Affiliate Programs: Which is best for you?

Now you have decided to use affiliate marketing to monetize your content, whether it be your blog, website, Instagram, or another. Just as important is which affiliate program you pick. Picking the right affiliate program for your content is a vital part of running a successful affiliate campaign. What to look for in a good affiliate program is not just the highest CPA or CPC, it’s taking into consideration and comparing all the factors that contribute toward the full affiliate program.

Below we have highlighted several key aspects of affiliate programs that you should consider when deciding what affiliate program to run.

Find your Affiliate Niche/ Industry

First and foremost, identify the niche you are in or want to be in. Making sure your affiliate program matches your content is possibly one of the most important factors to look at when starting an affiliate marketing campaign.

An example is if you have a blog discussing movements of financial marketing or currencies, your best bet may be a trading affiliate program. If you have content already (i.e blog or Instagram) this should be straightforward.  On the other hand, if you don’t currently have content and you want to create content around an affiliate program (i.e create a comparison site) it’s best to pick an industry or product you actually use and have a genuine interest in as this passion will translate to your audience. This may sound obvious but it’s surprising how many people don’t follow this rule. By picking something you are genuinely interested in you will produce more authentic and honest content that audiences can see. The key with this factor is when you are comparing affiliate programs only benchmark them against other affiliate programs in the same industry. To find affiliate programs in niche/Industry simply google it or visits sites such as theaffiliatemonkey.

Commission

Affiliate Program Commission

One of the most obvious and the first thing that comes to mind is how much money am I going to make! You always want to maximise your potential earnings by going with an affiliate program with a high CPA or CPC. This is one of the easiest components of an affiliate program to find and compare as many merchants have this advertised on their home page. There are several commission models that the affiliate program can use so double check you are comparing two affiliate programs with the same commission model. One tip is to find the starting CPA (commission you would earn from your first sign up) as many merchants advertise the Up to* CPA simply to lure in new affiliates. On the other hand, affiliate marketing beginners tend to put too much weight on this one factor and neglect the other factors of the affiliate program. Do not make this mistake.

Cookie Lifespan

Simply put, the cookie lifespan is the time in which the user must make the purchase via the affiliate link for it to be recognised as your affiliate purchase. When a user clicks on your affiliate link a so called “cookie” is dropped on the person’s computer. This cookie can then be used by the merchant to track who visited their website and where they are visiting from.

For example, if you pick an affiliate program with a cookie lifespan of 7 days, for the affiliate to be assigned the purchase and trigger the commission the purchase must be made within 7 days of the user clicking the affiliate link.

If the person purchased the product or service on the 8th day after clicking on the affiliate link, the affiliate would not be assigned that purchase.

The life span of the cookie varies a lot from affiliate program to affiliate program. Let’s take a look at one of the most well-known affiliate programs, Amazon Associates with over 250,000 affiliates is by far the largest affiliate program in the industry. When it comes to the cookie lifespan of this program it is one of the shortest, with the program only offering a 24-hour long cookie lifespan. On the other hand, a trading affiliate program Blackbull Marketing presents one of the longest cookie lifespans on the market, 365 days. It may be the case though that people are more impulsive when it comes to Amazon and a 24 hour window is all you need. Food for thought.

A good way to measure whether a program has a good cookie lifespan is to benchmark it against another affiliate program in the same industry. Now let’s look at two affiliate programs for the same industry (Fashion). First, we have Urban Outfitters, a US fashion brand that offers its affiliates a 5% revenue share but only a cookie lifespan of 1 day. Secondly, we have AllSaints a well-known fashion brand. Their affiliate program 4% but with a cookie lifespan of 30 days! Both brands would have a similar target audience, in this comparison it may be worth taking the 1% reduction in revenue share for the advantage of an extra 29 days in the cookie lifespan. These are the exact things you should be comparing and considering when picking what is the best affiliate program for you. A longer cookie lifespan will give the affiliate a higher probability of earning a commission.

Monthly Bonuses

Monthly bonuses are a scheme that some companies offer to attract new and high flying affiliates. It’s essentially a cash incentive for the best-performing affiliates that are paid monthly or quarterly and can amount to thousands of extra pounds.

The highest paying monthly affiliate bonuses can be found within the trading sector. Of the companies we have listed, two of them offer the scheme, Axitrader and Trading 212. If you like you can compare them here. Let’s look at trading 212 first, they offer a bonus based on the number of new accounts you sign up per month. For 26 to 50 clients you’ll receive an extra £2500 per month. If you think that sounds good then wait until you sign up over 50 clients, you’ll then receive an extra £30,000 per quarter! That means if you sign up 50+ clients every month or a year, you’ll have netted yourself a cool £120,000! That’s on top of the money you would have already made from your affiliate link.

