How to Choose the Right Affiliate Program

Understanding how affiliate marketing works 

Affiliate marketing is a strategy in which a business pays a commission to an individual (affiliate) based on sales generated through their referrals. The aim is to boost traffic and sales for the business website. Essentially, affiliates find a product they like, promote it to their audience, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale they make. An affiliate link is all that affiliates need to promote a product or service through a blog post, a video, a story on their social media, or another marketing effort. 

There is no single profile for an affiliate partner. They range from individuals to companies that promote a company’s products in the best way they can to prospective customers. When conducted properly, affiliate marketing can generate great income.

How to find affiliate programs

Google search


Searching for affiliate programs on Google is the most straightforward way to find affiliate programs in your niche. Simply type affiliate marketing programs plus {your niche} or a specific product, and you will find many programs that could fit your topic or product category. Note that certain companies use a different term for their affiliate program. Amazon, for example, calls it an associates program, whereas Shopify calls it a partner program. Also, make sure that the companies you find work with affiliates from different countries.

Check a company’s website

If you want to become an affiliate partner for a specific company, all you have to do is visit their website. Most companies feature their affiliate program at the very bottom of their homepage, namely in the website footer. You will be directed to the affiliate sign-up page by clicking on the link. In addition to the registration form, it should provide potential affiliates with detailed information about the program.

Here is what eBay’s affiliate landing page looks like:

2 eBay affiliate

Affiliate directories

Another popular place to find various affiliate programs is affiliate program directories. Many free affiliate directories like Affiliate Seeking are essentially databases containing different programs online. You can easily find and compare many different affiliate programs in your niche that you might have otherwise missed through these sites.

3 affiliate database

trying to sell just anything to make a quick buck. Nevertheless, if you fancy a brand that at first glance doesn’t seem to fit your niche, get creative on how to ingrain it as smoothly as possible in a special blog post. 

Search for programs that offer competitive commission rates 

Commissions are the backbone of affiliate marketing programs, acting as a powerful incentive for affiliates to promote a brand. Percentage commissions, just like pay per sale, are the most popular type of commissions used in affiliate programs.

  • In the pay-per-sale payout model, the merchant rewards affiliate a percentage of the profit earned from each sale that they achieved. The commission rate varies according to the product that affiliates are selling. The average affiliate commission varies between 5% and 30%. 
  • Pay per action is another payout model that earns affiliates a profit when visitors perform certain actions. Actions may differ: visiting the site, filling out a form, signing up for a demo, purchasing, etc. 
  • These are also affiliate programs that promote memberships and subscriptions. What is special about them is that certain ones offer affiliates a recurring commission when a referred user makes or renews a subscription, either for a fixed time or a lifetime. 

    Find out the cookie lifetime 

    A crucial element you need to pay attention to while reviewing affiliate programs is the cookie duration which determines how long your relationship with the referred users is valid after clicking on the affiliate link. For instance, let’s say a brand sets the cookie duration to 10 days. If the visitor purchases before the cookie expire, you are eligible to get a commission or lose the profit. 

    The longer the cookie life, the better for the affiliate. Using the previous example, supports a 30-day cookie life – the time period from your referral’s first visit to the website and their sign up for any subscription plan – which is typical for an affiliate program. 

    Beware of traffic leaks 

    Before choosing an affiliate program, you need to go through the company’s or merchant’s landing page to check on possible leaks. Traffic leaks are links on the affiliate program website that prospective customers can click on and redirect to other sites. Although these sites could profit the company/merchant if the referred visitor makes a purchase, they will not reward the affiliate who has completed the action. 

    Traffic leaks largely account for the failure of affiliate programs. They typically consist of third-party banner ads, Google AdSense ads, text links, popups, etc. 

    Here is an example of a banner ad on Amazon that advertises a selection of audiobooks and podcasts.

    5 amazon banner ads

    Read the general terms and conditions 

    As in any agreement, carefully read the terms and conditions of your collaboration. The requirements and expectations should be formulated in a simple way to ensure that both the company and you are on the same page. Sometimes, you might have a problem with a particular condition that can act as a deal-breaker. For example, certain affiliate programs restrict driving sales through specific traffic channels. Other ones, just like READINGRAPHICS, specify that affiliates won’t earn their commission if the transaction is incomplete or canceled, the product is returned, or a subscription is canceled within a certain period. 

    Check whether the program offers a system to track sales 

    Efficient tracking systems enable businesses to manage affiliate programs, track affiliate partner performance effectively, assign commissions, issue automated cash payouts, and detect fraud. They also enable the introduction of a tiered commission structure that rewards high-performing affiliates with bonuses. Examples of such systems include, LinkTrust, and many others.

    The benefits of a great affiliate program are substantial. Affiliates can monitor the performance of their traffic channels, check the total number of paying customers by time period, see the number of times the affiliate links are clicked, etc. Such knowledge can help them redirect their efforts in the right direction for favorable outcomes.

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