return. One aspect to consider carefully is how much commission you can earn.

Many new affiliates automatically think higher commission levels provide the most attractive opportunities; yet it’s important to look at the bigger picture. High commissions may be offered on products with low sales, while a high selling product may have a lower commission rate.

How many products you sell will affect your average order rate (AOV); therefore, a high AOV with a lower commission rate will earn more than a low AOV with a high commission rate. To take a simple example, let’s say you have two products both retailing for the same price. You sell 20 of product A at 1% commission, and 1 of product B at 10% commission. Product A will earn you more money.

Consider high price products

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.

Most affiliate marketers sell both lower and higher products to appeal a full spectrum of users. Being open to a wide range of products and prices will allow greater opportunities for your business.

Occasionally, you may come across vendors who also offer a recurring commission (if your customer returns to buy off the merchant again.) Although this is not necessarily the most important aspect you should consider, it’s a nice extra bonus.

Upsells

Upsells offer a further method to increase commission. After the consumer has purchased his initial product, he is offered various other packages that are only available at the time of purchase. This practice is known as upselling. For the affiliate, if the buyer goes on to take advantage of these offers, the commission increases.

For example, a consumer may click on a new laptop and at checkout is offered a special deal which includes a laptop case and a remote mouse. Should this person choose the offer, you’ll receive commission on the extra products.

Quality product

The product must be good. If return rate is high, it is generally a sign the product is not high quality. Making your customers happy is the best way to long-term success, and quality products are a large part of that equation. Over time, you will earn a good reputation that will go a long way to aiding you in your future sales.

Vendor support

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.

You also need to check out what marketing materials are available and how good the quality is. Some companies provide landing pages you can use or banners to place on your website. Consider all the options carefully and think about how you can make them work for you.

Bear in mind, many customers will not buy on the first visit. Find out what the cookie period is, as the longer they are tracked the better for your income.

Vendor reputation

Merchants all have to start their businesses at some point, but it is preferable to work with long-established vendors with a good reputation and high traffic. Do your research and make sure they tick all the boxes above. As a caveat, don’t be totally put off by new vendors if they are offering an excellent products and a good rate of commission.

Strong performance marketing networks provide conversion metrics, which will allow you to see which merchants convert their visitors to sales well. New vendors will not have any metrics to report, so this may be a reason to wait before committing to them.

When you are choosing a product, how much you can earn is important, but you will find you are most successful with the programs that you are genuinely passionate about. When you sell something you care about, your customer can tell. This can be one of the most important choices of all - do you love the product?