As an Affiliate, I will consider several factors when choosing an Affiliate Programme. These factors are partly subjective, partly objective but of course not exhaustive!
1) My Own Empathy With The Offer
- The Vertical: Am I familiar with this vertical (Gaming, Retail, Mobile etc)? Is gaming where I can use my creativity or knowledge? With the exception of large media buyers, most affiliates have to specialise.
- The notoriety of the Advertiser: Do I like big brands like Lufthansa, or do I prefer niche Advertisers?
- The Product: Do I relate the the product, and through this can I create a compelling ad?
- Previous Experience / Rankings: Do I think this product has 'legs' to work on my Affiliate site(s)?
The Merchant can help with my decision, by explaining more about the products on offer and give USP's that help keep my interested.
2) My Information Sources
- Regular contact with my Affiliate Manager who recommends offers for my Affiliate site(s)
- Forum postings by fellow Affiliates
- Affiliate offer directories
- Network stats (more information below)
- Generally, the more information I can find on an Affiliate Programme prior to joining the better!
In these cases Networks, Agencies & Merchants can interact much more with me and tailor their communication to the type of traffic I buy into or the type of site I operate. Figures including basket average, conversion rates, average earning per Affiliate etc are a great help to me, however it is unfortunately rare across the board to receive this information.
Obvious for me as an affiliate; I want to know how much I am paid. Is there a premium pay out? How can I qualify to get this?
Here, Merchants and Agencies should sell their commission models more, or infact be more creative. An average commission rate is around 3%. Some might say "Commission from 3 to 45%" - on what exactly? No idea! You can push your higher margin products, you can direct the sales funnel - just point your Affiliates in the right direction.
4) The exact conditions when I will be paid!
Again, this seems obvious, but on may programme descriptions it's not mentioned. Single? Double Opt-In? After free trial? At registration for download or when the game fires up? This leads to extended email / chat exchanges between the Affiliate and Affiliate Manager / Merchant / Agency Staff.
Also - when exactly are sales / leads refused? Which percentage will be de-duplicated?
5) Payment Indication
Is the Merchant pre-paying? Is he/she validating sales/leads rapidly? Why not stress this as a selling point of your programme? Maybe a competitor of yours is delaying paying higher comissions to Affiliates.
6) Cancellation Rates
Is this information available? On some Networks, it's impossible to get this information. Ignorance, no stats, too complicated to pull the reports and so on.
Make it transparent and available at once, would be my advice.
7) Restrictions on the Programmes
I personally love it when I get the new programme alert of a network with a new advertiser. However on closer inspection:
- Emails: Not Allowed
- SEM: Not Allowed
- Incentivised: Not Allowed
- Cashback: Not Allowed
- Facebook Ads: Not Allowed
You get the picture...
Any creative has to be approvied by the Advertiser (Which takes forever because checking creative is never a high priority)
Obviously, the restrictions play a big role in choosing the Offer / Programme. Agencies & Networks can work closely with the Advertiser to explain each type of traffic, and select Affiliates on each segment to provide sales and leads. It is possible and advisable to go down this route, instead of 'blocking all sources'
8) Acceptance to the Programme
A new offer comes on Friday morning. You miss it, apply, nothing happens before Wednesday the week after if you don't attempt to contact them. Great..!
So, as you call your Affiliate Manager, Skype him/her, email. They email the Advertiser - and you are approved on Thursday.
That's where I love the automatic acceptance of Premium Affiliates, or infact simply the automated approval process. Most Networks do this, but not all. If the Advertiser insists upon checking, it would be great if the Affiliate acceptance / refusal was daily. It's very frustrating to be starting the new offer and have to wait - it kills momentum.
9) Affiliate Tools
- Voucher Codes
- Deeplink Generators
In my opinion, Voucher Codes, Datafeeds and the ability to deeplink are indispensible. However it would help if the datafeed was correctly formatted, kept current with categories, brands, manufacturers, individualised descriptions etc.
Seasonal banners are great, but not when you see Christmas banners in July! Reversing this, please don't upload 1800 banners on one programme with 50 banners per page. I'm not going to trawl through 30+ pages!
10) Working Search & Programme Filters On Network Sites
My 'Pet Peeves'...
On some networks, trying to find a Merchant is purely impossible.
SEM is allowed on a programme, only to then read the programme desctiption and merchant conditions: "Advertising on search engines is strictly forbidden"
So, here a little quality check of the programme once launched would be appreciated and if the filters don't work - fix them!
Develop an 'Affiliate task force'. Affiliates are your soldiers; occupy the SEO field with them! Invade the SEM space! Conquer the Display field!
Help your Affiliates find out faster what is working, cut the learning / spending curve and provide them with as much information as possible.
Affiliates - If your Network does not have the tools, give the information yourself. Create or link to videos, show them your your new product, sell them your USP's.
Remember - If they make money, you make money!