Monday, December 18, 2006

10 Points To Consider When Evaluating Affiliate Programs

by Nicholas Natale

If you’re familiar with affiliate marketing at all, I’m sure you’ve heard stories about affiliate programs and networks that would make you hesitant, to say the least, to participate in one. The effect of this negative publicity is that some people are very wary of joining one, and rightly so, even though the stories they may have heard are usually those related to illegal programs or pyramid schemes. Basically, this kind of market is identifiable because it lacks legitimate, valuable product.

You do NOT want to be associated with these types of schemes. Naturally, you should attempt to discover a program that offers high-quality product that you will be happy to endorse. The rapidly growing number of those who have already joined, and are succeeding, is proof that there are reliable, high-quality affiliate programs out there.

You might be thinking of affiliate marketing because it allows you to work part-time and build a generous residual income. Also, it makes you an owner of a small business. Affiliate programs have already proven themselves. They are living testimony that there is a reward for hard work, continuous prospecting, and motivating and training others.

If you are contemplating joining one, you should take pains to explore programs that are compatible with your capabilities. You will be much more likely to succeed if the necessary skill set is one that you can be comfortable with. You should also consider the amount of time and resources that you will have to devote, and the methods of marketing you will need to employ, that will produce the desired results.

Now, how do you choose a good affiliate program to promote? Here are some helpful attributes to consider before making your decision:

1. First, find a program that you like and have interest in. One of the best ways of knowing if that is the kind of program you wish to promote is if you are interested in purchasing the product or service yourself. If that is the case, chances are there will be others who are also interested in the same program and/or products.

2. Find a high quality program. For example, look for one that has many experts in that particular industry associated with it. Assume that these respectable, knowledgeable people would not want to identify themselves with an inferior product or program.

3. Seriously consider the ones that offer real and viable products. To determine which these are, you will have to do some initial research. If possible, track down some of the members and customers to give you testimonials on the credibility of the program.

4. Identify a program that is catering to a growing target market. This will ensure that there will be more and continuous demand for your referrals. Make inquiries. Participate in forums and discussions to get good and reliable feedback.

5. Look closely at the compensation structure. A program with an initial payout of 30% or more and a good residual income would be a great choice. There are programs offering this kind of compensation. Determine what is available and what you can accept, and then don’t waste your time with programs that don’t adequately reward your efforts.

6. Try to avoid those programs with difficult minimum quotas that you must fulfill or a sales target that is too hard to achieve. Some affiliate programs require certain ongoing activity before you qualify for your commissions. Be sure that you are capable of meeting these requirements on a consistent basis.

7. Select a program that has the tools and resources to help you grow your business in the shortest possible time. Not all affiliate programs offer these, so make sure you decide on one with lots of helpful tools you can use.

8. The program you choose should have a proven system that can allow you to examine your networks and compensation. It would be desirable for this to be available online for you to check anytime and anywhere.

9. Award extra points to a program that offers strong incentives for members to renew their membership. The affiliate program that provides continuous help and upgrades for its products has a tendency to retain its members. A policy like this will help assure the growth of your networks.

10. Try to ascertain the things that members are unhappy with in a program. As I mentioned above, you can obtain a great deal of information at discussion forums. It could be very interesting to find out what someone in that particular program would consider difficult or detrimental.

In conclusion, you should try to have a thorough and intensive knowledge of the affiliate programs and networks you may consider joining, and I hope that this strategy will help you anticipate and prevent any future problems you may encounter.

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