It’s one thing to mass recruit partners into an affiliate program and another to find a partner who delivers consistent conversions. As an agency that manages over 75 affiliate programs, we review large amounts of affiliate applications and requests daily. The success of our affiliate programs relies on us quickly identifying or disqualifying an affiliate for a program, and then allocating resources to affiliates who drive high-valued conversions for our clients. Here are five strategies that we use to determine if a partner has the potential to deliver conversions.

Is the site’s US Alexa Rank below 150,000?

An important factor in determining if a specific affiliate can deliver conversions is based on how much natural traffic the site is seeing monthly. There is no foolproof way to determine site traffic without directly asking for those numbers, so I recommend using the US Alexa Rank as a benchmark. Alexa Rank is a good indicator of how popular a site is and what the potential opportunity can be. A rank under 50,000 could indicate the potential for immediate conversions. A rank from 50,000 to 150,000 would indicate a more long-term opportunity for conversions.

Does the site have SEM and SEO channels for building traffic?

Are they marketing themselves and trying to build their traffic organically? It’s important to work with partners who are constantly trying to improve their site.  Not only will they drive new customers to the site (and yours), but provides clarity and flow in a way that makes users want to come back. What this means for your program is a long-term traffic and conversion channel, as opposed to a one-off conversion. Established SEM and SEO channels should give you more confidence that time spent developing this relationship will pay off.

Does the site target the right audience for your brand?

Just because a site has traffic does not mean that it will drive conversions. It’s important that you are reaching the right audience for your brand. If it’s not clear, ask for stats on demographics, top converting categories, etc. This could also be used to develop attractive offers to their client base. If the offer does not suit the affiliate’s clientele, invest your resources elsewhere. For example, a large loyalty site declined a partnership with one of our medium-sized clients, as similar offers have not done well for them. Not only does this information save money on an unnecessary integration fee, it saves the time and technical resources that could be spent on a more profitable partnership.

Are they ranking organically in the search engines?

One of my favorite affiliate assessment tools is Google. I often do long tail keyword searches related to my clients’ brands to see who shows up within the first two pages of search results. This not only shows that an affiliate has high visibility, but they also already have content related to your product. This is also a fantastic strategy for seeking out new niche affiliates! Sites geared toward a similar offering are more likely to deliver conversions.

Are your competitors listed on their site?

You want to be on the same site as your competitors. In fact, once you’re set up with a specific affiliate running multiple competitive offers, consider a deeper dive into the content around the comparison to ensure you’re the favored merchant, if possible. For loyalty affiliates, this may mean increasing commissions that are passed on to the end-user.

Determining the value of an affiliate is less of an exact science and more of an intuitive assessment of the affiliate’s sites. You’ll want to understand how they are driving traffic, if it fits your brand, and do they have long-term strategies for increasing conversions in place. If the answer is yes to most of the questions above, you can safely assume that time spend developing a partnership with this affiliate will be time well spent.