When talking about
"affiliate programs" or "affiliate management companies' there is a
very big difference between the two. I covered how to do an
"Affiliate Company Evaluation" in a previous section, now we're going to talk
about evaluating an individual program that is most all cases is NOT
part of or associated with an affiliate company. If you remember, an
affiliate management company acts as the "middleman" between the
advertisers and affiliate marketers. An affiliate program on the
other hand is most always managed by an individual website to
benefit that particular website.
A website will normally incorporate an affiliate program into their
overall marketing strategy to increase their sales. Instead of the
website making a sale to make a profit, when they incorporate an
affiliate program into their marketing plan they want YOU the
affiliate to make the sale (send the targeted traffic) at which
point they'll give you a portion of the profits in the form of an
affiliate commission since it was you that initiated and generated
I've always recommended joining affiliate management companies so
that you have a large and diverse selection of products and services
to choose from and offer your visitors, however the individual
affiliate programs are perfectly fine when they serve a particular
niche or benefit to you.
An example of when you might need an individual program (generally
simpler) and not a management company would be if you had a specific
niche type website that appealed to a smaller then normal group of
people such as Webmasters. In this example I'll choose to search Google for something like "Website Publication Affiliate Program". First off you may come up with a large list, so it's a matter of visiting some of the top listed affiliate programs to see what they offer as far as your commission, marketing materials and a back office to check your statistic and earnings. Your ultimate goal is to locate
and then evaluate an affiliate program for you and your niche
As I did above I recommend you go to your favorite search engine and in
this case you'll want to search for "Website Publication Affiliate Program". I just did
that through Google and I found
one called the
Website Magazine. So that's one way to find an "individual" stand alone affiliate program without using an affiliate company itself. There are plenty of affiliate programs out there (everyone wants to give you a piece of the action for sharing their product or service) so there's no doubt you'll be able to locate a specific affiliate program related to your particular niche market whether it's cooking, sports or gardening and with that... you'll be set to go!
If by chance you don't get a hit, then the next option is for you to
type in your keyword "Webmaster Publications", then visit the various
sites and check them out to see if they have an affiliate program.
This could turn out to be some really tough research for you, you
know clicking on the site link, surfing around their site and
looking for anything related to their affiliate program if they have
one. In most all cases when a website has their own affiliate
program you'll see a link to their program in their menu, and if
it's NOT located there then I'd recommend you scroll to the very bottom
of the page and look for it in the footer area navigation
links, labeled conveniently as you guessed it... Affiliate Program.
If there isn't anything listed on their home page though you could
always check out their site map although this is a long shot. If
nothing is there, then it's best to just move on to the next related
When you locate these affiliate programs (3 to 5) save them to your
desktop or favorites folder, but do NOT join them yet. For now
you're just collecting information and links to "potential" programs
to join but not actually joining them. Once you have your list of
sites collected then you want to check them out to see if they have
had any issues paying out commissions, check to see if there have
been any complaints, or if they've been labeled as "scams" in the
past by other affiliated. You can again go your favorite search
engine and in general search mode (not advanced) type in the company
name followed by a single word such as "complaint", "issues",
"fraud" or "scam".
Once you determine that there aren't any affiliate issues with the
program you'll want to compare each program to see if they have any
of the following program goodies for you:
1. A good commission payout. Good is relative in this case since a
15% commission from website "A" might seem great to you when
compared to a 7% commission from website "B", however it's also
possible that website B has more products to offer your visitors,
has been in business longer and it has more marketing materials
available to you so the 7% might work better in your particular
case, you'll have to weigh it for yourself and decide.
2. The right products and/or services. You want to look to see if
they have the right products and a large enough variety of them for
your site and your visitors. It might be hard to know unless they
have a page that describes exactly what you will be able to market.
In most cases whatever you see for sale from their site you'll also
be able to sell too, however once in a while you'll run into a
website affiliate program where "they" get to sell all products, but
you the affiliate are restricted to selling only certain items that they determine.
If there's no information available on what products you can market,
you might be forced to join them first, look around then make a
decision to stay with them or you can simply delete your account if
3. A comprehensive back office. This is where you can login and see
what is actually happening with your account. Automated link
tracking is always a big plus since it allows you to know how many
times the linked was clicked on, from where the click originated,
and how many sales were made through that link. The tracking will
also give you insight into when the link was clicked, from where (IP
address), and other good to know traffic related information.
4. Free marketing materials for you.
The better companies will
include free marketing materials in your back office. These could
range from copy and paste text link code, to banner ads to
pre-written auto responder scripts. The list of marketing items they
could give you to use is long, so you'll want to see what they that
you can use. If their free marketing area is sparse (or they don't
have this area) then you'll be forced to write tour own text ads or
search for banners others have made, or you might have to plan on
making your own banners at a future date.
The four things above are the most important and what I look into when
evaluating an affiliate program to see if they're a good match with
my site. There are however a few other things you can evaluate such
as how long have they been in business, what is the cookie length,
are there affiliate testimonials where you can contact them to ask
about the program, do the banners have traffic leaks (the main web
site URL on the banner etc.) where visitors can bypass going through
you affiliate link, does the website the visitor ultimately arrives
at to make a purchase have the website's 1-800 number in big red
letters at the top of the site where there's a possibility that
you'll lose the sale and commission and finally are their very many
other affiliates also marketing through them or are you the "first"
affiliate", the one that the affiliate webmaster addresses as "the
The bottom line of everything, even after your evaluation, joining
the program and even using their marketing materials is this... If
it's not working out for you for any reason, then continue with your
quest, locate another related affiliate program and try them on for
size. There's never a reason to stay with an affiliate company if
they for whatever the reason, are not benefiting you through
consistent affiliate commissions. It's your traffic... and your traffic is
pure gold when you've chosen the right affiliate program for your website or blog!
A mini plug here since we're talking about traffic and visitors, one of my favorite traffic generating programs is called AdsVert. I like it because it's a simple and to the point "hands" off no surfing type of traffic program. You put a small snippet of code on your site or blog and with every visitor you receive at your site, your text ad will be shown on another site, nice yes?. More traffic to your site as it grows means more ad shows on other sites so it's win-win. OK enough of that, it's back to work here, I need to go find an affiliate program for a niche site of mine and you should do the same!