Similarly, Avitrader offers monthly bonuses of $2,100 when you sign up between 21 and 50 new clients per month. This increases to $7,500 per month for 50+ clients. Based on these numbers alone we’d say that Trading 212 is the better option. However, there are platform functionalities to consider, like how Avitrader offers spread betting, barriers & options. 

It’s always nice when a merchant gives you the opportunity to earn more so definitely worth a look if they offer a monthly bonus. Note that these monthly bounces only come with a substantial number of successful sign ups, unless you have had experience or a site with a large amount of traffic, an affiliate should not put a huge amount of weight on this.

Pay-out Trigger

The pay-out trigger is what action or actions the user must undertake for the merchant to pay the commission to the affiliate. Some affiliate programs may just require the user to simply sign up and register an account. On the flip side, other affiliate programs may require the user to jump through several hoops, such as deposit and spend a specific amount with the lender before the merchant pays out any commission.

Let’s look at two affiliate programs with different payout triggers. Many of the highest CPA affiliate programs do require the user to complete a number of actions to trigger the commission.

An example of this is IronFX. This affiliate program offers a CPA of $1,500 but the new user must sign up, deposit more than the minimum deposit and complete for the three trades. The reason for this is to protect the merchants against fake sign ups. On the other hand, affiliate programs with a smaller CPA, much as ReferralCandy’s affiliate program that has a CPA of $20 for any new eCommerce store that simply signs but no other actions are required.

What to note is the more actions the user must undertake the harder it will be to earn the commission from that affiliate program. For the reasons above Pay-out triggers are definitely something worth looking into when picking what affiliate program you are going to run.

Affiliate Networks

There are a number of affiliate marketing networks that you may have already seen in your research around affiliate marketing, such as Rakuten, Awin, CJ Affiliate, Tradedoubler and more. Networks facilitate the affiliate marketing process acting as the mediator between the affiliate (You) and the merchant (Business), they oversee tracking, management, and commissions.

An example of this Hotels.com affiliate program, this program currently runs on two affiliate networks CJ Affiliate and Travelpayout. CJ Affiliate offers a revenue share of 6%, whereas Travelpayout offers its affiliates a revenue share of 6.4%. Also, both networks offer a cookie lifespan of 30 days!These small margins can make a big difference over the course of a campaign.

In summary, knowing about the workings of networks is an important aspect if you are going to be successful with affiliate marketing. It is always worth seeing if a particular affiliate program is running with multiple networks and see which network offers the best commission and overall affiliate program.

On the other hand, not all merchants run their affiliate programs on a network and do run their affiliate program directly. In summary, it’s always worth looking if other networks run the same program, as they may offer more commission. 

Marketing your Affiliate Program

It’s always good to see what marketing material you have at your disposal. This is especially important if you are using banners or promotional videos to promote the affiliate program. You want the banner to be attractive and engaging, you also what the banner or video to have a strong call to action. Its little elements like this can make a large impact on an affiliate program campaign.

Note the marketing material only becomes available to you once you have signed up for the affiliate programs. Therefore, you will have to take the step to sign up for these affiliate programs before you can compare the marketing material that the merchant will offer you.

If the affiliate program offers a contact point at the merchant (an account manager) it’s always worth dropping them an email and asking if any other marketing material is available.

Additional Features

The factors above are what we think are the most important when comparing and picking the best affiliate program for you. On the other hand, some there are other noticeable factors worth looking at. Including do you have a dedicated account manager. It’s always good to have a single contact point at the business, this is especially important if you are running a large affiliate campaign when waiting four working days for a reply is just not an option.

Secondly, how payment is processed. What online payments system the merchant uses is not a deal breaker, but it is definitely something worth looking at when picking the affiliate program. Two common PayPal and Skrill. So, it is important that you have a live account with the payments system that the affiliate program or network is using.

One final factor that is worth looking at is the brand’s presence. Promoting a merchant that already has a large brand presence will simply make your life as an affiliate easier. Users are always more likely to purchase from a brand they know and trust. Not only this but the affiliate can piggyback on the other adverts that the brand is doing, TV, Radio, and online.

Summary

In summary, try to compare as many aspects of the affiliate program as possible. What many beginners tend to do is simply look at the commissions of the affiliate program and neglect all the other aspects, this can lead to picking the wrong affiliate program for your content. In turn produce an affiliate marketing campaign that is not reaching its potential. Also try not to cross industries when comparing, use an affiliate program in the same industry to benchmark against.

The key is to find the right balance between all the factors that make up the affiliate program. Give the components equal weight of importance and don’t let one factor make your decision. To compare hundreds of affiliate programs, visit our homepage and compare hundreds of affiliate programs and see which affiliate program fits you best.

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