More and more businesses are looking into starting their own affiliate program, and no wonder. These companies want to harness the power of connectivity in order to promote their products and boost their revenue.
If you’re considering becoming an affiliate marketer, you’re in luck, as you can select from a wide range of affiliate programs in the market. You can choose from an abundance of options to find the best fit for you.
So what qualities should you look for in an affiliate partner program? I’ve created a list of pro features that are common in the best affiliate marketing programs today, which both companies and marketers should take into account.
1. Choose programs with high commissions that are recurring.
Offer lucrative commissions, and affiliate partners will queue up to be part of your program. You know what they say about honey attracting more flies (although your affiliates are from insect-like!). And if you’re using a subscription model for your products, then it’s a good idea to make those commissions recurring – paid out regularly over the lifetime of that customer. Basically, an affiliate partner still gets paid for the customer they originally brought in, without exerting any additional effort to sell to that individual. Who can resist guaranteed passive income?
2. Ask about the affiliate cookie lifespan.
What’s an affiliate cookie? Before I go any further, let’s define some terms. In this context, a cookie is a tiny bit of data stored on your computer when you visit a website. The website uses the cookie to identify and monitor their visitors online. This means cookies are quite useful in keeping track of the referrals from your affiliate partners. These referrals click on the link, and voila! Cookies!
The key takeaway here is that these affiliate cookies, like the real baked ones, have an expiry date.
Also, the duration of an affiliate cookie corresponds to the amount of time you can expect to earn from that potential client. For example, you set the cookie lifespan for six weeks. That’s the deadline for your affiliates to get their leads to actually make a purchase via the link – they have exactly six weeks from the moment the link was first clicked on by the prospect.
If the customer goes past that deadline, then it means the affiliate partner won’t get the commission.
If the customer decides to buy the product within that timeframe, then your affiliate partner rakes in a commission. The same rule applies to commissions that are recurring.
Remember, the cookie expiration determines whether or not the affiliate gets a commission. This means that the longer the cookie lifetime, the more favorable it is to the affiliate partner.
It’s no wonder that both business owners and affiliate marketers often ask about the best timeframe for cookies. The answer? It really depends on the seller, who can use past visitor data to calculate the affiliate cookie expiry. Obviously, a business owner would prefer a shorter cookie duration in order to avoid losing part of their profit on commissions. In contrast, an affiliate marketer would always go for a longer cookie lifespan.
3. Go for products with great brand recognition.
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.
When you do your research, check out the following aspects.
The number of customers and revenue scale. How many people patronize the company? Are they a local or global brand? What countries have they reached? Then, compare these figures with the industry standard and see how they fare compared to their competitors. This will help narrow down your choices of affiliate programs.
Social media presence. Next, go on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and look for the company’s accounts on these platforms. How would you describe their online social presence? Do they have lots of engaged followers?
Customer testimonials. Lastly, 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.
Make sure you keep these in mind the next time you evaluate an affiliate program and its products.
4. Pay attention to vendor transparency.
Is the merchant upfront about the terms and conditions of the affiliate program? You need to know if the vendor is transparent and consistent about how they calculate the commissions. Is the vendor trustworthy? Transparency has a positive effect on conversion rates, so it pays to have this conversation before becoming an affiliate partner
Keep in mind that you should never take part in an affiliate program that seems incomplete or half-baked. Moreover, make sure you understand the vendor’s terms and conditions and what is expected from you as an affiliate. Don’t hesitate to state them openly before you commit to any affiliate agreement.
Why the emphasis on transparency? It safeguards both your potential income and your own online reputation. Any miscommunication can lead to a failed partnership. Plus, you don’t want to get caught up in a scam or a company with fraudulent practices. Save yourself the stress.
So how can a merchant ensure transparency in an affiliate marketing program?
Clear policies for affiliate marketing. It’s best to get all the requirements and targets in writing. These policies have to be simple enough to be easily understood and comprehensive enough that there’s no risk of miscommunication. The best policies include visual or graphical information like screenshots, as well as detailed standard operating procedures and instructions. It’s a good sign if the affiliate program policy is open for discussion.
Functional and up-to-date dashboard and reports. This is an example of transparency in practice: providing access to a dashboard with complete and updated data. While experienced affiliate partners often track this data on their own, it’s always a good sign if a vendor has this already set up on their end.
With this dashboard, an affiliate partner can quickly see their commissions, both in real time or in a certain period. One can also see the number of clicked links and the frequency of clicks as well as the number of referred paying clients.
A bonus is that seeing all these numbers and charts will motivate you to improve your performance as an affiliate marketer.
5. Use attractive and professional-looking materials.
Our eyes are often our first sources of information, so it makes sense to have marketing materials that look good. Also, affiliate programs are run on primarily visual platforms – websites – which means that campaigns should use eye-catching materials in order to attract leads.
It’s the vendor’s responsibility to create and provide a collection of materials to their affiliates, allowing them to start their promotion ASAP. They should not stint on their marketing collaterals, as they will pay for themselves in the long run.
While affiliates are more than welcome to create their own content, the basic marketing framework should already exist. Plus, merchants should expedite the process for acquiring and implementing these marketing materials. This will allow affiliate marketers to run successful campaigns quickly.
The best affiliate programs have the following resources:
- Marketing Copy: content, including call-to-action copy and polished product descriptions
- Guidelines: rules and best practices for promoting a product, including how to use fonts, colors, logos, widgets, etc.
- Visual/Graphical Materials: creatives like screenshots, templates, banners, images, etc.
It’s also important to send updates to affiliate partners, as they need current information on promos or deals. Affiliate marketers need to know about the latest changes to ensure they are promoting the correct product on their website.
In addition, quality is key. All marketing materials need to be error-free, optimized for the platform, and professional-looking.
6. Join a program that offers affiliate partner training.
More and more companies are setting up in-house affiliate programs. Unfortunately, only a minority offer training materials to their affiliate partners, leaving the rest to rely on trial and error. Industry-specific training is important, as affiliates need to know the best way to advertise a particular product or service.
On the other hand, some affiliate programs stand out because they offer digital marketing certification. Not only do they provide value to their partners, but these companies can also expect to reap the benefits of having competent affiliate marketers.
Want to see an example of a great affiliate program that meets all 6 of the mentioned qualities? Check out my full review on ClickFunnels affiliate program.